2008 PC Show Down

I went down to the PC Show at Suntec Convention Centre with a few colleagues during lunchtime. After a quick lunch, we took a cab and arrived at 12.30pm. Barely opened for 30 minutes, the place is already packed with human traffic.

I had a list of things to purchase, but ended up buying only one item, the 22-inch ViewSonic VA2226w LCD monitor at $349. This is the third ViewSonic that I bought over the years: I have the 19-inch VA912b which was the primary display until my new purchase, and the aging VG900. The new VA2226w I bought is to replace the VG900 which now sits on my office desk. While 19-inches looked small at home, it looked big at the office because of the closer proximity to the monitor in the office. Actually, I was so relieved that the VG900's 1280x1024 resolution gives me so much more extra room to display more Excel tables than the company's 15" 1024x768.

But I wonder how long the VG900 will last. I'm encountering some problems with the display, which occasionally the pixels seem to flicker and discolour on certain tonal shades. Initially I thought it was a faulty VGA cable or graphics card, but after testing in the office for a few days, the same problem occurs, thus concluding that the monitor is at fault, and a good excuse for me to buy a new monitor.

Currently in the market, most LCD monitors come with widescreen format because of Windows Vista. So, a 3:2 widescreen 19-inch would look shorter and wider compared to the old 4:3 format. Plus, running at 1680x1050 against the old 1280x1024 will make the new monitor display look smaller even though it's commercially the same size category.

But when I purchase the 22-inch VA2226w, the display size is quite proportionate when placed next to the VA912b. In case you are wondering, I am running on dual monitor configuration, something that I've enjoyed for almost 2 years. You cannot imagine the kind of efficiency you get with dual monitors: at a combined screen space of 2960x1024, you can put so much things on the screen without having to toggle among windows. Right now, I am composing this post from my right-side monitor while editing my photos on the left side. Or I could open up the audio multi-track applications and span it across 2 screens. In fact, I was feeling handicapped at home for the past few days when I brought the VG900 to office for testing. It's not the same as having an extremely large monitor at high resolution. Let me explain why:

1. If you squeeze more pixels in a same size, you only get smaller images or fonts at the same magnification. A 19" 1280x1024 will present items on the screen at a larger size than a 19" 1680x1050. While you gain 400 pixels on the wide side, your screen items will look smaller. That defeats the purpose of getting a larger monitor.

2. With dual monitors, you can maximise an application on just one monitor, leaving the other monitor for another application to be maximised, effectively viewing 2 applications at the same time. To do that on a single monitor, you need to tile 2 applications, but then each application would only have half the monitor to display the content. Also, if you toggle to a third application window, it could obstruct the view of your existing 2 applications.

3. It will be more expensive to get one large LCD monitor than 2 smaller monitors. And 2 small monitors give you more pixels to display than a single monitor.

But having said that, not everyone needs dual monitors. If your sole purpose is to enjoy a single application in a large screen, e.g. watching movies, then get a large monitor. But if you always multi-task, then you will benefit with dual monitor.

So in my case, I bought a 22-inch VA2226w at a higher resolution to match my current 19-inch VA912b resolution. But why choose ViewSonic? Firstly, the price. Secondly, to match my existing monitor in terms of calibration. And from what I see, it's extremely value for money, and I'm totally satisfied with the purchase.

Now I'm waiting for my 7-year old CRT 29-inch Sony television to spoil, then I can buy a new LCD television.