The best long-term investment you can make in your design career is a decent monitor. But how do you define 'decent'? What kind of questions should you be asking about a potential choice before you decide to purchase? Here we take a look at the six most important things to consider before buying the most important item in the designer's toolkit...
01. Type of monitor
There are many types of monitors out there, ranging from gaming monitors to business monitors, so look carefully at the features that suit your needs before purchasing.
If you're looking for a monitor that offers a broad selection of features, a multimedia monitor may be more suitable. These are handy because they offer a variety of ports such as a HDMI input, allowing the monitor to be used for entertainment purposes as well as design. Life isn't all about work, remember.
Gaming monitors require faster response times to display motion graphics and can often be hooked up directly with a game console. This is where Pixel Response Rate comes into the picture. Measured in milliseconds, Pixel Response Rate is the amount of time it takes for a pixel to change from black to white.
Lastly, consider eco-friendly monitors. They often offer fewer features in exchange for low power usage, which is better for the environment and can help save you money.
Resolution describes the number of pixels a monitor can display. Basically it's the number of dots you get horizontally and vertically, so 1024 x 768 is 1024 horizontal and 768 vertical. The higher the resolution, the better the picture, because more information can be displayed. The 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display is 2880 x 1800, nearly 5 million more pixels than an HDTV - pretty impressive.
Monitors may look alike but the additional features some models come with can raise them above the competition. You may find it worthwhile, for example, to compare gloss and matte screens: each offers a different viewing experience, but it mainly comes down to personal preference.
Monitors with a swivel base make life easier if you are apt to rotating your screen towards colleagues to show off your process (or share YouTube videos of kittens). Some monitors come with adjustable height - which solve neck aches and pains if you currently slouch to see your current screen.
If you are looking for a monitor for viewing emails, websites, basic application usage, and possibly the odd Skype session, then there’s no point paying a fortune for a model worthy of a professional photographer. However, if you normally work with high resolution images, and are constantly switching between tools in the Adobe Suite, you are probably looking for the best picture possible to enhance the colour reproduction.
One of the biggest factors that can affect the price is down to the size of the monitor itself. Cutting back on a few inches could be a considerable saving.
Large screens are ideal for graphic designers, digital illustrators and photographers. Monitors generally range anywhere from 15in up to 30in - the size of the monitor being measured diagonally across.
If you'll be using your monitor for gaming and movies as well, then search for something larger: there are 27in models at reasonable prices if you look hard enough. Just make sure you have enough room on your desk before handing over your credit card!
06. A second monitor
More and more designers, illustrators and photographers are turning to dual monitors for increased day-to-day productivity. Over time, the extra work you'll get done by being more productive will cover the cost of the extra hardware and then some.
Benefits include the ability to have multiple applications running simultaneously without constantly minimizing files. For example your dual monitor setup could comprise of an HTML editor on one screen, and the internet browser on the other.
What kind of monitor do you prefer using for your design work? Share your views in the comments below!