Aperture Grille vs Invar Shadow Mask
While some are going nuts about LCD flat panels, it is a fact of life that CRTs are much more responsive in terms of display refresh thanks to the speed of light compared to the speed of liquid. I'm a huge CRT fan, and would rather have a big old tube in front of me than a tiny LCD. There does seem to be a big debate about CRTs though, one that has divided the gaming community into two big camps: The Aperture Grille fans and the Invar Shadow Mask fans.
As the image below shows, Aperture Grille consists of a series of wires that go from the top to the bottom of the display, with one, perhaps two stabilizer wires going across them to help minimize vibration and color bleed. Shadow Mask displays consist of a single metal sheet with uniform oval / round holes punched in it so that colored light can shine through.
Aperture Grille and Shadow Mask
There are a ton of technology arguments on both sides which can be researched in exasperating detail on the web should you feel the need, but for me, I think it boils down to a matter of preference. I personally find Shadow Mask to be more 'friendly' to my aging eyes. The light seems to come through 'softer' than with Aperture Grille, and the image seems more stable, with less shimmering. Aperture Grille seems to 'flicker' when the wires vibrate (caused by a variety of things) and those stabilization wires really get on my nerves. I remember one computer manufacturer saying you may have to 'nudge' the side of the monitor to eliminate shimmering. If I have to beat my computer equipment up to get it to work, I think I'll go back to punch-cards.
A little while back, I decided to upgrade from a 19" to a 21" monitor and did some very serious investigation of just about everything out there. After doing a ton of research, I ended up taking my mid-tower machine to a variety of local stores and plugging in a bunch of monitors that I felt made the grade. Hitachi had some great offerings, as did Sony and NEC, but when all was said and done, I ended up going with Viewsonic.
I found their high-end shadow mask model P225 to be a fantastic monitor, with rich, deep colors, crisp text and incredible image stability, even at the highest of resolutions. 2048x1536 is totally doable on this monitor, though 1920x1440 is a bit more friendly on the eyes. Refresh rates top out at 79hz for the highest resolution, 84hz for 1920x1440 and 99hz for 1600x1200, impressive to say the least. 350mhz of video bandwidth ensures the high refresh rates and image quality, and the 20" of usable screen space seem uniformly clear from edge to edge, corner to corner. An unexpected bonus comes in the form of a self-powered 4 port USB hub on the right side of the monitors base, right where it seems to do the most good.
It may not be the right unit for everyone, but it certainly fit the bill for me. Check this specific unit out at: http://www.viewsonic.com/products/crt_p225.cfm, or give a look at the other offerings from Viewsonic. They've been around a long time, and really do have some great products at solid prices.