In the old days a computer monitor was measured and judged for its display quality. The original CRT tubes made that a challenge and when LCD technology came along monitors became more sophisticated and the display quality not only improved it became the major selling feature. Computer monitors continue to improve and new features are considered an amazing achievement in monitor technology. New monitors have features that include different resolutions, response times, contrast differences, different brightness qualities, different connectors and extras that enhance their performance.
Resolution defines the number of pixels or picture elements that make up an image. A high number of pixels mean the image details are more defined. Most monitors can display several resolutions depending on the graphic card. A typical monitor pixel resolution range is anywhere from 640 x 480 to 1920 x 1200. LCD monitors display their sharpest image when they are set at 1024 x 768 for a 15 inch screen and 1280 x 1024 for a 17 inch screen. Widescreen monitor resolutions are usually 1680 x 1050 for a 15 inch screen and 1440 x 900 for a 17 inch. When the monitor has a high pixel resolution the images and the text are smaller, so more content fits on the screen. Graphic and photo work usually requires screens with higher resolutions.
Monitor response time measures how fast pixels can turn off and on, which is an important feature when a computer is used for various graphic or photo projects. The contrast measures the difference between the deepest dark found on the screen and the brightest white and it is expressed as a ratio. Higher contrast means better image quality in terms of sharpness. Contrast does vary on a monitor screen so the ratio is not always a reliable measurement. Most monitors have brightness controls, so the contrast can be adjusted for personal use.
A bright computer monitor screen is important in a room that has a lot of lighting. Brightness is expressed in candelas per square meter written as cd/m2. A higher number in that expression means higher brightness. LCD monitors have brightness controls as well as color balance knobs, so the screen can be adjusted for color, as well as brightness. Almost all monitors have DVI port connectors, which support high-end video cards to improve image quality. They also include HDMI interface, which means audio and video can be sent over the same cable if the monitor has built-in speakers. Some monitors also have HDCP connectors, that prevent the copying of audio and video content which is copy-protect material.
Monitor extras are being added all the time. Microphones and one or more USB ports are standard on new monitors. Integrated or separate speakers, as well as HDMI inputs are important for camcorder and DVD player use. An iPod dock for playing music and viewing images through the monitor has become a popular extra as well. The play and plug feature makes it easy to add a new monitor to an existing computer and the Built-in TV tuner is a big plus for TV fans. There's no doubt that the extra features and new technology will continue to improve the performance of 21st century monitors.