On Display: 4 Top Budget Computer Monitors

By Louis DeNicola, Cheapism.com

With so many people doing their computing on laptops, tablets, and phones, shopping for a new computer monitor may be unfamiliar territory. Even desktop computers often include the monitor as part of a package deal. If you're looking for a new monitor because your old one broke, or you'd like to plug your laptop into a larger display, a top-of-the-line model can cost $1,000 or more. Of course, most people don't need such a high-end monitor. Cheapism has found some of the best monitors for less than $200.

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  • The Asus VS229H-P (starting at $153) is a 21.5-inch monitor that has received expert endorsements as well as numerous positive reviews from consumers online. Many reviewers are impressed by the rich colors, including the bright whites and deep blacks promised by the advertised 50,000,000:1 contrast ratio. This is one of the few low-cost monitors that has in-plane switching, or IPS technology, which offers wider viewing angles and faster response times. This high-definition monitor can be connected to an electronic device with a DVI-D, VGA, or HDMI cable.
  • The Acer S230HL Abii (starting at $170) costs a bit more than the other monitors on this list but has a larger 23-inch display. It also stands out from the pack with two HDMI ports for connecting a device such as a game console or Blu-ray player. It has a VGA port for connecting a computer, although oddly the common DVI-D connection is not available. Many reviewers say they're impressed with the size of the display and the sharpness of the picture.

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  • The HP 2011xi (starting at $150) offers consumers a 20-inch IPS display with an above-average rating from an expert reviewer and a low price tag. The resolution is 1600 x 900, which means the monitor can play high-definition video at 720p, but not 1080p, like the rest of the monitors on this list. Reviewers like the strong, true color the IPS technology helps produce. This monitor offers both DVI-D and VGA connections but no HDMI port.
  • The Dell S2230MX (starting at $140) also lacks an HDMI port, although it comes with a DVI-HDMI dongle. The monitor features high-definition 1920 x 1080 resolution and a quick response time of 2ms, which helps keep video crisp. For the most part reviewers see deep blacks and clear images from this model. They also praise the sleek, slim design and call this a good monitor for the price point.

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All the monitors above have a 16:9 aspect ratio -- the same as a widescreen TV. Aside from the HP 2011xi, they have the resolution to play 1080p HD video, including Blu-ray movies. The two models with ISP displays are particularly appealing, although some budget ISP monitors have problems with "ghosting," where fast-moving objects blur in videos. This shouldn't be a huge concern, however. Even if ghosting appears to the trained eye of an expert, consumer reviews typically don't mention it.

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