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what should I do about eye strain issues?

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post #1 of 19 (permalink) Old 12-18-2013, 02:01 PM - Thread Starter
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Two years ago I upgraded from a standard 17inch wide screen Dell monitor displaying 1440x900 resolution. I upgraded to a 21 inch Asus monitor. I don't remember the exact model but it was at the time the highest if not second highest rated monitor on newegg. I liked the performance and the clarity, but one thing I noticed that really bothers me compared to my old Dell that I have sitting next to it that looking at the Dell monitor is much more soothing compared to looking at the Asus.

I've tried tuning it to look identical but I can't seem to get the settings spot on. Also I find that I have to zoom in on everything which is alright, but I wondered if I should upgrade to possibly a 24 inch to get the 1920x1080 resolution at a comfortable level. What are your thoughts?
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post #2 of 19 (permalink) Old 12-18-2013, 02:27 PM
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I almost never use the native resolution on a monitor for desktop work, the way Windows renders the desktop is ancient and has its roots in the resolutions used more than two decades ago.

For example, I am using 1600x900 on my 24' 1920x1080 monitor, in the same fashion as I use 1280x800 on my previous 1680x1050 20' 16:10 monitor.

You can use DPI scaling in Windows to make things bigger, but it really doesn't work properly, as some programs are not compatible, not to mention that even the main things that do, like the desktop, look weird.

I do play games at the native resolution though, games usually scale the text properly, so everything is readable.

Also, one other reason why you might be having trouble is PWM. For more information read this article on TFT Central:

http://www.tftcentral.co.uk/articles/pulse_width_modulation.htm


In essence PWM is even worse than what CRT monitors did. CRT monitors display images on the screen by continually updating the screen, line by line, and they usually do it at 60 Hz, with the better models capable of 72 Hz, and more desirably, 85 Hz or even 100 Hz. If you look at some old news footage, for example, where there is a computer in the background, you'll see the image flickering, this is the CRT monitor renewing the image, the faster it's done, the less perceptible it is and the less tiring it is for the eyes.

What happens with the now prevalent LED backlit LCD monitors is that when you lower the brightness, what manufacturers do to achieve the lower perceived brightness is to use PWM, that is, cycle the backlight on and off rapidly, and the more you turn it down, the worse it gets, with longer periods of the light being off than on. It essentially turns off the backlight and then on again, in a fast way, unfortunately not fast enough on most models. Mainstream and budget monitors will do it at 180 Hz, some up to 400 Hz, but that is not enough. And it may be more disturbing to a lot of people because, 1. unlike CRT's, the whole screen is affected, and 2. unlike with CCFL backlit monitors (probably the 17' you have), when you turn off a LED, it stops emitting light immediately, while CCFL backlit monitors that employ PWM to dim the backlight retain luminance because CCFL lamps have a coat of phosphor, so there is some luminance left for a while, so the on-off luminance cycle is not so harsh.

The solutions are: have a high PWM switching monitor, in the Khz range, or preferably a monitor that uses direct current to dim the backlight. This last method has the disadvantage that you can't dim the backlight so much (well, at least probably not affordably), so if you work in a dark room, you'll then have to compensate by lowering the contrast too. Some monitors are thus using the two methods together, higher than 20% brightness there is no PWM, lower there is a high quality PWM switching circuitry operating in the Khz range, the higher the better.

BenQ is updating its models to use Flicker Free technology, so no PWM at any brightness setting. The one in my sig, the RL2455HM already has this technology and it works fine. I usually use my monitors at 0 brightness, so then I had to lower contrast too, in this case to 7, I'm not losing on image quality for it though.

Dell and Eizo are doing a hybrid approach.


Edit: I forgot to add, the LEDs used in current monitors are usually blue leds with a coat of yellow to make it white. so wherever you read W-LED or White-LED, it's not really white. Compared to CCFL monitors, LED backlit ones usually have a blue tint to them. The trouble is that the blue light spectrum is distracting and disturbing to many people, so you may have to adjust both Blue and Green levels on the monitor in order to make the image warmer, more reddish. CCFL backlit monitors have a warmer light.

For example, in my monitor I have the RGB levels set at: R: 100, G: 93; B: 89.


The new Dell 2413 is using a new type of LED, GB-LED that is supposed to solve this problem. LG (the panel manufacturer) or Dell (that calibrated the display) don't seem to have gotten it just right yet though from what I've read, but it may be a quality control issue.

Here is a review: http://www.tftcentral.co.uk/reviews/dell_u2413.htm

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post #3 of 19 (permalink) Old 12-19-2013, 04:12 PM - Thread Starter
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Wow.

