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Computer Monitors Explained

This is the sixth article in the

This is the sixth article in the series on how computers work. For this article, the different types of monitors, or displays, available for use with a personal computer will be explored. There are numerous types and styles of monitors available depending on what the end user wants or needs for a computer screen.

Types of Monitors:

CRTStands for cathode ray tube and is the standard for the first monitors available. These first monitors were monochrome monitors, meaning the display was only in one color – either green or orange. One of the major issues with the CRT is the size and weight of the monitor – it takes up quite a bit of space. Though CRT monitors are still available, newer technology is quickly making these types of displays less popular.
LCDStands for liquid crystal display which was the next monitor available for the personal computer after the CRT. One of the most attractive features of the LCD is that fact that it is a thin, flat display so it takes up less space than a CRT monitor.
PlasmaThough plasma is used more in the TV industry many computer users are starting to use plasma displays on their computers. The majority of the plasma displays used are for presentations and displays that require a connection to a computer with a display with a large viewing area.

Measurements Used for Monitors:

When selecting a monitor for use with a computer there are several variables that need to be taken into account. These include size, dot pitch, refresh rate, aspect ration and resolution, which are detailed below. In addition, checking the measurement is important when selecting the best-suited monitor for its intended task. If the computer and monitor are used mainly for word processing then a smaller monitor with a lower resolution will probably be adequate. For someone performing graphic design work a larger monitor with a higher resolution would be the best fit.

SizeThis is the size of the display measured diagonally in inches. Typically, display sizes start at 13” and go up to over 20” in size.
Dot PitchThis is the distance between pixels of identical color and is measured in millimeters. For a sharper picture, the dot pitch should be lower.
Refresh RateThis is the number of times the display is “refreshed” (the image is displayed) per second. Each monitor has a default, or recommend, refresh rate. If a monitor is flickering a lot then the refresh rate may not be set at the correct value.
Aspect RatioThis is the horizontal size compared to the vertical size of a monitor. The standard aspect ration for a monitor is 4:3 while a wide screen monitor can have an aspect ration of 16:9.
ResolutionThe number of pixels that can be displayed in a set area. The larger the number the sharper the picture.

Sample Monitors:

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