I hate pooters. Actually, that's not strictly true, I think they're great because you can do so much with them. However, if you're a gadget freak like myself, you're forever reading up on the latest pieces of kit to add to your system (unless you've chosen the easy way out and bought an Apple!). Anyway, I've been adding, upgrading and replacing bits of my PC since I bought my original system back in 1997. Recently (actually, it was 6 months ago, but I've been in foreign climes) my monitor started looking a bit dark, despite the brightness and contrast levels being turned up high, and during some games it was practically impossible to see what the hell was going on. Even worse, it was getting harder to edit digital photographs, and my skills (or lack of) behind the camera were being ruined by my lack of skills in front of the monitor. Enough of my self-back slappery, on with the opinion! A few weeks before I returned home, I wanted to make sure I was ready to use my PC to it's fullest as soon as I returned. What I was ideally looking for was one that was bigger than my previous monitor, a 15" CTX model which served me very well for 5 years. I surfed my usual selection of PC component sites, and found two monitors which tickled my fancy - a Hansol 19" at a very reasonable £130 ish, and a nice CTX 17" at just under this price. I took a few days to browse these sites, to make sure I had the best price, and the best monitor when I suddenly saw on eBuyer.com a CTX monitor for £136. I had been edging towards the 17" CTX monitor anyway because of how satisfied I'd been with my previous model, and this was just too good to turn down. So, what can I say about a monitor? Well, don't expect much in the way of frills with this monitor. It's a basic, entry-level monitor so you'll not get front mounted USB ports, for example. That's not to say it's a bad monitor
. Indeed, picture quality at all resolutions is great, very impressive at higher resolutions and you get huge amounts of desktop space. It has a dot pitch of 0.26 mm, which is an indication of how sharp the picture image is going to be. You can get 0.25mm monitors and better, but 0.26 is good for en entry-level model. I've been running it at 1024 * 768 and 1280 * 768 with no problems apart from the fact it's now weird to have al this "wasted" space around the screen! The monitor is capable of taking resolutions of up to 1600 * 1200, although I suspect most people (at least at the moment will be using resolutions similar to those mentioned above). For those of you who are unaware, unlike televisions and LCD screens, CRT monitors are measured diagonally according to case rather than screen, so despite being marketed as a19" monitor, screen size is actually 18". I've also noticed a reduction in the amount of eyestrain I now have after using this for a few hours at time. I'm no longer squinting at the screen. Brightness levels are now back to normal - hurrah! Everything can be easily seen on screen, and the brightness levels are suck that I'm not trying to figure out what's going on when I'm playing games. There are 7 buttons on the front of the monitor, a menu button, 2 buttons each for brightness and contrast which also double as buttons for use in the onscreen menu, an exit/degaussing button and the ubiquitous power button. The onscreen menu is simple to use. Accessing it, by pressing the Menu button once, shows the status of the monitor (i.e. screen resolution and horizontal and vertical refresh rates). Pressing the menu button again will cycle through other settings such as screen size, position, geometry, moiré, colours and language settings. These are simple and intuitive to use, and you should have your monitor set up to your satisfaction in no time. That is if you can l
ift the bloody thing onto your desk! It's a beast of a machine, weighing in at 22kg. It's an approximate 50cm cube i.e. 50cm x 50cm x 50cm which isn't overly large, especia lly when you consider the screen size of the monitor, but the weight can be off putting, and you should take this into consideration especially if you are planning on putting the monitor somewhere where weight is an issue. Unlike my old 15" monitor which drew power from my PC, this new monitor draws power from it's own power lead, so you might have to free up a wall socket somewhere or invest in an extension lead. As I've already said, the image quality is excellent for normal things like web browsing, word processing etc. Games image quality is good too with the action being depicted in huge big-o-vision (and I can finally see! Hurrah!). What I was most impressed with was that with a bigger monitor the DVD playback now rocks big time, nearly as good as watching it on a proper telly, at least in terms of size! Overall, I'm very pleased with this purchase. I don't know how I could go back to a smaller screen, and at this price (£132 ex. VAT from eBuyer.com) I think I've gotten a bargain. If you're suffering from eyestrain, and looking to get a bigger monitor, you should try looking at the 19" ones out there. They're coming down in price quite rapidly, and you might just get more than you think!
I upgraded my monitor a year ago and have been using a 15" SyncMaster since then. I could hardly believe the different when I installed my new 19" CTX. Apart from the obvious advantages there is also a noticeable difference in the amount of eye strain I suffer from. I didn't expect a lot as this is really a low end of the market monitor. At one hundred and sixty nine pounds I feel I have my money's worth. The case is kind of stubby and not as modern, or curvy looking at some of the more expensive models. However, it feels solid and well put together. The instructions for setting this monitor up aren't very comprehensive which is fine if you know what you're doing. Should things start to go wrong you might need to enlist the help of someone with a bit of knowledge if you aren't up to it yourself. The picture quality is excellent and its sharp and bright. Even at maximum resolution the contrast and colour are excellent. Some cheaper monitors fail when it comes to brightness and contrast but I found no problems with the CTX VL950T. I do a lot of photo work and find contrast and colour to be of a sufficiently high standard for this. If you fancy a new 19" monitor then you won't get better value than this. I don't see the point in paying more, unless you are particularly into the 'look' of the thing.
Well, I've now had the monitor for a bit longer - also I've been upgrading PCs and with that Video Cards too etc. So the monitor has received a more rigourous work out. You'll recall I was upgrading from 800x600 on a 14" monitor to the VL950T. Originally, I was only able to test the monitor with a Videologic GraphixStar 600 running at a maximum of 85Hz (Or was it? The monitor seemed convinced it was 75Hz). With improved PC speed, memory and substantially better video cards I've now run the VL950T at 800x600 and 1024x768 (24 bit colour etc.) at Refresh rates up to 125Hz. The quality of the display has remained great - crisp and stable. In 800x600 the text jumps out of the screen at you, while 1024x768 is better on a 19" screen than the 800x600 I use on a 17" in work (this res. avoids any eye-strain - I'm in Accounts). 1024x768 is like using a field to lay down a road map (there's room everywhere)and with such a great display I feel I'll never be going back to a lower resolution on this monitor. Windows is excellent (without using large fonts) and I have enjoyed the "being there" experiences of Serious Sam 2 and Medal of Honour (What excellent games!) at 1024x768 (each) without the monitor blinking. How many rows can I fit in a spreadsheet now??? W*o*W!! The monitor's controls are fairly simple, one button for menu, pressing the button again selects particular types of adjustment eg. Screen Geometry. Up and down arrow keys allow you to select the specific setting you want to adjust eg. Moire within screen geometry. Then + and - keys allow you to adjust that setting within the available range. Meanwhile, Brightness and Contrast can be adjusted outside the menu system from Darkest dark to "Ow!! Me eyes!!". If you plan to move the monitor around, do some weight-training first, and get the nice delivery man t
o get it into your computer "study". The one complaint I have is that the monitor is prone to rock from side to side on the monitor base (it's to do with the inertia of the great clunking beast...). But it's not a great failing and you can always take the base off (if you can lift the monitor...). I purchased for about £180, the price has stayed about the same ever since. Would I buy again? Yes - indeed I'm after another one. Recommend - Certainly. Oh - and in the UK the monitor comes with a 3 year warranty (1st year on-site). What more could you ask? Buy it now.