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In this review:
  1. Cheap Computer Monitors
  2. Computer Monitor Reviews
  3. Flatscreen Monitors, Widescreen Monitors
  4. Best Computer Monitors
  5. Computer Monitors Deals
  6. Discount Monitors Features Comparison Table

Monitors Brightness

Brightness is measured in cd/m2 (candelas per square meter, a.k.a. "nits").

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There's not much difference between the best computer monitors and ordinary displays as far as monitor brightness levels go and the models we researched feature a brightness level of 250 to 300 nits. Budget monitors typically are set to maximum brightness before leaving the factory, which can seem a little too bright. All monitors have adjustment mechanisms for brightness and contrast, so let your eyes guide you to comfortable levels.

We didn't find any complaints from experts or consumers about the brightness of the best computer monitors on our list.

Monitors Native Resolution.

The "native resolution" is the monitor resolution at which images look best; always set your computer and monitor to use this native resolution. Monitors with higher native resolution display sharper images than those with lower resolution. All of our picks, except the HP 2011xi, feature a native resolution of 1920x1080, which is the same resolution as a 1080p high-definition television. This is no accident, as these specs let you watch high-definition movies on your monitor if your computer has a DVD or Blu-ray drive.

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The 1600x900 resolution on the HP 2011xi is not ideal for high-definition video, but it doesn't look bad, either. It's just that the resolution will be limited to 720p rather than 1080p. For general use, 1600x900 is fine. But if you want to watch Blu-ray movies, choose a best computer monitor with a 1920x1080 resolution.

Monitors Ports.

Computer monitors don't require a lot of ports. You need only one to connect to your PC, but the best computer monitors offer two or three different inputs. There are three common types of inputs: DVI-D, D-sub (or VGA), and HDMI. Blu-ray movie watchers should choose a monitor with an HDMI input; alternatively, you can opt for a display with a DVI-D input. Some users also like to connect gaming consoles to a monitor using an HDMI connection.

The best computer monitors often, but not always, include all three types of inputs. The Asus VS229H-P, Asus VS247H-P, and HP 2311x feature HDMI, DVI-D, and D-Sub inputs, while the Acer S230HL Abii skips the DVI-D input, relying on two HDMI inputs and one D-sub instead. In a departure from the norm, the AOC I2353PH has two HDMI ports but no D-Sub or DVI-D inputs. The Dell S2230MX, HP 2011xi, and ViewSonic VA2448M all omit an HDMI input but come with DVI-D and D-Sub inputs.

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In the past, some monitors provided additional ports, such as USB, but that fad seems to have run its course, at least among budget displays. None of the best computer monitors discussed in this buying guide come with a USB port.

Monitors Audio.

Some entry-level monitors include speakers built into the bezel. The speakers are usually very small and slim and not very powerful. Even on the best entry-level computer monitors, audio quality tends to be lackluster, so don't go out of your way to find one with built-in speakers. However, if you don't have computer speakers or a pair of headphones, monitor speakers are better than nothing.

As it turns out, most manufacturers are ditching monitor speakers. The only models we researched that include speakers are the ViewSonic VA2448M and AOC I2353PH.

Monitors Ease of Setup/Use.

Monitors are about the simplest devices to set up and install. Unpack, plug in, connect to your PC, and you're good to go, although some image tweaking may be necessary. The best computer monitors are easy to control via the onscreen displays (OSD) and the associated buttons. We came across nary a complaint about setting up the best computer monitors, although some consumers who purchased the AOC I2353PH note that the touch-screen OSD controls aren't particularly intuitive. And a CNET expert pings the Dell S2230MX for its OSD button arrangement, which doesn't align with the menu options.

The HP 2311x earns strokes from experts for input connections that point out to the side rather than straight down, which is the default design on most monitors. The port design showcased on this HP model makes connecting to a PC even easier than usual.

Monitors Build Quality.

It shouldn't surprise anyone that low-end monitors aren't built out of high-performance aircraft aluminum. The monitors we researched deliver good image quality for the most part but their exterior bezels and stands sometimes look and feel a bit, well, low-end.

We found a raft of complaints in reviews of even the best budget computer monitors about flimsy or wobbly stands. This is especially apparent in comments about the ViewSonic VA2448M, which a PC World expert says is about as stable as a "bobblehead doll"; users tend to agree. Build quality on the Dell S2230MX also takes a few knocks in some expert reports, as does the HP 2311x. A few consumers grumble about the cut-rate feel of the stand on the Asus VS229H-P and one user reports that the aluminum bezel on the AOC I2353PH is poorly attached to the screen and looks as though you could peel it right off.

by Michael Sweet (Google+ Profile)

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