What is a Monitor? 

A monitor, also known as a display screen, is an electronic visual display used to view images and text in a computer or other devices. Monitors display information generated by devices such as desktop computers, laptops, tablets, smartphones, TV broadcasting equipment, and scientific instruments.

      Monitors typically comprise the visual display, circuitry, casing and power supply. The display itself is usually thin and flat and uses technologies such as LCD (liquid crystal display), LED (light emitting diode), OLED (organic light emitting diode) or CRT (cathode ray tube). Monitors allow the user to see text, videos, photos and other visual elements.

      Monitors can vary significantly in size, resolution, display capabilities, color depth and more. They are a critical component for viewing and interacting with modern technology. Selecting the right monitor depends on the type of tasks it will be used for and personal preferences.

History of Various Types of Monitors

The history of computer monitors reflects major shifts in display technologies over the decades. Here is a brief overview of how different types of monitors have evolved.:

Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) Monitors

  • CRT monitors use cathode ray tubes and were the dominant display technology from the early days of computers up until the 2000s.
  • They render images by firing electron beams onto a phosphor coating to produce light.
  • CRT monitors provide good color accuracy and contrast but are large in size, heavy, and use more electricity compared to newer display types.

LCD Monitors

  • LCD (liquid crystal display) monitors began replacing CRT displays in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
  • They use liquid crystals and require a backlight, allowing them to be very thin and lightweight compared to CRTs.
  • Early LCD monitors had limitations in areas like resolution and response times but the technology quickly evolved to rival and surpass CRT performance.
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Plasma Displays

  • Plasma displays also rose to prominence in the 2000s as an alternative to LCD and CRT screens.
  • Plasma technology allows each pixel to produce its light, providing excellent contrast and color depth.
  • However, plasma screens consume a lot of power and are prone to permanent image retention. They have waned in popularity in more recent years.

LED & OLED Monitors

  • LED-backlit LCD monitors arrived in the late 2000s, using LEDs for the backlighting rather than CCFLs. This allows lower power consumption compared to standard LCD screens.
  • OLED (organic light emitting diode) is an emerging display technology that does not require backlighting. Each pixel produces its own light. OLED delivers exceptional color accuracy, viewing angles and contrast ratio. But the technology remains expensive.

As monitor technologies continue advancing, key considerations have been improving resolution, response times, color depth, contrast ratio, and power efficiency. Display interconnectivity methods have also evolved to match the capabilities of modern computers and devices.

Types of Monitor

There are several major types of computer monitors categorized by the display technology they use. Each technology has its strengths and weaknesses. The main types of monitors are:

LCD Monitor

LCD (liquid crystal display) monitors utilize liquid crystals and a grid of tiny color filters that can block and transmit light. They require a backlight to pass through the crystal matrix and produce the image. Key features:

  • Very thin/lightweight compared to past displays
  • Low power consumption
  • Later models support very high resolutions and refresh rates
  • Provides good color accuracy depending on the quality of the panel
  • Prone to blurred motion and input lag issues in cheaper models

LED Monitor

LED monitors use LED backlighting instead of CCFL backlighting but otherwise function essentially the same as LCD monitors. The key differences:

  • LED backlights allow thinner panel depths
  • Provide higher brightness levels
  • Offer better contrast through deeper blacks
  • Consume less energy than CCFL backlights
  • Allow for slimmer and lighter monitor designs

So LED monitors have largely overtaken CCFL LCD monitors thanks to power efficiency and display qualities. But the panel technology itself remains liquid crystal-based.

OLED Monitor

OLED (organic light emitting diode) monitors contain panels of organic material that light up individually without requiring backlighting. Key features:

  • Exceptional color accuracy and contrast ratios
  • Very fast refresh rates and response times
  • Wide viewing angles with no color distortion
  • True blacks since unused pixels produce no light
  • Vulnerable to permanent image retention
  • Very expensive currently compared to LCD

OLED is an emerging display technology that promises Better image quality than LCD but availability remains relatively low.

CRT Monitor

CRT (cathode ray tube) monitors use electron beams directed at phosphor-coated screens to produce images. Key attributes:

  • Provide excellent color accuracy and contrast ratios
  • Suffer from reflections and glare issues
  • Large in size and very heavy in weight
  • Consume a lot of electricity compared to modern displays

While CRT monitors are now obsolete for most roles, some fields such as image editing and color-critical work may still make limited use of them.

Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) Monitors

Cathode ray tube (CRT) monitors utilize cathode ray tubes to display images through an electron beam striking phosphors to produce light. They rely on essentially the same technology as older CRT televisions.
In a CRT monitor, an electron gun fires electrons toward the screen. Electromagnets focus this electron beam, allowing it to strike tiny phosphor-coated dots all over the interior of the large glass screen. This makes the phosphor glow, producing colored light that forms the images you see.
CRT monitors require a lot of power to work properly and function through analog signals rather than digitally. They are large in size, bulky and heavy. Most CRT monitors max out at 1080p resolution. Modern flat-panel LCD and LED displays have replaced CRT technology entirely except in some specialty fields.

Advantages of CRT monitors:

  • Excellent color accuracy and fidelity
  • Fast response times and refresh rates
  • No native resolution – can display many resolutions


  • Large size, hefty weight
  • Use a lot of electricity
  • Prone to glare, reflections and distortion

While LCD and LED monitors have disadvantages too, CRT is now considered completely obsolete for mainstream use due to weaknesses around size, power draw, radiation concerns and more. Modern displays provide similar color depth and response times with a slimmer, more energy-efficient experience.

