Buying a flat-screen computer monitor
December 10, 2010 12:40 PM   Subscribe

Help me buy a flat-screen monitor for my husband as a Christmas gift, please?

My uber-geek husband has been making do with a couple of ancient, heavy CRT monitors for his home desktop setup. I've finally talked him into upgrading the actual computers (moving from three equally ancient boxes to one or two high end machines), and I'd like to surprise him with a new flat-screen monitor for Christmas. But I have NO idea how to pick one.

Specifics: I'd like to keep it at $300 or less, and buy on-line from a reputable seller; ideally, since I have Prime. In a perfect world, it would also work for watching movies, etc, since it'll go in our combined office/guest room, and I'd like to get rid of the ancient tube television in there currently, but that's not a priority.

I found this ViewSonic, which seems like a good option for the price, but I have no way to really know. Advice, suggestions, and actual links are most appreciated!
posted by Lulu's Pink Converse to Computers & Internet (14 answers total)
Here are some good deals on monitors. Unless you're looking for something specific a good rule of thumb is to pick a brand name and briefly peruse the reviews. If nothing negative jumps out at you you're good.
posted by pyro979 at 12:50 PM on December 10, 2010

24" is a nice size. My mom's 19" died and I got a 24" Viewsonic LED monitor. Big difference.

The monitor you've selected has HDMI input which is useful because you'd be able to hook up game consoles or other devices (such as digital cable boxes) to it as well.

I think you've selected a pretty good monitor, but if you did some shopping I would expect you could get a better price for it. Amazon lists the LED monitor at $237, I bought it for $200 and this is in Canada where everything is more expensive.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 1:06 PM on December 10, 2010

Just as a tip, ran it through all the deal tracking I normally do, and that's one of the better prices for that monitor. Some sketchy stores with slightly cheaper prices, but that's about the top dog.

Look at NewEgg as well for monitors, usually shipping is nil or cheap.
posted by deezil at 1:22 PM on December 10, 2010

I have the Dell SX2210. It's a superb 22". Got it new (refurbished) for $179 from the Dell online outlet store. Highly recommend. It even has a webcam.
posted by musofire at 1:26 PM on December 10, 2010

If your husband is uber-geeky, what are the chances that he would rather pick out his own monitor? You'd have to decide if the "surprise" element is more important to you or the idea of getting him exactly what he wants?

Disclaimer: although I like the IDEA of surprises, I much prefer the practicality of letting large purchases be researched by the person most invested in that purchase.
posted by CathyG at 1:31 PM on December 10, 2010 [2 favorites]

I'm really partial to Samsung monitors. I have the Syncmaster 245BW and it's pretty great.
posted by reddot at 1:45 PM on December 10, 2010

Response by poster: CathyG, I'd never dare buy him an actual computer or other component, but on a monitor, I think it's OK. If I left it to him, he'd not upgrade the monitor until both the CRTs outright die, so a surprise on this one is reasonable. And if he hates it, it can go back.
posted by Lulu's Pink Converse at 1:59 PM on December 10, 2010

If he has more than one computer, you might consider getting a KVM, too - that'd let him plug the monitor, mouse, and keyboard all into one box, and then that box into each of his computers, letting him switch between them with a single dial. Then again, some people like to have separate monitors for each computer so they can have them all visible at once.
posted by spaceman_spiff at 2:03 PM on December 10, 2010

That Viewsonic is a great price. I just bought a 27" at NewEgg for a $300, if you want one that's even bigger, still has HDMI, and is within your price range.
posted by Soup at 3:19 PM on December 10, 2010

The big difference between the expensive 24" monitors like the Dell Ultrasharp U2410 (about $599.00) and no-name Black Friday specials at Bestbuy (as low as $159) is the panel they use. For $300 and below, I think all the available options are going to be the cheaper TN variety. There is nothing wrong with this except the viewing angle. On some 24" monitors, depending on how you place the monitor and how you sit, the colours in the top part of the screen might look different than the bottom part. If your husband is not particularly picky, then it won't matter. But if he is hanging on to the CRTs because he likes their colour reproduction or some other quality, you might want to ditch the surprise and let him see the monitor before buying. Just my two cents. This page goes into a lot of useful details about monitor choices and panel types available (
posted by reformedjerk at 3:20 PM on December 10, 2010

But if he is hanging on to the CRTs because he likes their colour reproduction or some other quality, you might want to ditch the surprise and let him see the monitor before buying.

This this this. Another quality is pixel density - I've used old Sony CRTs at ridiculously high resolutions. I personally can't stand the large pixel size of 24" monitors and it's possible (but unlikely, I'll admit) your husband feels the same way.
posted by ripley_ at 3:28 PM on December 10, 2010

Response by poster: As far as I can tell, he's hanging on to the old monitors because he's cheap and lazy about some things; it's the same reason he still has stereo speakers from when we were in college (about 20 years ago) even though he also has much newer, much nicer speakers. Believe me, I had to twist his arm to get him to upgrade the machines themselves, because they are ridiculously hot and noisy and flaky (and my parents are going to be staying in that room for 2 months, so the noisy and hot part had to change).

So there's nothing special about the CRTs except they are already there.
posted by Lulu's Pink Converse at 4:09 PM on December 10, 2010

I'm interested in basically the same question. My problem is the fact that all the manufacturers have standardized on a resolution of 1900 x 1080 pixels, which results in a screen that is wide horizontally but very narrow vertically. This, of course, is good for full-screen movie watching, but it provides you with very cramped vertical space for the kinds of things most people do: Word processing, web browsing, photo editing, etc.

Monitors that are slightly taller -- i.e., with a resolution of 1900 x 1200 pixels -- seem to provide a much more natural working environment. Dell's U2410, for example, looks great, but it's $400-500. Finding inexpensive ones really seems difficult. If anyone has any suggestions, I'm all ears.
posted by Alaska Jack at 4:52 PM on December 10, 2010

My geeky fiance keeps drooling over his new Samsung monitor, which is kinda saying something cause he's a Mac nut.
posted by The Biggest Dreamer at 5:29 PM on December 10, 2010

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