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by Ray DeCosta

Q. I'm thinking about upgrading to a new computer monitor. What do I need to know?

A. If you're still using an old CRT (Cathode Ray Tube) monitor (the style with a large heavy cabinet), you'll find the new monitors are light-years away in terms of technical progress and convenience. They are also much lighter and take up less space on your physical desktop. If you have a flat-screen TV, you already have an idea as to what to expect in terms of visual quality.

However, don't make the mistake of buying a flat-screen TV thinking you can use it as a computer monitor. The resolutions required to properly display a computer Desktop or your programs are not compatible with those required for TVs.

The older monitors could only display in what is referred to as 800 x 600 resolution. Those numbers refer to the number of pixels wide and high, respectively. Newer monitors will easily display a more modern configuration of 1024 x 768. This configuration will give you a wide-screen effect and is much handier if you want to display more information on your screen.

Websites generally require a screen width of about 975 pixels to better fill a modern monitor screen. If you have been viewing websites using an older 800-pixel wide screen, you may find that you are constantly scrolling sideways to view websites.

Typically, a monitor will connect to your existing video card using either a VGA or a DVI connector. The VGA connector (Video Graphics Array) may be identified by its blue color and three rows of pins. Info The DVI connector (Digital Video Interface) comes in several different pin configurations but will always be white in color and have a flat-bladed pin to ensure proper insertion. There are always adapters available in order to connect appropriately. For more information and photos of a DVI connector and adapter. Info

For best results, you should use the DVI connectors and a DVI cable. Some video cards or monitors do not have DVI capabilities and in that case you should use the adapters as necessary.

Published: Courier 4/1/12 - Page 5C