The Wide World of Monitors

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Everyone needs a good monitor (or two) to get the most out of a PC. But finding the right model depends on several factors: what applications you use, how much room you have on your desk, the amount of on-screen real estate you need, and, of course, how much you can afford to spend. For many people, the wide-screen display wins, and bigger is better.

But that's not the whole story. Though our discussion covers such critical factors in the purchase decision as screen size and native resolution, it's still very important to consider a monitor's ability (or lack thereof) to render sharp text and vibrant images, as well as--for ergonomics--the range of physical adjustments that it lets you make, from basic tilt-and-swivel maneuverability to height and pivot options (some higher-end displays rotate 90 degrees to portrait orientation).

We tested 17 new midrange-priced wide-screen LCDs in three size categories that are growing in popularity: 19 inches, 20 or 22 inches, and 25.5 to 28 inches. The Top 5 charts you'll find here represent the best in each category. We've also updated our Best Buy charts for other popular flat-panel sizes, including standard-aspect 19-inch models plus 23- to 24-inch and 30-inch wide-screen units.

As always, we subjected the new monitors to the PC World Test Center's barrage of viewing tests. A panel of six judges rates how well each monitor displays 11 text and graphics images at its native resolution. Some of the test images are from DisplayMate for Windows, an industry-standard display evaluation and diagnostics program. We also assess motion using a scripted demo from the game Return to Castle Wolfenstein, and DVD video playback of Star Wars: Episode I--The Phantom Menace. See "How We Test Monitors" for full details of how we test and rank LCDs in key areas such as features, performance, and design.

Find All of Our Monitor Reviews

Click on the links below for our latest wide-screen monitor charts, or for a comprehensive list of all monitors we've tested.

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