PCs are here today, gone tomorrow. You're lucky if your processor is still in fashion a year after you drive it off the lot. But your monitorthat's more of a long-term relationship. A good monitor can still be cranking out crisp images five or 10 years down the line. So which one should you buy more flowers and chocolates for? That's right. The monitor. Most humans find 17-inch the best size for business use, so there's a lot of them. You'll have no trouble finding a 17-inch monitor that goes easy on both your budget and your eyes.
Even if you plan to buy online, it's a good idea to first check out your future sweetheart at a store like CompUSA. Look at it, fiddle with the controls and compare it with others. We wouldn't want you to set yourself up with a blind date that turns out to be a bummer.
In this column, we'll stick with CRT monitors for budget considerations. If you're scanning the specs, some things to look for include the monitor's supportable resolutions, refresh rates and dot pitch. Look for the highest refresh rate you can afford, but with dot pitch, lower numbers are better. All the monitors we looked at have either a .26 or .25 dot pitch, which is pretty good. These monitors all have a 16-inch viewable area and weigh in at 50 pounds(lbs.).
We start with some big brand names, but don't miss the other good deals that follow.
The only 17-inch Apple CRT monitor currently in production is designed to look lovely with your translucent G3 or G4 desktop. Apple computers have always had a good reputation as high-quality graphics machines, and the Studio Display 17 holds up under pressure, refreshing at 85 Hz at the typical 1,024 x 768 resolution. Despite its swoopy design, the Studio Display 17 still weighs in at a normal 45.9 pounds with a width of 19 inches and depth of 17.3 inches. One hitch: it only works with a 1999 or later G3 or G4.
Model: Studio Display 17
Dot pitch: .25
Street Price: $499
Web Site: www.apple.com
Part of Compaq's Professional Series, the P700 uses flat-screen (not to be confused with LCD flat screens) technology so you can kiss those annoying curved edges goodbye. Having a flat screen gives a more accurate viewing space. An optional USB hub lets you set it up with less fuss. It can handle up to 1,200 x 1,600 resolution with a 70 Hz maximum refresh rate, and a very soothing 110 Hz refresh rate at 1,024 x 768 resolution.
dot pitch: Variable .24 to .25
Street Price: $459
The Sceptre D73PA features a maximum refresh rate of 120 Hz at 640 x 480 resolution. But at its top resolution of 1,280 x 1,024, its refresh rate falls to 60 Hznot the best. On the other hand, you probably won't spend much time with a monitor on that high of a resolution. At the far more common resolution of 1,024 x 768, the Sceptre's 85 Hz refresh rate is pretty solid. Also, its lengthy 5-year limited warranty allows for peace of mind. Consider this monitor if your budget is tightand you don't mind a different label from that on your PC.
dot pitch: .25
Street Price: $239
The Eizo FlexScan F520 recommends that you run it at 1,024 x 768 resolution at its maximum 118 Hz. The 118 Hz refresh rate is the highest of all monitors we reviewed. That's a blessing if you're susceptible to the way CRT monitors flicker. The F520 is more monitor for the money than the comparably priced Compaq P700. The dot pitch isn't as fine, but you probably won't notice the difference.
Model: FlexScan F520
dot pitch: .26
Street Price: $449
If you're one of the few Apple computer devotees who quibbles with price, have we got a monitor for youthe Samsung SyncMaster 750b. It's about half the price of the Apple Studio Display 17and it's compatible with both Mac and Windows systems. The "b" in SyncMaster 750b stands for "business," and, in general, this monitor stacks up pretty well against the Mag InnoVision XJ796 (below) and the Sceptre in terms of budget friendliness and its 85 Hz maximum refresh rate at 1,024 x 768 resolution. The SyncMaster also sports a "compact design" that shaves a few inches off the space most 17-inchers take up.
Model: SyncMaster 750b
dot pitch: .26
Street Price: $274
While the Mag InnoVision XJ796 has a decent refresh rate of 85 Hz at 1,280 x 1,024, it drops to 75 Hz if you want to push the resolution to 1,600 x 1,200. But you probably won't need to go that high anyway. The product specs for this baby recommend using it for "accounting, office applications and spreadsheets." It probably won't sweat too much under graphics work, but if that's your main use, you might want to compare with the less budget-friendly Compaq P700.
Manufacturer: Mag InnoVision
dot pitch: .26
Street Price: $285