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Why Manufacturers Monitor Specs are Meaningless

Category: Monitors
Posted: May 18, 2010 05:46PM
Author: jammin

Both the staff and forum members here at OCC know the importance of specifications when making hardware purchasing decisions, but knowing how to interpret the specifications manufacturers quote is just as important as the numbers themselves. For example, we know very well that processor speed in raw megahertz isn't always a reliable indicator of performance. In the case of displays, how manufacturers arrive at the numbers they choose to publish can essentially mean they provide no meaningful insight whatsoever. In an article for Maximum PC, Dr. Raymond Soneira (president of DisplayMate Technologies Corporation) sets out in clear and thorough terms just how manufacturers artificially inflate specifications such as contrast ratios or response times in order to claim an advantage over the competition.

All of this leads to confusion amongst consumers (higher numbers must be better right?), with marketing winning out over providing standardised specifications that can actually be used to compare products. Dr. Soneira's call for the creation of an independent organization that could provide the framework for a standardised way of measuring and advertising display specs seems to be an eminently sensible one.



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Danrik on May 18, 2010 06:59PM
That was a very interesting read! Shocking to think this is how bad manufacturers have gotten now.
bp9801 on May 18, 2010 07:06PM
Its about time someone put this out there. Gotta educate the masses somehow imo.
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Billy Buerger on May 18, 2010 09:16PM
I'll have to give it a read, but that's not uncommon in PC parts let alone any business. Not saying it's right, but that's what they do. Look at fan noise ratings for a good example. Thermaltake is great at saying their 1,400rpm 120mm fan is "only" 17db. Or the whole hard drive thing where your 1TB drive only shows up as 953GB because they use 1KB = 1000B instead of 1024B. The reason why they get away is because the masses doesn't pay attention. They just say "look at these great specs!" It's sad but true. Get the word out, but don't be surprised if people just keep on doing what they do and buying that 2ms monitor because... well because it's got a 2ms response rate and that's what the guy at best buy told him is important.
ClayMeow on May 19, 2010 06:50AM
I think you're missing the point entirely. The examples you cited (fan noise and hard drive size) are not even close to the same thing. Those ARE standard measurements. The argument made in this article is that there aren't currently standards that monitor manufacturers must follow. They're allowed to make up their own measurements and/or list specs that make no difference to the human eye because there is nothing stopping them from doing so. They're allowed to misrepresent specs by listing things like dynamic contrast ratio, listing response times without stating whether it's G:G or B:W, etc.
BillyBuerger on May 19, 2010 09:06AM
Yes a dB is a standard measurement for noise as is a ms as for response time. But my point is that the important part is how it's measured. Monitor response time means nothing if they don't have a standard for how to measure it. Same for fans. A dB for fan noise or a CFM for airflow means nothing if there isn't a standard way that everyone uses to measure. And there isn't. So for both displays and fans and for many other parts, these numbers really mean very little. The hard drive example probably wasn't the best other than to say that manufacturers are always looking to make their products look like they're more than they are. It was a very good article and well worth the read.
jammin on May 19, 2010 01:21PM
Yes, the same thing can be said to apply to the way fans are rated, with dB or CFM figures becoming meaningless because you don't know how they have been measured and therefore how they can be compared to competing products.
Bosco on May 18, 2010 09:51PM
Very good read.

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