Itís been quite a while since weíve examined any LCD displays - the last one that passed through our labs was a Solarism display. If you havenít read the review, Solarism attempted to address many issues that plague LCD displays. Although its attempt was relatively successful in the technology, prices were Ė and still Ė very high for LCDs.
Things are beginning to look brighter for the flat panel market as technology improves, demand goes up, and prices go down. The more demand you have for a product, the more likely it is that production will increase between several companies, driving prices lower. Unfortunately, while LCD prices have fallen drastically over the past year or so, they still have a high premium over comparative CRT displays. But we would be so lucky if price was the only issue.
Because of the way LCD displays are designed, they emit light differently than CRT displays. While CRTs have their phosphors excited by an electron gun, LCDs rely on a separate light source light up the display and provide the image. But the problem is rooted far deeper than just a backlight.
As the name suggests, LCDs use liquid crystals to display its images. The crystals work their magic by aligning or misaligning, depending on the electrical current. This aligning behavior determines how much light is let through. On top of the actual LCD layer is the color pixel layer, which is preprinted on a screen. Each pixel in all its RGB components, are precision printed on a thin screen. The LCD layer beneath the pixel layer determines whether or not light is let through to light up the pixel layer. The on/off action of each LCD cell is controlled by a thin transistor layer, hence the name Thin Film Transistor (TFT) LCD.
LCDs have poor viewing angles compared to CRTs because of this alignment design. Light passes through the layers in a linear direction and thus when you view the screen off center youíre not in the optimum space that the light is traveling towards. An easy way to understand this is to take a flashlight, place it in an open-ended tube and look down the tube. If you angle away from dead center, youíll see less of the light source.
Another problem with many LCD displays currently available is that they have difficulty displaying very light tones and colors against white. Conversely, very dark colors are hard to distinguish when placed next to black. The problem is mainly caused by the fact that the liquid crystal layer cannot turn 100% opaque; some amount of light is still let through. Because the backlight is always on and always at a constant setting, all pixels have a minimum amount of light passing through them at all times.
All these drawbacks to LCDs may seem overwhelming at first, but LCDs have improved significantly over the past year. The Solarism, which we reviewed a long time ago, proves that LCDs are rapidly improving and coming closer to matching the definition of a high-end flat CRT. With that challenge in place, we have ADIís MicroScan MX15-HW.