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FEATURE Simply brilliant . . .the monitor market gets bigger all the time

FEATURE Simply brilliant . . .the monitor market gets bigger all the time

Sometimes thought of as a fairly insignificant part of the purchase, the monitors provided as part of PC packages can vary greatly in quality, backup service and maintenance, and the degree to which they have been set up for the consumer by the manufacturer or reseller. Many of these considerations are being sacrificed to lower the retail price for competitive purposes, and to get a foot into this "survive if you can" market.

At the same time, there has been a movement towards high-end monitors, and manufacturers are beginning to shift to flat screen, non-CRT monitors. Their environmental and ergonomic advantages have an appeal to a wider market but it will not be until the price becomes more comparable with CRT monitors that the balance of the market share will begin to change.

Many consumers in Australia don't consider the quality and performance of the monitor when buying a PC package, and most aren't given a choice. If the northern hemisphere trend of consumers choosing their own monitors when purchasing a PC spreads to Australia, the market for monitors will become much more competitive. Currently, manufacturers are looking to the future and concentrating on high-end products because it is at this level that the consumer searches for a monitor that will provide optimal performance and quality.

Pre- and after-sales support will become an issue with consumers as they discriminate between products, and stability of the supplier will be a factor in this. Other issues will be screen size and the quality of the image on the screen. By Durelle FryGeoff Cottee, NEC's product man-ager for Data Technology, told Australian Reseller News that manufacturers are looking into more issues than consumers are when marketing monitors. In the long-term consideration of a monitor, of major importance are environmental, ergonomic and performance matters, he says.

While organisations may replace their PCs every two or three years, the monitor is usually replaced half as often, Cottee said. For this reason, buyers should be looking at both long-term performance and the likelihood the manufacturer or importer will still be around six years after purchase. "NEC wants to offer a better product which is more effective, offers higher performance and is longer lasting," Cottee said.

Joseph Rau, senior product marketing manager of Samsung Electronics, agrees the performance of a monitor should be a higher consideration for both consumers and resellers, especially when they are under the pressure of margins and profitability. Rau believes factors to be considered in the purchase of the right monitor include the type of work to be done.

The right resolution is required for both this and the size of the monitor. For example: "If text is the main function, it needs to be big enough on the screen and it needs to be able to be read from a good reading distance. Consumers need to ask to see and resellers need to offer to demonstrate the performance of the monitor before purchase.

"Part of the selling process should be making sure the consumer understands what he is buying."

Too often, says Rau, a consumer takes a monitor out of the box that has never been connected to a PC and he is expected to adjust all the settings himself. This, he argues, leads to poor performance from the monitor, a situation which could have been avoided.

End-user awareness

Paul Robson, product marketing man-ager of Philips Information Products, told ARN that end users are beginning to request specific monitors with their PCs. For example, in the government and corporate market, he says end users will ask for a certain specification. Closed markets (where there is almost no choice of which monitor comes in the package) remain in the retail sector, but dealers and distributors have the opportunity to offer flexibility.

A major revolution in monitor techno-logy is "just around the corner", with LCD monitors, according to Robson and Cottee. While the price of these monitors is still prohibitive, Cottee believes that over time the price will come more into line with CRT monitors - just as the price of CRT monitors has reduced over time.

Once this happens, Cottee says the environmental and ergonomic advantages of LCD monitors will change them from being an option, to being bundled with PC packages.

Keycorp claims that its FlatScreen LCD monitors are beginning to overcome the limiting factors of LCD monitors because they use 70 per cent to 85 per cent less energy than CRT monitors, emit less radiation, have a wider viewing area, and generally "work to minimise the poor health effects of prolonged computer use".

A trend identified by Marcel Melick, a product manager at Sony Australia, is the move away from 14in screens to 15in screens as entry-level monitors, although Rau told ARN the company will continue to manufacture 14in monitors "for some time yet".

The reason is the $200 to $300 price difference between a 14in screen and a 15in screen which he argues is a very important differential for many consumers.

Big is beautiful

Melick believes consumers who previously sought to upgrade from a 14in to a 15in screen are now seeking a 17in screen.

