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When it comes to monitors, thin is in, but flat is where it's at.

Things are flat and falling in the monitor market--and that's good news. Flat-square tubes have become, over the past year, a major factor in the market. Although not literally flat, they have a less rounded surface than conventional tubes. This design results in reduced distortion, less reflection, improved optical characteristics in the corners and more overall screen real estate.

While things are flattening out, monitor makers continue to think big. We've seen a proliferation of 17-inch, 20-inch and 21-inch models, and you're likely to see a new size--19 inch--enter the market later this year. Preliminary indications are that the 19-inch models could sell for closer to $1,000, rather than the $2,000 or so commanded by their larger counterparts.

Monitor prices in general will continue to inch downward. Prices for 15-inch models average $300 to $500, and 17-inch units range from $600 to $900.

Vendors have also found a way to pack more product into less space. Recognizing that desktop real estate is at a premium, manufacturers are slimming down monitors, reducing the depth to minimize the footprint. Pressure from LCD screens, which are slowly becoming more affordable and more sophisticated, is likely to keep monitor makers focused on sleeker form factors.

Overall, the quality of monitors continues to climb. Images are brighter, crisper and better focused; dot pitches are smaller and more detailed; and refresh rates are higher, minimizing flicker. Plug-and-Play compatibility has become commonplace, and the Universal Serial Bus should start to factor in more in the months ahead. Meanwhile, there's slow but steady growth in multimedia monitors with built-in speakers, microphones and jacks.

Vendors are also striving to meet higher standards. Most units now conform to the MPRII standard, and a small but growing number are adhering to the stricter TCO '92 and TCO '95 standards.

It all adds up to a very pretty picture.


Monitors: The Winners

Copyright © 1997 CMP Media Inc.