Tuesday, October 01, 2013

How to choose a good monitor for production?

When you do not have good budget to buy a professional grade monitor e.g. Eizo, it is very important to know how to choose a lower end monitor, otherwise you may end up this:

or with bad visible view angle and bad color display.

What need to be taken care of is:
  • The back lighting - Whether it is evenly lit from the back, or only has light coming from the bottom (image above)
  • The color gamut - Does it cover at least 83% of NTSC / sRGB.
  • View angle - It is always good to have an in-plane switching (IPS) monitor, so you don't have to sit straight all the time just to see a correct color (it's pain not be able to sit in more relax pose)
  • Adjustable option - This is very important if you have calibration hardware such as Datacolor Spyder. Having option to adjust RGB individually is crucial to get the calibration closer to the standard.
  • Contrast level - Do not fool by marketing tactics, e.g. Mega Contrast, Super Brilliant... all these are nonsense. Judge by you own eyes and make sure the monitor display black rather than blue over a 100% black full screen image. Look at the contrast ratio rather than marketing words. A 1000:1 (Typical) ; 2 million:1 (Dynamic) is good.
  • Input option - be sure to have DVI and Sub-D (VGA) or even HDMI. Buying a monitor with only Sub-D does not worth because you would end up spending same amount of money to buy a converter.
  • Power cord - It is bad to know Samsung is using a proprietary power input header than the standard power cord on certain models. Despite this is not big problem, but it is a drawback for those who travel a lot with their workstation, where standard power cord can be found easily in case forget to bring it along.
  • Size of edge - The thinner it is, the better it is for a dual or multiple monitor setup. 
  • Resolution - If you are getting size smaller than 22" then be sure to check whether it supports full HD (1080p). Some models can only allow display up to 1600x900 pixel, which is bad for graphics users.
What is less important but good to take note:
  • USB ports on monitor
  • HDMI port
  • Source selection - If you share single monitor among two workstation, then it is life saver to find a monitor with the option to single-click to switch input source. Some monitors offer auto switching function, where one DVI down it will quickly switch over to VGA, vice versa. But trust me, you gonna hate it when you doing fresh install of workstation, and having the other on. You will be busy switch back and forth when doing restart.
  • Color depth - Generally you would see 16.7 million colors. Despite hardly go wrong, it is safe to double check.
  • Brightness - Higher than 120 cd/m2 would generally adequate. Unless you need more than that (say you working environment is super bright).
  • Response time - Nothing important here if you are not gaming.. 8ms is adequate (grey-to-grey or black-to-white)
  • Adjustable stand - If it can be adjust to portrait mode, then it is excellent when doing re-touch of portrait photo. Less panning and zooming.
  • Energy efficiency - Important for hard core users who spend all day long in front of computer.
I hope the above is helpful for you. I learnt it from buy wrong monitors and suffer from the poor display quality until I got an exchange, and I hope you won't be the next one, cheers!