Monitor sales have been falling in line with the increasing popularity of laptop computers, which have built-in screens. Still, that doesn't mean that monitors are on their way out. They're still essential hardware for desktop computers, and stand-alone displays can be handy for running a laptop in a multi-screen set-up or for working on a bigger, more comfortable screen.
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Although screen size is on the up (from 22" to 27") and general quality is improving, monitors keep coming down in price. And with accurate onscreen image quality, good contrast, plenty of connections (VGA, HDMI, DVI, audio, USB, etc.) and high resolutions (1920 x 1080-pixel Full HD, and up to 2560 x 1440 pixels for some 27" models), stand-alone computer displays have plenty of advantages compared with the often low-quality screens used in laptops.
Monitors are built with various types of screen panel. Unfortunately, TN panels are still widely used in many manufacturers' ranges. TN screens make for tight viewing angles and colours that don't always look consistent over the display. Thankfully, monitors with IPS and VA screens are starting to appear in most manufacturers' ranges, greatly improving overall image quality.
To win over users and stand out from the crowd, monitor-makers are starting to load their displays with all kinds of extra functions, such as touchscreen technology (which could gain ground thanks to Windows 8), 3D, 120 Hz modes for super-smooth, ghost-free 2D gaming, position sensors that make sure you're sitting properly, presence sensors or TV tuners.