A Buying Guide for Monitors

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A Buying Guide for Monitors

Computer monitors have come a long way since the large, heavy, cathode ray tube models of the 1980s and 1990s. Modern monitors are not only lighter and thinner, but the technology used within them allows them to display incredibly detailed images. As such, they can greatly enhance the experience of using a computer. As important as it is for computer owners to upgrade their monitor technology, there are many important points to consider before making a purchase.

Monitor Makes and Models

The first point for buyers to be aware of is that there is a huge selection of monitor makes and models to choose from. Many computer manufacturers also make monitors, as do general electronics manufacturers such as Samsung and LG. All monitors are designed to offer a visual display, but they vary in terms of technological specifications, and therefore price.

Monitor Screen Size

One of the factors that determines the price of a monitor is its screen size. The size is measured in inches, and diagonally from one corner of the screen to the other. The screen sizes of modern monitors generally range from 15" to 27 " , with the larger models typically being more expensive. It is important when buying a new monitor to consider its size, not only in terms of the space it will take up within the home, but also with regards to its intended use. For general computer work, a small screen is perfectly adequate, but for watching films or playing games, a larger screen would offer a better visual experience.

Monitor Aspect Ratio

In addition to the size of a monitor screen, its aspect ratio will also have an effect on the way in which images are presented. The ratio 4:3 was the industry standard for computer monitors in the past, but this has changed to 16:9 due to the fact that many people now use their computers as multi-purpose entertainment devices. However, it is not uncommon when buying a monitor to find aspect ratios of 5:4, 14:9, or 16:10. The aspect ratio is important because it defines the ways in which a monitor can be used. In particular, monitors with an aspect ratio of 16:9 will be able to display films and games in the way in which their makers intended. Monitors with conflicting aspect ratios, however, will artificially stretch or shrink an image to fit the screen, with the resultant black bars around the edges often proving to be a distraction.

The Screen Resolution of Monitors

Without question, one of the most important factors to consider when buying a new monitor is the native screen resolution of the device. Put very simply, the higher the resolution, the more detailed an image will be. The screen resolution refers to the maximum number of pixels that are capable of being displayed at one time, meaning that higher resolution images are crisper, clearer, and more vibrant. In general, it is the larger monitors that are capable of displaying images of the highest resolutions. Any new computer monitor with a screen size of 27 inches are larger should have a minimum resolution of 1920x1080. Lower resolutions are available with smaller screens. Of the lower resolutions, 1280x1024 is most commonly found, although this does represent a noticeable drop in image quality from the larger models.

Monitor Picture Quality

In addition to the resolution, the quality of images displayed by a monitor will depend on such factors as the brightness, the contrast ratio, and the response rate. The latter refers to how quickly pixels can change their appearance, and is measured in milliseconds. While 8ms is a standard monitor response time, some are as fast as 2ms. A faster response time significantly reduces the risk of images ghosting or blurring. While brightness and contrast levels can be adjusted, their maximum levels give an indication of the capabilities of a monitor in terms of image quality. The contrast ratio determines the vibrancy of colours, and how dark black tones appear to be. A contrast ratio should be at least 400:1 in order to display colourful, high quality images properly.

Monitor Display Technology

As previously stated, cathode ray tube monitors used to be the industry standard, before being replaced by liquid crystal display (LCD) models. LCD monitors are vastly superior in terms of the technology that they contain. They are much thinner and lighter than CRT monitors, and the images displayed are sharper, with brighter colours. Another option is to buy an LED monitor. These devices also incorporate liquid crystal display technology, but the backlighting is different to what is found in LCD monitors. As a result of this difference in lighting, LED monitors are thought to offer better contrast, and deeper blacks, than LCD monitors. They are also incredibly thin. As a further option, plasma monitors are available, however, these are far less common and they suffer from reliability issues not found with LCD or LED monitors.

Glossy vs Matte Monitors

Monitor screens can either have a glossy or a matte coating, with the former being far more common. There are advantages and disadvantages to each, with glossy screens offering vibrant, colourful images, and matte screens cutting down on glare and reflection. It is, therefore, a case of personal preference as to which type of monitor to buy, and it is important to think about where the device will be located, and what it will be used for. For example, while reflections might be easily ignored while browsing the Internet, they may be more distracting when trying to watch a film.

Monitor Connectivity

The connectivity options found on a monitor are of crucial importance, as they define the ways in which it can communicate with other devices. Most monitors still have a VGA port for connection to a computer, even though this technology has now been superseded by superior data transfer methods. For high definition images, it is essential to have a Digital Visual Interface (DVI) port, and if a monitor is to be used for playing games or watching films it should also have at least one HDMI port. A USB port and memory card slots are also useful, and expand the range of uses of a monitor. Finally, some monitors also have DisplayPort technology, which allows high definition images to be displayed in much the same way as HDMI. In short, when a monitor has a large selection of connection options, it increases its usefulness and versatility. As a result, the connectivity options on offer should be one of the primary considerations when buying a new monitor.

Further Considerations for Monitors

It is clear that there are several important points to consider when buying a monitor, from the screen resolution to the connectivity options. There are, however, additional factors which may have an effect on a buying decision. For example, some monitors are more energy efficient than others. The energy rating of a device will give an indication of how much power it will consume and how costly it will be to run. Certain features determine how user-friendly a monitor is, such as having intuitive controls and an easy-to-understand on-screen display system. A monitor should also be ergonomic, in that it should be able to be tilted as needed and adjustable by height. This will help to provide a good range of viewing angles. Finally, it can be extremely useful for a monitor to have a built-in webcam, digital TV tuner, and integrated speakers. In order to produce audio of a decent standard, a speaker system should be rated at a minimum of two watts.

Advanced Technological Monitor Features

There are certain advancements in monitor technology which, while relatively new, will eventually become much more commonplace. For example, the massive popularity of tablet computers and smartphones has led to a demand for touch screen monitors for use with desktop computers. There are now several models available, and they offer an extra degree of convenience for users. Similarly, the trend for 3D televisions has meant that there is also a market for 3D computer monitors. As with televisions, special glasses need to be worn to appreciate this feature, but the introduction of this technology means that it is possible to watch 3D films on a computer.

Finding Monitors on eBay

A huge selection of very affordable monitors can be found on the online marketplace eBay. There are many different makes and models available, and they are located within the Electronics & Technology category. More specifically, the full range can be accessed through a series of sub-categories, beginning with Computers, Tablets, & Networking. Within this sub-category there is an option for Monitors, Projectors, & Accessories, and from there a further option for Monitors. Selecting this will display the thousands of monitors for sale, and the search can be narrowed further by specifying certain factors such as manufacturer, screen size, resolution, and display technology.


The quality of a monitor can make a huge difference to the experience of using a computer. Modern monitors are vastly superior to older models in terms of image resolution, which is extremely important for playing games, watching videos, and displaying photographs. Even basic tasks, such as Internet browsing, are made easier with a good quality monitor. With the range of devices available on eBay it is easy to find a monitor capable of displaying clear, vibrant images.

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