So we’ve made the move to flat computer screens, which have many advantages over their bulky CRT ancestors; but the vendors pulled a fast one on us when it comes to the controls for adjusting the screen’s image.
In the good ol’days, every monitor had at least two round knobs, one for contrast, one for brightness. This is as good as it gets from a human engineering perspective. You just twiddle the knobs back and forth until your eyes tell your brain to tell your fingers to stop right there. Today, we have instead an On-screen Display (OSD), which some vendors tout as a good thing; in reality it is slow, unfriendly and confusing. The idea is that you use a line of pushbuttons the navigate a hierarchy of menus just to get to the function you need, and then you need to click a good deal more to effect the adjustment. To make sure this is easy, the buttons are often labeled by cryptic symbols in near-invisible relief (as in the photo below, of my Samsung SyncMaster 913N); and the logic they use, though simple, is far from intuitive. This may be justified – indeed inevitable – for accessing the numerous advanced functions that did not exist in the CRT days; but couldn’t they have left alone those more basic controls?
That’s progress for you (sigh)…
So, what can we do about this? Adding analog controls is not realistic on these super-integrated monitors. The only thing left, which actually removes much of the confusion, is to do what the vendor should have done – mark the controls with visible labels, as I’ve done: