Pick the computer monitor that's right for you

LCD MonitorMunich - Monitors frame our relationship with our computers and a great computer is only as good as its monitor.

That's why it's important to ask yourself: "What do I want to do with this computer" before purchasing, says Jaroslav Smycek of the Hannover Consumer's Center.

Although nearly all flat screen monitors are based on LCD technology, there are differences between the models. "TN Film models are popular. These screens are in the lower end of the price range," says Josef Reitberger of "CHIP," a Munich-based computer magazine.

Apart from the price, one of TN Film's major advantages is its fast-image formatting. But as that can only be measured in milliseconds, it's generally only important to gamers.

Office applications are more concerned about factors such as contrast, viewing angle and colour consistency. "MVA, PVA and S-IPS displays hold the advantage here," says Reitberger.

But they cost more than TN displays, which sell for less than 200 euros (317 dollars). MVA and PVA displays start at around
500 euros.

"IPS displays cost around 2,000 euros. They're for people like graphic designers," says Peter Knaak of the Berlin-based Stiftung Warentest, a consumer goods organization.

Frequent computer users are well served with an investment of several hundred euros, say experts. After all, a good monitor should outlive two PCs, says Reitberger.

The price should be based on more than just the fact that a monitor has a flat screen. "The height of the display should be adjustable," says Knaak. "It's also good if you can tilt the screen forward or backward." Some displays have a reflective surface, which can be distracting.

Customers should also think hard about the size of monitor they need. Consumers are tending toward 19-inch models these days. "But 15-inch monitors have become exotic. Even 17-inch models have been driven out of the market," says Reitberger.

Smycek recommends 19-inch models because they're good for the eyes. "It keeps the text from being too small," he says. Even 22-inch models are affordable these days. And anyone who wants to run multiple programs simultaneously will benefit from the extra sized monitor.

"The viewing angle becomes more important with a wide screen that is near your face," says Knaak. He recommends looking at a monitor from all angles when shopping. How does it look when viewed from above and from the right?

The manufacturer's technical details also give some clues about the viewing angle. "Most say they can accommodate around 160 to 180 degrees. The higher the number, the better the viewing angle. (dpa)