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Home > Monitor Mounts & Stands > LCD / CRT Comparison

 

About LCD Monitors and CRT monitors - Comparison of technology and advantages

- A comprehensive list of characteristics,  advantages and disadvantages of LCDs and CRTs

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Is it time to upgrade to LCD monitors from your CRT computer monitors? There is no doubt that CRT computer monitors have a very limited mass-market lifespan. Several manufacturers have stopped manufacturing CRTs completely, which means they are not easy to purchase, yet there are attributes of CRTs that LCD screens have not been able to match. The LCD is simply not a good choice in some environments based on their needs. The characteristics your job's requirements will help determine whether you switch to an LCD.
LCD monitors

What's inside CRT monitors? Despite the decades of technological advances in computing, the work horse of personal computing has been, until very recently, the large, desk mounted CRT monitors. These computer monitors managed to revolutionize computing, and allowed personal computers to become a fact of daily life by utilizing the technology of the cathode ray tubes; a technology first suggested for transmitting images in 1907. Yet, if opened by professionals for examination, what you would see inside the standard CRT monitor is basically the inner workings of a cathode ray tube television.

CRTs produce images when the moving electron beam inside the large cathode tube moves back and forth, firing electronic beams at phosphor dots on the inside of the glass tube line by line. The phosphors in your CRT are chemicals that emit red, green, or blue light when struck by electrons. The smoothness of the image is determined by the scan rate of the beam (screen flicker increases as the speed decreases).

LCD monitors, liquid crystal displays, are flat panels. This digital technology was first invented in 1971.Initially used in watches and calculators, its functionality was quickly adopted and began redefining computer, medical, and industrial electronics. In computing, LCDs have been used for years in laptops, and are now ever present as flat panel computer screens, as well as being integrated into new technology television screens. It took until 2003 for the volume of these flat screens to escalate and capture half the monitor market. As of 2005, LCD monitors exceed CRTs sales by more than 2-to-1. They are also known as flat panels in both computer monitor and television screen design. crt monitors laptop LCD monitor

Going Within

CRT, Cathode Ray Tube LCD monitor design

Basic CRT internals

Sandwiched layers of an LCD design


How are images created in LCD monitors? There are no cathode ray tubes in the very thin LCD monitors. Instead, thin "sandwiches" of glass contain liquid-crystal filled cells (red, green and blue cells ) that make up a pixel. Arrays of TFTs (thin film transistors) provide the voltage power causing the crystals to untwist and realign so that varying amounts of light can shine through each, creating images. This particular sensitivity to light makes LCD technology very useful in projection (such as LCD front projectors), where light is focused through LCD chips

Specifically, there are five layers to the flat display: a backlight, polarized glass sheet, colored pixel layering, coating of liquid crystal solution that responds to signals off a wired grid of x and y coordinates, followed by a second glass sheet. To create an image, electrical charges, precision coordinated in various degrees and volts effect the orientation of the liquid crystals, opening and closing them and changing the amount of light that passes through specific colors of pixels. Liquid crystal display technology has increased its accuracy, thanks to advances such as thin film transistors (TFTs - also known as active-matrix technologies) that can produce sharp and more accurate color images than earlier passive-matrix technologies.

 

Advantages of LCDs

Light weight; can be about 15 lbs for a thin LCD.

Smaller footprint on desk leaving, freeing up work area on the user's desk. 

Flicker free screen.

More usable display area than on comparably sized CRTs.

Low frequency radiation is practically eliminated.

Easy adjustment, storage, and movement

Energy efficient, using only 1/3 to 1/2 the electricity of CRTs, and they don't generate heat.

Potentially less eyestrain due to reduced screen glare.

Good for basic web surfing.

Newest TFT liquid crystal technology has provided LCDs in competitive position with CRTs for image and color clarity.

OLED, a new technology (Organic light-emitting diodes) in limited use presently in handheld personal video players, uses little power and provides a better image than present LCD technology; it thus holds the promise of making up for a significant weakness in LCD image quality.

Plentiful mounting arm options available, enabling these light LCDs, whether computer or TV monitor to be ergonomically raised off the work surface.

 

Advantages of CRTs

Significantly lower cost compared to CRTs, because the technology has matured.

Color fidelity, so essential for graphic artists, has not been matched by LCDs.

Contrast ratio allows perception of true black. Darks are darker.

Ability to adjust (multisync) images.

Good for basic web surfing as well as uses requiring crisp, color-rich graphics and sharp text.

Work better at multiple resolution.

Displays full motion video better.

Give you more pixels, translating to greater screen detail and ability to view more of a document without scrolling.

Screen images viewed from side angle are as good as when viewed straight-on (no dilution of clarity or color.)

Modern versions may include a sleep-mode for energy efficiency.

Many now available with flat viewing screens for less glare, viewing convenience.

Strong glass screen can withstand routine handling, and is not easily damaged by casual touch.

 

Disadvantages of LCDs

 

Disadvantages of CRTs

Fragile screen; may result in both screen and backlight lamp damage if touched or handled. Thus, not recommended in environments where it may be handled roughly.

Contrast ratio causes darkness to not be displayed true. Darkest areas may be viewed as dark gray rather than black.

Designed only for one optimum resolution; can't adjust images.

Best view of screen is straight-on, limiting clarity and colors of information for those viewing from an angle.

The backlight is the potential weak link and its failure can be costly. Many warranties only cover it for 1 year.

 

Radiation Emission; ELF from 60 Hz to 75 Hz and VLF from 10kHz to 30kHz.

Larger size takes up more desk space; the bigger the screen, the bigger the footprint.

Heavy weight, 40 lbs and more.

Heavier size limits easy and convenient movement.

Expends more energy and throws off heat.

Measurement differs from usable screen area. EX:  a 19" CRT  provides about 18" of usable screen area.

Less off-the-desk mounting options available.

CRT "Flat Screens". While most CRT monitors have in the past been designed with a curved screen, technological innovation has led to the manufacture of CRT computer and television glass screens that are almost completely flat. These Flat Screens are still bulky in size and weight due to the cathode ray tube within, but glare is all be eliminated and the overall quality of viewing is considered better due to the screen design. To learn about the distinction between the terminology of flat screens and flat panels, check About flat screen & flat panel.

Addressing CRT radiation concerns: The health effects of the radiation emitted by CRTs continues to be debated. Meanwhile, concerned users of CRTs are able to purchase anti-radiation/glare filters without foregoing the use of their existing PC monitors. These computer filters are also available for flat panels with a privacy option (see photo to the right)

CRT monitor LCD privacy filters

Related Topics:
  • About LCD Screens and Plasma Screens

  • About Movie Projectors and Mounting

  • About Flat Screens and Flat Panels

  • About Laptop and Notebook Computers

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