A-Z of Computer Audio and Visual!

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Sure everyone has a Monitor of soughts, and more or less everyone is able to get sound out of there computer but how many people really know what their computer is capable of reproducing in the 21st Century?
If you don't already know what a broad range of capabilities your own PC could pertain read on and discover what your computer could do for you!
There are Several Elements that go into the basic Visual Performance output of you're computer. There are also a huge range of peripherals to do anything you could ever want to do in terms of visual inputs and outputs. The problem with this is that everything from a Monitor to a digital (video/still) camera can compile the basis or computer visual elements.
So in order to break it down step by step as easy as possible we will try to break it down into basic elements and question answer format!
First of all there is the most obvious component. A Monitor, for without this you wont be able to see what you're doing. Now most people might say, Sure I’ve got a good monitor as it does the job, doesn't it? This may or may not be so, it really depends on what you plan to do with your monitor.
I want to see what I am doing?

Yes, But what are you doing?
It might not seem like a big deal, but if you are say browsing the internet or just doing some word processing on the odd occasion then yes, maybe it isn’t such a big deal. However if you plan on using your Computer more often than the odd occasion and for more than just browsing the internet it could be a good idea to look into what is best for your specific use.
Buying a Monitor
There are a few different types of monitors as well as brands and technical differences between them.
We'll start with the CRT (Cathode Ray Tube) or the bulky ones much like traditional Tv's.
These have there advantages and disadvantages. For example, You can pick up a decent CRT Monitor say 17" for 0.99c here on ebay, on the downside shipping will be alot more than the .99 you paid for the screen alone. Or say you were to buy one second hand from a retailer, you could be paying from $20 up, but at least you know it works, get some kind of warranty and are able to take it home with you that day.
This type of monitor is good if you want display size and value for money, good colouration and picture reproduction for all applications. The only major drawbacks in terms of functionality is the fact that these are large and bulky, taking up alot of space and are pretty heavy. Also if you are a frequent user, or using the screen over extended periods CRT Refresh rates can cause some uncomfort or strain on the eyes.
However if you want size and quality and space or frequency of use isn't and issue than CRT could be a very good and cost effective way to go!
On the other hand, if your pressed for space, want a newer look, or are going to be using your computer a Lot then perhaps an LCD (Liquid Crystal Display/Diodes) would better suit your needs. 
But Don't they cost alot?
In comparison to the prices of CRT's on Ebay than Yes they can cost some what more.
As far as the comparisons are concerned you should be able to get into at least a 15" screen for less than $200 or a 17" for less than $300, and so on. This may seem expencive but for example... I was quoted $400 for a CRT screen (Not LCD) around 5 years ago, and now you wouldnt even pay that much for an LCD!
Pro's and Con's
With the older style LCD's there is a greater responce time (time taken for each of the liquid crystals to blink on and off) and this wouldnt really be a problem for most users. However if you are thinking of using your computer for more demanding tasks like Video (editing/playback, Gaming etc) you might want to note the responce time in ms... Most LCD's at the moment fall well below the 16ms mark. (16 millisecond responce time) With this value or lower you shouldn't notice any real problems that monitors with higher values sometimes can.
Don't LCD's Suffer from burn in or fading?
In my experiences with LCD's in the past fading can be a bit of a problem after thousands of hours of use, similar to even the CRT's, but as far as burn in is concerned there is usually less of a problem. Most new LCD's dont suffer from either of these problems unless of course your still using the same monitor after 25 years, then you might notice that it wasnt as bright as when you first bought it.
Overall, In my opinion, LCD's Provide a better overall option as far as space, functionality, erganomics, aesthetics as well as reasonably priced. And the added benifit that they won't become obselete for a little while to come. Lcd's Still can and do suffer from the chance of "screen burn" something most sales people only claim that plasma's do. But of course in a plasma, this fault isnt covered under warranty.


The ins and outs of computer sound:

Sound card vs integrated
Hdmi vs optical

So what is what:

Optical: - Fiber optic connection that passes light and digital data via a red laser allowing 5.1-7.1 and anything below audio streams. Usually a flat square shaped hole with red light illuminating.

Coaxial: Usually an orange or a black, similar to your standard rca connectors, but differs in that it too is a digital signal. Using traditional current it sends compressed or encoded digital data down the cable to an amplifyer to decode a 5.1-7.1 audio stream (in the same manner as optical)

HDMI: High Definition Multimedia Interface: The latest of the digital connections but differs in a few regions. HDMI is both for a video signal as well as the audio, in both cases the only connection capable of carrying a "full High definition" signal. In the audio can replace the coax or the optical and carry up to the 7.1 channels of true hd dolby or dts master audio.

In all three of these examples an external amplifyer either a home theatre receive with the same inputs or a speaker system such as the logitech z5500's which have a built in decoders to convert the digital signal into audio that speakers can understand.

More Categories Coming Soon...
- Graphics Cards (Mainboard/Memory effects on this)
- Video (TV tuners and capture)
- Sound - (inputs and outputs, speakers and more)

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