The Best LCD Monitor Features

Tracking down the best LCD monitor is simpler than you may realize. Every company puts out a range of monitors, from budget models to state of the art, often with subtle differences from model number to the next. If you're looking for an LCD monitor that's ready to meet next-generation demands for gaming and high-definition video playback, there are a few key features that all of the top models share.

Fast Response Times
Faster is better when it comes to LCD monitor response times. Faster response times means fewer visual artifacts or ghosting when you're watching high-speed video or fast frame rates in computer gaming. The best monitors have response times between two and five milliseconds.

HDMI Inputs
HDMI is the future for video inputs. The best computer monitors provide at least one HDMI input so you can use a high-definition source, such as a Blu-ray player or a high-definition camcorder. Two or more HDMI ports is ideal. You might also want HDMI outputs in case you need to run a monitor to another high-definition video source, such as a high-definition television or another HD monitor. Make sure the ports are HDMI 1.3 compatible so that you're ready for any future upgrades to the HDMI standard.

Uniform Picture
Do you know what constitutes a good picture on an LCD monitor? Uniformity across the screen is one sign of a good monitor. Some poor-quality monitors are brighter in one area than another; typically brighter in the middle of the monitor and darker as you look toward the corners. Avoid monitors with washed-out streaks where backlights are too bright around the edges of the frame.

The other consideration in picture quality is an absence of bleeding. Poor-quality computer monitors have a tendency to bleed; colors may leak into other colors, and an image may appear to be blurry or runny around the outlines. High-quality computer monitors have sharp, distinct images with no bleeding, no matter how fast the image moves.

Viewing Angle
With all the ways people are using their computers these days, viewing angle is an important consideration. If you're buying a large computer monitor and you want to use it to watch video or play games from across the room, or if you're using several monitors at once, the viewing angle is important.

Monitors with a poor viewing angle won't display a full range of color unless you're sitting straight in front of them. A viewing angle of 100 degrees or more keeps the image looking good even when the monitor's tilted away from you.

Resolution and Contrast Ratio
Manufacturers try to sell you on resolution and contrast ratio as the two most important considerations when buying a computer monitor. These features are important, but they're less of a consideration among the best monitors. Contrast ratio numbers are too easily manipulated to be a good indicator of a good monitor, so you can't rely on this number to tell you whether a monitor is good. All of the best monitors have plenty of flexibility in resolution and support the most common resolution formats, but you may want to double-check if you need something specific for high-definition video editing or a piece of legacy software.

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