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Howdy. I'm putting together a new PC, which I'll be using for video editing, desktop publishing (including photo editing), and good old web browsing.

The graphics card is a Matrox G550 with a Samsung SyncMaster 170T (17" LCD) on the DVI port. For the VGA port, I want to get a 19" CRT, which most of the time I'll be running in 1280x1024 mode to match the 170T -- I find it annoying to run dual monitors in different resolutions, since you can't arbitrarily drag windows back and forth without having to resize them to fit.

However, I'm also planning to get a PC-HDTV tuner card, so I want a monitor which can display full-resolution 1080i: 1920x1080, though I presume the image could be vertically centered on a display using the standard 1920x1440 resolution.

(Unfortunately I'll have to reboot and switch monitor cables around to get the CRT into this resolution, since the G550 will only go above 1600x1200 for the primary monitor, and if you have a DVI-D device (like my LCD) plugged into the DVI connector, it has to be the primary monitor. I guess the only way around this would be to get a PCI graphics card to drive the CRT and use the G550's second output as a dedicated NTSC out, but I don't think I'll have any free slots for a PCI graphics card -- see this Usenet post .)

Besides the 1920x1440 requirement, I want to get a monitor that can do sRGB, since that's the color standard for HDTV (as well as EXIF, PNG, etc.). Also I would think (perhaps incorrectly) that normal NTSC material would be more accurately displayed in sRGB mode (though I plan to use my TV for true NTSC previewing while video editing).

The March 2002 issue of Computer Buyer's Guide and Handbook magazine had a multi-page table that was extremely useful for surveying (most of) the CRTs currently on the market. I did find a few errors and omissions, but to be fair, most of the "errors" were in Max. Resolution, and it appears that the discrepancies arise because many monitors give a lower resolution on their spec sheet than they are actually capable of -- not sure if they leave out higher resolutions because they're non-VESA or because they don't comply to the TCO99 minimum refresh rate of 85Hz (probably the latter).

In any case, using this table and some corrected max. resolution figures I found elsewhere, it appears to me that there are three current-production 19" CRTs that can do 1920x1440 and sRGB:
  • EIZO Nanao FlexScan T765
  • iiyama Vision Master Pro 454
  • NEC MultiSync FP955 (and FP955-SV, which is $1000+ due to its builtin SpectraView color calibrator, which appears not to work on the OS I'll be using, Win2K).

I've read all the reviews of these monitors (or their immediate predecessors, when that was all that available) that I could get my hands on -- Cadalyst, CADence, Mac World, PC World, Tom's Hardware, individual reviews on Usenet or review sites, etc. However, I don't feel I'm much closer to making a decision -- there's a ton of conflicting opinion out there on CRTs, even when reviewers use fairly objective criteria like test patterns. In the worst cases, one reviewer will consider a monitor to be the best of those reviewed, whereas another reviewer will say the quality is only average. I feel much less equipped to choose a CRT than I did to choose any of the other components in this system.

Can anyone suggest which of the above three monitors would be the best one for my use? I guess I'd prioritize color accuracy above all, since if I want to look at something with perfect geometry I can look at it on my LCD monitor, but the same can't be said for color. I understand that some monitors don't do interlaced modes well -- any experiences with that on the above CRTs? Since I'll also be using this CRT during (two-monitor) web-browsing, I'd like text to be reasonably sharp as well.

Alternatively, is there a 19" which isn't capable of sRGB but IS capable of 6500K color temperature (which sRGB uses) and 1920x1440 that has significantly better quality than any of the above three monitors and which I would be better off with? According to the Computer Buyer's Guide table and my research, these are the other current-production 19" CRTs that are capable of 1920x1440:
  • Compaq P920
  • Hewlett-Packard P920
  • Hitachi CM721F (not positive about this one -- I found equal numbers of claims that the top resolution was 1600x1200 as that it was 1920x1440)
    [*]LG Electronics 915FT+ (another dubious one)
    [*]Philips/Magnavox 109[BSP]20
    [*]Samsung SyncMaster 900ift (also a bit dubious)
    [*]Samsung SyncMaster 900NF (this one too)
    [*]Samsung SyncMaster 957FS (can't find any evidence of this CRT existing on Samsung's site -- did the magazine make it up??)
    [*]TTX 8997
    [*]Viewsonic P90f
    [*]Viewsonic P95f

It's possible that one or two of those are not actually current-production, and it's possible that I missed some (because I didn't come across an alternative claim about the max. resolution being higher than the one listed in the table or on the manufacturer's spec sheet).

I guess one other thing someone might suggest is that I'm stupid to think a 19" CRT could really fully resolve 1920x1080 and that I should get a 21" monitor (or bigger) and if I really feel like I must run it at 1280x1024 at around the same DPI as my LCD in non-HDTV use, I can use the geometry controls to shrink the 1280x1024 to use only a portion of the tube. If you think this is the case, let me know, but don't just say that a 19" is too small for comfortable viewing -- I don't mind sitting close.

3,772 Posts
I have used a few different 1920x1440 monitors and

I really like the picture from the Viewsonic P815 & P817

(these are 21" monitors). Yes I think you need 21"+

for that resolution. Even the 21" models with the smallest

available dot pitch still are closer to 1600x1200 native

tube resolution.

The Viewsonics may not have the same color calibration features

of some of the others listed, but they are a real bargain

considering the price and image quality.

I used to be a big Sony Trinitron fan, but after staring

at them for years my eyes started to protest the aperture

(vertical stripe) grille so I am back to preferring

traditional 3 gun "shadow mask" tubes.

Keep in mind that small dot pitch (needed for more resolution)

tends to reduce the brightness of the monitor. More

of your "gun energy" is getting deflected by more

shadow mask material.

A lot of pro shops will put a "hood" on their color

calibrated monitors so that the room lighting doesn't

effect the image on the screen.

If price was no object you might want to look into one

of the 1920x1200 LCD panels from Samsung or Sun.

(Apple has one too but it is purported to be inferior).

3,772 Posts
FYI: I have two HiPix cards -

One goes to a Viewsonic P815

and the other to a Sony GDM-W900.

The Sony W900 is about a close as you can get

to true 1920x1080 from a direct view CRT.

The P815 produces a nice 1920x1080 image from

HDTV 1080i when you use the vertical squish

controls to put in black bars (top and bottom)

from 4:3 to 16:9.

Note - the monitor is not in 1920x1440 "mode".

It is actually scanning 1080 vertical lines and

there is just dead space above and below the

HDTV image. I can drive it in real 1920x1440 (4:3)

using a GeForce2Ultra card for PC applications.

The PC HDTV cards don't output anything with

more resolution than 1920x1080 so it is up to your

display device to be set to display that resolution

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