A flat panel monitor can refer to either a computer or television monitor that does not use cathode ray tube (CRT) technology, but commonly LCD or plasma technology. This allows the monitor to have a thin profile, which is how the monitor gets its name. Because of its light weight, small footprint, clarity and digital technology, it has become the monitor of choice.
Prior to the flat panel monitor, the CRT monitor was standard. These monitors are easily recognizable by the bulging back or picture tube. Vacuum tube monitors are not only bulky and heavy, but they are environmentally unfriendly and emit more radiation than LCD or plasma monitors.
While there are many advantages to a flat panel monitor, there are also one or two potential disadvantages. A limited viewing angle can be one, although this is easily avoided by shopping carefully, as the viewing range is included in the specifications of these products. A second potential disadvantage is being bound to the "native resolution."
A CRT monitor will display sharp text in any supported resolution, but a flat panel only delivers perfectly clear text in the native resolution. On a 19-inch screen this might be 1280 x 1024 pixels. Switching to a lower resolution will make text appear slightly blurred or fuzzy.
Why would anyone want to switch to a lower resolution? In higher resolutions, images improve but they also become smaller. For instance, the icons on a desktop, toolbars within software, and menus within the operating system are all reduced at higher resolutions. Though many of these items can be adjusted up, some people prefer a lower resolution to get overall larger images on screen. This might be a particular concern for those with visual disabilities. In this case, one should carefully view the flat panel monitor prior to purchase to be sure the native resolution will be comfortable.
Flat panel monitors have decreased steadily in price while improving in quality. Gamers and video-editing professionals tended to avoid these monitors initially because of "ghosting" with fast moving graphics, but this is no longer an issue. A faster response time and increased viewing angle have made them more popular than ever. With its clear digital picture, space-saving footprint, and ultra-light weight, the flat panel is a welcome improvement over its CRT predecessor.