Graphics Monitors

Posted by Scott

The bane of my existence is proofing, that subtle art form which attempts to ensure that the colors you are seeing on your monitor will appear the same way in printed form or on other’s monitors (when viewing on the internet).  I currently use a Samsung 204t LCD monitor with the Pantone Spyder2 calibration system, and while they perform well, I would like something more reliable (for instance the 204t displays slightly differently depending on what part of the screen you’re looking at; non-uniform brightness / color / contrast across the full area of the LCD).  Pictured above is the Eizo CG241w, apparently the industry standard, but at about $2,300 it’s a big investment. Consider that they are only rated to reliably reproduce color for about 5 years and it starts to look like a rather bad investment.  I have scoured internet bulletin boards and trade magazines, only to find a bunch of conflicting opinions and manufacturer shills. 

So that leads me to my question:  What has everyone else been using? Is there an alternative that isn’t as costly as the Eizo? Does anyone still use CRT?  I got rid of my last one a couple years back to go all LCD and now sort of regret it.  What sort of calibration systems are you using? Answer back in The Comments >

Keep in mind that I am all PC, so I can’t calibrate an Apple cinema on my system (there are no OSD controls on the cinemas, only OS-embedded software controls which are mac only).  Although I can use the Dell 24", which apparently has the same LCD element as the Cinemas (although both have received poor reviews).

24 Comments Leave A Comment


Chris says:

December 10, 2007 at 6:29 pm

I have a ViewSonic VA1912wb And Enjoy it very much, though I don’t use it as much as my laptop’s screen. A majority of my work is on my macbook pro, though you have to be careful of the angel of screen, as the color can change. Both are calibrated with a i1Display2 ( I use a better version at my work for creating custom profiles for our large format printers. The calibrators that can create custom profiles I’ve seen go higher than $1,000, but its well worth it for creating your own photo prints, soft proofing colors, etc. I do think Eizo is by far one of the best from what I have heard (have had no hands on experience). I have had no problems with mac monitors, but seeing as your are using the PC, that wont help. I would say that The ViewSonic is a good monitor at a good price. Go for wide screen and larger is always better if you can afford it. I have heard DELL is good monitor in general but I am not sure for graphics and photos, and I would stay away from HP. My sister has an HP monitor and I don’t like how it looks color wise.

Hope this all helps, let me know if you have any other questions, maybe I can help some more.

By the way, i love the blog/site/work/etc


Wayne says:

December 10, 2007 at 7:21 pm

I heard Dell UltraSharp displays use the same core electronics and screen components as the Apple Cinema displays, just in a different (er.. cheaper) package. So I bought one. Not one bad pixel in 2 years. Consistently bright, great contrast and tonal range for my design needs.


Horacio says:

December 10, 2007 at 9:50 pm

I’m the happy owner of an LG 1900R LCD monitor, wich is great. Not only the exterior design, also the performance. It’s very bright and with high contrast (2000:1), and of course a response time of 4ms, that in apple cinema displays i think is so much higher (slow response). It brings its own calibration software (forteManager), and it works fine to me.

I’ll buy another one in the next few moths i hope…


Mica says:

December 10, 2007 at 10:35 pm

CRT is hands down going to give you the best color, contrast ratio, and response time. Keep an eye out for OLED monitors which eventually should (in theory) finally surpass CRTs. For now though, if you want the best, you have to put up with the terrible huge form.


drew kora says:

December 11, 2007 at 7:22 am

I feel your pain, Scott. I have a Dell monitor on my PC at my day job and I can’t get the colors to look right worth squat. Which is too bad, because we have a big expensive printer that can color match really closely to pantone and other swatch books. So I’ve decided to not worry about it and rely on my pantone books and press checks for good color. I can do that given the nature of hte stuff I’m designing, though. If I was creating custom blends and tones like you do I’d be pulling may hair out.


daniel h says:

December 11, 2007 at 9:17 am

the eizo’s are the nicest LCD’s i’ve worked on. don’t go crazy and get the super model CG241w get the 1,300.00 CE240W. that’s what i have. the feature i like best about it (beside color) is that the calibration software is made by EIZO and it controls the hardware of the monitor, rather than controlling the output of your video card like most calibration software. the response time on it is not super fast, so dont plan on playing quake on it. from what i read, the GG241w’s are just the top 5% of the regular CE240w. that’s right, same screen, they just sell the ones that come of the line closest to perfect, sold for a premium. (i noticed that on the eizo site it now says “NEW” next to the CG241w’s so perhaps this has changed- it also seems like they used to cost 4,000) anyways, good luck

daniel (photographer and retoucher)


jayson says:

December 11, 2007 at 9:27 am

Don’t laugh, but this is how we did it at my last job. We didn’t have a color inkjet, nor were we allowed to go on press checks. We didn’t have a monitor calibration solution like the Spyder either. What we did is have one person, the sr. designer, go around and calibrate the other two design PCs (Windows boxes with Apple studio displays) using the old Adobe Gamma control panel. With this as a baseline, we’d do a job and wait for proofs to come back on it. Then we’d adjust a monitor to look like the proofs we had received, then go and add or subtract color values based on that. Some printers had given us custom setup configs but this is how we did color calibration for 2 years. The other thing we did was stick with the process versions of Pantone colors. The real frustration on that job was trying to get things that wouldn’t look right unless printed in hexachrome as close to color accurate in CMYK.

