Before the advent of LCD monitors, computer users were stuck with huge CRT monitors. With their bulky, wide size, and weight over 30-50 pounds, these monster monitors cluttered desks and made transport a nightmare. LCD monitors, on the other hand, which are 2 to 3 inches wide and often weigh in under 10 pounds, have proven a boon to home computer owners or office managers alike who have to worry about conserving space in the office environment.
And size is not the only advantage LCD monitors hold over their older, bulkier predecessors. LCD monitors (LCD is an acronym for liquid crystal display) also provide superior picture quality. And now that they are becoming more popular, the price has dropped substantially, meaning that these little monitors are now nearly ubiquitous in home and offices.
LCD monitors got their start on laptop computers. Their small size made them perfect for this application. LCD monitors (and television, projectors and anything else using LCD technology) have five layers. You can think of the layers like a sandwich: start with a backlight, add a sheet of polarized glass (akin to a piece of bread), a sheet of colored pixels, a layer of the eponymous liquid crystal solution, and another polarized sheet of glass (i.e. the second piece of bread.) When supplied with an electrical charge from a matrix of thin-film transistors, the liquid crystals untwist and, using the backlight, begin filtering light, and thus color. Interesting enough, it is the process of subtraction that allows LCD technology to produce such verdant colors. The projected light starts out as plain white light, and the many bright colors you see on your monitor when watching are the result of blocking out certain wavelengths of that white light.
LCD monitors come in standard sizes from 15 inches to 21 inches, but technology has allowed them to go beyond even 21 inches. As a general rule of thumb, the larger the screen, the higher the price tag, so when in the market, be sure you know what size display you can live with before making your purchase.
One common complaint about LCD monitors is that viewing angles sometimes make them difficult to see, especially if more than one person is attempting to view an LCD monitor. LCD monitors are best viewed from dead center. If one strays left, right, up or down, the picture gradually begins to wash out. While some shirking workers tend to appreciate this quality, especially if the boss has a tendency to sidle up beside them, this quality can become a major problem. Colors can also change as the viewer gets farther and farther from dead center of the screen. Graphic design professional, web designers, and others who work very closely with visual input will want to be especially careful when working with LCD monitors. Another complaint is the backlight. One of the most common problems with most LCD technologies, the backlights on LCD monitors usually only last about three years, and are often only covered under a one year warranty for this reason.
With today’s emphasis on “going green,” LCD monitors have another distinct advantage over their old-fashioned CRT monitor counterparts. Most of the time, LCD monitors use at least 1/3 (and maybe up to ½) as much energy as CRT monitors. LCD monitors are better for your health, too. We have all heard horror stories about electronics emitting low frequency radiation waves. Unfortunately, this is true, though most people do not get enough exposure to the radiation to seriously harm their health. Even so, if you are worried about these emissions, go with an LCD monitor. They are emit far less low frequency radiation than a CRT monitor. Be especially careful if you are someone who works in front of a computer all day.