Five years ago: 17-inch is king despite fuzzy screen picture

The 17-inch monitor looks like remaining the screen of choice for all but a fortunate few in 1997, makers say, despite reduced prices, new technologies and different formats shaking up the comparatively slow-moving display world

Although the arrival of desktop LCDs, 19-inch FST monitors and other trends are prompting interest, industry insiders don't see a sea change occurring just yet, despite new-ish names like ADI and Iiyama stirring the mix with lowball pricing.

"The price-performance leaders are Iiyama and Nokia and you can now get a 107KHz 21-inch screen with a 0.22 horizontal dot pitch and TCO streeting for below £1,000, compared to below £500 for a 17-inch," said Ian Vickerage, managing director of distributor Imago Micro.

However, despite the price delta that still exists between 17-inch and 21-inch, Vickerage doesn't see a bright future for 19-inch monitors currently being talked up by smaller firms such as Utobia and destined for release next year: "I'm not sure there's a gap anymore. There could be space for something like a £750 unit but building a new glass requires a lot of money."

Tony Hope, sales manager for Taiwanese screen maker ADI, agrees. "All the projections we see say 17-inch is on the increase and 15-inch continues to catch on in favour of 14-inch. 19-inch does offer some advantages in display size and ratio but it's still going to be a little bit too expensive. The physical size and heat output are hidden costs. When you go past 17-inch, many firms have to think about space and ventilation before they buy."

Imago's Vickerage believes that a quiet new trend could be the move towards using multiple LCDs as a replacement for large CRT screens. "[LCD is] very expensive at the moment but it's a very desirable screen with big advantages in terms of space and heat dissipation. There's already a lot of interest from the City."