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Review: 19-Inch Flat-Panel Displays: The Sweet Spot For Businesses

Nineteen-inch flat-panel monitors offer lots of screen real estate without taking up much desktop real estate, and they're available at a reasonable price. Here's a close-up look at eight models.

When it comes to choosing which flat-panel displays to sell, VARs don't face an easy decision, given the plethora of brands and models. But for business use, 19-inch flat-panel displays stand out as the sweet spot.

Why 19-inch? These displays don't take up much room on the desktop, and they offer generous screen space for not a lot of money.

To help you sort through the 19-inch options, the CRN Test Center invited all major vendors to submit a 19-inch business-class LCD display for review. It was preferable that the displays had both VGA and DVI inputs, but no other features were required. We were able to get evaluation units from eight vendors: Acer, AOC, Hewlett-Packard, LG Electronics, NEC, Planar, Samsung and ViewSonic.

On the technical side, all of the displays reviewed have a native resolution of 1280 x 1024, internal power supplies and a three-year warranty (some more limited than others), and they all come with the necessary cables. All of the displays have suggested retail prices of $300 or less, and most of them are closer to $200 on the street.

The displays were evaluated for ergonomics, feature set, image quality, fit and finish, and bang for the buck. Ergonomics included the number of position adjustments of the base and the ease of use of the on-screen display (OSD) controls. The feature set included such things as the number and type of inputs, built-in speakers, a USB hub and so on.

The displays were tested for image quality using DisplayMate Technologies' DisplayMate for Windows Multimedia Edition Version 2.10, software, which contains images and test patterns that push displays to their limits. The fit and finish rating included the quality of materials, ruggedness and attractiveness.

In each category, each display was rated on a scale of 1 to 10, relative to all the other units in the roundup. The scores for the first four categories (ergonomics, feature set, image quality, and fit and finish) then were averaged. The bang-for-buck score was determined by dividing the street price of each display by the average score for the first four categories to arrive at a cost-per-point figure. To arrive at a number rating from 1 to 10, the cost-per-point figure was subtracted from 100, and the result was divided by 10.

For example, assume a display had an average score of 8 for the first four categories and that it costs $200. Its price of $200 would be divided by 8, equaling $25 per point. The $25 then would be subtracted from 100 and divided by 10, which comes out to a bang-for-buck score of 7.5. The overall score was then determined by averaging the ergonomics, feature set, image quality, fit and finish, and bang-for-buck scores.

Before we get to the details of how each display fared, note that any one of them is fine for day-to-day use -- and probably is a lot better than the display that many workers have been using for years. It's only when you put all of the displays together in a lab environment and benchmark them that you begin to see the subtle differences.

NEXT: Acer, AOC and HP displays

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