Should You Invest in A Flat-Panel Monitor?

BY STANLEY ZAROWIN

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Q. I’ve been seeing lots of advertisements recently for flat-panel computer monitors. I’m interested in buying one, especially because it would take up less space on my desk. But these monitors are nearly twice the price of the regular models and I wonder whether they’re worth the extra money? Is there any downside to replacing my regular monitor with one of these slimmer designs?

A. Except for price, I can’t think of a single reason why you shouldn’t make the switch. However, you’ll be happy to hear that their prices are falling—fast.

The flat-panel—or, more accurately, the liquid-crystal display (LCD)—monitors have loads of advantages over regular monitors, which use cathode-ray tubes (CRTs) for display. CRTs are the picture tubes used in conventional television sets, although some new TVs are coming out with LCD displays, too.

LCDs are more expensive because they are more difficult to manufacture, but as production techniques improve, prices are declining. Some advantages of LCDs:

They take less space on a desk.
They produce no flicker. Images on a CRT, on the other hand, need to be refreshed repeatedly, which produces the flicker effect.
They generate brighter images with greater tonal range (blacker blacks, whiter whites).
They produce none of the harmful radiation that’s emitted by CRTs.
They save electricity. One estimate puts the savings (if the computer is run 14 hours a day) at more than $50 a year.

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