Saturday, February 7, 2009

LCD Monitors

I was sitting in lab the other day, staring at my monitor, wondering why it appeared so twinkly. After all, it was an Apple Cinema Display (aluminum-frame) 23", very similar to the monitor I have at home (HP L2335 23"), but for some reason, it was annoying the heck out of me.

Curious, I opened my laptop to look at its screen, and the display was not sparkly at all, although it was quite glossy, true to form. So, arriving home that day, I took to looking up LCD monitor information. I was, of course, interested in the possibility of buying a cheap second monitor for myself. Through some digging, I was not surprised to find that those large, cheap LCD screens mostly use TN panel technology, just like laptop panels. And if you've seen laptop panels at a bit of a vertical or horizontal angle, then you've seen the primary bad quality about a TN panel, which is really shitty viewing angle. Beyond that, color reproduction is also quite poor, although response time is the fastest. This wasn't anything new to me, but I was trying to figure out the panel type for Apple's LED cinema display, assuming that I will be able to get my hands on an DVI->displayport adapter or some updated Mac Mini that has a displayport output. This website, which keeps a comprehensive list of S-IPS and H-IPS monitors seems to indicate that Apple's monitors have always been S-IPS or H-IPS. Now confused about the issue of H-IPS vs. S-IPS, I found another site, which actually addressed my original question. The likely culprit is probably the anti-glare coating on the monitor that is causing the "twinkling".

Now, onto the amusing part of the whole issue, which is simply that Apple appears to have always used S-IPS and H-IPS panels, at least in their stand-alone monitors and the newer iMac's. Ironically, all the people who laugh at Apple fans who buy those products because they come with the "Apple Tax" are unaware of the display quality, esp. compared to some of the offerings by other manufacturers. (Certainly, the story of Dell pulling a bait-and switch with one of its monitors has been the source of a minor brouhaha in the past: the first rollout came with S-IPS [for reviews?] and then was switched over to S-PVA [for cheapness?].) All things considered, $800 (educational price) for a 24" LED-backlit H-IPS monitor is a pretty good deal. And for those more economically minded, the HP version without LED-backlighting is ~$600.

Oh, and HDCP, still hate its fucking guts.



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