And a 19in screen is available for those who want to move to something even bigger. Melick added that a 17in screen is ideal for the applications of Windows 98 and he claims the 19in screen fills this role now.

Melick assesses the biggest growth in the monitor market as 19in CRT screens and LCD flat panels (especially for 15in screens).

Acer

AcerView monitors range from 14in to 21in models. There are three new monitors in Acer's range.

The "flagship" is the AcerView 79G, a colour, 17in diagonal CRT monitor with 0.25mm dot pitch, aperture grille, 90 degree deflection, AGRAS coating and P22 medium-short phosphor. The monitor has a "mini-neck", a power consumption of 75 watts, a universal switching power supply, a power-saving function and a USB (optional). It is Windows 95-compatible and offers 60,000 hours MTBF. The RRP of the AcerView 79G is $1115.

The AcerView 99C 19in monitor has an 18in (diagonal) viewable flat square screen with 0.26mm dot pitch, 90 degree deflection and high contrast. Maximum resolution is 1600 x 1200 at 75Hz. Power consumption is 140 watts maximum (without USB) and 150 watts (with USB). The RRP of the AcerView 99C 19in monitor is $1450.

Also new from Acer is the 211A 21in monitor with a 19.65in (diagonal) viewable flat square screen with 0.28mm dot pitch, invar shadow mask, and light transmission of 51 per cent. The monitor is anti-static and anti-reflection treated.

Additional features are a maximum resolution of 1600 x 1200 at 75Hz refresh rate, digital on-screen control for all picture adjustments, eight factory preset and 13 user-programmable display settings, 6500K and 9300K colour temperature settings, and MPRII, TC091, TC092, and Energy Star compliance. The RRP of the AcerPrestige 211A 21in monitor is $2562.

Each monitor is VESA DPMS compliant and Acer offers a warranty of three years for parts and two years for labour.

Daewoo Electronics

Garry Lougher, national sales manager of computer products at Daewoo Electronics Australia, told ARN most Daewoo monitors are sold to assemblers and OEMs. Less than 2 per cent of sales are upgrades.

The monitors feature a one-month full replacement, three-year on-site warranty, and if the monitor can't be fixed on site, a replacement monitor will be loaned while the faulty monitor is taken away and fixed at Daewoo's expense.

One of the highest-selling monitors is the CMC 1590B multimedia monitor with a headset and separate microphone jacks at the front.

This monitor is "very popular with the education market", Lougher saidThe RRP of the 1509B is $549. The complete range of Daewoo monitors ranges from $399 for the 14in to $999 for the 17in 1707B multimedia version. Lougher describes the CNC 518B as the company's "value 15in monitor".

Hitachi

Following the trend of interest in larger screen sizes, Hitachi says that most enquiries that come through are for its 19in model - the CM751.

The CM751 is a high-resolution, digital multi-scanning 19in colour monitor with an 18in viewable image size. The monitor supports VGA up to 1600 x 1200 graphics cards and provides microprocessor control and memory storage function. The horizontal mask pitch is 0.22mm and the resolution is up to 1280 x 1024 at 85Hz. The monitor is also PC, Mac and Workstation compatible and it complies with TCO95. Hitachi offers a three-year warranty. The RRP of the CM751 is $2250.

The CM630 is a 17in colour display monitor described by Hitachi as being suitable for professional Windows applications. Maximum resolution is 1699 x 1200 (non-interlaced) on a flat square CRT with 0.22mm dot pitch horizontal mask. The monitor is Plug and Play (VESA DDC)- compliant, has an RGB colour control system, and features geometry adjustment (pincushion, trapezoid, rotation) with a menu on screen display for all adjustments. The CM630 is MPRII-compliant and is Energy Star-, VESA-DPMS- and Nutek-compliant.

The RRP of the CM630 is $1495.

The Super Elite 21in colour display monitor features high resolution (1600 x 1200 at 90Hz) and high refresh rates for high-end graphics processing. It is a Plug and Play (VESA DDC)-compliant flat square CRT with a 0.22mm dot pitch horizontal mask. Additional features include an RGB colour control system, Moiré reduction and parallelogram adjustment, power saving features, low radiation, and an on-screen display for all adjustments. The RRP of the CM803 is $4727.

