Baseline monitors

Baseline monitors<@VM>These baseline monitors can handle what's required in day-to-day office applications

17-inch CRTs are a clear choice for most office users

BY J.B. MILES | SPECIAL TO GCN

It's natural to prefer a large monitor; the bigger the better. And LCD models would be high on anyone's wish list.

But when the time comes for information technology departments to peel off megabucks to upgrade PC systems, 17-inch CRT screens priced at around $200 look pretty good.


The Samsung SyncMaster 750 has a 16-inch diagonal viewing area and 1,024- by 768-pixel resolution at a refresh rate of 85 hertz. It's priced at $174.
Most of us don't really need a large, top-of-the-line monitor for the work we do every day. For word processing, spreadsheet, office automation and Web viewing, any of the 17-inch models listed in this guide would do nicely.

A 17-inch CRT monitor with 1,024- by 768-pixel resolution and a fast refresh rate will render crisp, flicker-free images that satisfy all but the most demanding graphics professionals.

And it's not hard to see their cost-effectiveness. You can buy two Viewsonic 17-inch CRTs for the price of one of the company's economy 19- or 20-inch models.

For $174 each, you can pick up a half-dozen Samsung SyncMaster 750S CRTs for less than you'd spend on only one of the company's $1,105 17-inch SyncMaster 170T LCDs.

A cathode ray tube, or CRT, monitor uses an electron gun to shoot electron beams through a metal mask or grille onto the back of the monitor screen, which is coated with colored phosphor dots. The beams excite the phosphors, causing them to glow in various intensities to produce the images on your screen.

CRT manufacturers use one of two types of masks or grilles in their products. The shadow mask is a metal plate perforated with tiny holes that help filter and focus the electron beam to produce the image. The aperture grille is a wire frame with vertical metal strings.

The general opinion is that shadow mask technology is preferable for computer-aided design and manufacturing, precision graphics and heavy text, and that aperture grille technology works best for desktop publishing and graphic arts, where very bright, rich and saturated colors are necessary.

But because the baseline monitors listed here aren't designed for high-end graphics work, the distinctions are moot. Both shadow mask and aperture grille technologies produce excellent image quality for typical office tasks.

The shape of a monitor's tube is an important factor in determining its overall viewing quality. CRTs in older monitors were often noticeably spherical, which slightly distorted the image, particularly at the edges of the screen. Nearly all new monitors are flat-square, rendering precise and proportional images.

All the monitors listed in this guide have flat-square tubes. This feature is almost always paired with an antiglare, antistatic and antireflection treatment to help improve image quality from virtually any angle.

Monitor size is measured diagonally, and there's always an inch or two around the screen's perimeter covered by its case. The viewable area of 17-inch CRT monitors ranges between 15.7 to 16.1 inches, with 16 inches being average for the models listed here.

Consider the following criteria for evaluating CRT monitors:

Dot pitch. Dot pitch is the distance measured in millimeters between two phosphor dots of the same color inside the display screen.


The Lowdown

' What is it? A baseline monitor is a 17-inch CRT display priced at around $200, with at least 0.28-mm dot pitch and an optimum resolution of at least 1,024 by 768 at 75 hertz. It is a plug-and-play unit that meets safety and power management standards. It should have digital controls avilable on the screen.


' When do I need one? You need a baseline CRT monitor if you want to economize and if you use typical office applications for most of your work, such as word processing, spreadsheet tasks and Web page viewing.


' When don't I need one? They aren't suited for high-end graphics work, desktop publishing or computer-aided design applications.


' Must-know info? Baseline 17-inch CRT monitors will someday be replaced, either by CRTs with larger screens and smaller footprints or LCDs whose prices have come down to reasonable levels. Prices for 17-inch models will continue to drop but not drastically. You'll likely find a lot of good monitors priced at $120 to $150 by year's end.

In flat-square tubes, the measurement is diagonal, but the actual measurement can vary between screens with shadow mask and aperture grille technologies. For example, a 0.25-mm aperture grille pitch is roughly equivalent to a 0.27-mm shadow mask dot pitch.

If you forget everything else, remember this one thing about dot pitch: The lower the better. Don't buy a 17-inch with higher than 0.28-mm dot pitch. A unit with 0.27- mm dot pitch or less will meet your viewing needs nicely.

