Used Computer Parts

Concept: 4 out of 5
Execution: 3 out of 5
Yeah, but: Your mileage will vary depending on the quality of your neighbor's cast-offs

The Long Version:
I was feeling guilty that my girlfriend's computer monitor was a tiny and very old 15" CRT that was blurry and had both ghosting and burned-in areas.
How can you truly enjoy People.com when the photos are small and nasty, and the type isn't sharp?

Pricing LCD replacements gave me a case of sticker-shock, especially since I use my computer 10 times more than she uses hers, and do a lot of critical PhotoShop work that deserves a better display than I've been using.
But do I get myself a new one and then make her suffer with my hand-me-down screen?
No, that just doesn't seem right.

Recently I stopped into the computer repair and parts store around the corner to check for good deals on games and random hardware, and the used monitor section caught my attention. There were a few 17" Dell CRTs for the yard sale price of $9.99, so I figured that even with the No Returns, No Refunds stipulation it was worth a gamble.
The owner hooked my choice up to his system and let me see a very uninspiring and unhelpful desktop photo with some icons for type sharpness, but the monitor was operating fine and it just had to be an improvement, so I took the chance.

Got it home, hooked it up, did some minimal calibration with grayscale and color test images, then a little fine-tuning using my own photos. Took a shower while letting it warm-up some more, then did some additional calibrating.

The Result?
Looked so much better than the monitor I'm used to that I got really jealous, and went back a few hours later for my own awesome $10 Dell.
Had to reject two during in-store testing, but the one I eventually bought is every bit as nice as the first. A few minutes spent getting the black and white points set, then tweaking the image placement within the screen, and I could not be happier.

I would estimate that our old monitors were a 5 and a 3, while the new-to-us ones are a nine and a 9.5
This was a serious upgrade at a laughable price.

You can have your expensive LCD displays--I'm more than willing to live with bulky and hot CRTs for a few more years when the image quality approaches perfection and so does the price.
This was a steal, twice!
19 inch are around $30 in several local shops, so I may be going bigger soon.

No picture accompanies this review because there is simply no practical way to convey the quality improvement between computer monitors in a digital photograph; much like there's no way to convey the reality of a fine art print over the internet, you have to experience it for yourself.
The rare and delightful unphotographable subject.


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