At home I use a Samsung Syncmaster 2232BW and a Pantone Huey. I am curious about Matrox video cards for the home design pc.


Ryan McMaster says:

December 11, 2007 at 9:34 am

I use a SyncMaster Graphic Series monitor. It’s a big clunky CRT Monitor but I’ve noticed that the colors always reproduce very accurately. It takes up too much room though!


Derek says:

December 11, 2007 at 10:46 am

I’m a Mac user, so I’m using the Cinema displays and get really nice colour. I’m also a big fan of the NEC MultiSync 90 Series, and the Samsung SyncMasterTM 214T or 244T. Both nice displays. They just come with lots of needless software.


Levi says:

December 11, 2007 at 2:40 pm

I went through the same dilemma a few years ago. If you don’t mind CRTs, they have the best color reproduction and cost very little, but for me I find CRTs tiresome on the eyes. I ended up buying the LaCie 321. I believe it is based on an NEC monitor, though tweaked to perform better. LaCie is an excellent brand, second only to Eizo.

I’ve had this monitor for nearly 3 years now, and I still look forward to turning it on every morning. The color is superb and completely even in every part of the monitor and from any angle. I calibrate using the Spyder2Pro and it seems to give an accurate rendition. A good monitor is DEFINITELY worth it. I only use PC (and have no desire to ever change).


Bram says:

December 11, 2007 at 9:29 pm

^Bad investment indeed.

I’ve ran my 23″ Cinema Display succesfully with my PC and no problems. I did however have to update my videocard but thats a few hundred. Since, I’ve reconfigured my PC to run with my dual 17″ Samsung’s 172X, but I recommend running those digitally and because they’re 17″ they’re likely somewhat out of the market.

The 23″ Cinema Display is now home to a Mac Pro and it’s the best monitor I’ve ever had the privlidge of working with. On my PC a while ago, I was able to go picture print perfect on the 23″ while working on FITC’s creative. Now that it’s on the Mac, I use it daily to continue a lot of the same, but there really isn’t any reason I’m aware of not to run the Cinema Display on PC, worked great for me.


Scott says:

December 12, 2007 at 3:24 pm

Thanks everyone for all the great info. I am thinking the best be might be a CRT and the Eizo Daniel H talked about. Work on the LCD then proof on the CRT? My main issue with CRTs is the noise though. I do my design work in the same studio where I record music and that noise that CRTs start to make after a while can cause interference and background noise in recordings. Either way, doesn’t seem to be an easy decision.


Chris says:

December 15, 2007 at 12:40 am

I would not worry about a CRT, if you get a good desktop LCD, that is calibrated then you are fine, I would just be careful of laptop LCD, and follow the specs of the printer (if it is a professional printer). Though I will say I have had things printed with images adjusted on laptop and they came out just fine. If you are printing on your inkjet, its always good to have that calibrated as well, but as I said before those printer calibrators can be a little pricy. A while back I borrowed my boss’ printer calibrator to calibrate my canon ip4300 I got for free with my macbook pro, and the images that I printed were amazing and were an exact match as you can get. Funny thing is though once I did that I did not want to go back to using the standard printer profiles. Also as a side note, its always good to profile your printer as well as each paper type the print is going to be printer on. The colors can shift dramatically with the change in paper.

good luck.


Amy says:

December 17, 2007 at 9:54 am

I was lucky enough to get a LaCie 22″ CRT before they were replaced by the LCDs. CRTs are far more reliable. LCDs tend to ‘read’ differently depending on the angle from which you are viewing. (I certainly can’t manage an entire (four to eight hour) retouching job viewing a monitor from the same exact spot with the same exact angle–in degrees–as some manufacturers recommend.) LCDs also represent variations of black poorly.

Unfortunately I cannot find a vendor selling the LaCie CRT.

Speaking from (bad) experience, don’t try eBay.


Cj says:

December 17, 2007 at 3:52 pm

I use a NEC Multisync 2690WUXi… not sure what they named it in the us. It´s a nice LCD for the money!


cobraii says:

January 17, 2008 at 12:45 pm

Boy there is a lot of bad info here.
First the top line LCD’s Eizo Cg241W, Nec LCD2690WUXi and Lacie 526
Are the top 3 selections for color calibration that equal or surpass any CRT that would be worthy of consideration when all aspects are considered.
2nd party calibration hardware is the way to go with the above except for the Lacie which has blue eye.


John says:

May 15, 2010 at 1:12 pm

I know you can see this, Scott, since you’re using WordPress, even if it is an old post.

Can you update me on whether or not you’ve found a good, reliable monitor since then?