So What IS the Best Monitor?
Back on Nov. 29th, in a post called "Coveting Vaporware," I mentioned that the only "old" technology I really covet any more are CRT (cathode ray tube) monitors. In response, a reader named Joe left a comment clueing me in to a good little article [link no longer works—6/15/06] by photographer Will Crockett, who has gotten a lot of buzz as a great teacher of DI whose presentations have a lot of charisma. (Thank you, Joe.) Combining Will C.'s expertise and my prejudices, I'm going to brazenly go where few fools hath trod before and name my pick for the "best" monitor for DI. It's the NEC MultiSync model FE992. (That's actually its predecessor the FE991SB shown.) If you're with NEC, contact me privately for the address to send the payola.
Okay, okay, calm down. There's no "best." I know that. (Why would you think I don't know that?) But let me explain my reasoning. First of all, why CRT? It's not that I don't like LCD monitors. It's just that the best ones are still the most expensive ones, which cost multiples of what a dowdy old-tech 19-inch CRT flatscreen does. And how long have you ever kept a monitor? Three years? Five years? It's best to think of these things as semi-disposable. I still like CRT monitors for photography. Their color is better, they resolve great, and there's no color shift with changes in viewing angle. Why a 19-inch flat screen? Because it's a good compromise: there's a generous amount of screen real estate (if you're too crowded with Photoshop open, add an el-cheapo 12- or 15-inch second monitor for your palettes) yet it's small enough for almost any video card to drive. Finally, it's Cheap! Cheap! Cheap! The darn thing only costs $165. That was a paltry one-month's supply of film for me not so very long ago. To me, good is good, but cheap and good is very good. Your mileage, habits, libido, craving for status, or whatnot may vary.
(Oh, and a helpful hint: to reduce eyestrain with all monitors, force yourself to open your eyes and blink often. As you've probably heard—it's been all over the news lately—recent studies have shown that squinting at your monitor reduces your blink rate and causes painful, burning dry-eye.)
Finally—it's true, the NEC FE992 does weigh a portly 50 lbs. For that reason, I recommend not going on hikes with it. Instead, place it on a desk or table and leave it there.
Posted by: MIKE JOHNSTON