Introduction

Most people like to get as much information as possible when it's time to purchase and new, relatively expensive item. Unless you have money to throw around, you typically don't want to overpay for something that underperforms. That's where roundups of a product category can be particularly useful; unfortunately, it's not always easy to get all of the products in one place in order to put together such a roundup. What started as a review of a couple new 24" LCDs eventually grew into what you see here: a comparison of five of the most recent 24" LCDs to hit the market... that we were able to acquire. Note the qualification at the end of that sentence; there are still plenty of 24" LCDs that we have not yet reviewed, but for now we'll take what we can get. Besides, trying to put together all of the information for this article took enough time as it is.

We've discussed LCD panel technologies in the past, and we've often had negative comments for TN panels in particular. The biggest problem with TN panels is that they have far more limited viewing angles, often to the point where a minor adjustment in where you're sitting can affect what you see on the display. However, it just may be that there are benefits to TN panels as well. Look at most specifications and you will find lower response times advertised for TN panels than for competing PVA and IPS panels. Perhaps the biggest advantage for TN panels, however, is price. As the original LCD technology, TN panels have had a long time to mature and manufacturers are far more comfortable with them. Thus, it's little surprise that the prices are usually lower than what we find on S-PVA panels.

It used to be that all 24" LCDs used S-PVA panels, but that has begun to change during the past year. Cost has certainly been an important factor, but regardless we're beginning to see more and more 24" TN-based LCDs. Of the five new LCDs we're reviewing today, three use TN panels while two continue to use S-PVA panels. The latter do indeed cost more, but they also target a different market. Where the TN-based LCDs are intended for the consumer market, the S-PVA LCDs generally target the professional market.

We have a ton of information to cover in this article, so let's get to it. We're going to let the images do the talking for a lot of the areas we normally dwell on, and focus primarily on any noteworthy items that may not be immediately apparent. Also, feel free to consult our short glossary of terms that we use in our display reviews before continuing.

ASUS MK241H Specifications and Appearance
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  • Rasterman - Friday, May 02, 2008 - link

    I wish you would have reviewed an old CRT to compare the LCDs to. I still have my 22" beast and would upgrade if I knew if an LCD could beat its image quality. Comparing the best LCD to the best CRTs of 5 years ago would be interesting as I'm sure a lot people are still holding on to theirs given the results of the Valve survey suggesting more than 70% of gamers are using CRTs. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, May 02, 2008 - link

    The simple fact that new *quality* CRTs are not being made can't be overlooked. Five years back, you could get a high-end 22" CRT that would do 2048x1536 @ 85Hz (or 1600x1200 @ 110Hz). Now, most 21" CRTs only manage 1600x1200 @ 75Hz. Then throw in all the crap you have to deal with in terms of image centering and pincushion and trapezoidal distortion - all things that are completely non-existent on LCDs.

    When you consider size, weight, and cost, I'll take LCDs every time. OLED or some other display technology may replace LCDs, but conventional CRTs are brain-dead and the manufacturers are getting ready to remove life support.
    Reply
  • Rasterman - Tuesday, May 06, 2008 - link

    I totally agree it makes no sense to buy a new CRT, but what I am asking is if its worth it to UPGRADE based purely on image quality. This is why I suggested comparing it to a CRT of 3-5 years ago and not a new one. Weight, size, and taking 10 seconds to align the image are all secondary to image quality. I don't see how you can ignore the fact that most people buying high-end LCDs are upgrading from high-end CRTs. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, May 06, 2008 - link

    I (and many others) upgraded from CRTs about three years ago. I have never regretted the decision. I think colors are better, I love not dealing with image distortion (i.e. pincushion, trapezoidal, rotational, etc. adjustments), the size reduction at the same time as you get a larger screen area (22" CRTs are the equivalent of 20" LCDs).... I could go on.

    I think most professionals upgraded to LCDs a long time ago; the people who remain with CRTs are those who are ultra-dedicated to high refresh rates and faster pixel response times. The only area where that really matters is gaming. Throw in the fact that the phosphor used on CRTs starts to fade after 4-5 years, and even if you have the best CRT ever produced it's probably time to upgrade.

    In short, I am not ignoring CRTs; I am simply refusing to beat a dead horse.
    Reply
  • probert - Friday, June 13, 2008 - link

    This may be an old thread but I'd like to put in my 2 cents.

