Monitor With a Dark Half

Betty from IL. writes “I just installed a new flat screen monitor.  The right side looks darker than the left side(dusty look) running XP.  Is it something to be adjusted or is it bad?  Should I return it?  19” “

Hi, Betty.  Thanks for the great question.

First things first.  My advice is that if you bring a monitor home from the store and it has ANYTHING wrong with it, return it immediately.  Were I to hazard a guess, I would say that there’s probably something wrong with the LED back light panel in this monitor that’s causing half of it to be dimmer than the other half.

Having said that… I do have a few options to give to you.  The first would be to change your input from your device to the monitor.  Looking at the picture below, I’m going to describe them from left to right, starting with the red, blue and green inputs next to the power input.  I am also going to be rating them based on how good the input is.  Your computer, by the way, will probably only have one, two or three of these inputs.  Most have two.  This image contains the most that I’ve ever seen on one computer.  It is only missing the two worst:  composite and S-video.

One quick note… I’ll be using the terms ANALOG and DIGITAL in the following description.  If you don’t know the difference, analog basically takes the input in it’s original form and brings it to the monitor.  Digital, on the other hand, puts the input into a digital form and feeds it to the monitor as pure information.  Because of this, a digital signal will never degrade, and, because most digital audio and video transfers involving a “cleaning” of the material, it is usually clearer than analog.

The first one is called a COMPONENT input.  This can deliver analog 720p HD video.  Ordinarily, when you see this, you will also see another red one and a white one for audio input.  Instead, at the lower left of the three inputs you will see a 3.5 mm jack, like a headphone jack, for you to hook your headphone out on your computer to for sound.  Hookup is easy, just match the colors on the cables to the colors on the inputs.  Being an analog HD input, this is the third best of the four.

The next one is called VGA, or Video Graphics Adapter (some prefer Video Graphics Array) and is a digital 480i display.  Input is very easy, just plug the VGA cable from your computer to the monitor.  There is no sound associate with VGA, so again you’ll have to use the 3.5 mm jack.  Although this is a digital input vs. the earlier analog input, this one is the lowest quality of the four as it is standard definition.  This is the most common of all computer to monitor hookups.  This is the digital version of the analog composite cable (red yellow and white) that all of us old folks used on our VCR’s back in the day when we wanted to impress our friends by not using coax.

The third one that you’ll see is DVI or Digital Video Input.  There are a couple of different DVI formats, so if you go to hook your monitor up via DVI, you want to make sure that the footprint for the input on your monitor is the same as the output on your computer.  This will deliver up to 1080p HD video, but no sound.  So if you use this input, you will again want to use the 3.5 mm jack for sound.  This is the second-best input.  If your computer has an HDMI output (which we’ll get to in a minute) and your monitor has a DVI input, you can get an HDMI to DVI adapter than basically filters the sound out of your signal, and only carries the video across.

Last but certainly not least is HDMI, which stands for High Definition Multi-media Interface.  This is a digital input that carries up to 1080p HD video and up to 9.1 surround sound.  Of course, most home theaters are capable of 5.1 at most, but if you want to spend the extra money on the higher-quality cable, feel free.  This is the best of the inputs.

If changing your input doesn’t work, you may try a new cable, but frankly this doesn’t sound like cable failure to me.  I’d just return the thing.

Hope that this helps!

~ Randal Schaffer

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