Balance of Power

Low energy costs and falling prices are on your side if you choose LCDs over CRTs.

Rising electricity costs and falling prices for LCDs (liquid crystal displays) have reached the point where these slimline screens can now be considered mainstream alternatives to the ubiquitous CRT (cathode-ray tube). LCDs can also help keep a lid on your office electric bill. The typical LCD requires a quarter to a third of the electricity needed to power up and cool down a comparable CRT.

Switching to LCDs could make a noticeable difference not only in your budget, but also in the national power supply. Experts estimate that replacing only a tenth of the CRTs in service could save enough juice to avoid brownouts, blackouts and other electrical problems during periods of peak demand.

In terms of aesthetics and functionality-size, weight, resolution, brightness, color quality-it's hard to name an advantage that traditional monitors have over LCDs. The principal attraction of the pervasive CRT has been its low price-an advantage whose days are numbered.

The prices of 15- to 18-inch LCDs have been cut in half since the beginning of the year. Today, the typical 15-inch display-the viewing equivalent of the popular 17-inch monitor-costs less than $500. (For a look at current models, check out this month's "Buyer's Guide" column.) Of course, CRT prices continue to fall as well, making it tempting to outfit your office with another generation of dirt-cheap CRTs. But price is not the whole story-what about rising electricity costs?

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This article was originally published in the November 2001 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Balance of Power.

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