Jul 20, 2020

How to Choose the Right Monitor for WFH

An 8-5 job is already tiresome and no one wants the extra stress of staring at an unpleasant screen the whole day. So, here is Priceprice.com's guide on how to choose the best monitor for "work from home."

Most wage-earners are caught up in a "Work from Home" (WFH) setup due to the sudden lockdown in the country amid the COVID-19 pandemic. In some aspects, this kind of setup is cost-effective, but in terms of work tools, it calls for smarter investments to achieve maximum productivity at home.

The primary tool in a WFH setup is a computer. Even with the fast advancement of laptops, desktop PCs still lead in terms of flexibility as you have the decision on what specific hardware to get such as for a monitor. While laptops may be good for the portability it provides, you may find its screen limiting for work. Depending on what your work demands are, below are the factors to consider before deciding for your WFH monitor, as well as a few product recommendations.

Display Size

In your search for a computer monitor, the first thing you need to do is figure out what screen size suits your needs. The last thing you would want is to be squinting in front of an insufficient-sized monitor or to be drowning at an oversize one. Monitor size ranges from 20- to 49-inches, measured diagonally from corner to corner, but the most common sizes are 24- and 27-inch. For general productivity, such as browsing the web and using basic software, the ideal ranges are from a 22- to 24-inch screen. However, if your work requires a lot of photos and video editing, multitasking, or gaming, a 27-inch monitor would be better.

Screen Resolution

A screen resolution is the measure of the amount of information it can display. It is the number of horizontal and vertical pixels on a screen. The higher the number, the sharper and the more detailed the images would appear. Regardless of the size, two monitors with the same resolution will be able to display the same content, only that for the bigger monitor, the content will be softer. This is where pixel density comes in, which is commonly known as PPI or DPI. It indicates the number of pixels or dots found within a one-inch line of a screen.

1080p or Full High Definition (FHD)

The most common resolution today is 1,920 horizontal pixels and 1,080 vertical pixels, also known as 1080p or FHD. It is decent for typical computer use, for browsing websites, and creating documents. Additionally, if you are looking for a monitor that is enough for entertainment purposes, most streaming sites have a standard of 1080p with most of their contents.

1440p or Quad-High Definition (QHD)

On the other hand, if you are a multitasker, you can opt for the 2,560 x 1,440 pixels or most known as 1440p or QHD. This provides a little less than twice the detail of a 1080p. Creative professionals and gamers will love a 1440p as it can provide more detailed and defined content.

4K or Ultra-High-Definition

If that is not enough, there is also a choice of 3,840 x 2,160 pixels that offers four times the detail of an FHD. This is most commonly referred to as 4K or UHD. However great higher resolution screens are, take into account that it also requires a more powerful graphics card and processor.

While having a high-resolution monitor is good, it does not always mean that you can enjoy the same resolution in all the contents you view. Another factor to consider is in what resolution the content you are viewing was recorded in. Keep in mind that even though your monitor is a 4K, if a video was recorded in 1080p, the highest resolution your monitor can provide is only at 1080p.

Aside from the three common types of screen resolution, there are also 5K, 8K, and 16K screens but are not widely used as they can be very expensive.

Aspect Ratio

Like any ratio, the aspect ratio is proportional representation. In the case of monitors, it is the correlation between width and height. Before HD resolution came into the scene, 4:3 was the most commonly used for films, broadcasts, and computer monitors.

Today, 16:9 or also known as "widescreen" is widely used. It would be safe to go for widescreen as most contents are in FHD format. For comparison, think of viewing an old movie or film on a 16:9 monitor - you would see black bars manifesting on both sides of the screen. Hence, the difference in how wide the 16:9 is compared to the box-like of a 4:3.

On top of the two, there is the 21:9 aspect ratio or "ultra-wide screen" which is less common in the market. It is a good alternative if your work requires a two-monitor setup. The 21:9 is mostly for televisions and cinematic screens.

Panel Type

A panel is the screen or display of a computer monitor. It is responsible for creating an image through LCD/LED technologies which all have a fair share of advantages and disadvantages.

Twisted Nematic (TN) – Fast, Least expensive

The two most common types are the Twisted Nematic (TN) and In-Plane Switching (IPS). The TN is the most affordable of all but sacrifices image quality and provides the lowest color accuracy, which is the worst when you are in a different viewing angle other than in front of it. In contrast, it boasts fast response times, low input lag, and high refresh rates, making it a good choice for gaming.

In-Plane Switching (IPS) - Good viewing angles, accurate colors

For good viewing angles, the IPS is a wise choice. It is best for creative professionals such as those editing videos and photos, as it provides accurate colors and great contrast ratio than with TN. However, it is more expensive and offers slower response times often. Additionally, IPS has an issue with backlight bleeding that causes the corners of the screen to appear slightly lighter. IPS is the commonly used panel in smartphones.

Vertical Alignment (VA) – Best contrast ratio, fast

VA on the other hand bridges the two. If you want both performance and visuals, a monitor with a VA panel type is the best choice. It provides both the impressive image quality of IPS and the fast response time of TN. It displays content in vibrant colors and even better contrast ratio than the IPS. Although the downside is its poor viewing angles that cause the color shift, making colors appear less accurate.

