Which 19-21" monitor should I buy?
September 5, 2005 1:37 PM   Subscribe

What LCD monitor should I buy? This thread 6 months ago recommends the Dell UltraSharp 1905FP, which is about $383 right now. Is that still the best bang for my monitor bucks? I'm not a gamer, do a little web work but nothing hugely critical, and look at my computer screen for most of the day. What do you recommend?

What are other LCD monitors (using a PowerBook G4 if it matters) that I should be looking at? I'd like to keep it under $400, less if possible, more if needed. I'd like a 19" at least, while a 21" would be even better. It doesn't have to be super-fast-amazing-gaming LCD refresh-pro, but I definitely don't want a crappy monitor either. I can wait to look around for a cheaper price on the Dell, or any other, if the bargain sites are likely to list one relatively soon (next month or so). This is my first big purchase in a while, so whatever help you can throw my way would be greatly appreciated. My eyes thank you in advance.
posted by barnone to Computers & Internet (21 answers total)
If you don't mind going refurbished, you can get the 1905's big brother for about $455.
posted by SweetJesus at 1:55 PM on September 5, 2005

I think I have that very same Dell monitor at work, and I love it. It's sharp and has good color. I use it for web work and Photoshop. It sounds like a good deal to me!
posted by geeky at 2:04 PM on September 5, 2005

If you watch for Dell coupons that can be combined, you can get a 2005 fpw for about $400 if you're really lucky. (We got ours for $478 new, IIRC). I have two of them at work and themy're perfect.

OTOH, I've had decent experience with everything from Acer to brands I'd never heard of, so ymmv.
posted by SpecialK at 4:02 PM on September 5, 2005

Response by poster: The FPW is just the 20" version of the 19", right?
posted by barnone at 4:04 PM on September 5, 2005

I'd suggest watching the Cheap Stingy Bargain site for a week or two. Every 2-3 days there's a crazy coupon deal at the Dell site for a 20" ultra sharp monitor. I've seen them on sale for as low as $350 before.
posted by mathowie at 4:06 PM on September 5, 2005

barnone - The biggest difference between the dell's 19" and 20" is the pixel count... the 20" max resolution is 1200x1600 were as the 19" has a max resolution of only 1280x1024. I highly recommend the 2001FP I have one at home and 2 at work... great to look at all day. I second the post that says wait and watch for deals... they offer some really good ones.....

On a different note, I know that some Apple displays (and their computers output) are a non standard dvi port... so check to make sure that you don't have to buy an adaptor.
posted by kashmir772 at 4:28 PM on September 5, 2005

I've got the 1905fp and like it a lot. We've got a bunch of other LCD brands where I work and the 1905 beats them all. If you're interested in monitor speakers that won't clutter your desk, the accessory Dell ones that clip under it are also pretty good (as far as integrated speakers go).
posted by shoos at 4:36 PM on September 5, 2005

Response by poster: kashmir772 writes "I know that some Apple displays (and their computers output) are a non standard dvi port"

Hmmm. Anyone know about the Apple connection issue? Is the Dell monitor a ready-to-go hookup for my PowerBook, or is there an adaptor needed? Does that affect the clarity?
posted by barnone at 4:40 PM on September 5, 2005

At work, I just recieved the Dell 19 and the Samsung 940T. The 940T completely kicks the Dell's ass. It's both brighter and has better blacks, it also has better set up controls. I spend my whole day in Photoshop, so I'm kind of picky about my monitors.
posted by doctor_negative at 4:45 PM on September 5, 2005

Apple used to use a connection called ADP, which bundled video and USB in the same plug. They gave that up a couple years ago (with the introduction of the new Cinema displays), and now all apple computers and displays come with DVI ports.
posted by Popular Ethics at 4:47 PM on September 5, 2005

PowerBook G4s have either DVI (newer, digital) or VGA (older, analog) connectors. The ones with DVI ports have an adaptor to produce VGA. There should be no problem hooking up either one to a new LCD, as long as you get the right cables.

(Note that you really want to use DVI instead of VGA; it produces far sharper results. Note that some cheap LCDs might not have DVI inputs, or might have DVI inputs but don't come with a DVI cable, so you'd have to buy one yourself. Buyer beware.)

kashmir722 is thinking of some of Apple's older desktop machines, which had ADC connectors, which were pretty much DVI + power + USB. There were never any PowerBooks with ADC connectors, because the computer simply can't provide enough power.
posted by xil at 4:48 PM on September 5, 2005

The 12 inch PowerBooks have a mini-DVI output, but you can buy a mini-dvi to DVI adapter. Otherwise, they have have standard DVI outputs as far as I know.
posted by SweetJesus at 5:01 PM on September 5, 2005

Response by poster: I have a 15" PowerBook, so I should be fine on the DVI front.

