|-- Choosing a Panel
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Choosing the right panel for your needs is the most difficult part.
How many colors does it display? What is its native resolution? Is the
LCD active or passive matrix? How big is the screen? How many inputs
does it have? All of these questions should cross your mind when
searching. I will attempt to explain the benefits and detriments of
different choices and how to know which panels sport which options.
Usually the first specification listed in a description of a panel is
the resolution. While 640x480 will suffice for TV, movies, and game
consoles, higher resolution panels are more appropriate for general
computer use, such as surfing the Internet and computer gaming. If you
don't plan on using a computer with the panel, save some money and
purchase a 640x480 panel.
Color depth is a very important factor in choosing a panel also.
24-bit color translates into approximately 16.7 million colors. A
panel with this color depth is ideal, but not always practical. The
panel I have displays 1.4 million colors and the color quality
difference is not very noticeable when compared to 24 or 32-bit color.
Generally I would suggest 1.4 million colors minimum.
I will try to explain the difference between active and passive matrix
LCDs very briefly. Basically, DO NOT PURCHASE A PASSIVE MATRIX LCD.
Passive-matrix is older technology that changes pixels more slowly
than active-matrix LCD technology. Old laptops, such as 486's, most
likely have passive-matrix screens on them. The end result is a
"ghosting" of moving figures, like a mouse cursor. For displaying
graphs, slides, and charts, the speed of a panel did not matter to a
business when they purchased it. For displaying TV, games, and movies,
however, it does. If you are unsure of the type of LCD used in the
panel, try searching Google (or whichever search engine you prefer)
for the make and model of the panel in question for information. If
information can't be found, try emailing the manufacturer for
information. If you have any doubt about the type of a panel you find,
wait until another panel comes along; its not worth the risk.
Screen size is important but not overly important. A 10.4" diagonal
LCD is going to create better image quality than that of an 8" screen,
but resolution, color depth, and LCD quality are of much higher
Most panels have VGA inputs, but some have various other inputs as
well. If this panel will have no interaction with your computer, you
will obviously want a panel that has either a composite or RCA input
to connect to a VCR, DVD player, or game console. Keep in mind; you
will only really need one or the other because adapters can be
purchased if needed.
I listed a lot of specifications for good panels, but no panels
themselves! Below are some panels with decent reputations. The best
place to search for these is on eBay. Some of you swear by it, some
hate it, but unless you have access to business auctions this is most
likely your best bet. I will ONLY list active-matrix panels. There are
of course other panels available, but these are a few with good
640x480 16.7 million 10.4
800x600 16.7 million 10.4
1024x768 16.7 million 10.4
nView Spectra C
640x480 1.4 million 9 (?)
1024x768 1.4 million 9 (?)
Infocus Powerview 950
1024x768 1.4 million 10.4
Proxima Ovation 820
640x480 1.4 million ?
Proxima Ovation 840
640x480 16.7 million ?
This is of course a small list and
there are plenty more panels out there, but these are some of the more
common ones found on eBay. Remember to double-check my information if
you are really interested in a panel. I looked at various auctions and
company websites but everybody makes mistakes.
While the Sharp Panels are probably the best, they are in turn the
most expensive. A QA-2500 can be expected to be found for appx
$300-$350 on eBay. A 640x480 panel can be found for anywhere from $50
and up. A good one may run about $100. With patience and ingenuity, a
panel may be found for much cheaper. I found my Infocus Powerview 950
what it might look like
Nice and snug in the case