Work-from-home trend powers monitor sales

Research firm Euromonitor predicts retail sales in Singapore will soar to five-year high; manufacturers are seeing sales growth of 30% to 500%

Sales of computer monitors in Singapore are bucking the coronavirus-fuelled downturn as consumers switch to working at home.

The surge in computer monitor sales here is a rare bright spot for the consumer electronics industry, which has seen sales of big-ticket items such as smartphones and televisions decline as consumers tighten their belts.

Market research firm Euromonitor International predicts that retail sales (excluding business-to-business, or B2B, sales) of computer monitors here will rise by 4,500 units this year to almost 50,000 units - a 10 per cent increase over that last year. This would also be the highest sales figure recorded by Euromonitor for monitors in Singapore since 2015.

A handful of manufacturers surveyed by The Straits Times say their monitor sales here have risen in the past three months compared with the same period last year. Their growth ranges from 30 per cent to 500 per cent.

Overall, the local market will dip by 3 per cent this year to around 408,000 units, says market research firm IDC, which tracks both retail and B2B monitor shipments. This decline is less than its March forecast of a drop of 7 per cent.

Market research firm Omdia has also readjusted its forecast for PC monitors in the light of the pandemic. Senior principal analyst Hidetoshi Himuro says around 28.5 million units were shipped globally in the first quarter of this year, a 34 per cent increase from an earlier forecast of 21.3 million units. He attributes this unexpected rise to the work-from-home trend, which is likely to persist for a few years until a "new normal" is reached.

Omdia says global monitor shipments will remain flat this year at around 0.4 per cent growth to reach around 127 million monitors shipped.

Sales manager Edwin Tan, 46, who bought a gaming monitor during the circuit breaker period, says: "Since work from home was implemented, I have started to use my gaming PC for work too. I was already thinking of getting a high refresh rate monitor for first-person shooter games and, as a bonus, having two monitors definitely helps with my productivity."

Mr Tan picked a 165Hz high refresh rate monitor that enables a smoother gameplay experience compared with standard monitors that have a 60Hz refresh rate.

GAMING MONITORS RISING

Gaming monitors, while still a niche segment, are growing faster than non-gaming models, says Mr Himuro. He estimates that global shipments of gaming monitors this year will increase by 41 per cent year on year to reach around 10 million units.

The gaming monitor segment has also generated buzz, with manufacturers racing to boost the refresh rate of displays. The latest models boast a refresh rate of up to 360Hz. And it could go higher - Mr Himuro says the human eye can perceive refresh rates of up to 1,000Hz in some cases.

 
 
 

Other trending features to watch are ultra-wide models with an aspect ratio of 21:9 (and higher) and USB-C connectivity, says Mr Bryan Ma, vice-president of devices research at IDC. Ultra-wide monitors offer more horizontal screen real estate. This, says Mr Ma, makes users more productive as they can "lay out multiple windows across one's screen without having to switch between them or scroll across long spreadsheets".

Having a USB-C port on a monitor reduces cable clutter for those who own newer thin and light notebooks with USB-C or Thunderbolt 3 ports. Instead of requiring multiple cables for power and video, a single USB-C cable can send video from the laptop to the monitor while delivering power from the monitor to the notebook.

Analysts also point to portable monitors as an upcoming trend. These battery-powered, thin and light monitors connect to notebooks and even smartphones through USB-C. With modern workers increasingly mobile, they may find portable monitors that can be carried between their homes and their offices a useful computer peripheral.


PC MONITORS FOR ALL USES AND BUDGETS

1 AOC 24G2 gaming monitor

$299

The AOC 24G2 is the budget gaming monitor to beat. This 24-inch IPS display has a 144Hz refresh rate and a 1ms response time at under $300.

Screen bezels are thin while the height of the monitor stand is adjustable. Those with an AMD graphics card can also enjoy smooth, tear-free performance via the monitor's support for AMD's FreeSync Premium technology.