Touch Screen Monitors

Touchscreen monitors contain a sensor assembly that allows the user to interact directly with the display by touch. This allows easy clicking, dragging, zooming, scrolling and more.

Touch screens detect touch input using different techniques:

  • Resistive: Contains layers that press together to register touch location
  • Capacitive: Sensors detect touch input via electrostatic fields on the screen’s surface
  • Surface acoustic wave: Monitors vibrations across the screen to triangulate touch
  • Infrared: IR transmitters/receivers surround the screen to detect disruption

Each approach has pros and cons. Touch capability introduces considerations like added cost and how fingertip touches may obstruct screen visibility momentarily. But touch continues to become standard as users grow accustomed to interacting directly with their devices.

Touchscreen monitors first became widely available in retail, commercial, and industrial applications. But now they are ubiquitous thanks to smartphones and tablets. Adding touch to desktop displays remains useful for many productivity and creative applications as well. Finger-based input complements keyboard/mouse interaction nicely in many cases.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Various Monitor Types

There are pros and cons inherent to different monitor technologies. Key advantages and disadvantages include:

LCD Monitor

  • Advantages: Thin/lightweight. Energy efficient. Affordable models are available. Excellent viewing angles.
  • Disadvantages: Mediocre contrast ratios. Motion blur issues on cheaper models. Limited viewing angles on lower-tier panels.

LED Monitor

  • Advantages: Excellent contrast and blacks thanks to LED backlights. Great color reproduction. Energy efficient.
  • Disadvantages: Similar motion blur and lag potential as LCD. Peak brightness varies greatly among models.

OLED Monitor

  • Advantages: Exceptional image quality with “perfect” blacks. Extremely fast response time. Wide viewing angles with no color-shifting issues.
  • Disadvantages: Potential for permanent image retention. Very expensive currently. Lower peak brightness levels than LCD/LED.

CRT Monitor

  • Advantages: Outstanding and accurate color reproduction. Fast response times. No fixed native resolutions.
  • Disadvantages: Very heavy and large. Huge power consumption. Distortion and glare issues. Low maximum resolution.

Most buyers today will want to choose from modern LCD, LED or OLED monitors. Connectivity considerations like HDMI ports, ergonomic stand design, blue light filters and integrated speakers also factor into purchasing decisions for many monitor shoppers.

Ultimately personal preferences, intended use cases, and budget play pivotal roles in determining the ideal monitor technology for any user.

Application of Types of Monitors

Different types of monitors suit different roles based on factors like image quality needs, viewing angles, space constraints, energy efficiency demands, and pricing. Key applications include:

Home & Office Use

  • Mainstream home and office settings usually utilize affordable LCD or LED monitors ranging from 20 to 34 inches diagonally.
  • Features like IPS panels for wider viewing angles, adjustable stands, integrated speakers and low input lag for video streaming have high appeal for productivity and entertainment uses.


  • PC gaming requires specialized monitors with high refresh rates (120Hz to 240Hz), quick response times (1ms) and either FreeSync or G-Sync adaptive sync technology.
  • Curved screens provide an immersive field of view while gaming-centric features like crosshairs enhance performance for certain genres.

Graphic Design & Video Editing

  • Color-accurate IPS panel monitors calibrated to standards like sRGB and Adobe RGB reproduce imagery closest to the true source files. Stable and uniform backlighting is vital.
  • Additional needs include covering standards like HDR10 for contrast and wide color gamuts while providing deep blacks. Monitor shading hoods can also prove useful.

Business & Commercial Settings

  • Commercial displays may use LCD, LED or even projection technologies while opting for open-frame panel monitors rather than consumer casings.
  • Durability, high brightness levels for visibility, 24/7 rated operation times and technologies like video walls suit business applications.

Meanwhile niche fields like medical imaging, CAD/CAM design, photography and broadcast media leverage specialized monitors meeting strict color precision, contrast uniformity and stability needs relevant to their purposes.

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Types of monitor

  • What are LED, LCD and CRT?
    • LED monitors use LED backlighting but are otherwise similar to LCDs in using liquid crystal display panels.
    • LCD (liquid crystal display) monitors rely on liquid crystals filtering light from a backlight through color filters to produce images.
    • CRT (cathode ray tube) monitors utilize cathode ray tubes and phosphors struck by electron beams to form visible imagery through an analog process.
  • What is a monitor and what are some common uses for them?
    A monitor is an electronic visual display used to view text, images and video from computers, laptops, phones, TV equipment and other devices. Common uses include productivity tasks, gaming, web browsing & video streaming, graphic design work, business applications like dashboards, and specialized roles in fields like healthcare, CAD, imaging and broadcasting.
  • What is the full form of a monitor?
    The full form of "monitor" in the context of computer displays refers to a "monitoring device" or "display monitor". This encompasses the concept that the monitor displays images and information from an input video signal source like a computer while allowing the user to view and interact with that source.
  • What are the two main types of modern monitors to choose from?
    The two overarching technologies available in monitors today are liquid crystal displays (LCDs) and organic light emitting diode (OLED) displays. Within LCD monitors, categories like LED-backlit LCDs provide different modern options to select from based on specific needs.
  • What is an LED display monitor and how does it differ from a CCFL-backlit LCD monitor?
    LED display monitors use LED (light emitting diode) backlighting rather than CCFL (cold cathode fluorescent lamp) backlights but otherwise utilize similar liquid crystal display panel technology to produce images. Advantages of LED-backlit monitors include greater brightness capabilities, higher contrast ratios and thinner overall display depths. LED backlights also increase power efficiency over CCFL backlights.


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