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Thread: TFT Monitors - Advice needed

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    VTECmeous Vimeous's Avatar
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    TFT Monitors - Advice needed

    Advice please!

    I'm moving house and as a result have a serious monitor issue. The future study has a lovely sloping roof making the use of CRT monitors extremely difficult. So as part of the move my girlfriend and I are seriously considering replacing the lot with TFT's.

    We have two different sets of needs:
    1. Editing PC
      Currently
      Dual Dell 17" CRT each running 1024x768 on Matrox G450 Dualhead.
      Need
      Colour balance #1 priority. TFT's are notoriously bad when compared to CRTs for this so it rules out many brands. Large resolution BUT no small icons (e.g. 17" CRT at 1280x1024). Motion blur is unwanted but can be allowed as Sony TV will also be attached for reference purposes.
      Would like
      Either twin 17" (@ 1280x1024 each) or a single 20" TFT (@ 1600x1200, might need new gfx card) with the aim to add another 20" later. Twin 19's would probably be ideal but price is an issue.
    2. Gaming/Web Editing/Programming PC
      Currently
      17" Iiyama VM Pro + 17" Sony each running 1280x1024 on Radeon 9800Pro
      Need
      Speed is more important than colour balance. Overall stipulations given below are all important.
      Would like
      Twin 17's @ 1280x1024.


    Overall Needs -
    • Focus must be good/excellant on all the monitors.
    • Switching between uses should not require colour balance or brightness changes. (e.g. between gaming/word processing)
    • All should go to black on minimum brightness.
    • Cost is an issue. Value for money is crucial as we're moving house at the same time so other things are competing for funds.


    So what do you recommend? Do you have experience of either setup (more importantly an editing PC) and can offer advice on what to buy, think about, or avoid?

    I look forward to your thoughts!
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    Sure you can't fit the CRTs?
    Quality TFTs are going to cost, it really is a case of get what you pay for.

    Focus shouldn't be an issue - any but the crappiest TFTs will be razor sharp compared to a CRT, there's no focus adjust because they are inherently properly focused. Make sure they are DVI for best quality (will require GFX card upgrades if you want both DVI on a given machine).

    Generally TFTs have very good brightness characteristics you shouldn't need to switch them about between tasks. They are also a lot more comfortable to look at for extended periods, and as a bonus you save a packet on electricity for them - around 0.3-0.4p/hour, doesn't sound like that much but if you had all 4 on for say 10 hours a day that's close to £5/mo.

    Not 100% sure what you mean on going to black, I think most (all?) TFTs won't go completely black at any brightness setting, though I'm not sat in front of mine currently to check.

    Another factor you might want to consider is dead pixels - some manufacturers have better policies than others on these. From memory Hyundai and Phillips are particularly good.

    It's hard to recommend anything for editing work really, cos as you say TFTs aren't well suited to it. Best bet is probably to go to a shop with some in and ask to see them in action. If possible take along some test images to check out on a disk or CD. I wouldn't advise buying them there as you'll get better prices in a shop.

    Gaming - most 17" TFTs with a 12-16 ms response should do you fine there.

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    VTECmeous Vimeous's Avatar
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    From my own past experience the Aria 12/14/16ms 17" TFTs have been ok for windows but the brightness needs changing for ingame use. The colours tend towards overbright and they won't go black when the brightness is turned down.

    Conversely the Dell 17" we have at work all fade to black, have decent colour balance and are a much closer match to flat-screen CRT's. Their superior brightness control prevents perceived colour bleed between pixels and gives the impression of enhanced focus. However the lack of DVI is frustrating as it's definitely preferable as you point out.

    Experiences with older Iiyama 431 (17") and 481 (19") have been very good. However quoted response times are higher than most and I wonder if others peeps here have experienced better results with other monitors?
    Admittedly I like the Iiyamas and they have DVI but I also wonder if the same results can be achieved for less.
    I've never tried a 20"+ TFT so any help there would be extremely usefull.

    Overall budget is likely to be as close to £1k as possible but if the results are worth it we'll consider pushing it a little further.