Hitachi's Super TFT Color LCD Monitor is a flat screen display with a 140 degree viewing angle (both vertical and horizontal). Features include TCO95 compliance, on-screen display for adjustment of screen settings, space saving and lightweight, reduced power consumption, Plug and Play interface, CRT-compatible analog interface, multi-scanning support, 16.19 million colours, and a long service life because the TFT LCD backlight is replaceable. The RRP of the PCX-DT3131 Super TFT Color LCD Monitor is $4200.

All products are available now.

Keycorp

Keycorp has two major ranges of FlatScreen monitor: the K57 Digital Card FlatScreen and the K58 Direct Connect FlatScreen. The K57 uses a proprietary graphics card and is aimed primarily at the banking and finance sector.

The K58, which connects directly to any standard VGA output on a PC or a third-party graphics card, is described by Keycorp as being more suitable for general distribution through resellers.

Both models are available in three sizes: 10.4in, 12.1in and 14.5in. Ian Stead, corporate communications manager of Keycorp, toldARN the smaller sizes "are particularly popular for point-of-service applications such as banks, hairdressers, hotels and reception desks". The 14.5in monitor, to be released this month, is aimed at professional users such as CAD applications. "Twenty-six were recently installed in the security centre at the Homebush Olympic site to run live video from security cameras around the site," Stead said.

The RRPs of Keycorp FlatScreen LCD monitors with SVGA range from $1899 for the 10.4in (K57H-1221) to $2289 for the 12.1in (K58H-1223).

Keycorp is "always looking for potential resellers".

Its Australian distributors are G-Star Computers and Redflex Touchscreens.

Magtron

Magtron Monitors Australia has introduced a new line of Analog TFT Colour LCD monitors: PT1453A and PT1503A. Described by Magtron as "the most user- friendly LCD available", the Pt series does not require dedicated graphics cards, and screen adjustment is facilitated with on-screen controls - the user can control contrast, brightness, position, border, focus, expansion, text/graphic model select, colour temperature and recall.

The models can be custom-built at the user's request and adjusted to satisfy individual ergonomics.

Additional features of the PT series monitors are crisp, sharp images from centre to edge, no flicker and no emissions in spite of SuperBright backlighting. According to Magtron, the PT series consumes approximately 25 per cent of the power of comparable-sized CRT monitors.

The RRP of the PT1453A and PT1503A are $3990 and $4950 respectively.

LG Electronics

LG Electronics will market its "perfectly flat" CDT-based monitor in Australia at the end of June. The Flatron monitor is designed for CAD, desktop publishers and those seeking "sharp text, bold images, and reduced eye strain", according to the company.

Eye strain has been addressed by using Inner Anti-Glare (IAG) technology - a process that minimises light reflection, and the flat, "paper-like" image.

The monitor has a 16.02in viewable image size, stripe pitch of 0.24mm, a flicker-free resolution of 1280 x 1024 at 85Hz and a maximum resolution of 1600 x 1200 at 60Hz. It has non-interlaced, multi-language, digital on-screen controls, VESA Plug and Play capability, and TCO 95 compliance.

The RRP of the LG Flatron monitor will be $1699.

NEC

NEC has released two new MultiSync LCD monitors, the MultiSync LCD2000 - a 20.1in screen with 20.1in viewable image size, and the MultiSync LCD400 - a 14.1in monitor with 14.1in viewable image size. Both monitors feature OSM (on screen manager) controls and AccuColor controls which allow users to define the colour settings to individual preferences. OSM Lockout prevents changes to screen settings and allows an MIS department to standardise monitor configuration across all users.

The MultiSync LCD2000 monitor features 0.31mm dot pitch and is compatible with "virtually any" VESA-standard video output signal (Macintosh and PC). It also accepts signals from Sun, Silicon Graphics and other workstations. The monitor delivers a 160-degree viewing area and consumes 30 per cent less power than conventional CRT monitors with the same screen size. It also weighs 70 per cent less and takes up less than 60 per cent of the space.

