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LCD vs. CRT Computer Monitors

Summary: Most computer monitors nowadays use liquid crystal display (lcd) technology but a few cathoid ray (crt) monitors are still in use by old timers and some graphic artists.

Jack DeAngelis, PhD
OSU Ext. Entomologist (ret.)

CRT monitor technology

CRT is short for "cathoid ray tube" and is the original technology for displaying electronic images and video. Prior to about ten years ago virtually all TVs and computer monitors utilized CRT technology. When personel computers were first generally available in the late 1970's computer monitor displays were black and white (or black and green/amber), much like old black and white TVs.

CRT technology uses a phosphor screen surface and electron guns to generate an image. The cathoid ray tube and electron guns impart a depth and weight to CRT monitors that most people today find unacceptable. Some graphic artists will tell you that a properly calibrated CRT monitor is superior to a lcd monitor for critical color work, however.

lcd monitor

A high-end LCD computer monitor from Samsung

LCD monitor technology

LCD is short for "liquid crystal display" and was originally developed for the laptop computer market. In fact, laptop computers did not become widely available until an affordable LCD could be employed. LCD monitors do not need bulky cathoid ray tubes and electron guns to generate an image so are much lighter and thinner (back to front) than same-size CRT monitors.

Which monitor type is better?

Most general-purpose computer monitors sold today are the LCD type. Some specialized CRT monitors are still made but are not as widely available. There are however many CRT monitors still in use so colorimeters and monitor calibration software continue to support this older technology.

Besides size and weight, LCD monitors have other advantages over CRT technology. LCD monitors are, overall, brighter and display higher contrast which makes the image appear sharper. A word of caution, however. Inexpensive LCD monitors can appear fuzzy because of cheap internal electronics. Over time a fuzzy image can result in significant eye strain. I believe that a high quality monitor is the single most important buying decision when assembling a computer system (see How to Adjust a Computer Monitor).

Related Articles

How to Adjust and Calibrate a Computer Monitor

What is a Colorimeter?


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