Experiences buying an LCD Monitor

I wanted an LCD monitor. I just painted my office and wanted an aesthetic upgrade – the old monitor was working fine, but my wife has a BenQ FP567s that looks very slick compared to my ViewSonic A90, a monitor I’ve never had a problem with but which was just seeming a little old.

My first attempt at replacing it was a Samsung SyncMaster 712N, a great monitor, with 12ms refresh time, but which seemed a little small (17″ compared to 18″ measured viewable on the A90, advertised as a 19″ monitor). So I took it back and replaced it with a 19″ version, the Samsung SyncMaster 912N.

Even though these two Samsung monitors share the same model number except for the digit which seems to indicate size, the 912N has 25ms refresh instead of 16ms refresh. I didn’t think this would be a problem, and it might not have been with the Samsung, but I returned the 912N because it had a slight ghosting to the left of every letter. I thought it was a defective monitor, but another one at the store did the same thing. It’s barely noticeable but I found it annoying, especially when reading text. The on-screen display (generated inside the monitor) didn’t have the ghosting, so I guess it had to do with how it digitized the VGA signal coming in.. (I tried the various adjustments in the monitor, and I couldn’t get it any better than the auto-sync did).

I replaced the 19″ Samsung with a 19″ BenQ, the FP951. This monitor looked great, and played games that didn’t have a very high framerate (like EverQuest 2, which runs at about 15fps on my computer) but playing DVDs or playing Counter-Strike looked terrible. So back it went.

Finally I’ve ended up with a BenQ FP937s, a relatively new monitor. It’s got a 12ms refresh so games look great, and every pixel seems perfectly clear. The only drawback to this monitor is the contrast is a little lower at 500:1 than the FP951 at 700:1. Believe it or not this is noticeable – when you’re playing a DVD especially where you can see a lot of the black area around a widescreen movie isn’t completely black. But this is a tradeoff I’m ok with.

A couple of other notes:

  • The BenQ monitors came with both DVI and VGA cables. The others came with only VGA.
  • The BenQ FP951 is the only one with an external power supply; the rest of them you plug right into the wall
  • The BenQ FP931 had one bad pixel, a green one near the top; none of the others had any bad pixels.

All the monitor hyperlinks are to Staples, because they let me keep returning the monitor until I got the one I liked. I make a point of buying expensive stuff from stores with good exchange / return policies.