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I currently need to buy a new monitor (my old one broke and I'm stuck with my laptops screen). What's a good choice for a monitor these days? I've been quite out of the loop.

I'm mostly concerned with my eyes of course, and I need something that is good for reading text (programming obviously). With that said I don't really care about gaming and beautiful picture display... just text.

Any studies done on this? What's the best monitor for reading text? I would prefer a brand name if possible.

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closed as off topic by Mark Trapp Oct 23 '11 at 3:23

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See also programmers.stackexchange.com/questions/4272/… –  ChrisF Oct 17 '10 at 10:27
@ChrisF: I've seen that question. It only covers monitor quality and longevity, not eye protection. –  Luca Matteis Oct 17 '10 at 10:30
I'm actually unsure as to whether things hat are hard to read are 'bad' for your eyes. Ok, it's harder to do so, but is it really going to do something physically to your eyes? Isn'i t more like that myth that reading when there's not enough light damages your eyes. –  stijn Oct 17 '10 at 10:34
@Luca - it would be worthwhile making that clear in the body of the question. –  ChrisF Oct 17 '10 at 10:37
@ChrisF: Isn't the "eyes concerned" text in the title enough? –  Luca Matteis Oct 17 '10 at 11:05

5 Answers 5

I cannot speak for any monitor as such, but I have been very happy with my pivotable Dell.

I would, however, mention to you that external things might be very significant here:

  • Size of screen, how much must you move your head to see from one end to the other. Too large a screen may simply be hard to see all at once.
  • Lighting. You need unintrusive, indirect lighting, Many modern screens reflect a lot and may make ceiling lamps reflections too annoying. A straight down light gives good working conditions.
  • Seating - you need it to be placed right for your head. Monitors are frequently placed too low so you have to bend in your neck. That is tiresome over a few years.
  • Bright enough. You need contrast for easy reading. There is a reason that physical pages are white, and ink black.
  • Taller than wide. For coding the most important feature is "how many lines can I see at once", which implies you need a tall screen, not a wide one. Get one that can be pivoted. This also avoids the cheapest models which you want - this is not the right place to save. For a very big screen (>24") you may want to skip on this as it gives you the normal layout in IDE's and such to work well.
  • Use a good typeface for what you see. For Windows this is hands down the Consolas font! For XP it can be downloaded with the PowerPoint 2007 viewer. Don't ever think about using non anti-aliased fonts again. The Mac fonts are pretty good as-is. For Linux there is Inconsolata.

(and, oh, the joy of not having to mentioning having high enough vertical refresh frequency)

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"For linux there is inconsolata" This font sucks. –  Chris Oct 17 '10 at 13:35
@Chris, short comments saying "X sucks" sucks too. –  user1249 Oct 17 '10 at 13:47
What about them? The sans family I find as readable but aesthetically better. –  Chris Oct 17 '10 at 15:21
Don't forget a monitor stand that let's you adjust the height of the monitor. It's getting harder and harder to find those and many times moving the monitor up an inch or two can make a world of difference. –  Jeff Siver Oct 17 '10 at 15:44
I'd rather have a bigger/sharper monitor than one that pivots, personally... two birds with one stone. –  WernerCD Oct 18 '10 at 0:56

My monitor says "Samsung SyncMaster 2494hm". It features a joint that lets you turn it 90 degrees so that instead of standard number of ridiculously long lines (16:9) you can see an extra amount of standard long lines (9:16) at once. A definitive advantage in reading text and code, IMO.

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For a desktop... I'm of the mindset 'bigger is better'. 21' would be my minimum. 27' at work and 32' at home has me spoiled.

1080p at-least (1920 x 1080). Or two. Sharp, crisp. More code OR bigger code (if you are hard of seeing).

At-least 2 monitors... 3 or more if you want to go crazy. One for work, second for research (queries, code to compare), 3rd for text, email, etc...

I don't have anything that pivots... personally this is offset by the whole "bigger" part. no need for it with my setups.

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I have absolutely no problems of "not to be able to see everyting" on 30 inch monitor. –  h22 Mar 17 '13 at 10:51

I haven't seen any studies on how different monitors affect the safety of your eyes, so I can only speak from personal experience. What I've found is that I get the least eye strain by using a large (37"+) 1080p TV as a monitor. You get large, crisp text, a decent amount of real estate (1920x1080) and great side-by-side viewing. Perfect for coding, web browsing, and of course, movies & games. For comparison, at various jobs over the years, I've used 22" LCD's (1600x1200), 2x24" LCD's (1920x1200), 30" LCD's (2560x1600), and a variety of laptop screens. Absolutely nothing compares to the TV's I use at home. I used to have a Westinghouse LVM-37W3 and now have a Toshiba Regza 40XV645.

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IPS matrix is a must have. About size, it is better to have more smaller monitors, you'll not waist time moving windows around.

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