Very Very informative. Thank you so much! This is one of those fields that are difficult to shop for. It's all based off of users opinion and sometimes the environment you are in. The 17' Dell I have I think isn't LED. Here is the CNET article on it. http://reviews.cnet.com/lcd-monitors/dell-se178wfp-lcd-monitor/4505-3174_7-32899161.html

So do you think that possibly the LEDs are what's causing the issue. The turning on and off? I haven't read the few articles that you provided just yet but plan on after submitting the post.

Also what are your recommendations on alternative screen resolutions. I enjoy watching HD tv on here through Windows Media Center but in all honesty I don't think I will notice much of a difference.

EDIT: One thing I noticed when bumping down the resolution to 1600x1024 is that it makes some parts of the screen fuzzy. Any advice on removing that?

EDIT 2: 1680x1050 seems to maybe have solved it.
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post #4 of 19 (permalink) Old 12-19-2013, 04:21 PM
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My eyes are somewhat sensitive but my 24" 1920 x 1200 monitor is fantastic. Better than 1080p for gaming, and when I watch films or TV it just letterboxes a tiny bit, looks just fine. I can sit at a comfortable distance from it with no strain here at my desk. If you have glasses for viewing things at a distance I recommend you wear them too, it actually helps with strain even though the screen isn't far away.
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post #5 of 19 (permalink) Old 12-19-2013, 04:29 PM - Thread Starter
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I actually need the glasses to see the monitor. But I also work with really tiny components throughout my day so I don't want to be working my eyes 24/7. I changed my monitor settings to the ones that tpi mentioned and I must say I've noticed a big different. The monitor resolution aswell provided a big difference too. I can actually see my screen.
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post #6 of 19 (permalink) Old 12-19-2013, 05:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bk7794 View Post

Wow.

Very Very informative. Thank you so much! This is one of those fields that are difficult to shop for. It's all based off of users opinion and sometimes the environment you are in. The 17' Dell I have I think isn't LED. Here is the CNET article on it. http://reviews.cnet.com/lcd-monitors/dell-se178wfp-lcd-monitor/4505-3174_7-32899161.html

So do you think that possibly the LEDs are what's causing the issue. The turning on and off? I haven't read the few articles that you provided just yet but plan on after submitting the post.

Also what are your recommendations on alternative screen resolutions. I enjoy watching HD tv on here through Windows Media Center but in all honesty I don't think I will notice much of a difference.

EDIT: One thing I noticed when bumping down the resolution to 1600x1024 is that it makes some parts of the screen fuzzy. Any advice on removing that?

EDIT 2: 1680x1050 seems to maybe have solved it.

You're welcome! I've had my share of difficulty in buying a good monitor in these LED backlit monitor days, and the awareness of PWM and its effects is recent, with only some manufacturers only now making an official effort to address the issue, so whenever I can share my experience with others, I gladly will!

As to the Dell monitor, I went to Dell's site to try to find the date of initial availability, and found out that the initial drivers are from 2007, so yes, I'd say most definitely your monitor is using a CCFL lamp as a backlight. LED only started to become mainstream in monitors in 2009 and afterwards. Even in 2010 you could still buy CCFL backlit monitors and TVs, as LED backlit TVs and monitors were at first marketed as upper range products because it allows for brighter displays (thus brighter looking colours in the showroom), and more energy efficiency (although for someone using the brightness at 0, none of the two benefits are really all that relevant).

The things causing you problems may be either a single thing or a mix between some of them, but assuming you use the Dell at the native resolution, I would guess it's the backlight.

Both monitors at their native resolutions have about the same PPI (Pixels Per Inch) - 99.89 PPI for the Dell and 100.13 PPI for the Asus (assuming a 22' size as you say in your sig). Readjusting for the widescreen format could take some getting used to, but the backlight is most probably the culprit. Not only the flickering, but also the blue tint it might present with the default values.

As to the resolution change, one of the main benefits of CRTs back in the day was that they could display really crisp images regardless of resolution, not so much with LCDs, although the blurriness can actually be beneficial in making the image more soothing.

In any case, using a DVI cable instead of a D-SUB (VGA) cable to connect the monitor to the PC will make things better in that regard, along with not using too low of a resolution. For example, 1600x900 on my 1080p monitor looks fine, but 1366x768 looks blurry.

In any case, if your monitor is 16:9 you shouldn't be using 1680x1050 as that is 16:10 aspect ratio, you should be using 1600x900 just like me.

As a general advice, don't forget that when you're reading stuff on your cell phone or reading a book, in many cases you're holding the text much closer to you, now compare the size of the text on the monitor at native resolution and add the distance you're viewing it at. Not to mention you're having to focus on text on a display that is emitting light. Having lots of workspace on a monitor is a great thing, but having a comfortable work environment is even better and more important.