The MultiSync LCD400 monitor has the same functions and degree of flexibility as the LCD2000 monitor.

Both monitors exceed EPA Energy Star and NUTEK power-saving guidelines, and comply with MPRII.

The RRP of the MultiSync LCD2000 is $13,975, and the MultiSync LCD400 is $5005.

Philips

Three new products are worth highlighting in Philips' Brilliance range of high-resolution monitors.

The B107 17in autoscan monitor is designed for "professional and demanding corporate users", according to Philips. Resolution is 1600 x 1200 at 75Hz and 1280 x 1024 at 85Hz, or 1024 x 768 at 115Hz. Additional features include a 16in viewable image size, flat square, anti-reflection, anti-static and anti-glare coated CRT colour screen. Refresh rates are high and the horizontal pitch is 0.22mm.

The monitor employs CrystalClear technology, features a USB bay and has a new six-window on-screen display. The stereo audio system has front firing speakers, microphone and headset input connector for multimedia and videoconferencing applications. Colorific software depicts the printer's output on the monitor, and it is TCO95 Nutek, EPA, FCC, CE98 and ISO 9241 certified.

A USB Module inserted into the USB bay upgrades the monitor into a USB hub with four USB downstream ports for peripheral and one upstream port to host. It provides powered hub functionality for up to 127 USB peripherals. Bundled with the optional USB module is CustoMax 3.0, commercially-available USB monitor control software with Windows 98 drivers. The RRP of the Philips B107 is $1250.

B109 and B201

The B109 is a 19in (17.9in viewable image size) flat square, anti-reflection, anti-static and anti-glare coated CRT colour monitor which has been introduced "to meet the needs of high-end corporate users working primarily in office productivity applications such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint, or Internet and intranet applications". All other features are the same as for the 17in monitor.

The RRP of the Philips B109 is $1950.

The Philips B201 is a 21in screen with a 19.9in viewable image size. It targets users working with CAD/CAM, DTP, database, logistics or financial and accounting applications under Windows. Features different to the other models include a high-contrast black matrix invar tube, 13 factory presets and 14 user-definable modes, colour temperature and RGB adjustment, and 15-pin D-shell and BNC input connections. The RRP of the Philips B201 is $3199.

Sony

Sony's new range of Trinitron monitors recently began shipping and includes the Elite Series (ET) 15in and 17in monitors for the small business and home user; the Gold Series (GS) 17in for the corporate professional; and the Platinum 17in, 19in and 21in models. The current Sony 20in monitor will only be available for another three months.

Featured in each of these new models is Sony's "Digital Multiscan" technology for picture correction. Rather than relying solely on preset factory settings, Sony achieves a real-time solution after receiving the input signal where adjustments are made automatically by the unit itself. After detecting the scanning frequency of the connected computer and referring to the unit's individual picture-correcting data stored in memory at the factory, the CPU instantaneously calculates the necessary parameters needed to form an optimal deflection wave pattern.

From these calculations, the ASIC developed by Sony generates the exact wave pattern needed to produce distortion-free images. The Digital Multiscan system accepts signals "from any computer, from any manufacturer", and "will be compatible with new video models in the future", according to the company.

The Platinum Series also has a high-speed CPU to produce distortion-free pictures, and maximises convergence accuracy.

The Platinum Series features Terrestrial Magnetism Sensors and Landing Correction Coils for uniform and stable pictures. A circuit of four corner LCCs is installed in each corner of the display and in the 21in screen. An additional north/south LCC is wrapped around the top, bottom and sides of the monitor, ensuring neutralisation from all directions of the geomagnetic field.

Additional features include a temperature and beam current sensor, increased brightness levels, anti-reflection, and TCO '95 and Energy 2000 authorisation for the whole range.

The Gold Series features Sony's Graphic Picture Enhancement function. Three picture-quality modes - standard, presentation and graphics/ video - are present with various combinations of colour temperature, sharpness on or off, and brightness high or low.

The elite series features "user-friendly" on-screen displays. Users can adjust colour temperature, brightness/contrast, screen size, centring, rotation, and pincushion.

The RRP of the Sony Trinitron is as follows:

ES (Elite Series) from $799Ð$1499;

GS (Gold Series) is $1699;

PS (Platinum Series) from $2499Ð$4999.