Optimum resolution. Resolution is measured by multiplying the number of horizontal pixels by the number of vertical ones. CRT monitors can generally handle multiple resolutions, from 1,600 by 1,200 down to 1,200 by 1,024, 1,024 by 768 and even lower.

More important than a monitor's advertised maximum resolution is its optimum resolution. Many manufacturers claim maximum resolutions of 1,200 by 1,024 or higher; read the fine print to determine if this is matched with a refresh rate of at least 75 hertz.

For example, an expensive 17-inch monitor running a resolution of 1,200 by 1,024 pixels at only 60 hertz will flicker noticeably. The same display set to 1,024 by 768 at 85 hertz will provide clear, flicker-free images.

Refresh rate. Also known as scan rate, refresh rate is the speed at which the screen can refresh, or repaint, its images. The horizontal scan rate is measured in kilohertz and represents the number of horizontal lines the display can repaint per second. The vertical scan rate is measured in hertz and indicates how many times the entire screen can repainted from the top line to the bottom line per second.

Horizontal and vertical scan rates are important performance measurements. A higher horizontal refresh rate enables the display to run at higher resolutions. A higher vertical refresh rate reduces the amount of noticeable screen flicker and results in less eyestrain.

Digital controls. Beware of dirt-cheap 15- or 17-inch monitors that come bundled with low-priced computer packages from unknown retail outlets. If they have two or three analog knobs under the monitor's bezel, they're obsolete.

Your monitor should come with on-screen digital controls that let you adjust brightness, contrast, horizontal and vertical images from a menu.

Digital controls also let you check for convergence; degauss or demagnetize the screen; and eliminate barreling, pincushioning, and trapezoid- or parallelogram-shaped distortions.

Safety and power management. The monitor you buy should comply with MPR II and the Swedish Confederation of Professional Employees' TCO99 standards for regulating electromagnetic, magnetic and electric field emissions. It also should meet power and energy conservation standards. Look for the Energy Star logo to be sure the monitor meets the latest power management standards.

Speakers. Don't worry about them. I wouldn't turn down a monitor because it came with speakers, but I would not go out of my way to find one with them either. A baseline monitor is going to have fairly flimsy speakers. For good audio quality, buy separate speakers and a good sound card.

Warranty. Check the fine print. Monitors are most likely to fail during their first few weeks, or even days, of use. Who pays for delivery and return of the product when your monitor screen goes blank? What happens if your monitor is dead on arrival? Will the manufacturer add warranty protection, even for a fee?

The 17-inch CRT monitors that fit my baseline criteria are among the best buys in IT hardware, but there are some caveats.

Be careful about buying sub-$200 units available through online stores and computer magazines, and in office supply stores. Many units sold this way are discontinued models.
If you're buying a new monitor for a legacy PC, check whether the old graphics card can handle higher resolutions and refresh rates. If not, replace it.

Remember, there's no really objective technique for determining which monitor appeals to you the most. In the final analysis, the eyes have it.

J.B. Miles of Pahoa, Hawaii, writes about communications and computers. E-mail him at jbmiles@gte.net.






























































































































































































Company Product Dot pitch in millimeters Diagonal image size in inches Optimum resolution in pixels Scan frequencies Price
Acer America Corp.

San Jose, Calif.

408-432-6200

www.global.acer.com
V771 0.27 16 1,024 by 768

at 85 hertz
30 to 72 KHz

horizontal, 50

to 120 hertz

vertical
$176
ADI Systems Inc.

San Jose, Calif.

408-944-0100

www.adi.com.tw
MicroScan M700 0.27 16 1,024 by 768

at 85 hertz
30 to 70 KHz

horizontal, 50

to 160 hertz

vertical
$197
Amptron International Inc.

City of Industry, Calif.

626-912-5789

www.amptron.com
CS17 0.27 15.8 1,280 by

1,024 at

85 hertz
30 to 70 KHz

horizontal,

50 to 120

hertz vertical
$139
Cornerstone Peripherals

Technology Inc.

Fremont, Calif.

