Get a read on features a monitor should have

Get a read on features a monitor should have

A monitor that meets your minimum criteria for screen size, resolution, dot pitch and refresh rate is likely to give you trouble-free performance. But there are other features to be considered, too. A careful reading of a monitor's product literature should also find references to:

Multiscanning. A monitor should have the ability to use the various frequencies produced by the host CPU when the CPU sends data. Virtually all monitors now come with the ability to multiscan, or operate in several frequencies.

Flat square. The front panel on recent CRTs comes in a shape that is flat or nearly flat around all edges. Flat screens reduce image distortions caused by rounded CRT shapes and also help reduce glare.

Digital controls. Few monitor manufacturers include analog controls for brightness, contrast or other screen settings recently, but that does not mean such monitors are not available. A display's digital controls let you make adjustments to the image's color, clarity, contrast and shape from a menu called an on-screen display, or OSD. The settings usually are saved automatically.

Degauss. Degaussing adjusts to changes in the surrounding magnetic field, removing unwanted magnetism and preventing on-screen color irregularities and patterns. Most monitors degauss automatically when they are powered up, accounting for the rather loud noise many of them make at start-up. Some come with a button or digital control to provide degauss without turning the unit off.

Moire elimination. A moire pattern is an optical illusion that looks like flickering when line patterns are placed too close together. With today's technology, even bargain monitors should be able to eliminate this effect.

MPR-II. MPR-II, the Swedish government standard for maximum video terminal radiation, measures electrostatic and electromagnetic emissions. Most monitors are MPR-II-compliant. Don't get too close to one that doesn't have it.

TCO-95. The requirements for the TCO label were developed in Sweden according to a stringent set of criteria involving environmental concerns, safety, ergonomic factors, emissions, energy consumption and electrical and fire safety.

Among other things, a TCO-compliant monitor must pass tests against potentially harmful low-frequency and extremely
low-frequency emissions at a distance of only 30 centimeters. Not all monitors are TCO-compliant, but if you spend long hours in front of the screen, you'll want yours to be.

VESA Display Data Channel standards. This is a set of standards for communicating between host computers and displays. DDC2B is an advanced standard for bidirectional communications that allows host CPUs to request information about attached monitors for network managers.

Energy Star. If your monitor is Energy Star-compliant, it will flash up the green Energy Star logo almost immediately when it is powered up. The monitor blanks out in idle mode when the host computer is turned on but not being used, thereby greatly reducing power consumption. To qualify as an Energy Star monitor, it must consume less than 30 watts of power in its lowest power state.

Manufacturer's return policy. Monitors are essentially fragile and can be easily damaged during shipping. A no-name monitor might not be easily returned. Buy a monitor from a reputable vendor.

Plug and Play. Your new monitor should be easily recognized by the Microsoft Windows Wizard and automatically configured for optimum service.

'J.B. Miles


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