First invented in the late 1800s, the first computer monitors were based on the cathode ray tube (CRT) technologies. Later, as laptop computers were being developed, a different type of video display monitor called the LCD was advanced. The LCD, or liquid crystal display, computer monitor is a relatively new technology, but has rapidly gained in popularity.
The cathode ray tube was first used in televisions in the 1940s, giving the CRT a comparatively long history. CRT computer monitors were the standard for many years. Even with the availability of LCD computer monitors, graphic designers, computer artists and avid gamers have preferred the color depth and accuracy of a CRT. Cathode ray tube (CRT) computer monitors render color and graphics by using an electron gun, called a cathode, that fires electrons, called cathode rays, through a vacuum tube inside the monitor. The cathode rays are then translated into the appropriate colors by magnetic fields. Because LCD computer monitor manufacturers continually improved and advanced video displays, LCDs challenged and quickly began to outsell the traditional CRT.
Using a cathode, or electron gun, the CRT monitor functions by firing cathode rays (electrons) through the monitor’s vacuum tube. Magnetic fields transmit the electrons to the video display which translates them into the appropriate color. One drawback of the early CRT computer monitors was the curved screen, which distorted objects at the screen edge. This problem was eliminated with the manufacture of flat screen CRTs. Even with advances in technology, the CRT has obvious disadvantages when compared to a LCD. CRT computer monitors are prone to flickering or fading, because of what is called the refresh rate. The refresh rate refers to how many times the display is drawn per second. CRTs are also power-hungry, bulky and heavy.
The CRT has advantages and disadvantages. A CRT still renders color more accurately than a LCD. A user may use different screen resolutions on a CRT and not lose any video quality. CRTs are viewable from different angles. The disadvantages include the fact that CRTs are prone to flicker and fade, especially if they have a low refresh rate. The refresh rate is the rate per second that colors and displays are redrawn. The traditional CRT computer monitor is large, bulky and consumes much more power than a LCD computer monitor. Many CRTs have a curved screen, rendering the display distorted at the edges. Because they are no longer as popular, CRT computer monitors are getting more difficult to find.
Traditional CRT monitors with curved screens cause curvature of objects displayed at the screen’s edge. With the introduction of flat panel display computer monitors, edge distortion has become a thing of the past. While LCD computer monitors have always been flat, flat panel CRTs were also manufactured.
Most modern computer manufacturers offer additional monitor accessories and options, along with energy saving features. USB ports, TV and video connection options are some of the integrated features available. Most monitors automatically power down or shut themselves off when not in use for a period of time. Several computer monitor manufacturers now offer “green” monitors that run more efficiently and use less power.
Widescreen LCD monitors are extremely popular for multimedia and business applications. Monitors can be wall mounted for optimum viewing. Stands, adjustable heights and privacy filters are optional accessories available for many of today’s LCD computer monitors. In addition, internal setting controls such as contrast, brightness, positioning and color are easily accessible, allowing the user to customize the display according to preference. Touch screens are available for business applications.