A Tale of Two LCDs

Think there's no real difference between one brand of LCD computer monitor vs. another? Think again, after viewing the following images:

Comparison of same photo as viewed on two different monitors

These are screenshots of the same image as it appears on the two monitors currently residing on my desk at home. The one on the left was taken from a 10 year old 19" NEC monitor; the one on the right comes from a 2 year old 24" Dell display. Neither monitor has been calibrated; their settings are what came out of the box. I did try to improve the NEC's image by fiddling with the on-monitor settings, but what you see is the best it can do.

It's pretty obvious that the image on the right is superior in almost every respect. (If it's not obvious, you might want to make an appointment with your local optometrist. Or buy a better monitor because, dude, yours is seriously hosed.) Both monitors cost about the same amount of money (~$600), although in inflation-adjusted dollars the NEC was actually more expensive. But, then, what piece of tech equipment wasn't more expensive in 2003 than it is today?

There's no clear consensus that I can find on whether LCD displays degrade over time. At one time, I thought it was a given that they did, but most people seem to think that the only change is that the image might get a bit darker. That phenomenon alone doesn't explain the differences shown above.

I think the point here is that if you're shopping for a computer monitor and plan to do some color-critical work, it would be advisable to take a flash drive with a sample photo on it and view it on the models you're considering buying. That's easier said than done in our world of online shopping, but if you can pull it off, you'll probably find it was worth the effort. 

For me, it confirms the wisdom of my decision to use the Dell for all my Photoshop and iMovie work, while saving the NEC for activities such as web browsing.

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This page contains a single entry by Eric published on August 20, 2013 8:49 PM.

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