Are you staring at a laptop screen trying to work on a large spreadsheet? An attached monitor may be just the tool you need to increase your productivity. But which one? A good basic monitor sells for around $400 but some the same size might be $1000 more. Why? This guide will explain what you need to know about a computer monitor and help you understand the key features you should consider when making your buying decision.
A computer monitor, screen or display is a piece of hardware that displays the video and graphics information generated by a connected computer. Monitors are like TVs but usually display information at a much higher resolution which shows more detail and makes them easier to read.
WHY should I buy a better computer display?
If you have a desktop then you need one, if you buy a laptop it is a handy addition (for more information on choosing a desktop or laptop see our guide on PCs).
Most laptops and desktop computers can run more than one display. The display can be spanned across several external monitors. Additionally, a laptop display can be mirrored or “cloned” to appear on an external monitor.
Having one or several monitors expands the workspace for a variety of tasks. If you have a small laptop, an external monitor can deliver improved image quality and much more screen real estate.
Getting a new monitor is a bit like getting a new TV. It will look better than the old with a sharper picture and better colours. Generally speaking, the more you pay for a monitor the better-quality image you will get.
WHAT do I need to know about computer screens?
The size of a monitor is measured in inches from one corner of the screen to the other, not including the outer casing.
The monitor will require its own power supply and will need a connection cable to connect to a computer.
The connection options include:
- HDMI – preferred method, same modern standard as a TV. Both a modern PC and monitor should have one. It will carry video and audio and will support up to 4K video.
- DVI – older standard for HD video
- VGA – old standard using those blue plugs with pins
- Thunderbolt 3 (USB Type C) – high-speed cable with a very small connector that will carry data, ethernet, power, video, and audio. Sometimes the only video connection port on a smaller laptop.
- USB – USB 3.0 is the modern standard and although it can carry video it generally does not.
- Wireless – normally referred to as screen sharing or Miracast. Uses a direct Wi-Fi connection to stream your PC image normally to a TV.
A monitor may not run to its best ability if you do not load the drivers on your PC for that monitor. Look for some instructions in the box.
You can adjust the settings of the monitor display, although most don’t. If you work with graphics, photos or video you should explore these adjustments.
Some monitor brands provide software that will turn one monitor into many. When using a very big screen you can trick the PC into thinking it is looking at different screens even though they are on the one screen. Useful when you need to keep certain apps open all the time and you don’t want to be resizing windows.
HOW do I choose a computer monitor?
Computer monitors can be bought online, at Officeworks and the likes of JB-HiFi and Harvey Norman. Not knowing your particular needs, it is hard to recommend a monitor beyond suggesting a 27-inch monitor with Full HD resolution.
When choosing you should consider:
- Size – measured in inches. The screen becomes a much longer rectangle the larger the size. It allows you to do more on one screen. As an alternative, some people may buy 2 screens to get the same effect.
- Resolution – The more pixels the better the picture. 1920 pixels by 1080 pixels is Full HD (1K) or FHD, double that is QHD (2K) and 4 times is 4K
- Response times – (preferred by gamers) is the time it takes to change a pixel colour. Shorter is better and it reduces the blur effect when watching fast action like sport on the screen.
- Colour reproduction – Panel and processor quality will affect colour reproduction. Better is more expensive but simply look at quality instore before buying. It is important for those working with images who should consider a monitor certified as colour accurate.
- Base Mount – is the base adjustable and how will that work with the way you will look at it.
- Thunderbolt 3 laptop power – Some monitors support powering your laptop from the monitor. This same cable will carry the video and USB traffic (keyboard, mouse, USB drive etc.) Thus, only one cable is required for everything simplifying laptop power and connection to all your other devices.
- Touchscreen – If the monitor supports this feature you can control actions with your fingers on the screen.
- Inbuilt speakers – allows sound to be projected from inbuilt speakers in the monitor.
- Microphone and Camera – If installed it helps with video calling.
Visit the Gadgetguy website to see reviews and recommendations on various monitors.
If you do need to connect an older cable to a newer port (such as HDMI to VGA) there are adapters for this purpose.
Watch out for specials. As this is such a competitive market they are always around and will save you some money.
SUMMARY – best computer monitor for your small business
Having a good computer monitor will help you be more productive and enable you to see more clearly. When buying you should have some sort of budget in mind then see the size you can get for the quality and resolution of the picture you need for your job. Make sure you have the right cables and that the display stand will work with your needs.