Samsung

Samsung produces two ranges of monitors - the Samtron range for strength and reliability at the lower priced end of the market; and the SyncMaster range, designed for premium performance. Within the SyncMaster range there are machines suited to small and home office applications (s-series); business and corporate applications (b-series); and high-end professional applications (p-series).

The SyncMaster 700s 17in diagonal screen for small and home offices has a 15.7in viewable image size. Dot pitch is 0.28mm and the monitor features a non-glare anti-static screen with 90 degree deflection, an invar shadow mask, and double dynamic focus. Maximum resolution is 1024 x 768 at 85Hz with a maximum of 1280 x 1024 at 60Hz. The RRP of the SyncMaster 700s is $845.

The SyncMaster 700b is improved with its UltraClear coating and wider bandwidth (110MHz compared to 80MHz for the 700s). The RRP of the 700b is $1356. The SyncMaster 1000p for high-end applications features a 21in diagonal, FST, 19.7in viewable image size screen with a dot pitch of 0.26mm. The screen has an UltraClear coating and a deflection of 90 degrees, invar shadow mask, and double dynamic focus. The bandwidth is 230MHz and the resolution is 1280 x 1024 at 85Hz with a maximum of 1600 x 1200 at 85Hz. The RRP of the SyncMaster 1000P is $2714.

Each monitor features Display Director (DD) via digital controls that open menus for screen adjustments, including Moiré control (1000p) and Expanded View capability. All SyncMaster monitors feature high refresh rates of 85Hz for stable and flicker-free images. All monitors are Plug and Play compatible and the 1000p features Power Factor Correction (PFC) to prevent power loss and reduce emissions. All are EPA Energy Star- and Nutek- compliant as well as MPRII and TCO95 compliant.

The SyncMaster 400TFT/500TFT is a 14in/14in TFT LCD Monitor. The monitor offers 15in of viewable screen area. The unit houses connector ports and speakers as well as a built-in microphone on the top edge. The RRP of the 400TFT/500TFT LCD Monitor is $4386.

Shamrock

Distributed by Digistone Australia, Shamrock monitors are manufactured by Shamrock Technology in Taiwan. The company believes the growth in the mainstream monitor market will be in 17in and larger ultra-high resolution monitors. Therefore it has focused on the development of these monitors. The company produces a full range of monitor products for the global market and plans to set up a worldwide distribution network for selling its products. It is also looking for resellers.

Targeted at the business market is the 17in C707P monitor and the 15in C505D.

The C707P features a flat square CRT screen with a 0.26mm dot pitch, double focus gun and invar mask. Resolution is up to 1600 x 1200 at 70Hz. It is non-interlaced and an on-screen display is used for control such as rotation/tilt, trapezoid, pin balance, parallelogram, colour temperature setting, pincushion/barrel, and power management on/off.

Added features

The monitor has full screen capability (depending on signal timing) with edge-to-edge display image. There are 27 microprocessor-based screen panels which automatically adjust to the optimal size and centre of the display when switching among different graphic modes. There are 20 user-programmable and seven standard factory settings.

The power-saving function complies with EPA, ESA DPMS and NUTEK standards, and the monitor complies with the VESA DDC standard to support Plug and Play of Windows 95. The monitor also has low radiation MPRII/TCO compliance.

The RRP of the Shamrock C707P is $677 and carries a three-year back-to-base warranty (conditions apply).

The C505D offers the same power saving, low radiation, and Plug and Play standard as the 17in monitor, and features a flat square CRT screen with 0.28mm dot pitch. Resolution is up to 1280 x 1024 at 60Hz or 1024 x 768 at 85Hz non-laced. An on-screen display controls such functions as rotation/tilt, trapezoid and pincushion/barrel. There is full screen capability (depending on signal timing) with edge-to-edge display image, and 21 microprocessor-based screen presets - 15 user-programmable and six standard factory settings. Push-button screen controls automatically save screen settings.

The RRP of the Shamrock C505D is $340. The warranty conditions are the same as for the 17in monitor.

