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Reviewed by: Carl Nelson [11.25.05]



If you have an ounce of sanity in your body, it is very likely you are not planning on heading out to the Black Friday Sales today to fight over that awesome 4X DVD-R spindle for $0.99 or 128 MB MP3 player for $49.99. Or you might find a "sale" on an iPod Nano - the price won't be different but you will get a free $5 case!

Today is not only overhyped in terms of actual deals to be had, but it is going to be a living HELL fighting other bargain hunters for the very few non-obsolete products that are priced well tomorrow. And good luck finding a parking spot.

This guide is for those who are looking to buy PC Hardware gifts for their techie friends, but don't want to deal with the insanity that is Black Friday. You might not get a 256 MB SD Card for $10, but you will find gifts that people actually want, and prices won't be bad either.

LCD Monitors

If your recipient is still using a 50 lb. 20" CRT monitor, maybe it's time for a change. LCD's may not have the refresh capabilities or colour depth of good CRT's, they are not nearly as bad as they once were. And if your friend has an older CRT, chances are image quality has degraded quite a bit since it was new anyway. LCD's are quite reasonably priced as well.

For the gamer: ViewSonic VX924

If your friend is a gamer, he doesn't have to put up with nasty ghosting issues when playing on an LCD monitor. With a 3ms pixel refresh rate, the 19" ViewSonic VX924 has quickly become a popular option for gamers. With low bit rate colour depth, 550:1 contrast ratio, 270 cd/m2 brightness level, image quality isn't going to be spectacular on this display. But if gaming is the top priority, this is a great choice.

For the image quality freak: Samsung SyncMaster 204T

If your recipient needs a little more real estate, this 20.1" 1600x1200 display from Samsung will please. For a 20.1" screen, the 204T is very small, and will take up little space. The specs are great too: 700:1 contrast ratio, 300 cd/m2 brightness level, and while 16ms pixel refresh isn't as impressive as the 3ms ViewSonic, it should be sufficient for slower-running games like World of Warcraft. The viewing angle is also good, at 178 degrees all around.

For the PC Theatre: Dell 2405FPW

Although I can't personally stand it, there is no question that PC's are becoming a popular medium for watching movies. The thought of sitting in front of a computer and doing nothing but watching doesn't really appeal to me, but if you know someone who is into this, you might want to consider this screen from Dell. With a display of 24" and a resolution of 1920x1200, you will see every detail possible in DVDs (which may be a bad thing, because you'll see how little they actually have ;)). Specs stand out too: 1000:1 contrast ratio, 500 cd/m2 brightness level, and 16ms pixel refresh rate.

If that's a bit rich your you, a 20.1" model is also available. The aspect ratio is the same, but resolution is lower at 1680x1050.

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