    I agree it's a shame I can't keep the CRT's but in reality only one of our seven various CRT's isn't due in a skip soon. I use an Iyama VM Pro 454 @ work and would love 4 of them for home! Space wouldn't allow it sadly
    Last edited by Vimeous; 27-01-2005 at 07:09 PM.
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    I have dual VM Pro 451s here at work, they're nice.

    I have two NEC 18" TFTs at home (one dvi, one analog), both go to black with my normal settings and are plenty bright enough to use in windows. Something I would advise, if you want exact colour matching between two TFTs, get two of the same type. One of mine is a couple of years older and there is a distinct difference in the colour balance that no amount of fiddling can really solve.

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    Well, Im gonna show my pics again, because I have 2 19" HP pavillion f1904 on my main rig and another on my shuttle.

    Well pleased with them, excelent brightness, cant say much about the fade to black as I have never tried it. I find the colurs bright and vivid and they are spec'd as 16.7M colours so should be great for video editing. Response is 16ms and I dont see any ghosting in games,


    Cost was around £400 per panel, so £800 for your main rig, and then maybe one of those Aria 17" jobbies and should be near enough 1k.

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    Your requirements, particularly price v response times v colour reproduction v size v resolution, are going to result in compromises in all areas. There is no single monitor that will meet all of your requirements. TFTs are all about compromises.

    Pay a visit to the Russian boys who reckon that there is no all-purpose LCD monitor and that none is going to emerge anytime soon.
    Last edited by davidstone28; 27-01-2005 at 10:18 PM.

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    VTECmeous Vimeous's Avatar
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    davidstone28 that is an extremely informative link!
    Now my difficulty will be understanding what type of reproduction different manufacturers use for their different ranges of TFT's.

    G4Z your setup's a nice and tidy one. Having done a little price searching on Iiyamas (as I know more about them initially), I know the 19" 481 was £440 a year ago and today on special Aria had them for £276.13 (both inc VAT).
    Iiyama's own product range is interesting because it may be reflecting some of the information the article mentioned above discusses. Rather than having two 17" TFTs for different market sectors they now have four! The new fast 10ms 435 is a case in point where Iiyama themselves say it's fast but not as well suited to some applications as the much older 431.

    Pleasingly even decent 17" TFT's are hovering around £200 (down £120 in the case of the 431), especially if you're carefull where you shop.
    It does look like the single 20" idea should be put aside. We'd prefer no tonal differences if we bought a second one later (Butcher a good point indeed!) and the cost is still on the silly side of £500 for anything decent.
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    Yeeah, it's something you notice. The older TFT is a bit less vivid, and has a slightly yellow/red cast to it comapred to the new one. You wouldn't really notice it unless you had them side by side, but of course, I do.

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    If you're considering the E431-S, having a serious think about whether its going to meet your colour requirements (I have a E431-S and Acer AL1731M).

    The problem that I found with the Iiyama was that its colours and brightness/contrast ratios just didn't seem universally 'right' under any settings. Colours were either too washed out or too vivid - at the expense of being radiactive and unnatural looking (a bit like having excessive hue).

    Settings that were good for one thing eg. video playback were awful for desktop/office work and vice versa. There was also slight fringing around text which was very unsatisfactory for reduced sized word documents (2 pages per 1 screen). What seemed like acceptable brightness/contrast for video work / games left my eyes aching after about 3 hours of dekstop/office work.

    Its contrast / brightness range was very good for videos/DVDs though - particuarly picking out details in dark areas of the screen. However, constantly changing settings based on the application used (video playback, office work etc) would just be an exercise in frustration.

    If I were to summarise the E431-S based on my experiences, I'd say its poor for office work, good for video playback and games but at the expense of vivid but unnatural, slightly radiactive looking colours. I would be very surprised if people chose this monitor for serious photography work. Iiyama do have very good customer support though - both at presale and postsale stage they were incredibly helpful.

    In the end, I decided to use my Acer AL1731M as my main desktop/work monitor (subtle colours, less eye strain but poorer contrast for video/DVD work) and the Iiyama for video work / gaming despite the colour issue. Based on tech specs, you'd expect the opposite to be true.

    BTW, the E481-S uses completely different technology but I have no experience of this monitor. I think Vaul (the moderator) was considering buying one, so if he's managed to get his hands on one, you may want to have a word with him.