Organic Light-Emitting Diode (OLED) – Overall best quality

On top of the three, there is a new technology which is the Organic Light-Emitting Diode or OLED panel. It offers the best contrast ratios, color accuracy, and fast response times. However, an OLED panel has a high potential for burn-in, an issue that can leave a trace of an image on the screen permanently. Aside from that, it is also expensive for most consumers. This panel is most commonly found in televisions and smartphones.

Even though the different panel types have their pros and cons, there can still be a wide variation in quality between the entry-level and the top of the line models of each. The monitor's price is usually a good indication of the panel's quality regardless of its panel type.

Refresh rate

Videos or films are displayed on screens through a series of images captured one after the other to produce an illusion of movement. The refresh rate is responsible for how smooth the illusion would be. It is the number of images a screen can display in one second, measured in Hz. The more images, the more natural and smoother the visuals.

For typical computer use, a 60Hz should be enough. While for competitive gamers, a range of 75Hz to 144Hz is the ideal. Keep in mind that the higher the refresh rate and the screen resolution are, the more powerful processor and graphics card are needed.

Adaptive Sync

Contents are displayed onto a screen through the graphics card on sync with the monitor's refresh rate. However, if there is a delay, the monitor can display information from two different frames simultaneously. Content then appears to have an unnatural break called screen tearing. It is a common occurrence in graphics-intensive media or games.

This is where adaptive sync comes into action. Adaptive sync is the capability of a monitor to be in sync with the graphics card. The two types of it are G-SYNC and FreeSync. Both adjust the refresh rate of the monitor to match the graphics card's frames per second. The primary difference between the two is their compatibility with graphics cards. G-SYNC only works with NVIDIA while FreeSync was originally developed for AMD. Though, in recent years, FreeSync monitors have shown compatibility with both brands.

Response Time and Input Lag

The response time of a monitor refers to the time it takes for a pixel to change colors while input lag refers to the time it takes for a monitor to respond to commands. The maximum response time of a monitor is determined by its panel type. As said, TN panel monitors have the fastest response capability rated at ~1 millisecond. Response time matters most often for those on the look for gaming monitors.

Color Bit Depth

Color bit depth is the number of bits used to indicate the color of a single dot or pixel. For the less technical, think of what an HDR or High Dynamic Range photo looks like. An HDR-capable monitor has a high color bit depth that is why it can display more colors. There are a variety of HDR technologies but most of them provide 10-bit color depth. For creative professionals whose works are color-sensitive, a 10-bit is more than enough. While for most that do general productivity, 6- or 8-bit would do.

Design

If you are after aesthetics as well, how your monitor will look on your desk is another thing to consider. This is where the design comes in. If you are on the more basic side, some monitors look just like a regular flat TV yet still does its job. It provides decent viewing for general productivity or creative content making.

On the other hand, there are also curved ones that usually is the case for monitors with ultra-wide aspect ratios as it provides better viewing at any point. Curved monitors are the usual choice for those in the e-sports industry.

Apart from the monitor's built, the screen's finish also is to be considered. Glossy screens provide more vibrant colors but are susceptible to glare or reflection just like any glossy surface, while matte screens have less glare because of its polarized coating. Although the downside of this is the display's contrast and colors.

Built-in features

A complete computer setup usually consists of peripheral devices. A monitor with built-in speakers can be a great way to save space on your desk. However, keep in mind that these features are only good for light usage and not ideal for entertainment purposes. Additionally, those with a built-in webcam would be a wise choice too. These two are vital tools in a WFH set-up as a web meeting is the primary mean of communication nowadays.

Recommended Monitors for WFH

Now that you are already aware of the factors to consider when buying a WFH monitor, here are some recommendations available on Lazada and are current as of this writing.
Pricing and availability may change over time:

ASUS VG258Q Gaming Monitor – PHP 14,999

  • Panel size: 24.5"
  • Panel resolution: 1920 x 1080
  • Refresh rate: 144Hz
  • Response time: 1ms
  • Panel type: TN
  • Brightness (NITS): 350 cd / m2
  • Aspect ratio: 16:9

Gamdias Atlas HD236C – PHP 8,499

  • Panel size: 23.6"
  • Panel resolution: 1920 x 1080
  • Refresh rate: 144Hz
  • Panel type: TN

ASUS VZ279HE – PHP 11,499

  • Panel size: 27"
  • Panel resolution:1920 x 1080
  • Refresh rate: 75Hz
  • Response time: 5ms
  • Panel type: IPS
  • Brightness (NITS): 250 cd / m2
  • Aspect ratio: 16:9

If you want to look for more types of monitors, you can view more from our listing.

Conclusion

With all that is said, deciding on what computer monitor to buy may still be overwhelming but is less of a task now. For people whose work does not require heavy usage, you would be able to decide on what monitor to buy just by focusing on screen size, resolution, and aspect ratio. While if you are a creative professional or someone who works in the e-sports industry, a monitor's refresh rate, response time, and color bit depth are also vital points.

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