Monitor Madness

October 17, 2010 · 0 comments

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I started writing this article about eight months ago in February of 2010.  Back then (yeah, it seems like a very long time ago), it was almost impossible to find any distributor that had decent monitors available.  Everything was backordered and taking weeks or months to arrive.  Like a lot of companies, we were being pushed into a move away from 4:3 ratio glass to widescreen at 16:10.  We were holding on to the bitter end because we wanted sufficient vertical resolution, with excellent quality and reliability in a 21″ form-factor.

Samsung SyncMaster
Our standard monitor platform was the Samsung SyncMaster 213T monitor which was a 21″ monitor capable of supporting a resolution of 1600×1200.  This was a very good monitor in the Samsung professional series of monitors.  We liked the resolution, clarity of the screens and color accuracy.  It was used by engineers and office workers alike. I would say the only problem we had with this monitor was that certain users tried to run it at 1280×1024 or even 1024×768 and it was just not designed to do that.  At the lower resolutions, the clarity was reduced and users complained.  For them, we had to find native monitors at the lower resolutions, but that was an acceptable compromise.

However, the problems started when Samsung switched from the 213T to the 214T.  Their specifications were identical and we simply accepted it as a version change.  Unfortunately, the reliability of the 214T proved to be far worse than anything we ever saw with the 213T.  In almost every case, the 214T did not survive more than about 14 months before they started failing.  I sent back a number of monitors before the end of their 1-year warranty was over.  Not only that, but the height adjustment hardware seemed to fail quicker than the monitors.

Then Samsung, like a lot of monitor manufacturers, got on the widescreen bandwagon.  They abandoned 4:3 ratio monitors completely.  Even when I sent back the 214T monitors under warranty, they contacted me and said they could only replace it with a widescreen product and we pushed them to replace them with 24″ monitors.  They were not very pleased, but we had to do that because the 21″ widescreen monitors did not have the vertical resolution that my users demanded.  If you are looking at documents or spreadsheets, it really does make a difference if you move from 1200 to 900 pixels.

Move to the NEC LCD2170nc-blk
Even with some widescreen monitors finding their way into our environment, I tried to keep us on the path of 4:3 monitors just because of compatibility with existing projectors, PowerPoint slides and familiarity for my users.  With Samsung out of the running, I moved over to NEC.  They were continuing to build a respectable 21″ monitor in the 2170.  Yeah, they were a bit bulky and heavy with a wider bezel, but it met all of our requirements.  Unfortunately, this lasted for a very short period and NEC hopped on the widescreen bandwagon and we were left standing alone in our quest for a 4:3 monitor standard.

On to Widescreen and Back to Samsung (for a little while)
So, in 2009 we made the move to purchasing widescreen monitors and decided on 24″ models with TFT displays.  For this we selected the Samsung SyncMaster 245T.  This was a fantastic monitor and it has been a rock-solid performer.  The resolution, brightness, clarity all top notch in this S-PVA device.  We are also in the process of building a videoconferencing solution (an upcoming article), and we needed HDMI inputs.  We liked the height adjustability and were very pleased with the selection.  However, late in 2009 we ordered a large number of monitors only to find out that Samsung had discontinued the 245T without notice or indication of why.  As a matter of fact, it seems that Samsung completely terminated their professional series of monitors.  Looking around their site, we found the 2443BWT monitors and ordered them.  Unfortunately, we did not notice the lack of HDMI until the units arrived, so they had to be returned.  By then, it seemed they completely abandoned the 16:10 monitors in this monitor size.

On to Hewlitt Packard
Now we were in a  real quandary.  It was the beginning of 2010 and we did not have a monitor vendor anymore and we were back at square one.  We looked high and low for a 24″ LCD monitor with 1600×1200 resolution that met our quality standards and panel requirements.  What we found was the HP LP2475w monitor.  This is an IPS-based monitor and it is the first monitor I have ever seen that removed the VGA connector and replaced it with DisplayPort.

The problem that we encountered was availability.  Here it was, February of 2010 and we were getting nothing but backorder notifications.  We did not receive any monitors until May 13th and it was the most frustrating experience I’ve encountered.  Seems the economy really ate into the distributors and resellers and no one was keeping inventory.  Even the manufacturer was building based on orders that were already placed.

Well, since then it seems the availability has increased and we are back in business (for now), but what a mess trying to find quality monitors and build a standard for our enterprise.

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Article by Steve Van Domelen

Steve has written 47 awesome articles.

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