Even the most frugal shoppers tend to agree it's worth spending a little extra on some things, namely your bed and your shoes. The theory is you spend a third of the day sleeping (ideally) and at least a third of the day wearing your shoes. Many of us also spend most of our day staring at a computer screen. Is that worth an investment too?
High-end computer monitors can cost more than $1,000 -- a little out of budget for most. But it's possible to find a good, inexpensive monitor if you know what to look for. Cheapism.com recommends four models that cost less than $200 and display 1080p HD.
Before you buy, you should know that there are four primary types of ports and cables that can connect a monitor to a computer: DVI, DisplayPort, HDMI, and VGA. CNET has a guide that explains the differences between them (and why VGA should be your last resort). If you wind up with a monitor that has a different type of port than your computer's graphics card, you can usually find a small and relatively cheap converter at an electronics store or online. However, it's best to make sure the connectors match up.
The Dell UltraSharp U2312HM (starting at $190) is a 23-inch monitor from the well-known computer company. Expert reviews call this model an excellent value, although a missing HDMI port counts as a knock against it. Still, consumers have options, as this monitor can be connected with a DisplayPort, DVI, or VGA cable. It also sports four USB ports, a convenience uncommon at this price. The bright display is an in-plane-switching (IPS) panel, which allows for wider viewing angles and often comes at a higher cost.
The AOC i2367fh (starting at $160) is another IPS display that allows for wider viewing angles and a generally superior picture. The tradeoff is often a slower response time, i.e., a slight delay as the pixels register a change in the picture. However, this monitor has a relatively fast 5-millisecond response time, which reduces blurring. It also has two HDMI ports, along with a VGA port. All this has helped the 23-inch monitor earn an Editors' Choice award and overall positive feedback from reviewers.
The Acer G246HL (starting at $140) is a twisted-nematic display (rather than an IPS display, like the previous two), which is more common among inexpensive monitors. TN displays benefit from quick response times and good contrast ratios, but they often display less color uniformity and narrower viewing angles. This 24-inch model stands out because, for the most part, consumers say it doesn't suffer from those drawbacks. This monitor has only DVI and VGA ports.
The BenQ GW2450 (starting at $170) uses a type of display called vertical alignment. VA displays strike a balance between TN and IPS: They often have better color accuracy and wider viewing angles than TN panels but quicker response times than IPS panels. The BenQ GW2450 has a 4-millisecond response time. This makes it a better option than most cheap displays for gamers who need to react quickly to movements on the screen. Unless you use a converter, you'll need a computer with a DVI or VGA port to use this 24-inch screen.