I received a question from subscriber Tom Sosna, who asked:
I enjoy reading your weekly newsletter and your website has helped me through several difficulties. However, I have a problem which I could not find under any of you Website Titles.
I received a Samsung large wide screen monitor for Christmas. I have an e machine 6450 Computer and can only connect the RGB cable into my computer video card since it has no HDMI connector. I have two questions.
The video card I have in the computer is an VIA/S3G UniChrome Pro IGP located in PCI bus1 Device 0 function 0.
Would upgrading the video card to one with HDMI capability give me better picture clarity and definition?
If yes, what specific card would you recommend and where might be the best place to order/purchase it?
The computer has an AMD Athlon™ 64 Processor 3000+ 2.00 GHz. 448 MB of RAM. Thank you for you help.
I wrote back to Tom to tell him that a video card with an HDMI connector would help is display. I also suggested that, if he isn’t playing high-performance games or otherwise pushing the limits of the computer’s CPU and video capabilities, he might be happier with one of the less-expensive video cards (which should match well with an e-Machine computer).
I pointed Tom to the video card that I chose for my new Home Theater PC.
In addition to the HDMI connection, a new, separate video card is more likely to support the "native resolution" of his new LCD monitor.
One of the features of LCD monitors that gives them such a great display is the method in which pixels are displayed.
In the case of Liquid Crystal Displays, there are effectively a number of tiny gates that allow light through to the front of the screen. The color of the transmitted light is also controlled by the gates.
The important thing to understand is that, with an LCD monitor, the native resolution is the resolution that matches the number of horizontal gates and vertical gates. For example, a 1920×1080 resolution (which matches "1080p Hi-Def video") has 1920 gates when counted across the screen and 1080 gates when counted from top to bottom.
Each gate creates a separate dot of light on the screen when it allows light through. That’s one dot. Therein lies the problem with other resolutions. If you change your LCD to display something other than its native resolution, e.g. 1280×800, the numbers of gates don’t match the number of displayed pixels.
Since the screen is the same size, the monitor (or television, for that matter), tries to spread the 1280×800 content over the 1920×1080 resolution. At that point, you’re trying to get each actual pixel to display the colors of two or more of the intended pixels (the pixels of your intended resolution).
Since they’re not designed to display multiple colors, you get some fuzziness.
This system differs dramatically from CRT monitors. The CRT’s have phosphor-based coatings on the inside of the picture tube. The electron stream from the back of the monitor creates the display that we see. The resolution setting is changed easily, in the same manner as it is changed for an LCD monitor. However, the CRT doesn’t have the gates that stop or allow the display to glow — the CRT simply displays the resolution that’s requested.
So, for Tom and others, yes, using an HDMI connection between your computer and your monitor will help the quality of your display. You can also give a big boost to the display quality by using your LCD display’s native resolution.
Tom should be able to give his computer another boost by adding more memory. If he bumps his memory to 768MB or 1GB, he should see a pretty cheap increase in his computer’s speed, whether he’s running Windows XP or Windows XP 64-bit.