510-580-8900

www.bigmonitors.com
C650 0.26 16 1,024 by 768

at 85 hertz
30 to 70 KHz

horizontal, 50

to 160 hertz

vertical
$209
CTX International Inc.

City of Industry, Calif.

626-839-0500

www.ctxintl.com
VL700 0.27 16 1,024 by 768

at 85 hertz
30 to 70 KHz

horizontal, 50

to 160 hertz

vertical
$199
Digiview

Edison, N.J.

888-327-8899

www.digiview.com
MVD72 0.28 15.7 1,024 by 768

at 85 hertz
30 to 72 KHz

horizontal, 50

to 120 hertz

vertical
$155
Envision Peripherals Inc.

Fremont, Calif.

510-770-9988

www.epius.com
7GLR 0.26 15.8 1,600 by

1,200 at

75 hertz
30 to 85 KHz

horizontal,

50 to 120 hertz

vertical
$180
Hansol Multitech Inc.

Buena Park, Calif.

714-562-5151

www.hansol-us.com
720A 0.27 16 1,024 by 768

at 85 hertz
30 to 70 KHz

horizontal,

50 to 120

hertz vertical
$180
Hewlett-Packard Co.

Palo Alto, Calif.

650-857-1501

www.hp.com
HP 72 0.27 15.9 1,024 by 768

at 85 hertz
30 to 70 KHz

horizontal,

50 to 120

hertz vertical
$219
Hitachi America Ltd.

Brisbane, Calif.

781-461-8300

www.hitachidisplays.com
SuperScan
CM615
0.24 16.1 1,024 by 768

at 85 hertz
31 to 70 KHz

horizontal,

50 to 100 hertz

vertical
$179
IBM Corp.

Armonk, N.Y.

914-499-1900

www.pc.ibm.com
E74 0.27 15.9 1,024 by 768

at 85 hertz
30 to 70 KHz

horizontal,

50 to 120

hertz vertical
$192
iiyama North America Inc.

Santa Ana, Calif.

714-437-5111

www.iiyama.com
S700J1-LNN 0.28 16 1,024 by 768

at 85 hertz
30 to 70 KHz

horizontal, 50

to 160 hertz

vertical
$185
KDS USA Inc.

Garden Grove, Calif.

714-379-5599

www.kdsusa.com
VS-7I 0.27 16 1,024 by 768

at 85 hertz
30 to 70 KHz

horizontal, 50

to 160 hertz

vertical
$149
LG Electronics U.S.A. Inc.

Englewood Cliffs, N.J.

201-816-2000

www.lgeus.com
790SC 0.26 15.9 1,280 by

1,024 at

89 hertz
30 to 100 KHz

horizontal, 40

to 200 hertz

vertical
$193
NEC-Mitsubishi Electronics
Display of America Inc.


Itasca, Ill.

888-632-6487

www.necmitsubishi.com
NEC

AccuSync 70
0.27 16 1,024 by 768

at 85 hertz
31 to 70 KHz

horizontal,

55 to 120 hertz

vertical
$190
Proview Technology Inc.

City of Industry, Calif.

626-581-1007

www.proview.net
PS715 0.25 15.7 1,024 by 768

at 85 hertz
30 to 75 KHz

horizontal,

50 to 150 hertz

vertical
$180
Relisys

Fremont, Calif.

510-413-3000

www.relisys.com
TE770 0.27 16 1,024 by 768

at 85 hertz
30 to 86 KHz

horizontal,

50 to 120 hertz

vertical
$179
Samsung Electronics Co.

Ridgefield Park, N.J.

800-637-1337

www.samsungmonitor.com
SyncMaster
750S
0.27 16 1,024 by 768

at 85 hertz
30 to 70 KHz

horizontal, 50

to 160 hertz

vertical
$174
Sceptre Technologies Inc.

City of Industry, Calif.

626-369-3698

www.sceptre.com
D76A 0.26 16 1,280 by

1,024 at

80 hertz
30 to 88 KHz

horizontal, 50

to 120 hertz

vertical
$200
ViewSonic Corp.

Walnut, Calif.

909-444-8800

www.viewsonic.com
E70fb 0.25 16 1,024 by 768

at 87 hertz
30 to 70 KHz

horizontal, 50

to 160 hertz

vertical
$183

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