We're all spending a lot more time in front of our screens these days, which, for some of us, means increased eye strain. Early in the year, a PR guy representing Westinghouse reached out to me about reviewing two monitors, one which specifically has features intended to reduce eye strain.
Let's take a look at both of them. I'll tell you one thing: My eyes aren't hurting quite as much anymore.
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As I've discussed before, I work in a variety of locations throughout the house. While I do a lot of heavy-duty video production work upstairs in my office, I've set up a development machine next to my couch, so I can code while my pup sits on my lap. I've found this is both better for my back, and it prevents him from howling in distress because Daddy is upstairs and he's not.
I originally set this up years ago when Pixel was a baby. I mounted an Ergotron arm on a side table and found a cheap $100-ish 22-inch Walmart TV and mounted it on the arm, connecting that via HDMI to one of my Mac minis.
It worked, but the video quality on the cheapest-I-could-find-at-the-time TV was meh at best. It was not exactly kind to my eyes to begin with.
By late March, however, it was getting painful. Since we were stuck in the house, I decided I'd code a major upgrade to the donations software I maintain for nonprofits. I spent a lot more hours in front of that craptastic TV-as-monitor than normal, and since I was overdue in getting a glasses prescription, my eyes definitely suffered.
But they didn't have to. Sitting in the lab, I had a gorgeous 32-inch WH32UX9019 Westinghouse monitor. Of particular relevance to my current situation was Westinghouse's EyeRest technology, which helps to reduce eyestrain and fatigue from extended viewing periods by using anti-glare technology, low blue light output, and flicker-free viewing.
At about $380, it's definitely more expensive than comparably-sized TVs. But that expense (which is on par with other quality 4K monitors) is well worth it, given how much better my eyes have felt in the month or so I've been using it.
Image quality and text are crisp and clear, the monitor is bright and vibrant, and best of all, my eyes don't hurt as much after using it as they did with my old TV. Don't get me wrong -- I still need new glasses. But the monitor is making the wait for new glasses much easier on my eyes.View Now at Amazon
So, here's the thing. I like gaming. I've never had a lot of time for it, and, so, well, yeah, I suck at it. I have never lasted more than about five minutes in a multiplayer first -erson shooter without getting killed. I've played my fair share of Fallout 4, Dishonored, and City Skylines, but that's about it.
A gaming monitor isn't going to be getting much of a test from me. I decided to use it for something other than gaming: looking at my face-for-radio.
Here's the situation. When I do video interviews like this one, I don't normally sit in front of my computer monitor. Instead, I sit at a desk on a "set" with a complementary backdrop. I look at a camera positioned at eye level. That's why those interviews don't have the normal eyeballs-up or eyeballs-down that you so often see in Zoom videos.
I have the camera on a teleprompter, and I have an iPad on the prompter that shows me the guest. In that way, I'm always looking directly at the guest while filming and that's also looking right into the camera.
But there are a lot of settings to adjust during this process. I used to have my laptop on my desk, and I'd look down at the laptop to change camera angles and tweak the settings. But that was far from optimal.
The Westinghouse curved gaming monitor is a big improvement. I have it sitting on a rolling cart to the right of the teleprompter. The curved screen makes it much easier to see the entire monitor while mostly keeping my eyes forward in the camera. I can see what's on the monitor on the side, make adjustments, and never take my eyes off the camera itself.
The 27-inch size is perfect for this process and the fact that it's got a high refresh rate for gaming means that it tracks well with the video I'm working on. It's been a big win.
Update: As of this morning, just before we posted this article, there were nine of these monitors available on Amazon. Readers have pointed out that since then (probably because of this article), Amazon is now out of stock. So, until Amazon restocks, we're going to point you to a similarly featured Acer 27-inch curved gaming monitor.View Now at Amazon
Think differently about monitors
As these two examples show, monitors don't always have to be just your main display on your main computer. They can help reduce eye fatigue and help produce video content. By thinking a little outside the box, it's possible to derive some very substantial benefits from a relatively low investment.
Are you using your monitors in unusual or creative ways? Have you postponed your eye exams too long? Share with us in the comments below.
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