How to choose a Computer Monitor that doesn’t suck: the questions to ask
If you’ve decided to make your office or home office a little more functional, a new computer monitor could be at the top of your must-have list. For those who usually work on a laptop, connecting it to a full-sized monitor might be more comfortable and more relaxing for the eyes and back, in the long run. Even if you already have a desktop computer with a separate monitor, a second display could improve your productivity and make multitasking easier.
What screen size do I need?
The appropriate screen size will vary depending on the space available, and what you will use it for.
– In general, to take full advantage of a separate screen, most people should aim for at least 22 inches.
– If you have your own desk, lots of space and a slightly higher budget, consider a 24-inch screen. This is the size you will normally find in most modern offices.
– If you don’t have a dedicated workspace, you could opt for a very small screen that you can stow away at the end of the working day, like a 15-inch portable monitor.
You can also think of ultra wide screens. Their dimensions vary from about a third more (in width) than a standard monitor, to twice as wide: they can be useful if you want to have, for example, several activities open at the same time on the same screen. If you have space, an equally effective and probably cheaper alternative is to simply have two monitors side by side.
Carefully consider the size of your workspace to determine how much space you have realistically, considering height and width. Also consider how much space the monitor stand might take up.
When you have selected some monitors, check the specifications online or download the manual – they must contain information about dimensions and other characteristics.
The monitor screen: what is the best technology?
Once you know what size you want, you will need to decide the type of screen. There are a few different technologies, with tech-sounding names like IPS (in-plane switching), TN (twisted nematic), and VA (vertical alignment).
Look for monitors that use IPS or VA panels, especially if you will be using your computer monitor for extended periods, such as for work. These two display technologies offer better clarity and colors than TN displays. This is especially important if your budget is tight – cheap TN panels are generally poor, with washed out colors and tight viewing angles, making them awkward to use.
What screen resolution do I need?
Resolution indicates the number of dots – known as pixels – that produce the image on the screen. The more points, the sharper and clearer the image.
At a minimum, opt for a Full HD (1,920px 1,080p) resolution monitor, otherwise known as 1080p. With anything less than this (usually 1,600 x 900 or “HD” 1,366 x 768) not only do you risk buying a blurry or pixelated screen, but that can be a sign of generally poor display quality. Manufacturers typically don’t prioritize great colors and viewing angles if they’ve skimped on resolution.
As the screen size increases, resolution becomes even more important. If you want a bigger screen (27 inches or more), you should seriously consider upgrading the resolution from the minimum Full HD. There are two options:
– QHD (2.560px 1.440p), also known as 1440p. QHD screens are a cross between Full HD and the 4K resolutions most commonly associated with TVs. By opting for this resolution on larger screens, everything will appear smoother and more defined.
– UHD (3840p x 2160p), also known as 4K or 2160p. This takes things to another level, even though most people won’t really need it. It is often popular with gamers; you will need powerful hardware to make the most of it, as this high number of pixels can put a strain on your graphics card.
With that in mind, here is a selection of the best computer monitors currently available, excelling both in performance and price.