Why can’t I buy a basic 4:3 1600×1200 LCD monitor any more for less than $380?

A 1080 monitor is “missing” 120 pixels of vertical resolution.  In practical terms, this means you spend a LOT more time scrolling up and down when you browse the web, write a Microsoft Word document, edit your latest eBook, work on updating your website.

When it comes to computers, I’m a power user.  Lots of applications running, Internet browsers, file transfer applications, e-mail, office applications (Word, PowerPoint and Excel), graphics and website development software, even video conferencing from time to time, all at the same time.  It takes not only a lot of CPU and RAM to run all of this, but it takes a lot of desktop real-estate too, which is why I need high-resolution monitors. The rise of High Definition television (HD or 1080p) and mobile devices has brought about an odd situation.   Six years ago, you could get a 1600×1200 LCD/LED monitor for around $189.  I bought two Samsung monitors at that price.  One of them failed recently, and I went shopping for a new monitor with the same resolution, only to find that I had to choose between medical-industry-grade monitors at $1200+, new monitors at $450+ (if I could find them), refurbished monitors for around $200, or settle for a 1980×1080 monitor.

I was flabbergasted that you just can’t buy a new, standard 1600×1200 monitor these days for under $300.

After some research, I discovered that the people that make monitors aren’t interested in making PC monitors any more. They can take the same materials and produce an HD television at three times the price.  A basic 27-inch 1920×1080 LCD monitor will run you $109 US.  A 27-inch 1920×1080  HD-TV will run you $349 US.   Manufacturers add a tuner component, but otherwise, the HD-TV is the same materials, components, screen-size and electronics. Because it’s an HDTV, you’re willing to pay more and so you do, and the manufacturers realized that at a 250% markup, HD-TV’s are more profitable, so they retooled their factories to turn out 1920×1080 screens for HD-TV’s.  Even better, they can carve up what could have been a $109  27-inch screen into a dozen iPhones, charge $100 for each iPhone screen,  and make at least  600% markup with the same materials and production costs.  Thus, today’s monitor manufacturers see PC monitors as “unprofitable” by comparison to HD-TV’s, mobile phones and tables, so they refuse to put anything more into a PC monitor than is required to get a consumer to buy it.  Since they converted their factories for HD TV’s, they can only crank out 1080 PC monitors now.  Setting up a production line to turn out a 1600×1200 monitor may be possible, but they see making a smaller profit as a financial loss.  Since consumers are unaware that 1600×1200 used to be the standard monitor size and didn’t continue to demand them, the manufacturers have gotten away with stealing away the 120 pixel-rows at the bottom of the screen, AND with charging us 250-600 times more for our electronics.

Mystery solved, but once again, the consumer loses because we got bamboozled by all the flash and hype over HD TV and our shiny new iPhones.


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