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CRT Monitors are Better than LCD Monitors


Originally written 20071008

I like designing websites with very light backgrounds behind text. Demonstrating a recent website design, I discovered that LCDs and laptops are incapable of seeing these backgrounds. After this paragraph are the numbers one through nine. Which can you see?

The background behind this text is approximately the lightness of the number one. On my CRT monitor, the number one is legible, and the background is clearly visible without interfering with the legibility of the text. On a 2007 Toshiba laptop, what is visible depends on the viewing angle. Normal viewing can read the numbers five and higher. Moving to the right makes numbers disappear. Moving to the left makes more numbers and the background appear and darken so the text is illegible.

CRT monitors show better pictures with more colors, less eyestrain. and less awareness of viewing angle than LCD monitors. LCD monitors weigh less, require less space than CRT monitors, and some LCD models are "widescreen". CRTs are less expensive than LCDs below 19". LCD monitors are less expensive than CRT monitors above 19". Few CRT monitors are larger than 22"; LCD monitors are available in 28" widescreen models. People needing more screen area than the largest CRT should try using two monitors. Many computers have two outputs for monitors; new hardware for adding a second output costs less than $50.

With CRT monitors, manufacturers worried about making tubes less globular. Screens were almost square as rectangles were difficult. "Flat" tube fronts were highly regarded.

With LCD monitors, cost relates to the number of pixels. Widescreen monitors have 6% less area than the equivalent size normal monitors. Less area requires less pixels so manufacturers promote monitors further from square. A 50 inch by 3 inch monitor could be marketed with a 50 inch diagonal with half the area of a 26 inch widescreen.
DiagonalNormalWidescreen
1381.176
15108101.1
17138.7129.9
19173.3162.2
20192179.8
21211.7198.2
22232.3217.5
24276.5258.9
26324.5303.8
28376.3352.4


Monitors provide most of the personal computer experience (with keyboards, mice, and speakers). The quality and size of the monitor(s) may affect satisfaction as much as software. (Does anybody have time for an academic study?) LCD monitors are good if you live in a closet or frequently move. CRT monitors provide a better experience for everybody else.

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Paul Ercolino