If you’re using a computer, then you already have a display (a.k.a. a monitor) whether it’s a separate one on your desk or the screen on your laptop. That’s all fine and good, but don’t assume your monitor-buying days are over. Depending on your needs as a financial advisor, investing in a better computer monitor or in a second display to complement the first may be worthwhile.
You might, for example, show presentations to your clients frequently in your office. Instead of them craning their necks to view the screen from your perspective, wouldn’t it be better to have a dedicated display facing your clients on which to show the relevant information while keeping your own applications hidden? These double-monitor arrangements are commonplace these days, and easy to set up.
Panel type, size & shape
Whether you’re buying a new display for your own work or as a presentation screen for clients, there are several technical features to consider. Most of them influence image quality directly, and one of the most important features is panel type.
Modern computer displays use one of three panel types. The cheapest, known as twisted nematic, has a high response time and a high refresh rate, but less accurate colours. Response and refresh times are important for gamers who have fast-moving images on their screens, but not for advisors who tend not to battle aliens at work.
Vertical-alignment panels have better colour accuracy. But the best option is an in-plane switching (IPS) panel. This type of panel has the best colour accuracy of all and a wider viewing angle than other panels, which will be important if you’re showing presentations to others in the office.
Another, even more expensive option is a plane-line switching panel although IPS should be fine for your purposes.
Screen size, resolution and aspect ratio are closely connected. Screen sizes have increased in recent years, with 34-inch (86-centimetre) screens making it onto the market. Don’t select your screen size without fir t looking at the resolution the number of individual pixels that the screen supports.
A bare minimum of resolution these days should be full, high-definition (HD), 1080p resolution, which gives you 1,920 pixels horizontally and 1,080 pixels vertically (1,920 x 1,080). The bigger the video screen, the greater the distance between the pixels and the less detailed the image. Consequently, you’ll need more pixels (and, therefore, greater screen resolution) to maintain image quality on a larger screen.
Many larger monitors support ultra-high definition, which offers 3,480 x 2,160. A slightly higher standard, 4K, gives you 4,096 x 2,180 and fits the equivalent of four HD screens into a single panel. These super-high resolutions look stunning and let you fit a lot of work into your viewing area, but may be overkill if you don’t multi-task very much.
As if contemplating size and resolution was not enough, you also need to consider shape. Back in the day, the only screen shape available was 4:3 (four units long by three units high). Today, you can buy 16:9 monitors, which are great if you work from home and plan on fitting a little widescreen video viewing into your day. These screens also are great for displaying documents side by side.
Other aspects affecting image quality include luminescence (brightness) and contrast ratio. Brightness is usually measured in nits, and you should look for anything with more than 250 nits. More is better. The contrast ratio is the difference between the brightest white and the blackest black that the screen can display. Again, more is better, especially if you are reading financial documents all day. Look for ratios above 450:1.
Your enjoyment of displayed images also will be affected by the coating on the monitor. Some have an anti-glare coating that stops light reflecting on the screen, although these coatings also can dull the image. This is a matter of personal preference, but think about what’s behind you. If you sit with your back to a sunny window, consider the anti-glare option.
Those features cover the basics. Now, we get into the fun, optional features. One of these is the ability to rotate your monitor. Many computer displays come with a swivel stand that lets you rotate your monitor into portrait mode. This can be great when working on long documents, as it reduces your need to scroll up and down and increases your focus. Many power users will have a second portrait monitor alongside their regular landscape display, enabling them to keep a working document in portrait mode while handling other research and administrative applications on their primary, landscape-oriented screen.
If you are used to poking at an iPad, a touch-screen monitor may be worth the investment. With touch-friendly operating systems such as Windows 10, these devices make a lot more sense, but still are a luxury. Touch-screen displays are more expensive than regular monitors, so you need to be confident that you’ll use it in practice rather than resorting to a mouse. If a touch-screen is for you, consider the number of touch-sensitive points the screen has (effectively, the number of individual fingers the screen can recognize at the same time) and go for a capacitive touch display, which will give you a tablet-like experience.
Finally, we can’t discuss computer displays without talking about curves. Curved screens are an increasingly common trend at the higher end of the computer display market. They’re more expensive than flat-screen monitors and are entirely cosmetic. They aren’t curved enough to give you the immersive experience that vendors might promise, but they do look very neat on your desk. High-end wealth managers who cater to a tech-savvy clientele might consider these to give their office that extra professional look.
Don’t underestimate the importance of a high-quality computer display. They’re like beds: you spend a large proportion of your daily life using them, but you tend not to think about them very much. When you take the plunge and invest in a good one, the relief is tangible.
Spend a few more dollars and give your eyes a break.
PLUGGING IT IN
When buying a monitor, don’t forget one of the most important considerations of all: how to connect it to your computer.
There have been several display connector plug standards over the years. The earliest now largely defunct was video graphics array (VGA). It was followed up with digital visual interface (DVI) and DisplayPort, both of which still are commonly used, along with high-def multimedia interface (HDMI), which also feeds sound into your monitor. Any modern display should support these latter connector standards.
Thunderbolt (in its latest iteration, known as USB-C) will become increasingly prevalent. This is the single computer plug to rule them all, providing data, display and even power through a single cable.
The advantage of both DisplayPort and Thunderbolt is that they also carry data. This feature can be useful if you have connectors for USB devices such as hard drives or wireless headphones on the back of your monitor because you can access them all via a single cable running between your monitor and your computer.
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