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I went to a store the other day (MediaMarkt, Berlin) looking to buy a second pc monitor.

They had a wall full of PC monitors and you could choose which test application you wanted the monitors to show (Excel, Word, video, game, etc.).

The odd thing was that ALL of the monitors were fuzzy, even with hard-to-look-at blurry, shadow characters, etc.

All the sales people were too busy for the time that I had so I just left without buying one.

Does anyone know why all the display monitors in a store would be fuzzy? Could there have been some kind of interference, e.g. too many monitors on at the same time in too close a proximity? Or does this mean that all (30) of the display monitors are were just bad (which would be hard to believe)?

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8 Answers 8

up vote 10 down vote accepted

In most places, the "wall of monitors" use a VGA splitter to turn one signal into many. In most cases, these stores buy the cheapest (read worst) video splitter they can find. If they had 30 monitors to display, they may have to daisy chain a number of smaller video splitters in order to get the picture on all of them. Every time you split the signal, there is some degradation. Add to that the above mentioned cable length/quality, non native resolution, and possible interference; and you get a crappy signal.

What I would recommend is that when you want to buy a new monitor, do some research online. Find out the key characteristics like native resolution, dot pitch, response time, and manufacture warranty. I usually use newegg as a good place for reviews. Just make sure to take everything with a grain of salt.

In reality, the most important thing when buying an LCD is knowing the return policy for the store and dead pixel policy for the manufacture. It's normally hidden and may require an e-mail to the support folks, but this can save a lot of irritation later. Here is what you should expect for a manufacture policy. Note that after the first 30 days, you can get up to two dead pixels in certain areas and you have to live with it. That's actually a lot stricter then some other manufactures (comparison here). When it comes to the vendor return policy be sure that you you buy is what you want. Most will return defective items without incident, buy you may have to demonstrate the problem. So be ready for that.

In my experience, quality LCD screens (high native resolution, low response time) perform much better at home then in the store. As with all consumer electronics, the more you know, the better your purchase will ultimately be. Be wary of "great deals" and "sales", don't buy something because it is cheap. A good LCD can last long past the warranty and the life of the computer it is bought for.

Hope that long, rambling answer helps you out.

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Agreed. And (in response to most of these answers) a decent store should let you test one on its own, without the daisy chaining/incorrect resolution/wrong cables... –  outsideblasts Oct 19 '09 at 23:07

This is probably NOT why they were blurry, but is an amusing aside from my own experience. In the Dev area, at one place where I worked, all the monitors on one side of the room always had bizarre display artifacts...Blurry, distorted, whatever. We never could figure it out, and eventually we just moved everyone away from that side of the room.

Some time later, while looking for a place to set up a WAP, I got the building services guys to let me into what I believed to be a closet, on the other side of the building, a room which was on the other side of that wall. When I walked into the room, I did a literal double take. The main power board for the whole building was spread out across that wall. Dozens of power cables as thick as pythons radiating magnetic fields sufficient to flash cook small animals ran less than a foot from where those monitors had sat.

God knows what they were thinking putting people in that room. I can only imagine the havok if someone had nailed up a picture or something.

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LCDs or CRTs?

Too many driven off of the same signal would do it. Running them at the wrong / non-native resolution would also do it.

CRTs generated their own interference as well (but not sure when I last saw one for sale).

I've seen examples of both at my local Best Buy... always good for a chuckle. :-) But you're right in that it sure isn't a good way to sell monitors.

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they were all LCD monitors (flat screens), I didn't know you could buy the bulky CRTs anymore, can you? can I assume that if I buy one of these fuzzy monitors then, when I get it home I can set it so it is sharp and works correctly? –  Edward Tanguay Oct 19 '09 at 20:46
    
Chances are, yes. But I'd play with the controls at the store a bit -- and try to get the "source" PC to the proper native resolution too. –  Chris_K Oct 20 '09 at 4:06

Maybe you need glasses? Seriously though, in a store where the controls are accessible, people play with the sharpness, contrast, etc and never put it back. Combine this with sales people that are probably making close to minimum wage and you've got why none were properly calibrated.

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Configuring a monitor to be absolutely perfect is difficult at the best of times. 30 of them, and they're not mine? They can stay fuzzy! –  Phoshi Oct 19 '09 at 20:34

Well, my guess is that they hooked them up with VGA cables instead of DVI. Blurry images and shadows are things you usually get from longer cables with analog signals.

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In my experience, 90% of all flat panels in box stores are left at defaults, and are not running in 'native resolution'. This causes them to look crap-tastic.

edit: I would also add that this is the reason I waited so long to adopt flat panels over crts because I hadn't done the research, and thought they all looked bad.

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there might be an issue with the clock/phase values.

check this page out, and if you can do the test.

http://www.techmind.org/lcd/phasexplan.html

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The quality is bad on purpose. There are 2 very good reasons for it:

  • Bad quality looks cheap. You might not know it, but the average customer wants a shop like MediaMarkt to look cheap. They mostly sell overdate models, so the cheap image is very important. It's the same reason why bad colour rendering TL tubes are still made for ALDI/LIDL stores. They make stuff look cheap.
  • If a product looks bad in store, but looks realative OK to the other options, customers are always satisfied when they see the product back home running. There is less chance a customer will return with the product, then when all quality is perfect on display in store already.
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