LCDs Provide Wide Benefits

Case Study: DDI finds that ViewSonic monitors satisfy both staff and clients.

For many companies, space truly is the final frontier.

Whether youre talking a large multinational corporation or a small regional market player, real estate is a valuable commodity. That means those companies must make the most of the space they have.

That was certainly the case for Dynamic Decisions Inc., which had succeeded in slimming down by focusing on only part of its original business. In turn, that allowed the company to reduce head count and move to smaller offices.

But the change in scenery put desktop space at a premium, so that when it came time to replace monitors, the company decided to transition to space-saving LCD units.

"We needed the space," said Li-Han Hsieh, product manager for DDI, in Piscataway, N.J. "We used to build custom computers for our customers, which required more employees and larger offices. Since we stopped that end of the business, weve moved to smaller quarters, and we need every inch of desk space we can get."

DDI not only needs high-quality computer monitors for its own use, but it also recommends them to customers in government, business and education. So when the company had to select new monitors, it had to consider both its own employees and its customers.

Founded in 1978, DDI is a full-service IT company that provides hardware, software and networking expertise to enterprises in the mid-Atlantic region. While the company does sell directly to customers, many of its clients are solution providers themselves.

"The first step in selecting replacement monitors is to establish which features are most important," said Dan Miller, a regional business manager for ViewSonic, in Walnut, Calif. These features should not only differ between CRTs and LCDs, Miller said, but also point to which type of monitor would be most desirable.

The most common monitor features are the image size, the desktop footprint, the resolution and the color, Miller said. Some of these features depend on the application. For example, an art director might need a giant monitor with perfect color registration, while an office worker might have more modest requirements.

"Many people find LCDs easier to look at," said Hsieh. LCDs allow workers to spend more time using their monitors, which makes workers more productive. Again, this is a feature that many client enterprises would find important, not just DDI.

Although the visual feature is important, it is also personal. Selecting a monitor is not just an organizational decision, its also an individual decision, Miller said. For example, some people might prefer smaller screens while others might prefer larger screens.

"Its a combination of aesthetics, ergonomics and price," Miller said. That means when implementing a transition to a new kind of monitor, each worker should be given a choice of more than one unit. When identifying a brand or class of monitor, there should be several styles from which employees can choose.

DDI also considered power consumption and its associated heat output: the less energy use, the better. Similarly, to reduce costs for air conditioning, the lower the heat output, the better. Both factors argue for LCDs over CRTs. LCDs use less power than CRTs, and produce less heat as a result.

/zimages/4/28571.gifClick here to read a review of the high-end Samsung SyncMaster 244T LCD monitor.

Naturally, price is an important consideration. Traditionally, the CRT is less expensive because it is a mature technology and there are multitudes of CRT vendors.

"We found that pricing for LCDs is now close to CRTs," said Hsieh. This allows all but the most-price-sensitive enterprises to concentrate on the actual features of the monitor itself, rather than the price tags.

DDI had another criterion that most buyers dont.

"We prefer our monitors to have both VGA and DVI [digital visual interface] connectors," Hsieh said. This alternative allows the monitors to be used with a greater variety of systems that DDI services and supports. That makes it easier to find suitable replacements when necessary.

DDI tested monitors for several weeks, including both 17-inch and 19-inch models. Company technicians tested the functional characteristics of the monitors, while employees evaluated the performance of the monitors, Hsieh said.

Of the different brands examined, DDI selected LCDs from ViewSonic that feature built-in speakers and VGA/DVI connectors.

"Considering the high quality, the prices are very good, very fair," said Hsieh.

One of the models selected was the ViewSonic VG920, a 19-inch monitor with an optimum resolution of 1,280 by 1,024 dots per inch and power consumption of approximately 50 watts. The monitor is approximately 3 inches deep and weighs approximately 15 pounds. Another model selected was the ViewSonic VX2025wm, a 20-inch widescreen monitor with an optimum resolution of 1,680 by 1,050 dots per inch and power consumption of approximately 35W.

In addition to these two models, DDI also recommends the 17-inch VG720 and 21-inch VP2130B to its customers.

Since deciding on the ViewSonic monitors, DDIs experience has been good, Hsieh said. The monitors are working out well, and employees like the new LCDs. "With monitors, it is not just technical. User experience is also important," Hsieh said.

"Many companies tend to base their decisions solely on technical points, but some, such as DDI, have learned to balance these with nontechnical considerations also," Miller said.

Those who may be considering purchasing LCD monitors should pay attention to the human aspects of the decision, Hsieh said. They should ask, Who will be using the monitor? What will be the purpose? What tasks will they be regularly performing on the monitor?

Hsieh said that DDI has found that paying attention to these kinds of questions will satisfy not only employees but customers, too.

Edmund X. DeJesus is a freelance writer in Norwood, Mass. E-mail him at

Case File

  • Customer Dynamic Decisions Inc., Piscataway, N.J.
  • Organizational snapshot Founded in 1978, DDI is a supplier of end-to-end solutions for government, financial, educational and commercial enterprises in the mid-Atlantic region.
  • Business need DDI needed replacement monitors for its employees. It also wanted to find monitors that it could recommend to its IT clients. Important considerations included the smaller size of LCD monitors, the size and resolution of the screen, power consumption, heat output, price, and the availability of VGA and DVI connectors.
  • Recommended solution DDI chose ViewSonic LCD monitors. ViewSonic monitors have speakers built in to the monitor, which saves space. They offer a variety of sizes and resolutions that DDI employees liked. As with all LCD monitors, the power consumption and heat output are far less than that of CRT monitors. The ViewSonic monitors are high-quality but reasonably priced.

/zimages/4/28571.gifCheck out eWEEK.coms for the latest news in desktop and notebook computing.