A thin display screen for computer and TV usage. The first flat panels appeared on laptop computers in the mid-1980s, and the LCD technology became the standard. Stand-alone LCD screens became available for desktop computers in the mid-1990s and exceeded sales of CRTs for the first time in 2003. For TV viewing, LCD and plasma are the two competing technologies, and many flat panel TVs can also display computer output (see flat panel TV).
Reflective - Not Reflective - Reflective
You can see yourself in the glass of a traditional CRT-based computer monitor or TV. The same is true of a plasma TV. However, LCDs used to be non-reflective, a significant advantage in a brightly lit room. Along about 2003, laptop screens began to include a clear, rigid overlay that makes colors richer, but causes the screen to be reflective once again. LCD TVs, on the other hand, are mostly not reflective (see flat panel TV).
Digital Computer to Digital Display
Unlike analog CRTs, flat panel screens are digital. However, although almost all new flat panel monitors accept digital inputs, many PCs continue to offer only analog outputs. Going directly to the digital input of the display creates a sharper image (see flat panel connections for details).
Know the Maximum "Native" Resolution
Flat panel screens have a precise matrix of rows and columns based on the highest resolution supported, and this "native" resolution displays the best. If you want to view a 1280x1024 resolution on a flat panel with a native resolution of 1600x1200, the 1280x1024 image will scale up to fill the screen. The quality of scaling algorithms between brands can differ substantially; therefore, you are better off viewing a flat panel at its native resolution. Otherwise, before you buy, be sure to set the panel to the lower resolution you desire and see what it looks like. See DVI, LCD, plasma display, EL display and FED. See also flat screen.