The last time we covered 19in monitors was way back in October 1998 when the 19in screen size was only just becoming a viable option for consumers and home users. At the time the cheapest screen on test was well over $1,000, and prices went all the way out to $2,799 for the Quality Award winning Sony GDM-400PS. A lot has happened since that Labs in terms of monitor technology and price, resulting in this month's spread being significantly improved in image quality, and greatly reduced in cost. In fact, the average price of a screen in the October 1998 Labs was $1,663, which is actually over $200 more than the most expensive monitor this month, while the average price of a 19in screen in this Labs is actually $100 less than the cheapest monitor back in 1988.
Another significant innovation that has made a major impact on the monitor world is the proliferation of flat-CRT screens. Normal shadow mask CRTs have the surface of their tube formed from a sphere, resulting in a noticeable curve.
Sony's Trinitron technology, which has been around in some form or another since the 1960s, and Mitsubishi's Diamondtron technology, which is a more recent development, have their screens formed out of a cylinder. Being flat in one dimension has the advantage of reducing distracting reflections and providing a more natural flat appearance to the image on screen. The latest development along these lines has been to make the screens flat in both the horizontal and vertical dimensions, such as with LG's perfectly flat Flatron technology, and Sony's new, although still very slightly curved, FD Trinitron. There are pros and cons to being perfectly flat, as shown in our boxout on p58, but it is interesting to note that while in October 1998 Sony was the only manufacturer to submit a semi-flat screen, in this Labs six of the ten manufacturers have offered up screens based on the new flat CRT technology.
Could this be the beginning of the end for curved shadow mask monitors? We'll leave you to answer this question for yourself, but considering the results of this Labs, and the excellent quality and value for money offered by the latest flat CRT screens, the end might certainly be near.
Technical Editor Tim Dean
Labs Assistant Ashok Zaman
Contributors Barry Collins, Jim Marti