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Last modified: Tuesday, February 04, 2003 

(1) Another term for display screen. The term monitor, however, usually refers to the entire box, whereas display screen can mean just the screen. In addition, the term monitor often implies graphics capabilities.

There are many ways to classify monitors. The most basic is in terms of color capabilities, which separates monitors into three classes:

  • monochrome : Monochrome monitors actually display two colors, one for the background and one for the foreground. The colors can be black and white, green and black, or amber and black.
  • gray-scale : A gray-scale monitor is a special type of monochrome monitor capable of displaying different shades of gray.
  • color: Color monitors can display anywhere from 16 to over 1 million different colors. Color monitors are sometimes called RGB monitors because they accept three separate signals -- red, green, and blue.
  • After this classification, the most important aspect of a monitor is its screen size. Like televisions, screen sizes are measured in diagonal inches, the distance from one corner to the opposite corner diagonally. A typical size for small VGA monitors is 14 inches. Monitors that are 16 or more inches diagonally are often called full-page monitors. In addition to their size, monitors can be either portrait (height greater than width) or landscape (width greater than height). Larger landscape monitors can display two full pages, side by side. The screen size is sometimes misleading because there is always an area around the edge of the screen that can't be used. Therefore, monitor manufacturers must now also state the viewable area -- that is, the area of screen that is actually used.

    The resolution of a monitor indicates how densely packed the pixels are. In general, the more pixels (often expressed in dots per inch), the sharper the image. Most modern monitors can display 1024 by 768 pixels, the SVGA standard. Some high-end models can display 1280 by 1024, or even 1600 by 1200.

    Another common way of classifying monitors is in terms of the type of signal they accept: analog or digital. Nearly all modern monitors accept analog signals, which is required by the VGA, SVGA, 8514/A, and other high-resolution color standards.

    A few monitors are fixed frequency, which means that they accept input at only one frequency. Most monitors, however, are multiscanning, which means that they automatically adjust themselves to the frequency of the signals being sent to it. This means that they can display images at different resolutions, depending on the data being sent to them by the video adapters.

    Other factors that determine a monitor's quality include the following:

  • bandwidth : The range of signal frequencies the monitor can handle. This determines how much data it can process and therefore how fast it can refresh at higher resolutions.
  • refresh rate: How many times per second the screen is refreshed (redrawn). To avoid flickering, the refresh rate should be at least 72 Hz.
  • interlaced or noninterlaced: Interlacing is a technique that enables a monitor to have more resolution, but it reduces the monitor's reaction speed.
  • dot pitch : The amount of space between each pixel. The smaller the dot pitch, the sharper the image.
  • convergence : The clarity and sharpness of each pixel.
  • Also see Northern vs. Southern Hemisphere Monitors in the Did You Know . . . ? section of Webopedia.

    (2) A program that observes a computer. For example, some monitor programs report how often another program accesses a disk drive or how much CPU time it uses.

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    For pages about monitor . Also check out the following links!

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    Everything from the electron gun to the differences between a shadow mask and an aperture grill. It's basically everything that you've always wanted to know about monitors but were terrified to ask.

    Article on software for monitoring Web access
    This LAN Times article, from September 1995, discussses Web software that monitors and block employee's use of the Internet while at work.

    Comparison of LCD to typical CRT monitors
    A comparison between flat LCD and traditional CRT monitors, including display sizes, physical size, display charactersitics, and energy features.

    CRT Characteristics
    Describes analog and Digital CRTs, dot pitch, shadow mask and aperture grill, image quality factors, and magnetization and degaussing. This page is from "The PC Guide."

    Macintosh monitors
    Provides notes on connecting and adjusting Macintosh monitors.The sections covered are: basic information, Macintosh sense pins, modifying a monitor, sync on green, cable information, and examples.

    NIDL Monitor Reports
    Series of evaluation reports on the performance of high-resolution display monitors. The evaluations were/are done by the National Information Display Laboratory (NIDL).

    PC Guide's monitor reference
    Comprehensive guide to the operation of the monitor. Covers construction and operation, resolution, color, refresh, size and size matching, CRT characteristics, and power and safety issues.

    PC hardware product ratings surveys
    Contains survey results for several hardware products including modems, motherboards, and monitors .Included are complete survey details and a Top 10 product list.

    Philips Monitors Web Site
    Contains links to Philips Magnavox monitor product pages.

    Sequel's Net Access Manager
    Describes software that enables corporate management and IS professionals to monitor and manage employee Internet, intranet and online usage.

    Troubleshooting Monitors
    Discusses problems related to the system monitor. Includes information on failure or inproper operation and image quality problems. This page is from "The PC Guide."

    Yahoo!'s monitor companies page
    Yahoo!'s directory of monitor companies.

    Yahoo!'s monitors page
    Yahoo!'s directory of monitors.

    Sponsored listings Monitors - Provides database of suppliers for monitors. Includes catalogs, technical information, and supplier contact information.

    eBay: Monitors - Online marketplace for buying and selling monitors. Monitors Comparison Shopping - offers price comparisons, consumer reviews, product features, and store ratings from over 2,000 stores across the web.

    related categories


    Networking Software

    related terms

    analog monitor




    color monitor

    contrast ratio



    digital monitor

    display screen


    dot pitch



    ELF emission

    fixed-frequency monitor

    flat technology monitor

    gray scaling



    KVM switch

    LCD monitor



    multiscanning monitor

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