5 Dynamite Displays31 Aug, 2003 By: Ron LaFon
Now’s the Time to Upgrade your Monitor
To paraphrase the old saying, The more things change, the more they stay the same, the theme of this months roundup of big monitors for CAD is The more things change, the more they become like one another. Most of the monitors in this roundup are based on the same tube technologythe excellent flat Trinitron display that Sony has produced in prodigious numbers for the past few months. That picture is changing, if youll excuse the expression. Sony recently announced that it wont produce as many of these tubes. This resulted in one monitor being pulled from the review because it wont be available by the time you read this.
There are differences in connectivity, warranty, and pricing, and it is largely these differences that determine the individual ratings. There is little variation in options, but the quality level is so remarkably high (and the prices so low) that this is a great time to spring for that big monitor youve wanted. Prices are likely to rise in the near term.
The mass production of CRT monitors is part of the reason why they are currently so reasonably priced. The other reason is the increased popularity of flat-panel digital displays. Though the overall display quality of flat-panel displays generally is lower than that of large CRTs, flat-panel monitors are convenient and flexible in that they rotate orientation. They also have a certain high-tech allure. But new is not necessarily better.
Aside from the individual components that make up these big displays, the features they offer are generally fewer than found in previous roundups. For example, only one of the monitors reviewed here offers a USB connector. One has a BNC connection, and one has a DVI/D connection. Also, software bundles are either absent or minimal. The availability of all these features affects the final pricing, so low prices generally mean fewer options.
With one exception, warranties cover a standard three years for parts, labor, and the tube. The only exception is Cornerstone, which offers a remarkable five years of coverage on its P1750 monitor.
Testing vs. Buying
To test, I let each monitor warm up for at least an hour, and then run the test sequences using DisplayMate software, our standard for testing display quality. For more information on DisplayMate, go to www.displaymate.com. I tested navigation through the on-screen menu to determine which adjustment features are available and how easy they are to comprehend and adjust.
Cadalyst Labs tests what you look for when buying a new monitor. Is the image bright? Are the colors true? Are the controls (and menu) easy to use? Is the focus good? Does it offer the kinds of connections you need or expect to need? Once you determine these things, other considerations come into play. Does the warranty offer good coverage? Is the pricing in line with other similar displays?
Whichever model you choose, now is the time to get a good deal on a large CRT display.