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I am in the market for a low-cost, color-correcting monitor. Please help me define "low cost." I don't want to skimp out but don't want to buy top dollar either. I know good monitors cost money.

I will be using the monitor for both Video and Photography. What features/specs should I consider a "bare minimum" so, hopefully, I wont need to buy two.

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Shopping recommendations are generally off-topic, especially non-specific ones. – Matthew Read Jul 6 '11 at 15:26
@Dave: We don't really allow "shopping recommendation" questions on this site, but I edited your question so you can get some of the information you need to get you started. – Robert Cartaino Jul 6 '11 at 16:55
In terms of photography - this is a good read…. – rfusca Jul 6 '11 at 17:26
up vote 6 down vote accepted

There's a loose binning of monitors into 3 categories:

  1. Consumer equipment [$500 - $1500] Dell U-Series LCDs, Panasonic Viera Plasmas
  2. Entry-Level Monitors [$2500+] FSI, HP DreamColor
  3. High End Monitors [$$ - $$$$] eCinema, TV Logic

Some of the features of non-consumer monitors that you'll want to learn about are:

  • HD/SDI inputs
  • Additional outputs
  • Colorspace and signal type support, such as 4:2:2
  • "Higher" bit depth, such as 10-bit
  • LUT programmability

If you're asking for low-cost, without already knowing these monitors, then I strongly suggest you stick to the first category, and use something like the DataColor Spyder calibration puck. Getting that top 5% of color accuracy comes at a steep price, and since it seems you're just starting out, you probably want to stick with the 95% solution. Upgrade only when you have specific need for the features.

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Consider the Matrox MXO2 products. The Mini model allows you to gain blue gun control of a normal consumer HDTV, solving the big issue with calibration of these large displays. The MXO2 Mini is under $500, other models include features like hardware H.264 encoding and more advanced interfaces.

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