Scott Hanselman

The beginning of a streaky LCD...and the end of Multiple Monitor Productivity?

June 09, 2004 Comment on this post [19] Posted in Musings
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I dig multi-monitors.  Everyone knows that you are MEASURABLY more productive when using more monitors.

Personally, I have three now. 

  • The one on the right is a 17" that I dug up from the garage.  It runs at 1152x864 at 32bit color.
  • The one on the left is my TabletPC running 1400x1060 at 16bit color.  I'm using MaxiVista to utilize that Tablet in its dock as a virtual monitor (This isn't a KVM or Remote Control thing, it literally shows up as a virtual display adapter).
  • Now, the MIDDLE one is a ViewSonic VA800 17" running at 1280x1024 at 32bit color.  It was about $700 a few years back, and I suspect its dying.

...which is interesting, as while I know that all hardware dies eventually, are LCDs supposed to die so quickly?

This particular monitor is showing weird color behaviors and bleeding.  Like if I have a large BLUE window, it seems to bleed off to the right and cause horizontal ghosts across the screen.

That said, what's the best price performance for LCDs these days?  Do they make 120-130dpi (this one is 96dpi) desktop monitors?  Clear and bright baby, clear and bright.

And actually, here's a there anyone out there who DOESN'T think that LCDs are the "way and the light" and still have 21" CRTs heating their downstairs?

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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June 09, 2004 7:37
I still really like my CRT. It seems to me that a LCD would be great for work where I would never change resolutions, but at home I run a hodge-podge media center edition PC (The MSDN edition of course because I have aspirations to write some code for it) and it changes resolutions quite often. When I switch to the 10-foot interface and when I load games I tend to run a different res than I use for normal computing.

Not to mention the price difference. My next monitor will probably be LCD, but this old 19" CRT still works just fine.
June 09, 2004 7:51
I still run 3 21 inch Sony Trinitron Flat CRT's. When you go any kind of graphics work and want to be able to see the true color of what you're doing, LCD's still don't cut it. They're getting better, no doubt, but they still don't compare to CRT's. And yeah, 3 21" Trinitron's really take up desk space but I've figure out how to manage with KVM switches and all that kind of junk.
June 09, 2004 8:02
I gave my 21" CRT to my mom, in favor of a 18" Mitsubishi, which is my second monitor for my laptop, and a 17" Samsung, which is the head for my KVM. I don't miss the CRT one bit.

I haven't owned either stand-alone LCD long enough to comment on their life expectancy, but I *have* had issues with the LCD on my old Gateway Solo 5150 (totally dead, and now hooked up to the KVM as a print server), and a not that old Latitude C600, whose LCD is seriously pinked out, and dies frequently (this one's also on the KVM, and is my wife's email machine). So I'm hoping those aren't signs of things to come with my other LCDs (sound of knocking on wood). :-)

June 09, 2004 8:05
LCDs are typically lower res, and nifty in a space saving way. They get streaky like you described sometimes when they're crapping out on ya. The same money you spent back then would buy a much better model today, probably would last longer, but then again, the same money toward a CRT model would buy a whole *lot* of quality monitor.
June 09, 2004 8:25
To answer your last question - yes. There was some discussion of this on the WinTech-OT list back in February, and at the time I was one of the few CRT holdouts (or one of the few prepared to admit it). Sony 21" flat Trinitron for me too, and I'm not about to switch to LCD. They simply don't have the resolution or color fidelity that I want.

As for death of LCDs: I don't think I've ever had a laptop LCD last more than 5 years without serious color issues or complete death. That's maybe 10-15 dead screens (there was one Dell that I had under next-day all-encompassing warranty that accounted for a good number of those before they finally got wise and shipped me a whole new box).
June 09, 2004 8:36
I just walked this path yesterday. The toss up between an average lcd, or a good crt.

I decided that either a 22" Mitsubishi Diamond, or the 19" model was the way to go.

Mitsubishi DP2070SB-BK, 22" (RRP $600)
Mitsubishi DP930SB-BK 19" (RRP $300)

Not overly expensive, excellent quality, good reviews from everyone who owns one.

Take the cash you would spend on a single LCD and buy two 19".. Sure, your head will be irradiated, but damn you'll have a lot of desktop space (but not much desk space)
June 09, 2004 8:51
Count my vote for CRT over LCD. Every once in a while I browse around Fry's, looking for an LCD that will cause me to make the switch, but it hasn't happened. The LCD screens just aren't as clear as a CRT. Your monitor is very important to your comfort. I'm still happily using my 1995 Samsung 17GLsi CRT without a glitch.
Seems LCD's are for people that have more money than physical space.
June 09, 2004 8:52
Count my vote for CRT over LCD. Every once in a while I browse around Fry's, looking for an LCD that will cause me to make the switch, but it hasn't happened. The LCD screens just aren't as clear as a CRT. Your monitor is very important to your comfort. I'm still happily using my 1995 Samsung 17GLsi CRT without a glitch.
Seems LCD's are for people that have more money than physical space (and judging by that photo, it looks like you fit squarely in that market).
June 09, 2004 8:58
From comments I have heard...

