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How to choose the right computer monitor for the job & workspace

Computer monitor

Choosing the right computer monitor to buy for your office can feel like a huge undertaking. It needs to work well, and fit into your budget. Before we get into the considerations you need to make to find the best computer monitor, familiarize yourself with the following abbreviations that will appear in your monitor search:

  • UHD: Ultra high definition. This refers to monitors with a resolution of at least 3,840 x 2,160, the number of pixels on the computer's screen. A higher resolution means a sharper image and smaller text and images, making it possible for more items to fit on the screen at once. Sometimes, these monitors are labeled as “4K” displays. A UHD monitor is only necessary for workers to use programs optimized for this type of display, like Photoshop.
  • WQHD: Wide quad high definition. Sometimes referred to as QHD or 1440p, this label means that a monitor has a resolution of 2,560 x 1,440, or four times the pixels as a standard high definition monitor. These are popular with gamers.
  • TN: Twisted nematic display. This is a type of liquid crystal display (LCD) and one of the most common types of monitors available. Benefits of a TN monitor are a fast response time and a quick refresh rate, but colors can be distorted when looking at these monitors from certain angles. For the typical office worker, a TN display is a sufficient, cost-effective choice.
  • IPS: In-plane switching. This type of monitor offers the highest image quality, but with a slower response time than other types. For a buyer who needs the absolute best-looking monitor in terms of color accuracy and image quality, these and plane-line switching displays are good choices. Because of this, IPS monitors are popular with creative professionals.
  • VA: Vertical alignment. If you want something that falls between a TN display and an IPS display quality-wise, consider a monitor with a VA display panel.

Once you're comfortable comparing specific monitors' specs, determine what you actually need in a monitor to find the right model for your office.

  1. Bigger is better
    You're more productive with a bigger monitor, so choose the biggest one you can fit in your workspace. But the biggest monitor you can find isn't necessarily the best fit for your workspace.
  2. Choose a monitor that employees can comfortably see and use from a distance of about 25 inches away
    According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), workers should sit at least 20 inches from their computer monitors. This reduces eyestrain and headaches. Workers should sit no more than 40 inches from their screens, because sitting farther back can make it difficult to see the icons and text on the screen.
  3. Look at the resolution
    The more pixels on a monitor, the smaller and sharper its images appear to be. You can adjust a monitor's resolution, but it will always look best in its “native” resolution, which you can find listed in its product description.
  4. Find out if it tilts
    Monitors that tilt up and down can be adjusted for workers of different heights to view comfortably. Or a monitor desk mount or stand can be used so that the monitor can be positioned to ergonomically fit a workstation.
  5. Find out if it has anti-glare coating
    Whether you want a monitor with a glossy or matte finish depends on the lighting in your office. Images are sharpest on a glossy screen, but that gloss can reflect bright lighting back on the user's eyes and become very uncomfortable. Anti-glare screens, on the other hand, can make images look blurry at times, but are most comfortable for workers in brightly lit offices. You can also choose a semi-gloss screen, which provides some glare protection while rendering fairly sharp images.
  6. Choose the correct monitor for the job
    Someone who primarily reads emails, writes documents, and handles spreadsheets doesn't need a monitor with the color accuracy that a graphic designer needs. If video imaging is part of the job, you'll need a monitor that has a fast refresh rate. You can determine this by looking at its Hertz number. The higher the number, the more times it refreshes the frame each second. For example, a 120 Hz monitor has twice the refresh rate as a 60 Hz monitor.
  7. Make sure the monitor you choose works with the computer you plan to use it with
    It has to have ports that match your computer's output, otherwise you'll need to shell out for an adapter or buy another monitor that actually works with your computer. Check the ports on your computer and use them to help you choose a monitor that will work. For example, if your video card uses digital video interface (DVI), you'll need a monitor with a DVI port or an adapter that can make the monitor work with your DVI output.

Finding a computer monitor that will last

  1. Inexpensive monitors aren't cheap in the long run
    You can save money by buying a low-quality monitor, but when that monitor fails after a year, you'll be in the exact same spot you're in today.
  2. Read reviews
    Before you commit to buying a specific monitor model, read all the reviews you can find online. Don't just read the reviews on the monitor's manufacturer's website; you can't trust these reviews to be as accurate as the ones on third party review sites.
  3. Think about the future
    When you buy a monitor, don't just think about your office's current display needs. Think about the future computer systems you'll have in place to work with the monitor. Generally, the more types of ports your monitor has, the better suited it will be to work into a new computer system. Planning ahead will build value into your monitor purchase.
  4. Get a warranty
    That way, you'll be able to replace the monitor for free if it fails within a certain period of time—usually one or two years.

Lindsay likes having fun, and has a lot of fun with writing. Although many see writing as a solitary pursuit, she enjoys collaborating with other writers. When she's not writing, Lindsay enjoys exploring new places, cooking, and reading tarot cards.

Lindsay has been a full time freelance writer since 2014. Her experience is primarily in legal writing, particularly for family and personal injury law firms. She also has experience writing in the real estate niche.

If you're interested in working with Lindsay, visit Lindsaykramercopywriting.com to get in touch.

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