Monitor recommendations?
May 19, 2020 8:12 AM   Subscribe

I have a nearly 10-year-old monitor that I've been using since I have begun working from home. It's okay, but I think it is giving me a bit of eyestrain. Since I expect to continue working from home for as long as I feasibly can (or until it is safe), I have been thinking about upgrading but not sure of what I should be considering. Details inside...

A few details:

- At work I was spoiled with a 27'' Apple monitor. It was nice but I'm not that spendy, and would like cheaper options--think in the order of a couple hundred bucks, if that's at all realistic.
- In fact, 27'' is probably the maximum size I would want. Even that's probably too big for my desktop.
- I work on a Macbook Pro with USB-C only but I assume I can get an adapter.
- I work on a digital design team but am not a designer myself. I sometimes have to review visual assets but not to the level of detail where precision colour accuracy is a make-or-break feature. More often than not I am working with text or in PowerPoint.
- It is actually for office use only. I suppose there are situations in which I might watch a tv show or movie on it, but that's not a primary use case for me.
- Someone I know told me I have to get a 4K monitor, but I don't know if that's true.
- I am in Canada and so any options need to be available to me here.

Thank you for your suggestions!
posted by synecdoche to Shopping (19 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I just purchased this 27" Viewsonic monitor a couple weeks ago. It's great. You can get a USB-C to HDMI adapter for the Mac, it works just fine. (I used one for a long time with my work Mac and a very similar monitor until it (the mac, not the monitor or adapter) broke and the only option was a PC.)

I found this monitor by googling something like "best budget 27 inch monitors" and buying the one with the best price-to-review ratio.

Someone I know told me I have to get a 4K monitor, but I don't know if that's true.

Because...why? It's the only one that will work for your machine? False. If your needs are simple any recently manufactured monitor will work just fine. There's no sense in paying a premium for features you don't need. And if you decide in a few months that you made a huge mistake and need the fancy thing, a gently used broad class monitor is extremely resellable.
posted by phunniemee at 8:24 AM on May 19, 2020

Response by poster: Because...why? It's the only one that will work for your machine?

Just to clarify... I think it was a comment in the vein of "once you've had one, you'll never want to go back," rather than a hard technical requirement or something like that.
posted by synecdoche at 8:27 AM on May 19, 2020

Response by poster: (Which is to say, if there isn't a compelling reason to shell out for one, that's very good to know.)
posted by synecdoche at 8:29 AM on May 19, 2020

Best answer: At work I was spoiled with a 27'' Apple monitor.

No need to spend the $$$ for an Apple monitor but I'd look for a QHD monitor (capable of 2560x1440 resolution) around the same size rather than a HD monitor (1920x1080).

You can find QHD monitors with decent quality for less than $300 on, and even more below $400 that would be really nice. It's well worth the extra bucks to go with a higher resolution monitor vs. HD in my opinion. You're going to be staring at it a lot, do yourself a favor and get a good one. I'd get this Dell if it's in your price range or range you're willing to go to.

You'll definitely be able to find adapters from USB-C to mini-displayport or whatever.

You don't need a 4K monitor. If you get a 27" 4K monitor you'll probably end up tweaking the resolution to be less than it's actually capable of because everything will be super-tiny otherwise.
posted by jzb at 8:32 AM on May 19, 2020

Best answer: I'd probably advise against 4K unless you're getting at least a 27" monitor; although UIs in most Windows and macOS apps are typically scalable, they sometimes wind up looking a bit stretched, blurry, or don't scale correctly.

As for a recommendation, the Dell U2415 is a well-reviewed option that receives high marks for color accuracy.
posted by EKStickland at 8:42 AM on May 19, 2020 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Really, really hard to go wrong by picking something in a size that suits you from Dell's Ultrasharp range. Apart from the consistently good panels they put in those things, the cases and stands have been really well designed on every one I've used and/or seen, and that makes quite a contribution to the comfort of a workstation. If there's ever a conflict between working well and looking slick, Dell will err on the side of working well and I would pick a Dell Ultrasharp over an Apple monitor every time on that basis alone.
posted by flabdablet at 8:52 AM on May 19, 2020 [5 favorites]

I bought this Dell 27 inch about a month ago for my new work from home lifestyle to use with my old-ish MacBook Air. It's been great - totally sharp enough for reading and writing tasks. Seems like a real value at ~$200.
posted by Mid at 9:03 AM on May 19, 2020

By the way, what really really helped my WFM setup was to add a wireless keyboard and mouse to the MacBook. I found that trying to use the MacBook screen as a second monitor just gave me a headache. The Logitech MX Keys and MX Master mouse are awesome. My Macbook is happily closed now.
posted by Mid at 9:05 AM on May 19, 2020

