A thin display screen for computer and TV usage. The first flat panels appeared on laptop computers in the mid-1980s, and the LCD technology became the standard. Stand-alone LCD screens became available for desktop computers in the mid-1990s and exceeded sales of CRTs for the first time in 2003. For TV viewing, LCD and plasma are the two competing technologies, and many flat panel TVs can also display computer output (see flat panel TV).|
Reflection - No Reflection - Reflection
You can see yourself in the glass of a traditional CRT-based computer monitor or TV. The same is true of a plasma TV. However, LCDs used to be non-reflective, a significant advantage in a brightly lit room. In 2003, laptop screens began to include a clear, rigid overlay that makes colors richer, but causes the screen to be reflective once again. LCD TVs, on the other hand, are generally not reflective (see flat panel TV).
Digital Computer to Digital Display
Unlike analog CRTs, flat panel screens are digital. However, although almost all new flat panel monitors accept digital inputs, many PCs continue to offer only analog outputs. Going directly to the digital input of the display creates a sharper image (see flat panel connections for details).
Know Your "Native" Resolution
Flat panel screens have a precise matrix of rows and columns based on the highest resolution supported, and this "native" resolution looks the best. If you want to view a 1280x1024 resolution on a flat panel with a native resolution of 1600x1200, the 1280x1024 image will be scaled up to fill the screen. The quality of scaling algorithms between brands can differ substantially; therefore, you are better off viewing a flat panel at its native, maximum resolution. Otherwise, before you buy, be sure to view the panel at the non-native resolution you desire and see if you like it. See DVI, LCD, plasma display, EL display and FED. See also flat screen.
The L66 was Eizo's first 18" desktop LCD display. Sitting next to its CRT counterpart, the flat panel not only took up less space, but used less energy and emitted less radiation. It was also glare proof. Formerly selling in the U.S. under the Nanao brand, Eizo is known for its high-quality monitors. (Image courtesy of EIZO Nanao Technologies Inc.)
In 1999, SGI introduced the first high-resolution, wide screen, flat panel monitor. At 1600x1024 resolution, the 1600SW was revolutionary and ideal for displaying two documents or Web pages side by side. With this dual monitor configuration, four documents could be seen at once.
At the end of 2003, this 42" panel from LG was the top size for an LCD screen, but two years later, LCDs reached 60". At the 2007 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Sharp proudly displayed a 108" LCD TV, eclipsing Panasonic's 103" plasma the year before.
LCD screens were always noted for their lack of glare from overhead lights and sunlight. However, around 2003, screens emerged with a rigid overlay for color enhancement. The overlay screens appear more vivid, and the non-glare LCD looks dull by comparison. But, the overlay causes reflection; witness the editor of this encyclopedia taking a photo of a laptop screen. By 2007, manufacturers found ways to tone down the glare, reverting to a more traditional matte finish, especially in desktop monitors.