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Cheap Monitors Buying Guide
Monitors often are little more than an afterthought for home computer users. After all, many computer manufacturers and electronics retailers give away flat-panel displays as part of a desktop package.
Some of the most familiar names in monitors include Samsung, Asus, HP, ViewSonic, Acer, Gateway, Dell, AOC, and Apple. Our favorite cheap monitors are the Asus VS229H-P (starting at $153, Amazon) and the Acer S230HL Abii (starting at $170, Amazon), both of which score for sharp and vivid displays. Falling in line behind these best cheap monitors are the HP 2011xi (starting at $150, Amazon) and the Dell S2230MX (starting at $140, Amazon), which also boast excellent displays but lag on features (the former) and build quality (the latter). The ViewSonic VA2448M (starting at $180, Amazon) can't keep up with our top picks, burdened as it is by weakness in performance and physical characteristics.
When you look at the features and specifications for cheap monitors, you'll notice that many are nearly the same. The majority of cheap monitors come with LED backlighting, native resolution of 1920x1080, response time of 2ms or 5ms, static contrast ratio in the neighborhood of 1000:1, and a combination of inputs, such as HDMI, DVI-D, and D-sub (or VGA). We prefer monitors with at least one HDMI port, but you can't always get what you want at these price points. If you plan to watch Blu-ray movies on a cheap monitor, make sure it supports a resolution of 1080p.
Similar specifications don't necessarily lead to similar performance, however. The most important attribute of a computer monitor, cheap or otherwise, is, of course, picture quality. Picture quality is influenced by a variety of factors such as color accuracy, grayscale representation, brightness, and vibrancy. Expert reviewers use tests to measure these criteria, but users rely on their subjective impressions of the display. Reviews posted by experts and home users indicate that our picks easily hit the mark with bright and clear displays. (Tip: A bit of human intervention may be necessary to counter the factory default settings. Let personal preferences rule.)
Higher-priced monitors, when stacked against cheap monitors, stand tall for the array of extra features they provide -- a built-in Web cam, for example, or LCD panel technology that displays color more accurately. IPS (in-plane switching) displays, with their wider viewing angles and superb color, tend to be very expensive, although a new and more affordable IPS technology has been filtering down into some cheap monitors. Also, large monitors (more than 24 inches) are more expensive than the smaller displays in the Cheapism price range.
All things considered, a cheap monitor should be more than adequate for most consumers' daily needs, from word processing to video viewing to gaming.
Best Cheap LCD Monitors
Asus VS229H-PThe Asus VS229H-P is the clear winner among the monitors we reviewed. It's an IPS display with excellent color, brightness, and overall image quality and yet, incredibly affordable. Read more »
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Good Cheap LCD Monitors
HP 2011xiThe brand-spanking new HP 2011xi is an affordable IPS monitor that delivers rich color and wide viewing angles. Its lower-than-average native resolution of 1600x900, slow-ish response time, and lack of HDMI input may turn off some potential buyers. Read more »
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Asus VS247H-P Review
HP 2311x Review
ViewSonic VA2448M Review
HP 2011xi Review
Dell S2230MX Review
Asus VS229H-P Review
Acer S230HL Abii Review
Samsung SyncMaster 2233SW
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