One of the great decisions facing geeks nowadays who are in the market for a new monitor. Get a flat panel, which is much more expensive, and takes up less space, or get a much bigger CRT for the same price?

I opt for CRT based monitors; Trinitron to be precise. I find that for the price of a 15" TFT display, I can get a 19" or 21" CRT. 19 or 21 inches of tube beats out 15 inches of flatness anyday, especially with Trinitron FD technology.

Hopefully the prices of flat panel displays will come down soon so that they become more of a realistic option for people seeking large displays.

Even for the same price I would go for a CRT monitor. Why? Although TFT displays are nice and thin and irradiate you less, they only have one 'native' resolution. For a typical 15" TFT screen, this is 1024x768. If you game a lot you will want to go higher than this. This is simply impossible on such a TFT - it only has 1024x768 physical pixels and no amount of software control can make it go higher.

The same applies for lowering resolution. Say you have a mediocre graphics card but want to run Quake III Arena with full detail. You will need to lower the resolution to, say, 800x600. Although this is possible with a TFT screen, because 1024/800 and 768/600 do not divide exactly, the screen must interpolate to get this lower resolution using the 1024 and 768 pixels it actually has in hardware. When is interpolates the picture quality is poor. So unless you just use your PC for fixed-res Windows use, dont do it! - don't buy a TFT screen.

Added bit for The Custodian: Some of us power hungry gamer geeks most certainly do want higher than 1024x768. I agree that for RTSs this just hurts. However most FPSs look nicer the higher the resolution you put them in. Games like Homeworld look plain blocky to me in 1024x768. Bear in mind too that a 15" TFT's viewable area isn't that much different from a 17" CRT. As you say - if you use your PC all day for work - TFTs are cool. For the power gamer I'd say CRT all the way.
Er, I'm confused. You want higher than 1024x768 on a 15" monitor? Why on earth? For a FPS, that's more than enough, as WyldWynd states later in 'lowering resolution.' For a Real-Time Strategy|RTS game or other, while it would be nice to have more real estate (always is) on a 15" viewing surface, anything over 1024x768 is (to me!) lost in eyestrain.

Also, some of the newer displays such as the Apple Cinema Display have quite good built-in dithering/bicubic interpolation hardware to run at lower virtual resolutions. If you need to lower the rez for speed, heck, buy a faster video card...those are seriously cheap, especially compared to the TFT monitor.

In any case, such comparisons of size and resolution ignore the primary advantages of the flat panel monitor - the complete lack of eyestrain. Since they don't have a vertical refresh, there is absolutely no 'flicker' on them at all. In addition, they are sharper than their CRT counterparts. Finally, they do not emit any electromagnetic radiation (at least, not appreciable amounts, and not towards the viewer). These three factors both lead to a much healthier and more comfortable viewing experience. If you spend all day in front of your computer, this can be a deciding factor!

There is one more big factor the writeups above have failed to mention: the contrast and colors of current LCD displays are highly angle-dependant. The picture may be perfect if you sit directly before it, but if you look at it from an angle, image quality decreases rapidly.

This makes LCD displays unfit for situations where several people are looking at the screen, or where people look at it from varying positions. For example, an LCD display makes for a rather poor living room TV screen or data display for team-based work.

This problem may seem unimportant for a PC user, but may turn out to be annoying if you often want to show something on the screen to somebody else.

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