It's time to go flat -- with display panels |  Hardware

We recently tested IBM's Flat Panel Touch Monitor T55A, which let us create a touch-
enabled environment for all the system and application software. We could even drive
the web browser without ever touching the mouse.


Although it's rare, FPD's can suffer from a few defective cells. Given that there are
three cells for each pixel (red, green, and blue), you get more than 2.3 million cells
in a standard 1,024 by 768 screen. Pixel death refers to a condition where one of the
cells is stuck on, emitting a light-colored dot, or off that shows a darkened dot. If
you get too many, it's irritating.

Manufacturers will take back units with several dead pixels during the warranty period.
Their policies will vary, however, so check screens carefully as you receive new units.

In my recent test of FPD's from more than 10 manufacturers, pixel death is rare. And we
torture tested a few by leaving screens on for weeks at a time.

And make sure to check the type of port the monitor uses to connect to your CPU. Not
all FPD accept standard VGA inputs. Some come with a digital connector that requires a
special port on your PC. Standards for digital displays are still emerging from a
number of organizations including the Video Electronics
Standards Association
, the Digital Display Working
, and the Digital Flat Panel Group. The
digital connectors are supposed to render a sharper picture but the cost of VGA
compatibility might not be worth it. Certain vendors, such as ViewSonic, product flat
panels that can take either type of connection. This helps soften the blow until a pure
answer is available.

As the FPD market continues to grow at a staggering rate, demand and innovation will
continue to drive prices down. Hopefully the price delta between CRT and LCD screens
will lower as a result of developments like the organic light-emitting diode (OLED) href=>recently announced at
Princeton University.

Everyday people, not just high powered stock traders and executives are starting to
drive demand. Anyone who is considering a new monitor purchase should take a serious
look into these slim displays.

Is flat in your future? From better quality viewing to lower total costs -- flat panel
monitors getting ready to turn from nicety into necessity.

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