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Currently I'm using a laptop with a 15" screen, and since I'm going to buy a new PC anyway I decided to stop that pain and try out a dual-screen setup.

Now I'm unsure about various of the new developments of those LCD screens. In particular

  • Is 5 ms reaction time fast enough for normal use? Thast is, occasionally watching movies, etc.
  • I worry about the size of the screens. Measured how much space one 21.5" screen would take, and I was shocked I would never ever get that in a sane way onto my desk. Are 19" screens a good alternative? I found that many of them don't have DVI input.
  • Worrying about DVI and HDMI. I heard HDMI is the future and that DVI seems to be a dead end. I don't need sound support, so HDMI seems overkill, though.
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3 Answers 3

5ms should be a fast enough response time for most uses, I wouldn't worry about that.

As far as size goes, it's really up to you, depending on how much room you have to work with. Personally, I would rather use two 19" screens than a single 24" screen. Watch out for super dirt-cheap 19" displays, as they're probably low quality, but high quality ones do exist. I would recommend getting at least a 1680x1050 resolution on a 19" display. 1440x900 and 1600x900 are becoming more standard for 19", but you won't fit all that much on there with those. 1920x1080 or 1920x1200 would make everything pretty darn small on a 19" though, so 1680x1050 is right in the sweet spot in the middle. Again, this might depend on your personal preference.

Regarding connectors - HDMI and DVI are 100% compatible, with the exception that DVI doesn't carry audio. If your monitor doesn't have speakers and/or your computer doesn't have an HDMI port, there's really no advantage whatsoever to using HDMI over DVI. DVI is not a "dead end", and DVI to HDMI converters are really cheap - I got one for $3.00. You definitely do want to use one or the other though; VGA is an analog signal whereas DVI and HDMI are digital, so you will get higher image quality with a DVI or HDMI connector. Furthermore, a monitor with only VGA is a sign that it's probably a low quality monitor.

Some high end displays come with DisplayPort now. DisplayPort is a digital signal, but is not 100% compatible with DVI and HDMI. If you use a DisplayPort on your computer but your monitor has only DVI or HDMI, you will need an active adapter, which are expensive and can degrade the quality of the signal slightly.

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It seems that 19" screens aren't produced anymore, and that the 21" are replacing them. Yet I think many people still like them for use with computers. I also want to use 19". I will look around to see whether I find something good. I think just getting 1920x1080 for the sake of having Full-HD is kinda silly. How common is 1680x1050 though? I worry about not finding many wallpapers for it. –  Johannes Schaub - litb Aug 29 '10 at 20:08
    
Ok wow, looking around, it does seem like 1680x1050 19" monitors and even 20" monitors are exceedingly rare now. That's changed from less than a year ago even. A couple of 1600x900 19" will still give you plenty of room, and seems easier to find these days. All the manufacturers are going to these stupid 16:9 resolutions. Oh well, 1600x900 is still more space than 1440x900, which was the old "normal" for 19" monitors. You'll be fine with wallpapers; 1680x1050 used to be the most common resolution for 22" displays, and there's lots of backgrounds for it. –  nhinkle Aug 29 '10 at 22:55
    
Hmm, 1280x1024 seems to be the most common for 19". What do you think about that? –  Johannes Schaub - litb Aug 29 '10 at 23:32
1  
I personally dislike that resolution on a 19", I feel like it's not a high enough resolution. You may feel differently depending on your preferences, but I don't like it. A note on how much screen space you actually get: 1440x900: 1296000; 1280x1024: 1310720; 1600x900: 1440000; 1680x1050: 1764000 –  nhinkle Aug 29 '10 at 23:49

5ms is good enough for playing games and watching movies, but it really depends on your eyes and monitor. If you can, see the monitor you want to buy before buying it. This way, you'll be able to judge for yourself.

DVI is replacement for good old DE-15 VGA connector. DVI is currently being replaced by DisplayPort, but the process is going slowly. As far as I know, only Apple is aggressively pushing DisplayPort.

HDMI on the other hand is replacement for S.C.A.R.T., S-Video, Composite Video and similar standards. It just happens that computer monitors and TVs use similar technologies now, so TVs have DVI connectors and monitors have HDMI.

Among other new developments is LED backlight. Some people incorrectly refer to this screens as LED screens, so be careful. I don't believe that you'll find large enough LED screen to confuse it with computer monitor, but it's good to pay attention just in case.

As for screen size, you should be careful. A lot of 19" screens are now in "dirt-cheap" category and of very low quality.

Another thing you didn't mention is resolution. 1920x1080 seems to be standard now and I wouldn't go for anything smalled, but 19" screens with that resolution are going to be expensive.

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Here is a nice pair of 19 inchers

http://accessories.us.dell.com/sna/products/Displays/productdetail.aspx?c=us&l=en&s=dhs&cs=19&sku=A2547672

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More 19" offerings from Dell, not all 19" monitors are cheapo's, you get what you pay for when it comes to Computer Monitors.

http://accessories.us.dell.com/sna/category.aspx?c=us&cs=19&l=en&s=dhs&category_id=4009&nf=177~0~174491,155073~0~10343264&~ck=anav&navla=155073~0~10343264

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