Monitor recommendation for design work
January 15, 2009 10:36 AM   Subscribe

The boss said "tell me what you need and we'll get it" so I need advice on a monitor for daily CS3 Photoshop and Illustrator work primarily for print with some web work.

A few notes:
- I got thrown into the job and am succeeding on the creative ends but need a little technical help
- I am at a nonprofit so I have some hardware/software limitations due to donated software. In essence, "buy a Mac" isn't possible at this point since all of our software and current equipment is PC. We have no real tech department and the person internally who handles our current IT needs is PC only. Mac monitors would be fine--I think--but other hardware is a nonstarter for at least another 12-18 months.
- I am currently using a cheapie 19" widescreen LCD that I would transition to use as a second monitor for my office/email apps.
- Color management isn't as critical as it could be since I have been using the crappy monitor with no real color management to date. My sole source print shop color corrects to color samples I provide off our office color laser (Konica Minolta BizHub). I also use the BizHub for roughly 50-60% of my output for retail signage, inhouse flyers, etc.
- I would prefer LCD since I have a limited workspace (my nonprofit cube is tiny in desk depth but fairly wide) and would prefer the biggest monitor that is reasonable. 30" feel gratuitous but 20" feels too small.

I have seen recommendations for Dells, Macs, LaCie and Eizo here and elsewhere. I think the Mac displays would be my first choice but since I have zero experience myself with Macs. From my reading it seems their new monitors are designed for use with laptops. The Eizo and LaCie seem overkill for my situation--both in price and features--and the Dell's I have no idea about.

Any thoughts plus recommendations on other things I may not be thinking about would be appreciated
posted by karmaville to Technology (10 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Viewsonic is highly-regarded and I've had great luck with them.

Here is a 22" for about $250:
posted by cockeyed at 10:53 AM on January 15, 2009

Apple displays look nice, no doubt, but they use the same panels everyone else does and so you're paying a significant premium for the name. Also, they are in the middle of transitioning from DVI connectors to mini DisplayPort connectors, which aren't in use anywhere else except for Apple's current laptops.

I say this as an owner of a MBP but given that your shop is PC only it doesn't make a lot of sense to me to buy an Apple display.
posted by 6550 at 11:01 AM on January 15, 2009

The Eizo advantage is its screen's are the only ones set up to profile in adobeRGB.
posted by Xurando at 11:09 AM on January 15, 2009

Best answer: Dell (the Ultrasharp line specifically; model names that contain FP) and Apple tend to be very close in quality - the Dells are often much cheaper and more featureful than the equivalent Apple models. I've got a 24" Dell Ultrasharp and it's a great screen, and runs for about $520 nowadays, where the equivalent Apple display was $799 and didn't come with as nice a USB hub, or the media card reader, or the extra 5 inputs. Dell also has cheaper 24"ers that run in the $300 range. 24" is a pretty good size, and gives you some room to spread out. note that a 22" monitor will typically have the same resolution (i.e. will display the same amount of info) as a 20".

(the Apple screen you're thinking about specifically is the 24" Cinema Display, which is brand-new and yes, only works on machines with mini-DisplayPort connections. their older 20" and 30" displays have normal DVI connections and will work on both PCs and Macs. technically, so will the new 24" but you'll have to have the appropriate connector, and no PC manufacturer ships mini-displayport yet. the older aluminum-bezel 23" Cinema Display will also work just fine on a PC, but the Dell Ultrasharp is pretty much the same and probably still cheaper.)

if you feel the need to have color calibration in the future, you can always get an external calibrator - something like the Pantone Huey - and calibrate it that way. some of the more expensive monitors have 'em built in (the LaCies specifically, but others do too).
posted by mrg at 11:11 AM on January 15, 2009

Response by poster: I knew there was something I was missing about the Mac displays...thanks for the recommendations.
posted by karmaville at 11:13 AM on January 15, 2009

Even more technically I don't think there's an adapter yet to use the new 24" Apple display with a DVI output (there is an adapter to go from the mini-DisplayPort laptops to a DVI monitor). And the 20" Display at $599 doesn't strike me as a good value, nor does the 30" at $1799, especially when the latter apparently uses the exact same panel as Dell's $1199 30" and the Dell has more input options. Completely aside, those 30" displays need a dual link DVI card to run at full resolution.

So I'll stand by my statement that Apple's displays, while looking nice, don't make a lot of sense, especially for a PC only shop.
posted by 6550 at 11:29 AM on January 15, 2009

Best answer: dell ultrasharp 24'' or dell "truesomethingsomething" 24", which is the cheaper line. 2nding the pantone huey for calibration should the need arise.
posted by _dario at 11:34 AM on January 15, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks all. Looking at the options, I went with the Dell 24".
posted by karmaville at 1:05 PM on January 15, 2009

Best answer: Just make sure you get the Dell Ultrasharp. The two Dell 24"s use different panels, and the cheaper one uses a TN panel with a very limited viewing angle. It won't make a big difference on small monitors, but for 24" you'll notice a difference in colour between the top and bottom of the thing. Get the more expensive one if you haven't already :-)
posted by reformedjerk at 1:12 PM on January 15, 2009

Our shop has standardized on the Dell 2408WFP that mrg linked to. They're perfectly fine for day to day use but, according to our color guru, drift more than the Apple panels that we reserve for color correction. Budget for a cheap but decent hardware calibrator and you'll be in fine shape.
posted by nathan_teske at 9:18 PM on January 16, 2009

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