Product Focus: LED-Backlit Monitors
Remember when compact fluorescent lightbulbs first hit the market? Despite the promise of significant energy savings, few people could stomach the purchase price of nearly $20 each. But today, these electricity-sipping bulbs cost as little as $1.50 with rebates, and the incandescent bulb has been consigned to darkness.
Much the same thing is now happening with computer displays, which have always been big energy consumers. Two years ago, schools probably wouldn't have given serious consideration to the new energy-efficient monitors coming onto the market. Despite the promise of energy savings and the use of fewer hazardous materials, the new monitors, backlit by light-emitting diodes (LEDs), carried price tags about 35 percent higher than their traditional counterparts. But falling prices, coupled with greater customer focus on power savings and environmental footprints, have transformed these monitors from novelties into worthy contenders. In a survey of the market, we found that schools can now choose from a range of energy-efficient LED-backlit monitors for less than $1,000--and, in some cases, for less than $200.
All the acronyms used with monitors can blur into a confusing alphabet soup. One acronym that isn't going away is LCD, which stands for liquid crystal display. Until fairly recently, the majority of LCDs were backlit with cold cathode fluorescent lamps (CCFLs), which contain mercury and consume a lot of power. The power savings of LED backlighting lead to lower carbon emissions, which are an increasingly important consideration for education institutions that have pledged themselves to carbon neutrality. Some monitors even include power-management features and carbon footprint meters. And because LED-backlit displays contain few or no environmentally hazardous substances, such as mercury, arsenic, and lead, they are easier to recycle than traditional monitors.
Displays with LED-backlit technology also offer advantages beyond the environmental. Because they use smaller, solid-state components, the monitors can be thinner and lighter than CCFL monitors. Also, unlike most other displays, LED-backlit displays don't take time to warm up: They turn on instantly and are uniformly bright.
In trying to decide which monitors best meet your school's needs, you need to cut through some of the marketing hype around "green" features. One option is to look for products that earn a Gold rating from EPEAT (Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool), which assesses electronics products for their responsible manufacturing, energy efficiency, and recyclability. EPEAT is a procurement tool designed to help purchasers evaluate, compare, and select electronic products based on their environmental attributes. A product that earns EPEAT Gold has met all 23 of the organization's required criteria, plus at least 75 percent of the optional criteria.
To find the right model for your school, use the links to the right to browse our LED-backlit displays by product feature. (Note: All prices are the manufacturer's suggested retail price; the reseller price may be up to 50 percent lower. The lists are based on manufacturers' specifications compiled by GovConnection.com and from the manufacturers themselves; THE Journal has not done any product testing to verify manufacturers' claims.)
Don't miss "Green-Eyed Monitors," a companion article in our April issue that highlights LED-backlit monitors that are not only environmentally friendly, but are also standouts in ergonomics, high-end performance, and price.