Yesterday (Friday) my old faithful NEC Multisync 75 monitor croaked. Something let go in the vertical drive circuit resulting in all the video squozed into the middle third of the screen. The poor NEC is at least 10 years old, so it didn't owe me anything. I'll drop it off down at the "transfer station" (town dump) next trip.
The only place in Littleton with computer stuff AND open on Saturday is Staples, the office supply place. I spent a half an hour looking at the array of flat panel monitors (no CRT's anymore) wondering what to buy. There was a smallish Compaq for only $109, Samsungs, Acers, Dells, HP's and AOC (who ever they may be) for prices running from $175 to $279. I couldn't see any real difference in video quality and the sales guy didn't either. I finally settled on a 19" Dell 1908WFP. Dell was the only maker with a matte finish black bezel and screen, which I like 'cause it cuts down on reflections in the monitor. HP had a high gloss screen and bezel and I could clearly see every lamp in the store reflecting off it.
The instructions were mostly boilerplate to keep the lawyers happy. Not a word about what to do with the software CD. So I plugged everything in, monitor lit up and presto, video. Then I loaded the driver and wonder upon wonders, it was able to make my 4 year old Compaq SR 175oNx motherboard produce right shaped video. The Dell monitor is one of those wide 16:9 aspect ratio screens whereas the tried and true CRT monitors are all 4:5 aspect ratio. When I first powered up, the monitor worked, but the video was all stretched out sidewise. The clever driver loaded from the CD was able to work some magic on the "Radion 200" video driver on the Compaq's mother board and make things come out square again. That's kind of impressive when you consider that four years ago, when the motherboard was new, CRT monitors were common and flat screen monitors were rare and pricey.
So, success, I can use the computer again, and the new monitor is crisp, sharp, and bigger than the poor old NEC.