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Fine Tuning an LCD Monitor Connected to an Analog Port

by maxx on April 14th, 2007

Quite a while ago, I discovered the joys and productivity of using multiple monitors. On my current system, I have two identical Samsung 19″ LCD monitors connected to an ATI Radeon 9800 Pro. Unfortunately, the video card only has a single DVI connector so my second monitor is hooked up through the analog SVGA port.

When I first hooked it up, I couldn’t get over how bad the monitor looked when it was hooked to the analog port. I knew it would be worse, but it looked defective, or as if the resolution was not set to the native LCD resolution. Also, I love ClearType, but on the monitor connected via SVGA it looked horrible no matter how much I used the ClearType tuner.

This is what I learned…

For a while, I just hit auto adjust when things looked particularly poor. It usually helped a bit, but invariably the poor quality would show up again in spades in some other context, and it never helped a lot. At one point, I hit auto adjust when the only thing displayed on the monitor was a solid blue background. The next time I dragged a window across, it looked like a car hit my screen. That’s when I suspected the feature was relying on feedback from the signal generated by the image to adjust itself correctly.

With my newfound realization, I started hunting for an image complex enough to give the electronics something difficult to chew on. My first attempt was to see if the old Windows 3.1 desktop patterns survived through Windows XP. The black and white checkerboard gray-scale seemed like an ideal pattern to help the monitor adjust itself. No dice, Microsoft finally put a stake through that particular feature after Windows 2000.

So I put together this quick little utility to assist my monitor with its auto adjusting woes. All it does is set various background patterns to display on the monitor to adjust. I am happy to say that by using the white and black pixel checkerboard pattern, the result of the auto-adjust function on my Samsung 930B resulted in an image rivaling the DVI connected 930B. ClearType looks beautiful, there are no more strange shimmering or jittering effects, and I can be productive on both of my monitors again!

Just to make sure I wasn’t imagining things, I pressed the auto adjust button on the monitor with a solid blue background again. When I dragged the checkerboard window across, it looked horrendous and ClearType was in a shambles. Now I hit the auto adjust with the checkerboard up, and watched as the monitor figured out how to display it perfectly again.

I’ve attached the utility as well as the source code. It is mind-numbingly trivial, but I’ve already thought of more patterns (and color patterns) to add based on what I learned about LCD technology. Right now I am just using some embedded resources and tiling the image…

Usage is pretty straight-forward:

  1. Run the program
  2. Maximize the window on the LCD monitor to adjust (connected to an analog port)
  3. The checkboard pattern should be all you need, but I added a couple other patterns via context menu

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Video Patterns
Video Patterns Source Code

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One Comment
  1. Anonymous permalink

    Wow, this is great. I have twin NEC 1760Vs that are wonderful except for their lack of a DVI port, and the fact that I could never get them adjusted properly so some part of the screen was always fuzzy. Threw this program on each monitor, hit Auto Adjust and the picture’s perfect now. Thanks!

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