ViewMaster

ViewMaster is the in-house name of Hallmark Computers for its monitors. The range includes 14in, 15in, 17in and 19in monitors. The ViewMaster M1738NF 17in flat-screen monitor uses an NEC CromaClear picture tube. This technology results in the phosphors having an elliptical shape "which combines the best benefits of both dot-trio and aperture-grill technologies into one", to improve the image quality.

Other features include a 16in viewable size, and low radiation MPRII. The RRP of the ViewMaster M1738NF is $750.

The ViewMaster 19in CRT monitor (M19SL) features a 19in non-glare flat square 0.26mm dot pitch screen with 18in viewable size, power saving, auto and manual degauss and low radiation MPRII. The RRP of the ViewMaster M19SL is $1249. The ViewMaster M1516 15in non-glare flat square 0.28mm dot pitch screen with 13.6in viewable size features power saving, auto and manual degauss, OSD control and low radiation MPRII.

The RRP of the ViewMaster M1516 is $349.

HINT:

looks do count

A bigger screen with poor image quality is not a step up. Problems with brightness, colour saturation or sharpness not only make the screen image look crummy, they can give users headaches and make their eyes water - a bit like tight underwear.

Flat-panel display market prepares to take offBy Dan Carney and Durelle FryAfter years on the market fringe, flat-panel displays are quickly becoming an affordable option for PC buyers who are tired of monitors taking up half of their desk space.

Until recently, buyers who demanded the small, lightweight screens paid a hefty price. LCD monitors cost 10 times as much as conventional cathode ray tube (CRT) monitors, and they were small, low-resolution devices. But that is no longer the case. Improved technology has provided desktop flat-panel displays that are the same viewing size as the 15in monitors, but have a clarity that lets them run at the same resolution as 17in desktop monitors.

More importantly, prices of these 14in displays have fallen dramatically. The street price is still considerably more than a conventional monitor, but the difference is now a factor of three, instead of a factor of four or five.

"In eight months, prices have dropped 60 per cent," said market researcher Matthew Red. "When you see that kind of price drop, you expect to see the market expand dramatically."

Specialist screens have specialist buyers. These range from military to the radiation-conscious and those who want the least- cluttered desks.

Improvements on CRT

For starters, the displays do not generate electromagnetic fields, and furthermore they are not harmed by them - unlike CRTs which can be damaged by magnets. This is important for submarines because the subs are regularly "degaussed" or demagnetised, to reduce the potential for magnetic detection, he said. And flat panels are solid-state devices that are much less fragile than CRTs, so they are better-suited to rough treatment than the old screens. They are used where there is a lot of vibration and impact. And there's no yoke to go out of alignment, nor north/south hemisphere alignment differences.

In mobile applications, the panel weighs dramatically less and uses less space, as well as consuming less power and generating less heat. Naturally, the larger the CRT monitor you're replacing, the greater these advantages become.

For now, most buyers will opt for the 14in size, said Ed Buckingham, an industry analyst with IDC. "You can run 1024 x 768 resolution on a 14in flat panel," he said. "You still get fairly crisp definition."

As a Panasonic spokesperson said, there's no such thing as too big a flat-panel monitor, at least for purposes of viewability, if not affordability.contacts:

Daewoo Electronics

Tel 1800 809 397

Fax (02) 9645 6141

Digistone Australia

Tel (02) 9897 5855

Fax (02) 9897 5266

G-Star Computers

Tel (02) 9719 8906

Fax (02) 9819 6607

Hallmark

Tel (03) 9562 6789

Fax (03) 9562 8989

Hitachi Australia

Tel (02) 9888 4100

Fax (02) 9888 4144

LG Electronics

Tel (02) 9888 1311

Fax (02) 9888 1994

Magtron Monitors

Tel (02) 9975 3727

Fax (02) 9975 4872

Philips Electronics

Tel 1800 658 086

Fax (02) 9704 8483

Redflex Touchscreens

Tel (03) 9696 1888

Fax (03) 9696 1411

Samsung

Tel 1300 369 600

Fax (02) 9638 0087

Sony Australia

Tel (02) 9887 6666

Fax (02) 9878 5360


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