Karl W. SwartzComputer Notebook — CRT Monitors

Very many CRT monitors are beginning to show their age, and we often cannot afford a better replacement. The major symptoms of an aging monitor are a dim and unstable (jittery) screen. Sometimes its useful life can be extended by simply making some adjustments to the internal electronics. Other times, this is simply no longer possible. A computer monitor is very much like your home TV, and suffers the same problems.

In order to extend the life of your monitors as much as possible, I would suggest that you keep them turned off whenever they are to remain unused for extended periods, even overnight, but certainly over weekends and holidays.

Many of you run screen savers to prevent burn-in on the screens. This was at one time a significant problem, especially with the old monochrome (black & white) monitors. The newer color monitors, however, have better phosphors and lower acceleration voltages, and are seldom affected by this problem. Therefore, screen savers are really not necessary for the life of the monitor, and only serve for entertainment or security (with password).

The real problem of which you must be aware, is that the electrons which light the screen are generated by a heated filament, very much like that in a light bulb. This filament continues to burn (and burn out), even when you are running a screen saver. The newer monitors with energy saving features turn off the filament after a time interval. Many monitors predate this feature, however, and must be turned off manually. In addition to burning out the filament, leaving the monitor turned on also uses a lot of electricity. This is no different than leaving the lights turned on, and very few of you will leave home or office without ensuring the lights and TVs are all off. Please regard your monitors in the same vein.

Another big problem we have in many classrooms and offices is glare from the windows. This makes the monitor screens difficult to see, and many people compensate by turning up the brightness. This is no different from turning up the lights, and will significantly shorten the life of the monitor. If you can see a black monitor screen glowing in a darkened room, then the brightness is turned too high! The border at the edge of the screen should be black, not gray. Try to keep the brightness down to a reasonable level, and pull down the shades if necessary.

Another common problem as a monitor ages, is that the screen becomes blurry (out-of-focus). This can almost always be remedied, so please inform your technician if you find yourself squinting to read the screen. Similar problems that can often be fixed are size (image will not fill the screen) and linearity (image appears distorted or wavy, especially near the edges of the screen). Dimness can sometimes be adjusted, but often not. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, please inform your technician.

One more important item: do not place anything on top of a monitor. Monitors are cooled by convection (hot air simply rises and exits through the slots in the top of the case, drawing cooler air in from the bottom). If you place anything upon the monitor, you are blocking these air vents and the monitor will surely overheat! This will only hasten the burn-out of the filament, as well as many other electronic components. It can also present a dangerous fire hazard should the monitor become hot enough to ignite, and you will have provided it with a ready supply of fuel, as well! I consider this so dangerous, that if I enter a classroom or office and find papers and books on the monitors, I am generally not very considerate in resolving the problem, and it may just all end up on the floor!

Copyright © 2004 Karl W. Swartz — http://KarlSwartz.com
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