Color fidelity -- CRT
Position fidelity (CAD) -- LCD
Size/weight -- LCD (duh)
Price -- CRT
Gaming -- CRT (most LCD's have some ghosting on fast moving images)
Movies -- CRT (same issue, I haven't noticed this personally)

I have a hard time getting around the "for that price I could get a _really_ nice CRT" issue.
June 09, 2004 9:00
I made the switch when my 10+ year old 21" NEC CRT decided it didn't want to play with me anymore.

I switched to a 20" viewsonic LCD (1600x1200 for those who think they are typically lower res). Despite my wife's complaints about the price (hey it's not her eyes looking at it 14 hours a day) - it's an awesome display - I did have some issue getting clear type adjusted just right for it, but I'm not sure if it was the monitor - or the fact that I am running dual monitors on a zd7000 notebook and I can only set clear type globally and not by monitor - this is a problem if you ask me - that and the dpi setting, each of those should be by monitor. in fact i think i'm going over to channel 9 right now and complain to mr hill.

also, i know you like maxivista quite a bit, however i found it rather sluggish - at least when everything is running over wifi - do you have the same problem? (i have an old thinkpad 600e running as the 3rd display).
June 09, 2004 9:06
Ya, I gave up on Maxivista OVER WIFI...I do it over 100Mbits on the same subnet. Then it's lovely. Also, 16bit color about doubles the speed over 32bit...not sure why it's THAT much...poor compression perhaps?

You know, I just don't know if I can justify the WEIGHT of the CRT...and the heat! Lord, the heat!
June 09, 2004 9:18
I have a Dell 2000FP 20.1" LCD running at 1600x1200. I love it, and there is absolutely no going back! I picked it up for about $750 almost a year ago. If you watch for a deal ( or similar) you can get the next model up (2001FP) for close to $750 shipped.
June 09, 2004 10:15
I always thought I would prefer a big CRT over a LCD, until I decided shell out the bucks to get a really nice LCD. Now I don't think I could go back. IMO, it all comes down to you get what you pay for. Most people that buy LCDs get the lower quality ones because the price is already higher than what they'd pay for a CRT. Of course then they'll complain about how CRT are better (well, they're right that CRTs are better than the LCD *they bought*). I was sick of the bulcy space taking CRT and the heat so I decided to go for it. I spent a lot more than I would have normally on a LCD and I love it. It's a really expensive monitor, but I cannot get the same clarity and color on my best CRT, not even close! That said, if you want to play games on it, then there's no beating a good CRT.
June 09, 2004 14:58
Strong yes for CRT vs LCD. If you work with 3D graphics/engines (or just simply play PC games) LCD is not there yet. They solved many problems with refresh rates, blur, after-images over last few years, nevertheless its still noticable to professional eye. Trying out DOOM3 on LCD would count as sacrilege ;)

However thinking of your post I'd say you made strong case for LCD as secondary "code/productivity improvement" monitor. And small will big bigger factor for secondary monitor.
June 09, 2004 17:38
I find monitors that are less than 1600x1200 to be very annoying. That said, I like the 17" LCD w/ lower res better than the 21" CRT because the size is, in a word, ludicrous.
I am very much looking forward to the day when I have three LCDs that are each at least 1920x1080 -- the Grand Canyon display also looks inviting.
June 09, 2004 18:03
Price nonwithstanding, has anyone of you take a look at Apple's 23" Cinema HD Display ( Granted it uses Apple's ADC connector but rumor is that an update is soon to be released with standard DVI along with a 30" model. See

Now, three of these 23" baby on my desk... Mmm...
June 09, 2004 19:17
The only really clear LCD display I've seen is the one on my IBM ThinkPad, and only when I'm running at the highest resolution. I had it running dual monitors with an 18" NEC LCD and the blurriness and ghosting on the thing started messing with my eyes. I switched out the LCD for a 21" Sony Trinitron CRT and have never looked back. I run the same thing at home. Until REALLY CLEAR LCD displays become reasonably affordable, I'm sticking with the tried and true. At least I won't feel like I'm going blind. (Plus, as previously mentioned, you can't beat the color on a CRT; the LCD just doesn't cut it.)
June 09, 2004 20:20
I have a lovely 19" Trinitron that's still worth every (of the many) dime I paid for it around 6 years ago. Sure, it's hot and it takes up WAY too much space, but it's not enough to justfiy the cost of an LCD.
October 06, 2004 6:37
I still live by CRTs because of the price. I run an ATI X800 to two 17" Sony E200 monitors and they are as crystal clear and responsive as any display I have ever seen. Now if games developers would offer more dual-display features (like Morrowind main on one display with the rag-doll, map and stats windows on the other display. Or Doom III on the left with network stats and chat windows on the right (sweet!).

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.