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    BTW, the Xbit and THG monitor roundups are also worth looking at.

    Given your requirements, you may also want to be looking out for for 16.77M colours v 16.2M (262,000 interpolated colours) issue. There's an existing thread on the forums about this already.

    1280x1024 will result in slightly small looking icons on a 17". If video playback is your thing, its definitely worth considering a 19" even more so if you're playing non 4:3 format videos.

    Hobart's also touched upon a useful point about colour profiles.
    Last edited by davidstone28; 28-01-2005 at 06:43 PM.

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    Thanks for all that. Your experiences with the 431 certainly suggest it's not idea for the edit machine though has potential for gaming. Sadly I also expect to be doing some stills editing on the gaming rig so I'll look elsewhere for now.

    From the information you've pointed me at so far I'd sad I was looking for an IPS based 16.77M colour TFT. However, taking Iiyama and Dell as examples, I've yet to find where they list these two characteristics on their respective websites.

    Samsung have a fine reputation so they'll go on my list of possibles (I'll read the two reviews you mention shortly). Buying four 19's would be great though expensive. However I noticed today Dell do a DVI equiped 19" for around £200 inc VAT. I need more info ideally but that may be the ideal solution for the gaming rig leaving me some financial leeway to consider the needs of the edit machine.
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    can you borrow a TFT from anyone (no jokes about vid cards, I'm on the case dude) but if you could borrow one (Moby maybe..he's got loadsatwork) just for a weekend....to see if the TFT will suit you.

    I watched TiG's Hyundai, fell in love, got anLG, which is very good...BUT if I get a big enough house, a CRT is coming home to daddy. IL-2 needs it. Deckards CRT looks so nice.

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    VTECmeous Vimeous's Avatar
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    I keep seeing the 454 on my desk at work and wondering if I can cut holes in the roof to make 'em fit!
    That said borrowing is a fine idea. I can test the Iiyama 481S at my parents place. It's heavily recommended by peeps like PC Pro for colour balance but slated for gaming use by a number of online reviews I've seen.
    As for any others, Moby might be able to help me out for an evening with one of his 18's and I can look at games performance of the cheap Dell 17" at work next week. Hopefully the cheap 19" Dell will also appear at work in the next week or so, fingers crossed, to see if a budget 19" can really perform well.
    Otherwise I'm a bit stuck as most peeps I know with TFT's having older variants.

    So far, much to my chagrin, I've not seen a single review describing a 19" TFT that will suit both purposes. The Syncmaster 193P sounded interesting but the reviews I've seen are so varied that it suggests they didn't all get decent stock.
    On the 17" front TiG's TFT scores very well but the current version uses a different panel (Samsung not a Hydis) so its characteristics seem to have changed quite a bit.
    I also like the sound of the Syncmaster 710T but a 19" is preferable.

    Now where are my masonry tools.....
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    Why you all talking about 17,19, I strongly recommend the Samsung 213T-Black, its absolutely fantastic in every respect, DVI/VGA , Portrait/Landscape 1600x1200 and very easy to move about but also a strong build quality and a feeling that it will last. It was expensive (about 500quid) but Im so glad I spent the extra money, Id never use anything less than 21 now! I am actually thinking of getting a second screen, the rim is very thin and ideal for multi monitor display.

    Something I have realised since having got this monitor (25ms) is that response times are not the most important factor for big tfts.. I used to have a woeful Geforce FX5600 and even when the frame rate was high (i.e 60fps near monitor refreshrate) I still got quite considerable "ghosting", but a few weeks back I got an ATI x800 XT PE , which to say the least is an absolute revolution in game performance for me.

    Anyway the ghosting is gone and in games like farcry and doom3 I dont even notice its a TFT (perhaps this is coz Im so busy gawking at the stunning effects!).

    It seems to me that the quality of the graphics card is actually a much larger factor than most ppl realise. Why the graphics card should have such a marked impact on "ghosting" I am not sure maybe someone has some ideas.

    All in all, I would recommend saving for an extra month and paying out for a monitor like this, I also use a freeview card on it to watch tv and its fine.

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