What to Consider in Buying a Computer Monitor
In addition to energy performance, there are many other important operating and convenience features to consider when shopping for a computer monitor.
Widescreen displays (16:9)are now the norm and. Some standard/square screens offer good value and may be preferred if horizontal space is limited, but are now more common on laptop computers.
Depending on your desk size and planned use, 24 inches is a good baseline for affordability and quality. For those who are planning to use their monitors for gaming, streaming media, or other activities, larger sizes are available.
A monitor's resolution refers to the number of picture elements, or pixels, that make up an image. For productivity, higher resolution means easier multitasking and more words in the same space. For movies and photos, higher resolution means sharper appearance.
The most common resolution is 1920 x 1080, also known as 1080p. 1080p is an ideal resolution for monitors 21- to 24-inches. Higher resolutions may be preferred for larger screens.
Other Computer Monitor Considerations:
Refresh rate: A measure of how many times a display can update the picture in a second, measured in hertz (Hz). Standard monitors refresh at 60Hz. A monitor with a faster refresh time results in smoother movements to make things like scrolling look more fluid.
Contrast ratio: This is a measure of the difference between the brightest white and the deepest black. A higher contrast ratio can produce images that are more vivid and dynamic. However, because the way manufacturers measure contrast ratio is not uniform, advertised figures are not reliable.
Viewing angle: A measure of the angles a monitor can effectively be viewed at, expressed in degrees. This is not a major concern for the average seated computer user, but if you plan to share your screen with others -for example, to watch a video - look for something above 170 degrees.
Brightness: A bright screen is important if you're working in a brightly lit room. A measure of how much light a monitor can emit, expressed in candelas per square meter (cd/m2). Besides simply looking better, a brighter monitor is much easier to see in brightly lit surroundings. Ratings of 250 to 300 cd/m2 are common for many affordable monitors.
LED backlighting: LED monitors are simply LCD monitors that use an LED backlight. LEDs allow manufacturers to make monitors slimmer, brighter, and without the warm-up time of traditional compact fluorescent (CFL) backlights.
Gloss or matte: Depending on the lighting of the room, screen coatings can be an important factor for overall viewing experience. Glossy screen coatings tend to enhance contrast for a more vibrant look, but also reflect their surroundings more readily when powered down or displaying dark images. Matte monitor displays tend to look more dull, but work better under challenging lighting conditions, like across from large windows.
Touch screen: Touch screen is a feature that can be utilized in conjunction with Windows 10, which incorporates many touch-screen features into its new interface. When purchasing, consider your at-home setup and how far back you sit from your monitor.
- Consider ease of adjustment, like the ability to tilt or change the height of the monitor.
- Check for ample and relevant connections, like USB or HDMI ports. Make sure that the input connections on the monitor match the output connections on your computer. Some monitors with USB-C or Thunderbolt ports may be able to charge your computer and display content through a single connection.
- Review warranties and defective-pixel policies.
Be sure to look for the ENERGY STAR when shopping for a monitor
Current Specification Effective Date: January 28, 2020
Monitors originally qualified for the ENERGY STAR label in 1992. The Version 8.0 ENERGY STAR Displays specification covers computer monitors and signage displays, including all products with touch screen functionality. ENERGY STAR certified computer monitors must meet a total energy consumption (TEC) requirement that takes in their power draw in On Mode and Sleep Mode and varies depending on screen area and resolution. Signage displays must draw 0.5 watts or less in Sleep Mode and Off Mode, while On Mode power requirements vary according to screen area and resolution. Additional TEC and power allowances are also provided for select features. External power supplies (EPS) packaged with displays must meet level VI performance requirements under the International Efficiency Marking Protocol and include the level VI marking.
How to Save Energy with Your New Computer Monitor
Activate the sleep settings on your monitor. You can set your monitor to dim first, then enter a low power sleep mode when the computer is inactive. Learn more here.