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The monitor hasn’t gone through many technological leaps throughout the past 2 decades but most people take the modern monitor for granted.  Computer monitors began as simple Cathode Ray Tubes (CRT) based on developments for the television. 

The main four specifications for monitors are screen size, resolution, color, and refresh rate capacity.  A modern monitor is 17” diagonally, and can run up to 2048x1536 in resolution, 16.7 million colors (24-bit) at a refresh rate of 100 Hz.  While you’d be hard pressed to find a graphics card that could render this much information in 3D, or a monitor that was big enough to properly show 2048 vertical lines and 1536 horizontal lines, it’s still possible.  To give you some perspective, consider that the original color monitor, the CGA, was usually 14” diagonally, and had a maximum resolution of 320x200 in four colors.  Another important (but often overlooked) specification is the dot pitch.  This term refers to the spacing between pixels on the screen.  A smaller number indicates a denser array of pixels that translates to higher detail.

The most widespread computer monitor in use today is still the CRT.  The problems with the CRT are numerous.  First, with increasing screen size, the depth of the actual monitor must increase proportionally.  What you end up with are massive, heavy monitors if you want big screens.  Second, they are hard on the eyes.  Everyone who’s stared at a regular monitor for a while can vouch for this.  Lastly, they consume large amounts of power and give off ample amounts of heat.

For obvious reasons, laptop computers have never used CRT screens.  Throughout their history the laptop has relied on thinner display technologies that were often quite expensive.  The Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) was the first and most popular form of thin, color displays.  Other, more exotic types of thin displays are based on Light Emitting Diodes (LED) and plasma discharge technology.

Due to recent advances in manufacturing and quality, the LCD screen has slowly crept up on the old school CRT for desktop PCs.  Businesses are finding that the LCD screen saves valuable desk space and consumes less power, while being easier on the eyes.  Furthermore, LCD screens are flat, meaning that the distortion of images no longer occurs.  Though a modern desktop LCD screen still costs significantly more than a CRT monitor, the benefits you incur are priceless. 

If you can afford the hefty price tag, LCD screens are the way to go.  They’re smaller, lighter, take up less space, and display more vibrant colors and details.  The great thing is, the price can only head downward as manufacturing steps up and LCD screens penetrate deeper into the PC market.