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Looking at display devices
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by Tomas Hernandez, Jr.

Caveat emptor


ViewSonic’s wireless Airpanel 100.

Prices for flat-panel displays will continue to drop as demand increases. Reviews for current offerings can be found on the Web, but one piece of advice given consistently is that you should see your dream LCD with your own eyes before you buy it—only then can you judge whether you like the screen’s appearance. While the space and power savings of the LCD are advantageous, CRTs still offer value, high quality, and proven technology.

If you’re remodeling or building a new office and are really ready to spend some money, you may want to look into some of the wireless LCD displays. ViewSonic’s Airpanel series has just come on the market, and others will soon follow.

When you’re preparing to make financial arrangements to acquire new workstations through financing or leasing, look at the net monthly difference between getting CRTs or LCDs. You may find that, on this basis, the price differential between the two is insignificant, particularly if the energy savings offered by LCDs is factored in.

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To make the most of your new display, it must be matched with the right graphics-adapter card. For CAD, photo imaging, and Web surfing, most of the high-quality video adapters from 3dlabs, ATI, and nVidia with 32 megabites of memory will do the job just fine for under $250. For high-end video editing, animation, or rendering, look for specialty cards tailored to that work. Check your software documentation for recommendations on which graphics-adapter cards work best.

If you are considering attaching two monitors to a system, there are graphics cards for that purpose. Manufacturers’ Web sites usually have the latest driver upgrades and troubleshooting software. If your software needs support for OpenGL or Microsoft Direct3d, make sure your card supports it.

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