I think on an LCD monitor you have to try before you buy.
When I went shopping for an LCD monitor about six months ago, I researched and compared specs and read reviews.
Then, when I went to Staples, Future Shop etc. to look at the ones I had whittled my list down to, I found two key issues important to me that weren't even on the spec sheet.
Dead pixels and the manufacturer policy related to it, and
I would highly recommend that you look at the two monitors at the store and set them up the way you are going to use them - check the clarity of text especially if you're not running at native resolution. Pull up a couple of web pages and see what they look like.
And for that price, I would definitely go for a DVI input (in addition to VGA). DVI definitely gives you a sharper image if you have a DVI equipped Mac now or in the future.
That 'dead pixel' issue is a real can of worms and also a highly guarded manufacturer secret.
For one, there is no agreement what actually constitutes a dead pixel - some manufacturers claim that a permanently red pixel for instance is not 'dead'...for two reasons.
One, it's a sub-pixel and two, it's lit, therefore it's not dead.
I came across an LCD monitor review site six months ago where they actually tried to get the "dead pixel" policy from every manufacturer and it was just a total confusing mess from the definition of a dead pixel to the distribution of a dead pixel cluster.
On the positive side, I think monitors are getting better and your chances of getting dead pixels are probably less now than the used to be.
Best bet in my opinion is to buy the monitor from a place that has a no question asked return policy - if you see a dead pixel on the unit you received and it bothers you (a truly dead pixel on the edge of the screen may not be an issue), just send the whole thing back for a refund.
You can read through the article below on Tom's hardware to get a flavour what this is all about.
Dell seems to have no problem at all replacing monitors from what I read on RFD. I'll probably go for a dell next time they have their 10-day deals.
Their official policy is this - probably typical of many other manufacturers -
During the manufacturing process, it is not uncommon for one or more pixels to be fixed in an unchanging state. The visible result is a fixed pixel that appears as an extremely tiny dark or bright discolored spot.
In almost every case, these fixed pixels are hard to notice and do not detract from the display quality or usability. A display with 1 to 5 fixed pixels is within the industry standards, and is therefore considered an acceptable display. LCD screens that do not meet this industry standard are rarely passed on from the point of manufacturing.
If you notice more than six (6) fixed pixels on your display, or if there are several fixed pixels in a small area of the screen, refer to the E-mail Dell section under Additional Information to contact Dell Technical Support.
Viewsonic vs. Samsung wow that's a close one they're both extremely good displays. I had an older 25ms Samsung which was still great, but if you needed a clearcut choice, Viewsonic may be better if you're doing graphics and needed the most flexible controls while I'd choose Samsung if you were a consumer who needed a high quality monitor with easy to use controls, especially if it has the "MultiBright" feature.
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I would definitely go with the DVI one. it also has slightly better specs all around, but I don't think you would notice that difference in practice.
I would also look up professional and user reviews on any LCD monitor you are considering. The professional ones will actually measure response times, contrast, brightness etc. so you can tell how conservative or optimistic the manufacturer's specs are. Even though each of the listed specs is a single number, that's not true if you actually measure the parameter.
The user reviews sometimes give you insight into issues you may have never thought of but which could turn out to be really annoying. Like does the screen adjust and in how many planes, or where are the connectors located and do they interfere the way you need to run your cables or if you want to set the monitor close to the wall. I also prefer a monitor with the power supply built in, not a power brick.
All sorts of little items that may or may not be important to you.
BestBuy has the NEC 20" on sale this week for $499-DVI/VGA and does 1600x1200; 19" screens are 1280x1024, same as 17". Picture online is of white case; not sure if it would be available in black, instore. Good screen for price for mini, etc.