PassMark MonitorTest goes Vista

Lots of images to choose!
MonitorTest V3.0 (Build 1000) was released on June 15th. It's not a free tool, but you can get the 30 day evaluation version here. The download is so small that it fits on a floppy disk, and with it you will be able to investigate the quality and performance of your computer monitor or LCD.

MonitorTest displays 25, specially designed, images on the screen so you can test for optimum visual performance. Each image has been created to test a particular aspect of the monitor. With this type of testing, you can better adjust your display, or if you still are at that point, select a quality unit.

With it's aid, graphic designers (or you, who care about the quality of your monitor) might rethink the whole TFT business. Not surprisingly, MonitorTest will work at any resolution, aspect ratio and color depth supported by your system.


Samsung SyncMaster 226BW 4-in-1 monitor

ImageYou like the lottery? Try Samsung! At the end of last year they launched a new family of screens that had very fast TN 2 ms panels. Not only that, they were also pre-calibrated. For a moderate price, that's more than you can usually expect.

Perhaps because everyone wanted one, they ran out of stock and started selling monitors with the same name but with a panel not their own. Soon afterwards, another one entered the scene, and another...

To sum it up, this is what you can get if you go buying one right now (maybe tomorrow there will be more panels on "display"):

- a 226BW with an S panel (the real deal, if you find one you won the prize)
- a 226BW with an A panel (from AU Optronics, close but not cigar)
- a 226BW with a C panel (from CMO, you should try your luck again)
- a 226BW with a C panel (from CPT, you Casanova)

If you're curious about how much difference there is among them, go to BeHardware and take a look. Our recommendation? Either wait for Samsung to replenish their stock or start some monitor hunting. Some customers are already unpacking them to see the label, but more distrustful ones (and why shouldn't they be?) turn them on to check hidden menus.

Thanks to Samsung for making the process of buying a monitor as interesting as the search for a CPU intended for overcloking (now that Core 2 took all the fun out of that).


A dead pixel is a bad pixel

Now that everybody has, or plans on having, an LCD monitor it's important to know where manufacturers position themselves when it comes to answer the dreaded question: can I exchage my brand new screen for another one with no dead pixels?

I have no personal experience on this, but I have seen it a lot from the other side and customers get rather angry when they find their money hasn't been well spent. It's an unpleasant policy from some computer shops: not telling the buyer what's the deal with dead pixels and not letting them see the monitor before purchasing. The problem is, once they find out what it is... they already have them (dead pixels usually come in groups and ready to party).

A cople of years ago, Behardware did a piece on this subject, and they are updating it now. There,  you will find everything you need to know about which manufacturers to trust and which ones not to. They answer some simple questions like "what is a dead pixel?", "what percentage of screens are affected?" or "should you take an optional dead pixel policy?". They also detail what the ISO 13406-2 norm is about and point out that "if a screen is ISO 13406 certified, but the manufacturer doesn’t indicate the class, it’s automatically a Class I(*), or in other words, is guaranteed for zero dead pixels".

(*) The ISO 13406-2 norm defines 4 classes of screens. “Class 1”, allows no defects. “Class 4” authorizes an incredible amount of dead pixels. An example of a "Class 1" screen can be found in some series from Phillips. This is not to say you should buy a Phillips monitor, it varies from one screen to another, from one series to the next. At the other side of the spectrum, you will find BenQ T series, pertaining to “Class 3” of the ISO norm. Those are the worst monitors you can actually buy, and they allow as many dead pixels as you can see below.

Man, you'll finish earlier if you count alive pixels!


Matrox TripleHead2Go gets digital with it

MATROX are showing off the strangely named TripleHead2Go Digital Edition (is that like wash and go?) in the hope to entice designers and people with three heads. The suprise new feature from the original TripleHead2Go card is a 'DVI in' beside the 'VGA in'. It has three DVI outs instead of three VGAs and will power all manner of triple configuration LCD's.

TripleHead2Go is not a graphics card but an external box that harnesses your system's existing graphics solution (including SLI™) for rendering of all 2D, 3D and video, and adds multi-monitor support. TripleHead2Go appears to your system as an ultra-widescreen 3840x1024* monitor and simply connects to your computer via a standard analog VGA monitor cable. Using Matrox patent-pending technology, TripleHead2Go then splits the 3840 x 1024 Microsoft® Windows® desktop into three separate 1280 x 1024 screens of information, and displays across three independent 1280 x 1024 monitors. There is no image distortion and no scaling to the original raw pixels generated from the existing graphics accelerator.

Running 3D and DCC applications fully accelerated across three screens, known at Matrox as Surround Design, provides a tremendous benefit for 3D visualization and workflow management for cutting edge workstation users. Supplying maximum screen real estate, TripleHead2Go offers a significant productivity boost enabling support for an ultra-wide TripleHead windows desktop for use with professional applications. TripleHead2Go uniquely allows you to upgrade existing certified, mission-critical workstations to TripleHead displays for Surround Design without opening the PC tower case or installing a new graphics solution. Workstations based on a single graphics card or even workstation-class laptops can achieve three screen output.