    Love your reviews but I think you're wrong about CRT's. They're used more than you think and for someone who does print work they are an excellent inexpensive alternative to a really good lcd.

    For example Pixar has stockpiled CRT's (trinitron FD tubes) and I suspect a lot of places do. It takes about 15 minutes to calibrate one and - as far as being bulky - I'll admit I won't take mine backpacking any time soon, but why would I want to.

    There are sites that still sell new and refurbed CRTs with the trinitron FD tubes (Generally Dells and IBMs). These are superb and cost about $200.

    They are great for print work You can adjust not just rgb but bias and gain on each channel. Their color accuracy and ability to render gradients may be matched by a top line NEC - but at 1/6 the price.

    My set up is a 21" crt and an 8bit lcd for web work and checking sharpening. (In fact, I don't calibrate the LCD presently to simulate the general web experience. This is driving me a little crazy and I may tighten it up.) The whole rig cost $400.00 - has plenty of real-estate and has very good monitor to printer accuracy.


    I'm happy that people who don't need this precision use LCDs, as it saves energy and materials, but the crt is a very viable alternative for someone who does need accurate color and good tonal range for short money.

    In fact, I'll toss the gauntlet and say that for this particular niche - they are better than, or, as good as, any LCD on this or any other planet.
    Reply
  • icthy - Friday, May 02, 2008 - link

    Just curious, has anyone actively considered buying either two 24" monitors as a substitute for one 30" monitor (or the other way around). I know it depends what one does, but I'm so frustrated working on my one 20" monitor, I want to go big, big, big! But I'm unsure if the cost of the 30" is worth it. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, May 02, 2008 - link

    I personally prefer one large LCD over two smaller LCDs. Working on large images in Photoshop, I can use all the resolution I can get. Splitting an image over two displays just isn't the same to me. That said, I know others that really like having two 24" LCDs. My dad is set up that way, so he can have web pages, documents, etc. on one side and spreadsheets, other web pages, and such on the other. In fact, my dad sometimes has both 24" LCDs in portrait mode, so he can have a virtual resolution of 2400x1920 and see long segments of text that way.

    Total cost of two 24" LCDs would be $900 to $1200 depending on brand (or $1800+ for two LaCie 324 LCDs). A single 30" would run at least $1000 I think (outside of used/refurbs), and some like the 3008WFP would cost as much as $2000. Total screen resolution and area is higher for two 24" LCDs: 12.5% more pixels and 28% more screen area. If you can live with the black back between the LCDs, two 24" LCDs is a more economical/flexible approach overall.
    Reply
  • icthy - Saturday, May 03, 2008 - link

    Thanks. I'm tempted by the shear prettiness of one 30" monitor. But I tend to run Linux, and than use windows under Vmware. I suppose with two 24" monitors, I could have one Vmware-Windows display, and one for my Linux-computational stuff--although I don't know if the vmware drivers would support that. Reply
  • KLC - Friday, May 02, 2008 - link

    Your review confirms my experience with the Dell 2408, it is a great monitor and also an excellent value for its performance. Just look at comparably sized NECs and LaCies to calibrate your value gauges. I got it for $599 with free shipping.

    I've read the comments about pink tinges and banding and on and on and on in hardware forums, like Jarred I've had no such problems with mine. I mostly use my system for photoshop, video editing, office apps and websurfing, no games so lag time doesn't matter to me.

    The ergonomics are also outstanding. You can easily adjust height, tilt, etc. And like all Dell monitors I think they've done a great job of industrial design. If you like all of your tech to mimic a Transformer you'll have to look elsewhere, but if you like something elegant and functional Dell has few that surpasss them.

    It does put out a lot of heat, it is very bright, too bright, out of the box and I still haven't been able to use my Spyder3 Pro to fix that to my satisfaction. I'm going to use Jarred's RGB settings and see how that goes.

    One mildly irritating thing, after playing around with the On Screen Display and the Spyder for several days the white contrast marking on the front panel buttons has completely worn off. Jarred, did you see any of that on your sample?

    But I have no buyer's remorse over this purchase, and that is something I don't experience very often.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, May 02, 2008 - link

    I haven't noticed any issues with the button labels wearing off, but then I might not be using them enough, or perhaps your fingertips have more oil than average and that's causing the loss. After the labels are gone, you can pretend to have a Samsung 2493HM and guess at which buttons do what until you get the layout memorized. :) Reply

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