If you are into computer games there probably comes a point where you want to hook up your computer with a second screen. Maybe you have friends that play on LAN (local area network) and it would be nice to see what’s going on while you are playing. Or maybe you just like having two different applications open side by side but can’t afford to buy two monitors. Well, whatever the reason may be, in this article we will discuss about monitors and if they count as hardware or software.
What is the difference between hardware and software?
Hardware is any part of a system that cannot be changed or modified without breaking something. The most common example of hardware is physical parts such as the CPU, motherboard, RAM etc. It also includes things like power supplies and fans which help keep everything running properly. Software on the other hand is information stored within the computer memory that can easily be changed or edited without affecting anything else. For example, when you install new software it goes straight to the hard drive and then gets installed onto the operating system whereas older programs get loaded from memory and run directly from the memory. Also, some software requires certain hardware components to work correctly so it needs them to function.
Is a Monitor Hardware or Software?
All monitors are considered hardware & referred to as peripherals.
Is an LCD, LED, DLP, Plasma Screen, CRT Different?
Different types of displays do not matter in terms of whether they are considered hardware or software because each type is capable of displaying images. There are differences however in how they operate depending on the technology used. If you are interested in knowing more about these technologies check out Wikipedia’s article about Cathode Ray Tubes. Here we will only briefly mention some of the main ones and their characteristics.
CRTs – These are the oldest type of display available today. They use electron guns to produce red, green and blue light which creates a full color image. CRTS were replaced by LCDs and plasma screens in most computer systems due to their bulky size and high energy consumption. However, CRTs still find uses in arcade machines and video game consoles as well as old computers.
LCDs – This stands for Liquid Crystal Display and was invented by Dr. Seuss back in 1923. In modern times liquid crystals act as a shutter allowing light to pass through or block it based on electrical signals. An LCD consists of several layers including a polarizing filter layer, a glass panel layer and finally a light source layer. All lights go through the filters at varying angles creating shadows on the screen. When a particular pixel is turned off the entire filter allows no light to reach the viewer which results in black pixels being displayed on the screen. On the contrary when a pixel is turned on all the light passes through the filter resulting in white pixels appearing on the screen. Depending on the intensity of the light coming from behind the LCD screen the amount of darkness or brightness you perceive can vary.
DLPs – Digital Light Processing refers to a series of micro-mirrors arranged in rows called picture elements or “pixels”. Each mirror reflects a small portion of a beam of light towards the screen. A DLP projector contains thousands of tiny mirrors that reflect a laser beam towards the screen. The small mirrors bounce the light beams toward the lens which focuses the beams into a magnified spot on the surface of the screen. Since each individual mirror is smaller than the width of a human hair, the overall resolution of the projected image remains constant regardless of the distance between the projection screen and the projector. You can read more about DLP projectors here.
Plasma Screens – These are similar to CRTs except that they use gas instead of electricity to excite phosphor material to form an image. Phosphors are materials that glow when hit with ionized gases. In order to generate the needed ions, a thin sheet of metal is placed between two electrodes. One electrode generates electrons that travel across a channel to the other plate. Once the electrons arrive on the opposite plate, the positive charges attract negatively charged particles called ions. The electrons collide with the ions causing them to release photons of energy which causes the phosphor atoms to become excited and emit visible light. Like LCDs, plasmas also consist of many layers.
As mentioned before each type of display has its own advantages and disadvantages. LCDs tend to consume less power than other displays but require special lighting conditions such as dimming capability and usually come with limited refresh rates. Plasmas are generally cheaper than LCDs and offer greater contrast ratios but tend to require higher operating voltages. DLP displays are great for home theater setups since they provide excellent quality and low price tags. However, they do not support 3D graphics and do not allow users to customize their setup. Plasma screens suffer from ghosting artifacts which make them unusable in dark rooms.
Lastly, CRTs are extremely outdated and have been replaced by LCDs and plasmas already. As long as you don’t care about those issues you should be fine using whichever type you prefer.
Can you put multiple screens together to create one larger screen?
Yes! Multiple computer monitors can be combined to create one large screen. Most manufacturers include features such as adjustable positioning and tilt controls. Some even allow users to adjust the height and angle of the screen itself. You can also purchase adapters for connecting multiple monitors to your computer. The best thing about doing this is that you can watch movies or play games on both screens at the same time without needing to constantly switch windows.
Do I need more than one monitor for gaming?
You definitely do not need multiple monitors to enjoy PC gaming. In fact, having too many monitors lying around can actually cause problems. Your video card might not be able to handle the load of powering multiple monitors plus playing graphically intensive games at once. Another problem is interference caused by monitors that output audio. Even though this is rarely a major issue nowadays, having too much noise from your speakers can distract you during important moments in a game.
The bottom line is that if you want to maximize your capabilities in terms of performance and functionality then yes, multiple monitors are necessary. But you don’t need to spend thousands of dollars either. Just pick up a cheap monitor and add a simple adapter cable to your existing desktop computer. This way you’ll save money and won’t feel guilty when you’re watching TV shows or while playing some games.
John has been a gamer since the early age of 7, playing a huge variety of single-player games, and MMOs, and even participating in LAN Tournaments for FPS games such as Counter-Strike Global Offensive. Ever since he found his passion in gaming & in technology in general, he has continuously increased his knowledge in software, programming & hardware and is now working at TechReviewTeam helping readers, answering questions, writing articles & reviews for the team.