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The competitors
Before I detail the specifications and features offered by each of the monitors we'll be looking at today, let's take a moment to compare some of their more important characteristics.

 Eizo FlexScan L795HP L1730 HP L2035 Philips 190B4CS Samsung 173MW Samsung 173TSony HX93
Screen area19"17"20"19"17"17"19"
Optimal resolution1280x10241280x10241600x12001280x10241280x7681280x10241280x1024
Aspect ratio5:45:44:35:416:95:45:4
Contrast ratio500:1450:1400:1500:1500:1450:1800:1
Brightness (cd/m2)250300250250450270450
Viewing angle (â—¦)170160 horizontal
140 vertical
170170150 horizontal
120 vertical
150 horizontal
120 vertical
170
Pixel response time (ms)25251625252525
InterfacesVGA, DVI-IVGA, DVI-IVGA, DVI-I, composite and S-VideoVGA, DVI-DVGA, DVI-D, coaxial,  composite, CVBS and S-VideoVGA, DVI-DDVI-D, VGA (2)
Left/Right border thickness (mm)19222122251332
Warranty5 years3 years3 years3 years3 years3 years3 years
Pixel defect policy5 defects7 defects10 defects5 defects7 defects7 defects7 defects
Weight (kg)7.25.79.27.06.155.08.5
Power consumption (W)53 (typical)≤ 20≤ 7545  (typical)≤ 49≤ 40≤ 60
Price (street)$927$469$999$580NA$472$730

The screens in our comparo run the gamut from 17 to 20 inches, with resolutions between 1280x768 and 1600x1200. With the exception of the HP L2035 and Samsung 173MW, all the screens use a 5:4 aspect ratio that's sure to irk 4:3 purists. Personally, I'd rather have a 5:4 display at 1280x1024 than a 4:3 display at 1280x960 that offers 81,920 fewer pixels, but that's just me.

The contrast ratios range between 400:1 and 800:1, and brightness levels between 250 and 450 cd/m2. On paper, Sony's HX93 offers the best contrast ratio and brightness rating of any monitor in this comparison—the screen certainly has a lot to live up to in our performance tests.

HP's L2035 boasts a speedy 16 millisecond pixel response time while the rest of the pack comes in at 25 milliseconds. Of course, claimed pixel response times don't guarantee less ghosting and streaking in the real world, but keep an eye on the HP in our pixel persistence tests.

Because analog-only LCDs are just wrong, I limited this comparison to screens that had at least one DVI input. HP and Samsung spice up the interface front by offering a bevy of video inputs in addition to traditional monitor interfaces.

Unless you're thinking about running a multimonitor configuration, you can skip over the section on left/right border thickness. However, anyone looking to arrange several screens side-by-side will want to pay special attention to Samsung's 173T, which offers the thinnest screen borders in this comparison. Monitors like Sony's HX93, whose left/right borders are over an inch and a quarter wide, are clearly not designed for multimonitor applications.

Most of these screens are covered by three-year warranties, but dead pixel policies vary quite a bit from manufacturer to manufacturer and screen to screen. I'll be discussing each when we take a closer look at the individual screens.

Our earlier discussion highlighted the fact that LCD monitors typically consume less power than CRT displays, but there's still plenty of power consumption differentiation within the LCD world. Larger screens like HP's 20" L2035 and Sony's 19" HX93 tend to consume more power than smaller 17" displays, but HP's L1730 deserves special attention for having far lower peak power consumption than the rest of the pack.

A quick look at current street prices rounds up our fancy little comparison chart, and as you can see, we have screens to fit just about every budget. While none of the screens are cheap, some are definitely more affordable than others. It will be interesting to see whether the pricier screens have superior performance and features to soften the sticker shock.