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What are they? LCD monitors are based on active-matrix thin-film transistors placed in complex sandwiches of filters, electrodes, glass substrates and other materials. A fluorescent back light illuminates the screen from behind.

Why buy one? LCDs offer bright and crisp images in slim, space-saving profiles. They are relatively lightweight and can be moved from the desktop to wall or ceiling mounts. They consume much less energy than CRTs and are flicker-free.

What's the drawback? They can cost up to twice as much as same-sized CRTs.

Must-know info? Because of their relatively large screen sizes, 19- and 20-inch LCDs are becoming almost as popular as 17-inch models, and their average cost has dropped from around $1,500 to the $800 range. Models of this size are desirable for professional use because they offer lots of space and a list of features that keeps just about everybody happy. The marriage of LCD monitors and TV sets is next on the horizon.

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