More over at the Matrox website


Samsung's New LCD Monitors To Go On Sale


Samsung's new line of SyncMaster LCD monitors, which were shown at the CES last month, are hitting store shelves this week. The SyncMaster 906BW, 206BW, and 226BW are respectively 19-, 20-, and 22-inch widescreen LCD monitors that all feature a super fast response time of 2ms (GTG), a contrast ratio of 3000:1, and support for both DVI-D and Analog inputs.

The 906BW (19-inch) is priced at $279.99 and features a 1440 x 900 resolution, and 300 nits of brightness. Both the 206BW (20-inch), priced at $349.99, and the 226BW (22-inch), pictured above, priced at $429.99 feature a resolution of 1680 x 1050.

These LCDs are currently available only in North America and its unknown whether these monitors will make their way to Europe.

Sony Demonstrates Prototype OLED TVs

OLED technology may not be well developed at the moment, but it has a lot of potential and may soon replace even LCDs in the mainstream market.  It's brighter, more power-efficient, and smaller than LCD technology, so there's a lot of opportunity available.  At CES this year Sony is demonstrating two new OLED TV prototypes with sizes of 11" and 27".  They're not huge, but 27" is a big advance from the traditional small screens we see using OLEDs today in cell phones, MP3 players, and other small electronics.

The two TVs are 3mm and 10mm (respectively) thick at the thinnest part of the body, according to a Sony press release.  The 11" screen has a wide-SVGA resolution, while the 27" supports HD resolutions, though specific resolutions were not named.  We should see more details soon.


Fix Stuck Pixels And Burn-in On LCD And Plasma Screens

Ever had problem with those stuck/dead pixels on your LCD monitor? JScreenFix seems to have a solution. This little applet randomly swithches on and off red, blue, and green color cells very rapidly. The applet runs safely inside your web browser, does not require installation and works with Windows, Linux and Mac computers (Make sure Java Runtime is installed).

A stuck pixel is a point on a screen that does not display the correct colour. Stuck pixels are fairly common on high resolution LCD screens. Stuck pixels sometimes start working again with time unless they appear black on a white background, these are known as dead pixels.

Screen burn-in often occurs on plasma screens if an area of the screen does not change for a long period of time. Patterns on such areas will still be noticeable when new images are displayed. For TV input, channel logos often burn into the screen. For digital signage systems, the problem can be even more severe where words can still be read months after they were originally displayed. Image persistence has also been known to effect LCD screens.

To check for stuck pixels on your LCD, first clean the screen with lint-free cloth. Then click here to open a black window (to check for screen burn-in click here) and press F11 to switch to full screen mode. You can find stuck pixels or screen burn-in if any. If you find any, then click here and follow the instructions on that page (Share your experiences coz I don't have a LCD or Plasma to test this!).



Samsung To Launch Vista-Ready Monitors


The South Korean Electronics giant, Samsung, revealed two Windows Vista-certified LCD monitors. The 20-inch (SyncMaster CX206BW) and 22-inch (SyncMaster CX226BW) models both deliver a 3,000:1 contrast ratio and a lightning fast 2ms response time.

Samsung didn't mention a word about the resolutions of these displays, but we can safely say that the 22-inch one (shown above) features a 1680x1050 pixel resolution just like all other 22-inch LCDs available in the market. The monitors come in black lacquer, piano finish and sport an exquisite look.

The  price - $399 for the CX206BW and $473 for the CX226BW. Not much info is available about these displays at the moment.


Panasonic Announces Its First 1080p Projector


Good projectors are always really expensive, and we have no reason to believe this one won't be...when it's released.  Panasonic has announced its first projector capable of a 1920x1080 progressive output.  Recently Panasonic released a 720p projector, the PT-AX100U, but now they've set their sights on a new goal: 1080p, with the PT-AE1000U.

The PT-AE1000U will have a much higher contrast ratio than the PT-AX100U, at 11,000:1 compared to 6,000:1.  But the brightness will be lower: 1,100 lumens compared to the PT-AX100U's 2,000.  No word on availability or pricing yet, but the PT-AX100U costs $3,000, so...


EZ-Canvas Turns a Monitor Into a Touch Screen


Here's an interesting idea.  The EZ-Canvas is a clear acrylic panel that snaps right onto your CRT or LCD screen (curved CRT screens probably wouldn't work) and turns it into a touch screen display.  Two sensors at the top of the panel sense the movement of a pen or stylus and pass this information on to your computer to track your actions.

The EZ-Canvas works with screens that are 17 inches or larger, and it'll snap on to any monitor you want to use it with.

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