From the December 2000 issue of Startups

Plunging prices for flat-panel monitors are quickly making them affordable alternatives to clunky CRT monitors. But how do you know which one's best for you? Things to look for include resolution and dot pitch, which tell you how clear the images will be. We focused on 15-inch LCDs because they're large enough for you to appreciate quality graphics but not too harsh on your budget. Another thing to look for in LCDs is whether they have digital or analog reception-or both, in the case of certain hybrids. The displays we looked at were strictly analog, except for two hybrids. Regular analog flat panels cost less than $1,000; the hybrids are a little more, but they're worth it because they'll be compatible with future PCs and Macs. We recommend going hybrid if you can afford it.

Eizo Nanao Flexscan l371

Flexscan l371

  • Manufacturer: Eizo Nanao
  • Pixel Pitch: .297mm
  • Contrast Ratio: 350:1
  • (800) 800-5202
  • www.eizo.com
  • Street price: $1,239

The Eizo Nanao Flexscan L371 is a hybrid that has both analog and digital ports. Its Digital FlexScan function calculates the best screen position; a brightness control system automatically adjusts the settings to eliminate brightness fluctuations for optimal viewing. Images can even be viewed in full-screen or enlarged modes. The L371 offers a maximum resolution of 1,024 x 768.

Envision Peripherals AOC LM-500

AOC LM-500

  • Manufacturer: Envision Peripherals
  • Pixel Pitch: .30mm
  • Contrast Ratio: 150:1
  • (888) 883-9900, ext. 281
  • www.epius.com
  • Street price: $699

Envision Peripherals' AOC LM-500 TFT active matrix display doesn't offer any fancy fixings, but it does offer a good analog display that's a little cheaper than the rest. You'll find its user-friendly automatic tuning system helpful in keeping it in tiptop shape. The AOC LM-500's maximum resolution of 1,024 x 768 at 75Hz and ability to see 16.7 million colors is pretty standard.

Samsung Syncmaster 150mp

SyncMaster 150MP

  • Manufacturer: Samsung
  • Pixel Pitch: .297mm
  • Contrast Ratio: 300:1
  • (800) SAMSUNG
  • www.samsungmonitor.com
  • Street price: $1,119

The SyncMaster 150MP TV-TFT IS A three-in-one convergence product, so it's a flat-panel display, a TV with remote, and a video display with connections for a VCR, camcorder or DVD player. A picture-in-picture feature lets you watch two things at once. E-Color's Colorific software (bundled) automatically configures the monitor with your computer. Pantone's Browser Plug-ins ensure accurate color reproduction on the display.

IBM T54A

T54A

  • Manufacturer: IBM
  • Pixel Pitch: .30mm
  • Contrast Ratio: 300:1
  • (888) SHOP-IBM
  • www.ibm.com
  • Street price: $929

The T54A'S Space Saving design allows it to be mounted onto office furniture and walls. Just as easy to adjust are the T54A's settings, using its onscreen display. Like all the rest, it supports up to 16.7 million colors with a resolution of 1,024 x 768, but that can be changed to 800 x 600 dpi for regular business applications. The T54A is available in pearl white or stealth black.

Compaq TFT5005

TFT5005

  • Manufacturer: Compaq
  • Pixel Pitch: .30mm
  • Contrast Ratio: 250:1
  • (800) 345-1518
  • www.compaq.com
  • Street price: $999

The TFT5005 is an active matrix TFT LCD with XGA resolution that is scalable to SXGA or SVGA. A button on the front of the display lets you input settings. It features a max screen resolution of 1,024 x 768, offering a sharper picture than regular LCDs.

Philips 150P

150p

  • Manufacturer: Philips
  • Pixel Pitch: .30mm
  • Contrast Ratio: 250:1
  • (877) 835-1838
  • www.philipsusa.com
  • Street price: $949

The Philips 150P is a digital/analog hybrid. Drivers for Windows 95/98 are included, and an optional USB wedge is available. Maximum resolution on the 150P is the standard 1,024 x 768 at 75Hz, and it has the ability to see 16.7 million colors.