As an intermediate computer user, I myself personally don’t run into many problems when choosing computer hardware software or peripherals. So when it comes to buying LCD panel I pretty much know what I want; unfortunately that is not the case with many people.
There is a very important factor that every modern computer monitor shopper should look at – it’s the native resolution. Here is why native resolution factor is important when comparing monitors at a local computer store:
I hope that many of you noticed that retailers such as CompUSA, Best Buy, MicroCenter etc, have monitors out on displays cluttered in one section all showing the same image, frame, desktop environment or movie. This is a rather wrong way to demonstrate the quality of monitor since most flat panel/LCDs have different native resolution from one another.
The resolution that you often see on those monitors is, in my opinion, 1024×768 – maybe slightly higher – which is pretty standard non-widescreen resolution. When this resolution is fed to a widescreen LCD panel of 20.1″ with native resolution of 1680×1050 it will look stretched and “depixelized” (term should be added to dictionary just for this reason).
Most modern flat panel/LCDs now days tend to lean towards widescreen formats with native resolution such as: 1440×900, 1680×1080, 1920×1200 and 2560×1600. This basically means that any non-native resolution fed to the LCD panel will give you quality not intended by the manufacturer, therefore reducing quality of user experience.
A few of my six pack friends went out and bought LCD panels for their computers and to this day I get to tell them how distorted their image looks just because their video card doesn’t support modern resolutions (which is why it is important to check for monitor/video card compatibility). Personally I enjoy the crisp and clear look of my desktop environment that is properly run at 1680×1050.
A smart thing to do in this situation is to ask a sales rep to have a certain monitor of your particular taste hooked up to computer which can output native resolution for that monitor. This could get annoying for the sales rep if you want to check out multiple monitors this way, so when going out to buy a monitor know what resolution you want.
Today the standard is migrating into widescreen formats – probably already has. A very standard widescreen resolution today is 1680×1050 – there are many cheap LCDs at this resolution well under $250, just check http://www.pricegrabber.com.