22-23 inch monitors

Introduction

This year, 22in is the new 20in, and panels are bigger and sometimes brighter. The new standard resolution stands at 1680 x 1050 – it’s wide enough for HD video, while still being small enough not to take over all of the available space on a typical desk. It’s also nearly wide enough to squeeze in a couple of applications on the same screen – although you’ll find that you’ll get a lot more done with the next size up, at 1920 x 1200.

But there’s more to a monitor than panel size, and it’s here that design is lagging behind what is possible. It is not an exaggeration to say that monitor design has become very conservative and unadventurous. Panels get cheaper and bigger, designer touches are added, but there’s been little progress on usability. It might not seem like a lot is needed – most people plug in, power up, and go – but getting the best from a monitor means using the on-screen display (OSD) to set the best operating mode, and it’s here that user-friendliness hasn’t caught up with user needs.

Historically, only NEC made the effort to replace OSDs with a remote control, and that attempt was short-lived and only available on PCs. We’d like to see more development in this area, with monitors being given a full-featured Mac-based control panel, perhaps with different presets assignable to different applications. Imagine how useful it would be to be able to flip between web browsing, word processing and photo editing without having to keep flipping OSD presets manually.

We’d also like to see better colour management. Colour control remains a high-end feature, but it’s something that could surely appeal to non-professionals who want to be sure that the photos they see on their monitor are an accurate representation of the files copied from their camera. There’s no good technical reason why this has to remain expensive, and in an ideal world reasonable colour accuracy is something users should be able to take for granted.

But manufacturers seem to be taking a different approach, either paring essentials such as stands to a bare minimum, or pushing the benefits of designer stylings for home use. So we’ve collected a representative mix of monitors, from plastic panels to the latest in interior chic. You should find something to match your needs here – but some of our conclusions may surprise you.

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