Less than ten years ago CRT screens were the norm at home and in the workplace. We didn’t question that TV and computer screens came in a big cumbersome box until the first flat screen monitors appeared and transformed the way we work and play.
CRT refers to the technology that drives the large visual display units: the cathode ray tube. Invented by the German physicist Ferdinand Braun in 1897, developed during the following decades and becoming a commercial product in 1922. The demand for CRT screens has been in free-fall and by 2005 Sony announced that they would stop their production entirely. This, despite the fact that the picture quality of flat panel displays was inferior to that of CRT displays. What tipped the balance were two important benefits of flat screens: they take up less space and require less power.
There are two technologies that drive flat panel displays: volatile and static. Volatile displays require pixels be periodically refreshed to retain their state, even for a static image. “Volatile” technologies include Plasma displays; Liquid crystal displays; Organic light-emitting diode displays; Light-emitting diode display; Electro luminescent displays; Surface-conduction electron-emitter displays and Field emission displays.
The most common of these is LCD which has approximately 85% of the market, yet it’s still a very young technology and the subject of very active research. Field emission display is another technology competing for the flat screen market and continually being developed.
Static flat panel displays rely on materials whose colour states are bistable. This means the image they hold requires no energy to maintain, but instead requires energy to change, resulting in a much more energy-efficient display, but with a tendency towards slow refresh rates. “Static” screens include Electrophoretic displays; Bichromal ball displays; Interferometric modulator displays; Cholesteric displays and Bistable nematic liquid crystal displays.
OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) is one of the latest break-through technologies. It is claimed this is an invention as significant a discovery as the light bulb! Another completely different approach gathering momentum is “Projection Displays” which use wave-guides through a glass or plastic sheet onto a screen.
When flat screens were first launched into the market they were most commonly placed on the manufacturers’ stands provided. But driven by the need to use space more efficiently and work in a more ergonomically correct way screens are now frequently mounted on a monitor support, or monitor mount. Such supports offer greater flexibility in the way that flat screens of all sizes, whether TV or computer screens can be used.
So with all this choice what should consumers plump for? LCD is said to be the most appropriate technology on the market for computer use and gaming because it displays static images better and with full colour detail, no flicker and no screen burn-in. Moreover the number of pixels per square inch is typically higher than other display technologies. But when it comes to larger screens (40ins plus) Plasma remains the preferred technology with exceptionally clear and bright images.
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Colebrook Bosson Saunders are designers, manufacturers and worldwide distributors of Office Furniture and Monitor Support.
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