Flat-panel displays stand by, waiting for their prices to drop

Flat-panel displays stand by, waiting for their prices to drop

By J.B. Miles

You've read about flat-panel displays and maybe seen one or two in a plush office or at a computer trade show. Are the streamlined, LCD devices ready to take the place of the high-resolution CRTs that take up so much desktop real estate? Maybe someday, but there's more to that question than meets the eye.

The latest flat-panel displays

are trim energy misers. They can

be positioned on a wall to save

space and show less glare than

CRT's do.

Flat-panel displays don't use vacuum tubes or electron guns as CRTs do. They instead create vibrant colors with liquid crystals sandwiched between a layer of TFTs that turn the current on at specific locations to light up the crystals. The light from the crystals then passes through filters to create the same three-dot red, green and blue pixels found on CRTs. If you have a relatively new color notebook PC, you get the picture'your screen is a built-in flat-panel display.

Flat-panel technology is terrific. It uses scant electricity and generates almost no heat or radiation. Plus, because there are no bezels to deal with'the innards of the screens come right up to their edges'the diagonal measurement of an LCD screen is a true measurement. The viewing area of a 15-inch flat-panel screen is almost as large as most 17-inch CRTs. Because they are only an inch or two deep, flat-panel screens may be hung on a wall without taking up desktop space. Flat-panel screens also show less glare than CRTs, so they may be placed and viewed from almost any place in a work area.

Dead pixels

These benefits aside, LCD technology has its drawbacks. The screens are more expensive than CRTs and often come with dead pixels that can affect their viewing quality. They require special video cards and usually cannot handle multiple resolution settings as well as CRTs do.

I'd happily take a high-end flat-panel display if some vendor wanted me to try one out, but I'd not so happily absorb the cost of buying one. For now, I'll stick with large, high-resolution CRTs like the ones listed in this guide, even if they are a bit much to lug around.

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