I have both an Asus IPS screen and a Dell Ultrasharp IPS (older 22 unit) and I primarily use the Dell. It's nicer. I have worked in the past with the previous generation of Apple displays, and if I don't have the dell sitting next to the Apple I couldn't tell the difference. If you have one of the new Apple displays the HDR feature will be a sizable difference - Toms Hardware has a good rundown.
posted by zenon at 9:19 AM on May 19, 2020

Agreeing with the Dell recommendations. Yes, get a 4k ultrasharp if you can afford it. They'll soon be standard, and you may as well be ahead of the curve. I bought this one a few years ago, and it's gone up(?!) in price.
posted by hydra77 at 10:35 AM on May 19, 2020

Can you go get your work monitor? I hate that people are having to purchase all this stuff that should be purchased by the business. Doesn’t seem fair and shifts cost burden of employment further to workers.

Having said that, I have a large Dell monitor and other than being black, it has as nice minimal footprint and case and has performed well.
posted by amanda at 11:52 AM on May 19, 2020

Personally I would not buy a 1080P 27" monitor. The pixels are huge at normal desktop reading distances.

A 4K monitor means lovely sharp text, but isn’t an absolute necessity by any means. It’ll be the default in a few years time though, as the panel price drops over time.

If you want cheap, then buy a random 1080P 24" monitor & just use it: It’ll be fine. Get one with an IPS screen if you can. A 27" QHD monitor is a step up, but more expensive, a 27" or 32" 4K monitor is nicer again, but much pricier.

You’ll need a thunderbolt to HDMI or DisplayPort (depending on the monitor you buy) adapter.

What size is your current monitor?
posted by pharm at 1:06 PM on May 19, 2020 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: @amanda No, I can't--I wish. That was my first thought. The ones in the office are mounted on arms and IT's said we are not to move them. There was a small amount (like $100) offered to some employees to purchase WFH stuff but I was not eligible. (To be fair, I was ineligible because I am in management—I'm fine with that kind of thing going to other folks first. I do wish I could just go get my monitor from my desk at work, though.)

@pharm the current one at home is 20''. My work monitor is 27''.
posted by synecdoche at 1:48 PM on May 19, 2020

Ah. A 20¨ isn’t great.

If you want cheap, just buy a thunderbolt->HDMI adapter & pick a 24" IPS monitor off ($150-$200) and call it done.

I’ve bought QHD monitors for home use personally - 4K is still a bit spendy for me, but monitors tend to be the one thing that keeps going longer than any other computing component so it’s worth spending the extra if you can afford it IMO - you’ll probably end up using it for a decade.
posted by pharm at 2:02 PM on May 19, 2020

Nthing to get a Dell UltraSharp monitor if you can swing it. I use a 24" 1920x1200 resolution monitor (Dell U2412M) from that range and have no issues with eyestrain. A 24" IPS monitor with a 1920x1080 or 1920x1200 resolution is probably going to be in the sweet-spot of affordability and value.
posted by Aleyn at 2:47 PM on May 19, 2020

Response by poster: I don't want to thread-sit, but is there a reason to recommend this 24'' Dell UltraSharp over this model also recommended above? The latter has 2560x1440 resolution and for another $20, is it worth it?
posted by synecdoche at 3:41 PM on May 19, 2020

Best answer: Personally, I use a Dell 25" QHD monitors for my daily work, but they’re not cheap. In general, more pixels is good, but you might have to fiddle with the scaling of the UI in OSX to make things readable if you’re having trouble reading stuff on your 20" monitor.

You’re comparing a P-range with a U-range monitor - the U-range will have a slightly better quality panel & probably more bells & whistles (eg, being able to chain multiple monitors from one DisplayPort output, audio out, more USB sockets etc etc). But you might not care too much about the extras.

Incidentally, if you’re looking at Dell monitors specifically I’ve found that buying direct from Dell themselves can sometimes be cheaper than going through Amazon & the specialist computer suppliers can be slightly cheaper again, depending on offers, time of year etc etc. The U2419H is $10 cheaper direct from Dell right now. The P2418D is a lot more expensive via Dell though - that Amazon seller must be clearing them out.
posted by pharm at 2:32 AM on May 20, 2020

NB. If you feel like pushing the boat out, then a more expensive monitor (eg HP Z27, Dell U2719Q, Dell U2720Q, Dell U2520D & a bunch of other models from other manufacturers) will connect to your laptop with a single USB-C cable which will both carry the video signal, USB connections from things plugged into the monitor (keyboard, mouse etc) and charge your laptop.

But these are all the latest models & are correspondingly expensive.
posted by pharm at 3:36 AM on May 20, 2020

Best answer: To me, yes, the additional resolution is worth $20. I like to fit lots of stuff on my desktop and to be able to see a lot of MeFi in my browser window, and the extra resolution helps with that. This recent question echoes that.
posted by hydra77 at 8:22 AM on May 20, 2020

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