26 October 2004

Why we use Flat Panel Displays

The issue of why the Division of Communication at the University of Canberra uses flat panel displays rather that cathode ray tube computer monitors has been raised recently.

For the past three years the Division has purchased flat panel displays exclusively for desktop computers for staff and student labs. They are more expensive (more than twice the cost of the traditional cathode ray tube, or CRT, monitor), unproven in terms of longevity compared with CRTs, don't reproduce colours as well at the high-end graphics CRTs, and lower end flat panel displays can smear video so that it doesn't look as clear as video displayed on a CRT.

Flat panel displays (not to be confused with flat screens, which are flat CRTs) are also called Thin Film Transistor (TFT) displays or more commonly these days Liquid Crystal Displays (LCDs).

So why do we buy them? An article by Professor Alan Hedge from Cornell University (Ergonomic Considerations of LCD versus CRT Displays) summarises the arguments for use of the devices by citing research from a number of sources.

As members of the Division's administrative staff will attest, the displays are easier on the eyes and better to use. There is no image flicker, the displays are brighter and sharper, and the image more uniform, than CRTs. Flat panel displays take up less desk space, are lighter, can be positioned more easily and with greater flexibility, use less power and produce no radiation and far less heat (replacing old, large CRTs in Building 9 New Media and Journalism video editing labs has removed the need to provide an additional air conditioning plant to serve the Media lab area).

While the initial investment has been higher, over time the cost to the Division is less, and staff and student satisfaction higher, using flat panel displays rather than CRTs.