Why, with all those faults, have LCDs become so popular? Maybe it's lust. Consumers could be turned onto LCD panels because they have more sex appeal than CRT monitors. Maybe it's all about body image. LCD screens are thinner and lighter than CRT monitors, and I hear they have fewer carbs, too. Maybe it's the fact some users can't stand to go back to CRTs after basking in even a moment of the glorious brightness and clarity of typical LCD screens. Whatever the motivation, LCDs are wildly popular.
Thus, we've whipped up a seven-way LCD comparison to commemorate what may turn out to be the year of the LCD. Read on to find out which screen is most likely to tempt you away from that trusty CRT.
Revisiting the good, the bad, and the ugly
Although it's been almost a year and a half since we last looked at LCD screens, the display technology hasn't changed dramatically. LCD screens still use liquid crystal panels to manipulate light generated by a backlight. As they're stimulated, the liquid crystals change their molecular structure to allow light to pass through red, green, and blue pixel components. These pixel components are bound to individual transistors, giving each pixel dedicated circuitry.
Back-lit liquid crystal panels are quite different from the cathode ray tubes that power more traditional CRT displays, but the two technologies are generally capable of producing comparable on-screen images. However, due to differences in how CRTs and LCDs go about producing those images, each technology has its own strengths and weaknesses.
Since we're only looking at LCDs today, I've gathered the relative strengths and weaknesses of LCD screens below. This collection of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly first appeared in an LCD round-up I did almost a year and a half ago, and the basic concepts generally remain true today.
Where are LCD panels far superior to even high-end CRT displays?
Monitor footprint is less of an issue for those who are only running a single screen, but throw two or more CRTs onto a desk and things quickly get cramped.
Though LCDs have numerous benefits over traditional CRT monitors, it's not all roses.
The majority of today's mid-range and high-end LCDs claim pixel response times around 25 milliseconds, which means pixels can update themselves a maximum of 40 times per second. The equivalent of 40 frames per second should be fast enough for the vast majority of PC users, and even for casual gamers. If that's not fast enough for you, LCDs are available with pixel response times as low as 16 milliseconds.
If The Bad has turned you off LCDs already, The Ugly can definitely vindicate your decision.
Interpolation is really only an issue if you need to run a screen outside its native resolution, and that's pretty rare unless you play games. Gamers will have to live with interpolation unless their systems are capable of churning out reasonable frame rates at their LCD's native resolution. Doing so shouldn't be too hard for older games like Quake III Arena, but the hardware requirements for churning out reasonable frame rates in new games like Doom 3, even at medium resolutions like 1024x768, will probably be pretty steep.
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