PC Expo: Tidbits and Monitors

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We won’t waste a 1Ghz processor on saps

I wasn’t the only member of this audience who was there.

We had one downright feisty person who had the tremendous nerve to actually try testing equipment, a fine fellow by the name of Jimmy Biricik. Everyone knows you’re not supposed to do that before spending lots of money on computer equipment. 🙂

The gentleman saw an 820 board with a “1Ghz” processor on display. He wanted to test it. The Intel person wouldn’t let him, saying that the 1Ghz processor was really only 700Mhz. When no one was looking, our hero rebooted the machine, and found out it was only a 650Mhz.

Tells you what Intel thinks of its audience.

To quote the gentleman (slightly edited):

“What a rip-off! They really do a good job at fooling the wandering clueless
attendees. The fans of overclockers.com aren’t fooled so easily. We
hardware freaks are always on top of everything.”

So if you went to the show, and walked away impressed by that processor, I have a bridge I can sell you. 🙂

Look at our benchmarks, not yours!

AMD was at least nice enough to use a real 1Ghz processor in its demonstration model. Our intrepid Diogenes found Quake and 3DMarks2000 installed on the machine, so naturally enough, he tested it.

I’ll let him say what happened next:

“I was met by one of the guys at the booth who abruptly pressed escape after my second try at 3DMarks. He uninstalled Quake as
well as 3dmarks explaining to me no benchmarks were allowed. It’s funny they would try to cover the performance of their latest, greatest
product. He told me they borrowed the system from Vega. Also, I only got 26fps on Quake3 with 1280×1024 bilinear and high detail with simple
items on and full antalias off. Very strange stuff if you ask me.”

The AMD fellow wasn’t all bad, though:

“But one thing good to know is the guy at the AMD booth is a overclocker.
He uses watercooling and is also aware of the multiplier being unlocked
on the T-Bird and is waiting for a board to support this feature for the
Socket A format.”

Fortunately, our tested finally found SOMEBODY not afraid of him.

“SGI” (Silicon Graphics) was happy enough to let me play with a 1 Ghz Athlon T-Bird with a
Quadro from Elsa. I ran Treedemo a few times with a very high score. I was very impressed.”

What does this tell us?

A lot of manufacturers know they can pull the wool over the eyes of the sheep that attend these expos.

Monitors

Only a handful of monitor manufacturers were present at the exhibit, and they really weren’t showing a lot of CRT monitors.

Flat-panel displays, yes, but they still cost too much. Very big plasma monitors, yes, but you could buy a car at those prices.

There’s really only three manufacturers who had monitors you might be likely to buy:

Sony

What I found interesting about the Sony monitors was that their economy models looked just about as good as their more expensive models.

Prices on their economy 17″ Trinitron monitors start at a little over $300. 19″ models start at somewhat over $500. Not bargains, for sure,
but not too bad for Trinitron monitors, and reasonably close in price to quality shadow mask monitors.

Hitachi

I wish I had been given the chance to properly judge these monitors, but whoever chose the display demonstration must have been a Smurf. Just about everything shown
was blue. Green for a change of pace.

At least the objects being shown were supposed to be blue or green, but anybody who won’t show the full spectrum of colors in a demonstration isn’t going to get my vote.

Viewsonic

What was very illustrative here was the comparison between their better monitors and the Q71. The Q71 is probably representative of the average $200 or a bit less monitor.

It looked terrible in comparison: something you’d notice at a glance. The picture was washed out and nowhere near as realistic as the others.

True, the Q71 costs a good deal less than Viewsonic’s best 17″ monitors, about $130-$180 less than the economy Sonys or the high-end Viewsonics.

Why Should I Spend Money On A Monitor?

However, I constantly see people buying high-end video cards and low-end monitors. I don’t care how good the video card is, if the monitor can’t reproduce it, it’s a waste. Remember, what do you do with a computer. You look at it.

I admit, I’m heavily biased in favor of Trinitron monitors; I have a 20″ Eizo TX-D7S in front of me. They just do a better job displaying realistic color than shadow-mask monitors.

Of course, every Trinitron ever made has those two thin lines across the screen. There are two kinds of people in the world; those who don’t notice them, and those who are driven insane by them. You won’t know which type you’ll be until you’re tested, so don’t buy one until you’ve seen at least one.

Besides better, more realistic colors, a quality monitor has a more subtle benefit, you can look at it longer without strain. I can look at mine for long periods of time without my eyes getting tired. That’s not something you can determine in a showroom, but something you should keep in mind.

If your budget and your desk are bigger, it was good to see that Viewsonic’s big monitors, which do a pretty good job, now cost about $800 and change. Not cheap, but a lot better than the $1,200 or so they cost not too far back. Maybe you can afford a big monitor after all.

What I’ve written here is no substitute for YOU going out and looking at a variety of monitors to determine which one is best for you. Again, there were very few companies displaying; for instance, I was personally disappointed Samsung didn’t have any on display. They’ve been doing well in product reviews in the official media, and they are modestly priced.

Conclusions

Business expos are for business people, and business people aren’t necessarily too smart. Ask Intel.

It’s a shame, though, that even the people who make the products have concluded that hardware really doesn’t matter to people.

But it does.

The corporate buyer who buys a ton of cheap monitors probably costs the company a hundred times more in productivity than he saves, but you can point to dollars, not eyestrain, or extra time moving around the screen on a tiny monitor.

Be smarter than that.

Email Ed


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