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It’s been over a decade since LCD monitors began outpacing old-fashioned CRT boxes. A lot has changed, but a lot of outdated advice continues to get spread around — to the detriment of consumers like you and me.

While you still need to know the important basics of buying LCD monitors 7 Important Things To Know When Buying An LCD Monitor 7 Important Things To Know When Buying An LCD Monitor Read More , the finer details just aren’t the same. We have seen leaps in resolution and display technology. Smartphones and tablets have brought touchscreens to the desktop. New research is changing how we use computers.

It’s time to kill these misconceptions.

1) “IPS Rules, Everything Else Sucks”

The most common monitor-buying advice you will hear is that you should buy one with an IPS panel and completely ignore TN displays. There is some truth to that, but don’t follow it blindly.

IPS (In-Plane Switching) and TN (Twisted Nematic) are two types of panel technologies. In general, an IPS panel shows more accurate colors than TN and offers wider viewing angles while TN usually has faster refresh rates and response times.

For professional gamers, TN is often the type of choice. For everyone one, IPS tends to beat TN in a head-to-head comparison. Or at least that’s how the usual advice goes.

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But just as an octa-core isn’t always better than a quad-core Is an Octa-Core Better than a Quad-Core? Not Always! Android Processors Explained Is an Octa-Core Better than a Quad-Core? Not Always! Android Processors Explained More cores don't necessarily mean a faster processor. Read More , IPS isn’t always better than TN. It really depends on the quality of a monitor’s image processors, plus several other factors.

myths-lcd-monitors-ips-tn

If you compare two monitors of the same price — one with TN and another with IPS — then the IPS one will look better. But if you stack an IPS monitor against a TN monitor that costs twice as much as the IPS, you probably won’t be able to tell the difference.

It’s one of the reasons why you shouldn’t buy a cheap IPS monitor 3 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Buy A Cheap IPS Monitor 3 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Buy A Cheap IPS Monitor Computer monitor technology has long had a champion, and it’s called In-Plane Switching, or IPS. This display panel technology has often been praised because it is capable of fixing many issues found in cheaper TN... Read More . Simply put, an IPS panel with a bad image processor is worse than a TN panel with a great image processor.

If you are choosing between two monitors with the same specifications in terms of connectivity ports and features, and one of them is IPS and the other is TN, then yes, it makes sense to buy the IPS. But don’t just buy an IPS blindly if you can afford a better TN monitor. Read the reviews and make an informed decision.

2) “LED Is Better Than LCD”

This myth just won’t die. We’ve explained the difference between LED and LCD displays What Is The Difference Between An LCD And An LED Backlit LCD Display? What Is The Difference Between An LCD And An LED Backlit LCD Display? This subject is complex because it’s simple. The differences between LCD and LED are subtle, which can make it difficult to understand the difference. It’s an important distinction, however, because it can significantly impact image... Read More in detail, but people keep recommending LED monitors over LCD ones, claiming that they offer better clarity.

Newsflash: Nope!

Typical LCD monitors use a backlighting technology called CCFL (Cold Cathode Fluorescent Lamp) whereas LED monitors use LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes) to backlight LCD displays. Both LED and CCFL are technically LCD monitors, but marketers have differentiated LEDs into their own class.

lcd-monitor-myth-lcd-led-difference

LED backlighting itself comes in two types: edge-lit and full-array. Full-array is the expensive kind of LED that actually offers all of the benefits of LED display technology. Edge-lit LED, on the other hand, is what most computer monitors use. It offers reductions in energy consumption (compared to standard CCFL monitors), but nothing else.

If energy consumption is an important factor for you, then sure, it makes sense to go for an LED over a standard LCD monitor — but don’t expect to get sharper picture quality, more vivid colors, or anything of that sort.

3) “Sit Arm’s Length From the Screen”

For a long time, ergonomics blogs and guides have recommended that you sit an arm’s length away from the screen, claiming that 20 to 26 inches from the monitor is the ideal distance. Even Apple recommends a distance of 18 to 24 inches.

Forget all of that.

“Recommendations that place a maximum limit on viewing distance to reduce eyestrain all have one thing in common: they have no scientific basis,” writes ergonomics expert Dennis R. Ankrum.

lcd-monitor-myths-sit-arm-length-away

Human beings have something called a resting point of accommodation (RPA), which is the point where the eyes naturally focus when there is no object to focus on. But the RPA changes with age, lighting conditions, and angle of the object.

To come up with a golden rule for monitors is impossible, says Ankrum. While he would recommend a minimum distance of 25 inches, some people just aren’t bothered by closer viewing distances.

Ankrum also notes that distances beyond 35 inches have zero impact on eyestrain, so this applies only to computer monitors and not TVs. You can still rely on our suggested formula to buy the right TV TV Buying Guide: How To Pick The Right TV For Your Living Room TV Buying Guide: How To Pick The Right TV For Your Living Room When it comes to buying a TV, there's a lot more than what's on a spec sheet. By the end of this guide, you'll know exactly how to pick the right TV. Read More .

4) “Don’t Buy Cheaper/Unknown Brands”

While brands matter quite a bit when buying a TV, that’s not as true when it comes to computer monitors. In fact, you can get some really good monitors from relatively unknown brands.