The Dell site says this about the 2005FPW: " To optimize this monitor's performance, your system must be able to support WSXGA+ resolution (1680 x 1050)" - I just looked at my Monitor setting on my computer, and it only seems to go to 1280 x 854 - would that somehow change with the connection of the monitor, or does that resolution not work with my computer? I'm sorry if these are obvious questions. I've never had a real monitor, and this is a big outlay for me.
posted by barnone at 5:08 PM on September 5, 2005

You're seeing the resolutions available for the internal display. When you plug in a separate display, you'll see one instance of that window on each display, each with its own settings. There should be no problem driving the external display at that resolution.
posted by xil at 5:22 PM on September 5, 2005

The monitor setting on your computer refers to the powerbook's LCD. Whether your laptop can run a 1680x1050 monitor depends entirely on your laptop's video hardware. Without knowing the model number, I can't check - but Apple's tech specs will let you know. For instance, this from the current powerbook spec sheet:

NVIDIA GeForce FX Go5200 graphics processor with AGP 4X support and 64MB of DDR SDRAM video memory (12-inch models) Dual display and video mirroring: Simultaneously supports up to 1024 x 768 pixels on the built-in display and up to 2048 x 1536 pixels on an external display, both at millions of colors (6)
posted by Popular Ethics at 5:25 PM on September 5, 2005

another vote for the 2005fpw

I was surprised to discover the Dell uses the same LCD as the apple 20" cinema display
posted by freq at 6:07 PM on September 5, 2005

I have the 1905FP. I bought it a few months ago for close to $300 with a bunch of coupons/sales. I haven't had any problems with it, and I can definitely recommend it for most people (other than psycho hardcore gamers, I guess). Definitely wait a month or so to try to snag some good coupons/sales. gotapex.com is a good place for Dell coupons specifically.

The Samsung 940T would probably be good (I've read lots of good things about Samsung LCDs, and Dell often uses Samsung panels, I believe) but I doubt you'll find it for under $450 for a while.
posted by whatnotever at 6:21 PM on September 5, 2005

The 15" and 12" powebooks have no problem whatsoever with the 2005 fpw. 12" powerbooks require the use of the mini-dvi to dvi adaptor referenced earlier.

And yeah, the 2005 fpw is the same *panel* as the Powerbook, but different guts and backlight driving the panel. The guts and backlight are supposedly lower quality than the apple.
posted by SpecialK at 11:17 PM on September 5, 2005

SpecialK is a little off, the 2005fpw has the same panel as the Apple 20" Cinema Display. It has no relation to the Powerbook's panel.

A widescreen 20" Powerbook would be enourmous! And there is no way to make a laptop with an optical drive thinner than the 17" powerbook. The bottom half of the laptop is a millimeter or two thicker than the optical drive itself. They used AAA sized battery cells instead of the standard AA size inside the battery pack to make it thinner.

12" Powerbooks come with Mini-DVI adapters for both VGA and DVI out of the box. The only one you have to pay extra for is the adapter for TV-Out. I'm typing on one right now.

The 15" and 17" Powerbooks come with DVI ports and a DVI-VGA adapter. When you plug the display in, it will detect the resolutions it is capable of, and make them available in the Displays Menu Bar item and Preference Pane.

Try to make sure that the display comes with a DVI input cable, or buy one seperately (they cost less than $10). That way there are no Digital-Analog-Digital conversions going on.
posted by blasdelf at 12:56 AM on September 6, 2005

Also don't buy a display larger than 17" that can only do 1280x1024.

You'd be paying extra for almost no gain, and in my experience at work where we have a bunch of new 17" and 19" 1280x1024 LCDs, I prefer the 17" to the 19" because the 17" has far greater pixel density. Plus the 17" costs $80 less.

I just don't see the point in paying more for something bigger that doesn't actually show more. But then again, I'm a freak. I have a Fujitsu laptop with a 10.6" screen that does 1280x768 that I love.
posted by blasdelf at 1:04 AM on September 6, 2005

Response by poster: Thank you everyone. I'll keep my eye out for deals on those two models, and keep in mind the Samsung.
posted by barnone at 6:48 AM on September 6, 2005

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