We see what's new in the world of PC monitors

Sector guide: Displays

Despite what some may think, the PC display sector is alive and well. According to GfK Retail and Technology, over two million units were sold in the UK in 2009, and figures for the second quarter of 2010 suggest sales were up slightly on the same period last year.

As new technologies mature and a wider selection of quality content becomes available, users will look to upgrade their displays. The biggest new tech to really break through in 2010 has undoubtedly been 3D, with every major name vendor rushing to talk it up and provide the hardware and software to cater to this growing market.

According to Gary Baldwin, Asus’ LCD country product manager, there are now over 400 games that work with 3D vision, with publishers like EA heavily investing in the sector. “The forecasts for 3D TVs is 2.5 million units in 2010, growing to 27 million in 2013. This is a clear indication that 3D is here to stay,” he says.

Midwich business manager Lee Baker agrees: “Our consumer electronics division is doing a roaring trade in 3D televisions and peripherals. In terms of PC displays, gaming is clearly a big market opportunity and Nvidia has already been pushing it for some time,” he notes.

The Consumer Electronics Association is currently working with leading manufacturers including Sony and Samsung to create a universal standard for infrared active shutter glasses, so they can be used interchangeably across all brands. The trade body recently told PCR that the technology would not have mass-market appeal until this was achieved, but Bluepoint’s product manager Asad Verona takes the idea even further.

“3D will become mainstream very soon, but not with glasses,” he claims. “I am confident that the technology to bypass glasses will be available in the near future.”

Indeed, Philips and Dutch firm Dimenco showcased their glasses-free 3D technology at the IFA show in Berlin last month, promising a professional display for sale within the coming months.

Martin Kent, Hannspree UK’s territory manager for the UK and Northern Europe, believes that while 3D will be the future of the display sector, there are plenty of advantages to the current generation of products.

“LED technology allows for lower power consumption [than LCD], and LED displays have less hazardous and more recyclable materials to cater for the environmentally-friendly market trend,” he comments. “LED technology also helps to reduce the overall thickness of a monitor, which translates into better looking, slimmer designs.”

One technology that is seeing its popularity grow among dedicated gamers is multi-monitor gaming. KMS Components’ product manager and display specialist Kie Cooper says tech such as ATI’s Eyefinity, which was unveiled last year, can give players a competitive edge.

“Eyefinity allows the field of view to be spread across three or more monitors, giving greater scope,” he says. “For the more avid gamer, by combining Eyefinity with ATI’s Crossfire technology, this can be expanded across a panel of up to 24 monitors.”

But the market for monitors is, of course, not limited to gamers and home PC users. According to Verona, some features appeal more to the education sector. “Schools look for hard glass over the normal screens to avoid damage by students. It also has better visibility compared to normal screens,” he says.

Kent adds: “We put great efforts into R&D to tackle niche requirements. HannsG is one of the only manufacturers to produce hard glass monitor solutions, which offer protection from wear and tear, ultimately increasing a monitor’s life span. These monitors are favourites with schools and establishments with public computer suites, such as libraries, which endure a lot of prodding and poking.

“There are many additional monitor markets, nearly all of which have specific requirements. Other fields of application include military and industrial, which have set standards that have to be met when making purchasing decisions.”

In terms of the basic selling points of any monitor, VIP Computers’ product manager Mark Lynch claims it tends to come down to two key aspects – resolution and response time.

“With more and more people watching movies on their PCs, monitor resolutions that support full HD movies are becoming a must. And with gaming becoming more popular, and games becoming so fast paced, response times have to be fast to keep up,” he says.

“Other than screen size, the major selling points of PC displays include multimedia capabilities, connectivity, ergonomics, response rates, contrast and USPs such as robust hard glass, LED technology and energy saving innovations,” adds Baker. “It is very important that retailers can clearly explain the benefit of choosing a display for its features and functionality rather than its price.”

SRP: £184
Distributor: Midwich

They say: Stunning, seamless motion imaging presents movies, games, and internet streamed content with precision and without motion judder, blurring or ghosting

Specs: 22-inch LED monitor, 5ms response time, 1680 x 1050 resolution, ultra-slim design

SRP: £159
Distributor: Direct

They say: Combines the energy efficiency and design advantages of LED technology with HannsG’s own proprietary display technologies

Specs: 23-inch widescreen TFT display, LED backlight, 17.5mm thick, unique sloping design on the back, black mirror finish, anti-glare surface, 1920 x 1080 resolution

SRP: £74
Distributor: Bluepoint

They say: Bursts with delicious images in vibrant colours and compelling brilliance

Specs: 17-inch LCD widescreen, active matrix TFT, 1440 x 900 resolution, anti-glare surface

SRP: £279

They say: Displays HD content in its true entirety, delivering crisp, sharp images without lag for the best multimedia experience

Specs: 28-inch widescreen, active matrix TFT, 1920 x 1200 resolution, glossy black finish, anti-glare surface

SRP: £305
Distributor: Bluepoint

They say: The radical design, ultra-high performance and immersive 3D visuals take gaming to the next dimension

Specs: 23.6-inch widescreen LCD display, 3Dready, TFT active matrix, 1920 x 1080 resolution, 2ms response time, inbuilt stereo speakers

SRP: £119.25
Distributor: KMS Components

Specs: 23.6-inch widescreen LCD display, 1920 x 1080 resolution, 2ms response time, multimedia speakers, 16.7 million colours

SRP: £93.99
Distributor: KMS Components

Specs: 21.6-inch widescreen LCD display, 1920 x 1080 resolution, 2ms response time, multimedia speakers, 16.7 million colours

SRP: £210.99
Distributor: VIP Computers

They say: Asus Smart Contrast Ratio Technology automatically adjusts the luminance of the backlight for better displays according to the image contents

Specs: 23.6-inch widescreen LCD display, 1920 x 1080 resolution, glossy piano-black front bezel, built-in stereo speakers, cable manager, game mode brings up hard-tosee areas

SRP: £459.99
Distributor: VIP Computers

They say: Enter an immersive three-dimensional full HD 1080p world of games and movies

Specs: 23-inch widescreen monitor, 3D-ready , 1920 x 1080 resolution, 2ms response time, compatible with Nvidia 3D Vision kit

SRP £139.83
Distributor: Spire Technology

They say: The special glass improves the visual experience to the user by raising the colour intensity and enhancing the sharpness of the image.

Specs: 17-inch TFT LCD display, 8ms response time, 1280 x 1024 resolution, integrated speakers, VGA and DVI interface

SRP: £206
Distributor: Midwich

They say: Combines all the benefits and improvements LED technology offers, including energy saving, panel uniformity and improved life expectancy

Specs: 24-inch LED HD display, 1920 x 1080 resolution, 2ms response time, slimline design, triple input connectivity

SRP: £120
Distributor: Spire Technology, Bluepoint

They say: The ideal monitor for schools and colleges that need an affordable widescreen LCD monitor with toughened glass

Specs: 19-inch widescreen TFT LCD monitor, 5ms response time, 1440 x 900 resolution, integrated speakers, VGA interface

SRP: £159
Distributor: Midwich

They say: You’ll get the most from your monitor whether you’re using it for a TV or PC, listening to music, gaming, or watching films

Specs: 19-inch LCD Monitor, widescreen format, 1366 x 766 resolution, built-in Freeview, two HDMI inputs, multimedia speaker, 5ms response time

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