Monitors are the workhorses of your office. They turn on and off without fail. When taken care of properly, monitors can easily last over 10 years. So why even consider replacing them, when they're more expensive to replace than a motherboard or a new drive?

The development of new liquid crystal display (LCD) technologies are easier on your eyes, and save crucial desk space. So if you're ready to part with your bulky, burdensome cathode ray tube (CRT) monitor, make sure you know what the monitor market has to offer.

Pros and Cons of the CRT Monitor

CRT monitors have greater contrast ratios and color depths than LCD monitors and can easily adjust screen resolutions, maintaining rich picture clarity even when set on a lower resolution. But CRT monitors have their shortcomings. They're usually very heavy and take up a lot of space on your desk. They use large amounts of energy and they put off a lot of heat. Worst of all, they cause eye strain if you stare at them for long periods of time.

What LCD Has to Offer

Fortunately, LCD technology has gotten better in the past few years. Not only have their refresh rate speeds improved, so have their prices, now on offer for under $200. Having monitors that weigh significantly less and take up a smaller footprint on your office desks could surely be a welcome addition.

But now is a great time to consider a flat-screen: A recent Forrest Research report found that vendors planned to target small- and medium-size businesses with bundled deals for computers, including printers, add-on software, and LCD displays.

How to Choose an LCD Monitor

If your employees are just checking e-mail, reading spreadsheets and surfing the Internet, then you can save a few pennies and go for a lower-end LCD monitors. Go to an electronics store and check out the different models. The one that has the sharpest and brightest picture should be tested for its resolution of Web pages to make sure it doesn't strain your eyes.

For higher-end needs such as digital photography or desktop publishing, you will want to invest in an LCD that can support resolutions above 1280 x 1024, often more expensive models.

Some Models to Consider
  • The Samsung SyncMaster 204B has an 800:1 contrast ratio, 300cd/m2 brightness and a max resolution of 1600 x 1200 -- perfect for graphic intensive applications. It's a little expensive at $630, but well worth the money.
  • The Dell UltraSharp 1905FP doesn't have the higher resolutions one would want in a LCD monitor, but for a 19-inch LCD, its $250 price is a bargain.
  • The widescreen ViewSonic VX2025wm is 20.1 inches wide and has a resolution of 1680 x 1050. It retails around $400.