Best Buy and Circuit City didn't have much that appealed to me, and they weren't set up to demonstrate well anyway.
At CompUSA they have walls of monitors all showing the same source, but they were all 17" and under. I'd rather have 19". They had those set up as displays for their individual computers, so I was able to play with them and see what looks good to me. I wrote down models of a few I liked:
HP Pavilion F1903
Samsung SyncMaster 193P (this appears to be discontinued though)
What's important to me:
- Perceptive Brightness (I found today that contrast ratio and "nits" of brightness mean nothing from one brand to another, so I just have to look at the display myself.)
- Controls/OSD - they should be intuitive and look nice, and it shouldn't take 2 minutes to adjust a value from 0 to 100. Some of the ones I played with today were painfully slow and awkward.
- Digital Connection - I don't think any of the ones I looked at today were actually using the DVI connection, and that's why they often had shadows and ghosting or just general blurriness. My video card has a DVI connection, so I want to use it.
- Height/Tilt Adjustment - Some of the models I looked at, I was surprised to find, could not be adjusted at all.
- Fast Pixel Response - On a lot of LCD displays I've seen a smearing effect when scrolling web pages up and down, which is caused by slow pixels response. But I have also seen LCD screens that responded as fast as a CRT, it seemed, and that's what I want.
- Non-native Resolution Handling - I didn't get to try this on any of the ones I looked at today, but before I buy one I want to see how it handles lower resolutions... how clearly it stretches text and images, and whether it gives the option to crop instead of stretch.
Me? Picky? No...
Why don't I just get another CRT, one might ask? Well, a couple reasons. One is they're so heavy. Desk space isn't a problem, but moving is. Two, I sort of prefer the idea of not sitting in front of a tube that shoots electrons at my face, whether the screen catches 100% of them or not. Three, I really like seeing exact pixels. Especially when editing images or laying out documents, seeing exact pixels would save me time that I would otherwise spend zooming in to see them. Pixels on a CRT become a blurred representation over an area of several phosphor dots... a very non-exact thing.