Group test: best Mac monitors for video playback

Introduction

As gaming becomes more popular and users spend more time watching video – and sometimes editing it too – it’s no longer enough for a monitor to display good text and reasonably accurate colour graphics. Movement is much more important than it used to be, and older designs, which were prone to colour irregularities, poor contrast and video smearing, no longer provide the level of quality that’s called for.

It’s also true that at the budget end of the market, flat screen TVs and monitors use similar technology. It’s useful to remember, then, that you’ll get better image quality from a budget monitor than you will from a flat screen TV that costs twice as much – or sometimes even more. So unless you want a gigantic, wall-filling 40in uber-plasma TV, it’s completely practical to buy a 22in or 24in panel instead of a TV, and mount it on the wall if you want.

Some monitors are still slightly too chunky for wall mounting, or are ventilated and cooled in ways that make it impossible without burning your house down. But for others it’s a very practical option, especially for smaller rooms, for teens and kids, or as a spare set when no one in the house can agree what to watch.

Of course, you’ll also need a TV tuner, but when you can add one to your Mac for around £20, this isn’t a complicated or expensive extra. If you use a MacBook, you can even park one monitor on the wall for TV viewing and media use, while someone else surfs or works on the main display. For even tighter integration, monitor and tuner combos are starting to appear. LG is leading the way here, but even though most manufacturers still think of the markets as separate, it’s likely we’ll see closer convergence over the next few years.

So we’ve expanded our requirements for budget monitors to make sure that they handle movement and colour gaming action as well as they do the basics. At this price point accurate colour isn’t as important as the overall effect of contrast and saturation. It’s less about technical precision, and more about feeling that you’re part of the action. With that in mind, let’s see what’s on offer…

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