When Apple Computer CEO Steve Jobs unveiled the new iMac in January, he said it sounded the death knell for the clunky CRT (cathode ray tube) monitor.
Apple's new iMac uses thin-screen monitors to bring the TFT to the desktop.
The redesigned iMac looks like a grapefruit with a solar panel—no more bulky boxes for the hard drive and the humming monitor. Instead, it uses a 15-inch, flat-panel LCD (liquid crystal display) monitor that floats above the 10.5-inch diameter base on a reed-thin rod.
Flat-panel displays have been in laptops for years now—because of their light weight, small size, and power efficiency—but their move to the desktop PC market has been slowed by fears of poor image quality. Now several companies are pushing solutions that they say provide the best of both worlds.
Samsung is shipping its SyncMaster 151P and 171P (15 or 17 inches, respectively) TFT monitors. TFT means thin film transistor, an active-matrix LCD. Both feature a swivel base, so the screen can be rotated 360°. The monitors can also spin vertically, between portrait and landscape views.
Samsung also launched the SyncMaster 181T and 191T, monitors that feature a super-thin, 18.6-mm bezel. Such a narrow frame means that users can stack adjacent monitors to display large amounts of data on multiple screens.
Such design innovation was impossible with the old CRTs (go ahead, just try to heft that monitor off your desk and flip it upside down).
When Hitachi announced a 17-inch LCD monitor in December, it marketed the sleek screen as a desktop space saver. Designed as a low-cost monitor for business and SOHO (small office/home office), the CML171 also features a microphone and speakers integrated into the front bezel. And the CML 181 provides viewing angles up to 170 deg. (both horizontal and vertical), without color-change or image distortion—quality traditionally restricted to CRT monitors.
Hitachi took another innovative step with the CML 155V, an LCD monitor that can run both computing and A/V (audio/visual) inputs. That means a single screen can act as a computer monitor and as a display for your VCR, camcorder, DVD player, or digital camera. Finally, NEC-Mitsubishi launched in January the 17-inch MultiSync LCD1720M and the 18-inch LCD1850E. Like their competition, the products feature integrated speakers, thin bezels (18.5 mm), and wide-angle viewing (160°), all priced cheaper than comparable screens. The company said it was "continuing to initiate widespread adoption of flat-panel technology" beyond niche-markets, and expected demand for LCD monitors to nearly double from 13.5 million units in 2001 to 23.5 million in 2002.