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How do I Choose the Best TFT Monitor?

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  • Written By: John Lister
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 04 December 2016
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    2003-2016
    Conjecture Corporation
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A TFT monitor is a type of LCD, or liquid crystal display monitor. The names comes from thin film transistor which is the technology used to improve the picture quality. There are several factors to look out for when choosing a TFT monitor.

Size is arguably the most important point in choosing a TFT monitor, particularly because the technology allows you to get a much bigger screen size without the monitor becoming impractically deep as would happen with an old-style CRT monitor. As a general rule, it’s worth getting the biggest screen within your budget, though sometimes a smaller screen from a high quality brand can be better value than a bigger screen from a budget manufacturer.

As with other screens, TFT monitors are listed by their diagonal screen size. However, because the screen does not curve at the edges, a TFT screen will have about one inch (2.5 cm) extra visible area compared with a CRT monitor of the same diagonal size. It’s also worth remembering that a 16:9 or “widescreen” monitor will have less total viewing area than a 4:3 monitor with the same diagonal size. The difference varies with the screen size, but as a rough rule a 4:3 monitor will have about 50% more area than its 16:9 equivalent.

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It’s also important to consider the available inputs on a TFT monitor. If it’s compatible with your computer, a digital input such as DVI will give better results than an analog input such as VGA. A digital input can also be useful if you want to use the monitor as a screen for a DVD player or games console.

There are a variety of figures used to measure the level of detail available on the screen. The most common is the resolution, which simply describes the number of pixels which can be displayed. The higher the resolution, the better the more detailed the picture will be.

Another measure is the contrast ratio. This is a figure measuring how many times brighter a pure white signal displayed by the monitor is than a pure black signal on the same screen. The higher the contrast ratio, the more subtle the color detail on the screen will be. It’s worth noting that the precise methods for measuring contrast ratio can vary, so it is more useful to use an independent guide which directly compares different models than to go buy the manufacturer’s own figures.

A third measure is the response rate. This is a measurement of time, showing how quickly the screen can change its display. A quick response rate is more important on a screen you will be using for watching videos or playing games than one used mainly for Internet surfing and office tasks, where the difference in response rate may be less noticeable.

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