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PC and TV screens close cousins
LCD slimmer, easier on the eye
Breakthroughs in LCD screen technology and the recent drop in prices have meant the difference between buying a 21 inch TV and a 21 inch computer monitor is fast disappearing.

LCD (liquid crystal display) monitors are on the comeback in a big way after a shortage of supply this time last year which gave the CRT (cathode ray tube) a brief respite. Now with supplies ramped up and pricing coming down there’s nothing stopping the elegant, space saving LCD overtaking its clumsy cathode ray tube cousin

And as the PC begins to find a home in the lounge, or at least becomes a server of content that can be viewed on the TV, bigger, brighter and better multipurpose screens are coming into vogue.

In fact modern flat screen LCD TVs allow you to plug your PC directly in. "In the past with CRTs you had a lot of blur because the response rate couldn’t cope but LCD refresh rates are now fast enough for the PC. We’ve got 17 inch and 19 inch models that are multifunction with a TV tuner built in," says John Sims, Samsung monitor marketing manager for Radiola.

A 17 inch LCD PC monitor might range from $750-$1200 whereas a 22 inch LCD TV could be purchased for $1500-$2000. A 21 inch CRT TV can be bought for under $500.

Mr Sims suspects LCD monitors make up about 50 per cent of Samsung sales currently with CRTs hitting a price point where manufacturers will soon see little point in making them. "You can get a 17 inch CRT for $200 or less. They’re becoming an unattractive proposition. They’re bulky to store in warehouses and no-one wants to hold them in stock."

The focus is now on improving the design and appearance of the LCD screen, which is becoming thinner, more elegant, and more flexibile in the way they’re mounted.

When buying an LCD screen look for at least 1024 x 768 pixels in resolution and ensure you have the DVI digital video input and the connections to plug in your PC, DVD and home entertainment system.

According to Noel Leemings general manager merchandise Jason Bell, LCD prices for a 17inch LCD are equivalent to what a 17inch CRt was a year ago.

"They use 66 per cent less power so the cost of ownership is a lot less, they display colour better than previously and response time is a lot faster if you’re displaying video. There’s no flicker, less eye strain and they take up less space."

Movie buffs and those who want maximum viewing experience are sifting through a range of options. While plasma screen are bigger, LCD screens use less power and give a clearer picture. Both can be hung on walls, mounted on table top stands or displayed on cabinets.

Another benefit of flat panel is that there is little picture distortion - meaning you can watch TV from almost any angle in the room.

Rear projection TV's also come in sizes up to 62" and are cheaper than plasma but without the clarity of image. You can spend a little more on a 100hz widescreen TV which has more pixels and less flicker.

But the option being chosen by many is the projector. Prices range from $2000 upwards, they’re portable, great for games, movies or presentaitons and deliver the biggest picture of all.

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