Edit: as to watching HD TV, with a 1600x900 resolution, all 720p content will display natively, only 1080i will be scaled down. You won't be missing much on such a small screen and with the video compression in the mix. For action content (sports), 720p is actually preferable to 1080i (unless you also mean 1080p content, in which case 1080p content is the best).

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post #7 of 19 (permalink) Old 12-20-2013, 05:13 PM - Thread Starter
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Are you sure that I should set it to 1600x900. If I do I get black bars at the top and bottom. That can be kind of distracting.

Do you think I should maybe look for a more expensive monitor. This was probably one of the cheapest ones I could find back in the day of 2011. I probably would go a bit bigger. Probably the cheapest I can find under 400 bucks. If I could just try it out for 30 days and return it without having to deal with shipping would be cool.

EDIT: Here is the Asus monitor that I am having problems with on Newegg.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16824236100
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post #8 of 19 (permalink) Old 12-20-2013, 05:41 PM
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If you don't use the monitor's native resolution, sub-pixel text rendering like ClearType does not work right. If that's not working, your weird custom resolution will make it extra blurry in comparison to the desktop running at the native resolution. That can't be good regarding eye strain I'm guessing.

Try dialing down the monitor's brightness for your eye strain.

Another thing you can do is play around with the color temperature of the screen (color temperature: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Color_temperature). It's usually 6500K which is about the sort of white you get when it's daylight out and you are sitting inside. Try to go down to 5000K, for example. If you can't find those kind of settings in the monitor's menus, try the program "f.lux". It has two sliders for day and night color temperature in its settings window. The software method is probably annoying if you have your old monitor also connected to the computer as I think you can't change color temperature separately.

Try moving the monitor back on your desk if you have room to do that. Try what happens to your eye strain if it's more than an arm's length away for example.

If you can't effortlessly see the screen perfectly sharp, that's unacceptable. Get a new prescription for your computer glasses! [Ignore this suggestion if it's physically impossible for your eyes.]
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post #9 of 19 (permalink) Old 12-21-2013, 02:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bk7794 View Post

Are you sure that I should set it to 1600x900. If I do I get black bars at the top and bottom. That can be kind of distracting.

Do you think I should maybe look for a more expensive monitor. This was probably one of the cheapest ones I could find back in the day of 2011. I probably would go a bit bigger. Probably the cheapest I can find under 400 bucks. If I could just try it out for 30 days and return it without having to deal with shipping would be cool.

EDIT: Here is the Asus monitor that I am having problems with on Newegg.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16824236100


Your monitor is 16:9 format, 1920x1080, if it was 16:10 it would be 1920x1200, therefore setting it at 1680x1050, which is also 16:10, doesn't make any sense and the image will look distorted even if it fills the whole screen. The right resolution for your monitor's aspect ratio is 1600x900.

Divide 1920 / 1080 = 1,777777777777778

Divide 1600 / 900 = 1,777777777777778

However divide 1680 / 1050 = 1,6

If it doesn't work right, got to Nvidia's control panel, "Adjust desktop size and position", in the scaling tab make sure "Aspect ratio" is selected, then select "Perform scaling on GPU". Do not check the "Override the scaling mode set by games and programs" box. That should solve the black bars. Also, make sure you're using a DVI cable to connect the monitor to the computer, not the D-Sub (usually called VGA) cable.

I can't speak for your monitor specifically, but on mine, which has less Pixels Per Inch (PPI), 1600x900 looks fine, even if it isn't as sharp as in the native resolution, but it's perfectly acceptable, in your case it should too, if not better, as the higher pixel per inch count should make things look even crisper.

But don't fool yourself, the PPI count on your Dell monitor you find soothing is practically the same as the Asus one you're complaining about, as I said in the previous post. The problem is most likely the LED backlight, either the PWM used and / or the color temperature. You can try to mitigate the blue tint by adjusting the RGB values, or even trying different color temperature presets. Some monitors actually have it in 6500K, etc, others have less accurate presets like "Normal", "Bluish", "Reddish", and "user Mode" like mine. Unfortunately, that doesn't solve the PWM issue, and lowering the resolution might only be a temporary solution to the real problem.

Also, your monitor has "Smart Contrast Ratio", turn it off if it isn't already off by default.


As to a monitor below $400, what are your primary uses ? If you're just doing casual work and some light gaming, the Dell P2414H seems like a good bet. It's 24', 1080p, IPS panel, no PWM (beware that the 27' version does have PWM), 8ms response time and height adjustable stand. The display lag itself is quite low, at 5.5ms, making it suitable for gaming. Review here:

http://www.tftcentral.co.uk/reviews/dell_p2414h.htm

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post #10 of 19 (permalink) Old 12-21-2013, 02:51 AM
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I went from a Asus 27" monitor with PWM dimming to a flicker free monitor. It actually helped alot, I can sit all day without getting red or dry eyes!

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