You may be tempted to pick up an LG or a Dell since those are well-known to you, but before you do that, check out monitors from makers like AOC, Hazro, NEC, and Eizo. These are generally much cheaper than other monitors of similar quality, even those from mid-range brands like Asus and ViewSonic.

lcd-monitor-myths-brands-aoc

The other reason you should look at cheaper brands is because of the confusing warranty claims of monitors. For example, if you bought a Dell or an Asus monitor and found a dead pixel, they won’t replace it. Both Dell and Asus have a policy of requiring five “bad” pixels, which is either a dead pixel or a stuck pixel (which you can try fixing yourself How To Find & Fix Bad Pixels On Your LCD Screen How To Find & Fix Bad Pixels On Your LCD Screen Bad pixels often occur on brand new screens. Since a single bad pixel can become a great annoyance once you know it's there, any new display with a warranty on it should be checked for... Read More ).

Plus, the big brands like Dell apparently don’t honor warranties for monitors smaller than 24 inches and purchased from Amazon. The Internet is full of complaints like this one. What’s the point of paying for a warranty if it has weird loopholes that the manufacturer can use to evade replacements?

That said, Dell, Asus, and ViewSonic do make some of the best monitors around, so if you are picking it up for that reason, that’s fine. But read the reviews by tech experts and other buyers — especially the warranty clauses — and see if there is a cheaper option to consider instead that will offer a comparable experience.

Got any other monitor myths that we missed? Tell us which monitor you use and which one you want to buy next. Let’s talk recommendations in the comments below.

  1. Kamamura
    November 24, 2016 at 3:52 pm

    There is no such thing as a LED monitor, similarly as there is no such thing as Retina Display. Both are a fancy name used by salesmen to justify premium prices. So called LED monitor is just an LCD monitor using LED backlight, while the so called LCD monitor is just an LCD monitor using CCFL backlight. Both have advantages and disadvantages, with early LED backlit LCD monitors being especially crappy with bluish tint and aggressive PWM strobing.

    Retina Display is just an LCD display with pixel density higher than some arbitrary value. Moral of the story - don't listen to salesmen, always read the specs and make sure you understand what they mean.

  2. Ralph
    July 6, 2016 at 7:01 am

    xlent article Mihir. You brought in some thought provoking info I'm gonna use in my quest for a 27" monitor. I'll prob go with AOC.

  3. Alan Wade
    October 29, 2015 at 5:57 pm

    I have and will only ever use Samsung. I have used their monitors since Moses parted the waves and have worked my way through 15 inch screens up to 27 inch screens and never had cause to complain.

    • Mihir Patkar
      October 30, 2015 at 4:18 am

      I'm not suggesting to dump brand loyalty, I apologize if that's how it came across, Alan. If you've been happy with Samsung, please continue with them. My point was to say that people often overlook smaller brands. With monitors, that isn't helpful.

      • Alan Wade
        October 30, 2015 at 7:25 am

        Oh dear Mihir!
        I didnt think that you were suggesting I should dump the brand of my choice, I was just adding to the comments that I have been happy with the brand I chose. I made the comment based on the fact that it unusual to have used the same brand for so long without any problems.
        Sorry if you misunderstood my post.

        • Mihir Patkar
          October 30, 2015 at 9:38 am

          Whoops, haha, my mistake, not your fault :)

  4. Howard Blair
    October 29, 2015 at 3:33 pm

    Since when does Dell "make" its own monitors? I thought they were sourced from a dozen or so different OEMs...

    AOC makes some nice monitors. Thought one of them was faulty, but it was just AMD's Radeon 7000 drivers - the native Windows XP drivers would work OK (installed during Windows installation), but as soon as you installed AMD's updated drivers, text would get all fuzzy with "pixel creep" - edges of text would wriggle. Ugh.

    • Mihir Patkar
      October 30, 2015 at 4:19 am

      Ah, I think you took the word "make" literally there, where I meant it as "release" or "sell" :) You're right about them sourcing through OEMs

      This AOC issue you're mentioning is weird. Has it cropped up again after upgrading from XP to something else?

      • Howard Blair
        October 31, 2015 at 5:56 pm

        The AOC monitor, and the old system, were used long ago at work. The Radeon 7000 is ancient; it's likely been trashed or recycled. I'm pretty sure the monitor and the rest of the system were parted out.
        Since the issue was with extremely old drivers, I've never seen the like again.

  5. fcd76218
    October 29, 2015 at 2:45 pm

    "3) “Sit Arm’s Length From the Screen”"
    There is no standard distance. It depends on the size of the screen. You will view a 7" tablet screen from a much closer distance than a 27" monitor.

    "some people just aren’t bothered by closer viewing distances."
    And some people need to have their nose almost touching the screen. These are statistical outliers and should be discarded when talking about "most people."

    • Mihir Patkar
      October 30, 2015 at 4:21 am

      Previously, I've had commenters complain about focusing on "most people" and not talking about the exceptions. When I do that, I'm told to discard these. Writers can't win :D

      • fcd76218
        October 30, 2015 at 1:52 pm

        Life would be dull if everybody agreed.

        As Gen. George Patton used to say: "If all are thinking alike, then someone is not thinking."

  6. Michael J. Tobias
    October 29, 2015 at 1:07 pm

    Just fyi, I bought a 24 inch AOC about 5 years ago. It's been wonderful. Got it for about $90 at the time.

    • Mihir Patkar
      October 29, 2015 at 1:22 pm

      AOC is frikkin awesome. I can't believe how cheap and good their monitors are, compared to others.

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