MANY CONTRACTORS SPEND a heck of a lot of time in front of their computer screens. If you are still working with a bulky CRT monitor, the time might be right to upgrade to a large-screen, small-footprint, flat-panel LCD monitor that offers a lot of productivity-enhancing features for the money.
The price of larger-screen LCD monitors has dropped dramatically over the last several months. In response to market demand, the 15-in. monitor (which used to seem large compared to the 13-in. models and was the premium unit) is fast becoming a basic commodity. The 17-in. and larger monitors are getting all the bells and whistles that manufacturers choose to include in hot sellers.
Even though larger-than-17-in. monitors are also dropping in price, 17-in. units seem just right for many contractors’ crowded desks. Compared to smaller sizes, the footprint isn’t that much bigger, yet they provide much more screen real estate. If you rotate them to portrait mode, they have enough length to view a full 812-by-11 document or a full Web page without scrolling.
All monitors are designed to run in a specific “native” mode that is the optimal resolution for that screen size. While a 15-in. monitor runs at a resolution of 1024x768, 17-inchers operate at 1280x1024, which provides a much clearer image that has been found to be more comfortable on the eyes than the lower resolution. Because that resolution delivers such clarity, even most 19-in. models use it.
Businesses are leading the switch over to LCD monitors in place of CRT monitors because productivity at the desk was actually hampered by the large footprint of a CRT monitor. Also, compared to what is required when using smaller units, employees do not have to waste time scrolling left and right, up and down to see the entire screen image at once.
Furthermore, because 15-in. LCDs have already become a commodity product (down in price but also not carrying all the latest features), monitor manufacturers are tending to reserve the latest improvements in panel monitor technology for 17-in. models and larger.
A trend in new LCD monitors is to include both digital and analog inputs. If your computer has a digital video card (which is becoming more common and it’s easy and inexpensive to add to existing computers), the signal from the computer to the monitor would be of the highest quality because the computer creates the image digitally and the monitor displays the image digitally.
Because there’s no need to convert an analog signal to a digital signal (which entails four conversions), digital eliminates data transmission loss and degradation of signal quality. With an integrated digital video card, the signal stays digital the whole trip from computer to display, for the cleanest, crispest image possible.
For example, the new, high-performing Samsung 173P 17-in. LCD monitor (www.samsungusa.com/monitor , 800/SAMSUNG) incorporates all the features noted above and other user-friendly innovations. The screen is mounted on a double-hinged stand that makes it easy to maneuver it into the best viewing position for each user.
The hinges allow a full 90° rotation of the screen from landscape to portrait mode (supported by accompanying software that changes the orientation of the image onscreen) and the stand itself swivels (smoothly) on a secure base. No matter where the unit sits on the desk, the user can adjust the angle for optimal viewing. The screen can even be titled backward 145° to allow viewers on the other side of the desk to see the image.
The screen, which sports a generous height adjustment of 0.0-in. to 3.25-in., offers a full 90° screen tilt and has an extra-wide 178° viewing angle (both horizontally and vertically) that enables someone standing next to the person sitting in front of the monitor to view an onscreen document or graphic image without any loss of image color or brightness.
The unit, which sports a slim 1-in. deep screen profile, comes with cables for both digital and analog signal inputs, which are well placed in the rear of the unit, at just about desktop level.
The monitor has a single control button — on/off. All other functions are managed through the MagicTune software shipped with it.
The 173P features three brightness modes designed for different applications: PC (equivalent to the brightness level of traditional LCD displays); Internet (offering increased luminescence, good for viewing videos); and entertainment (the brightest, suitable for PC-Internet gaming or TV watching). Individual preferences are saved to the computer’s hard drive, enabling each user to personalize the display.
William and Patti Feldman provide Web content for companies and write for magazines, trade associations, building product manufacturers and other companies on a broad range of topics. They can be reached at [email protected].