2 Acer Nitro VG272X gaming monitor

$498

Fans of fast action games should consider the Acer Nitro VG272X. This 27-inch gaming monitor boasts a variable refresh rate (up to 240Hz) that synchronises with the game's frame rates - via Nvidia's G-Sync technology - for smooth stutter-free gameplay.

Thanks to its in-plane switching (IPS) panel, you can be assured that videos and images look good with accurate colours.

3 Asus ZenScreen Touch MB16AMT

$699

For mobile workers who are always on the road, the Asus ZenScreen Touch MB16AMT is a handy companion for work and play. This portable battery-powered 15.6-inch touchscreen monitor weighs just 900g and lasts up to four hours on a single charge. It can connect to laptops, game consoles and even compatible Android smartphones via USB-C or micro-HDMI.

4 BenQ PD3200U 4K monitor

$1,099

Large 32-inch 4K monitors intended for creative professionals who require accurate and wide colour gamuts usually go for thousands of dollars. Hence, the BenQ PD3200U, which covers 100 per cent of the sRGB and Rec. 709 colour spaces, is quite a bargain.

It also has a keyboard, video and mouse (KVM) switch that lets users view and easily switch between two computers connected to it while using a single set of keyboard and mouse.

5 Dell UltraSharp 27 4K USB-C monitor (U2720Q)

$849

For power users who occasionally dabble in photo and video editing, the Dell UltraSharp 27 4K monitor offers accurate, factory-calibrated colours at a more affordable price than a professional-grade monitor.

Those with USB-C laptops can also reduce cable clutter as the monitor's USB-C port can deliver power to the laptop and, at the same time, accept a video signal from the laptop through a single USB-C cable.

6 Lenovo ThinkVision T24v-20 VoIP monitor

$314

With its built-in infrared Web camera and dual microphones, the ThinkVision T24v-20 is the ideal monitor for the work-from-home brigade.

Not only would it ensure your Zoom meetings go smoothly, but its camera is also Windows Hello-compatible and uses facial recognition to instantly log you into your Windows system. Bonus feature: a physical camera shutter to protect your privacy.

7 Mi Curved Gaming Monitor 34"

$699

Chinese brand Xiaomi's first foray into gaming monitors, the Mi Curved Gaming Monitor, is priced to compete. This $699 ultra-wide monitor has a sharp 3,440 x 1,440-pixel (WQHD) resolution and a maximum refresh rate of 144Hz (as well as supports AMD FreeSync Premium).

It looks sleek with slim screen bezels of 2mm on three sides, and is functional with its height and tilt adjustment capability.

8 LG 34WN650-W UltraWide monitor

$699

LG has been leading the charge for ultra-wide monitors with the 21:9 aspect ratio that offers more screen real estate. Its latest 34-inch UltraWide monitor lets you view multiple windows and documents side by side. Using the ScreenSplit function in LG's OnScreen Control software, you can further customise and arrange open windows on the monitor.

As it uses an IPS panel, expect no less than wide viewing angles (178 degrees) and good colour accuracy. The latter is also aided by the monitor's 99 per cent coverage of the sRGB colour space.

9 Prism+ F270i Pro gaming monitor

$469

Local brand Prism+ offers an impressive selection of budget monitors and televisions. But The Straits Times' pick of its gaming monitors is the F270i Pro, which combines a crisp 2,560 x 1,440-pixel screen resolution with a fast 144Hz refresh rate.

This refresh rate can be synced with an AMD graphics card to eliminate visual tearing through AMD's FreeSync technology.

10 Samsung Odyssey G9 Super Ultra Wide gaming monitor

$2,899, ships next Wednesday

For those with the budget (and desk real estate), the 49-inch Samsung Odyssey G9 is the mother of all ultra-wide gaming monitors to consider.

Besides having a pronounced curve that increases immersion while gaming, the G9 also has all the bells and whistles of a top gaming monitor, such as a 240Hz refresh rate, compatibility with both Nvidia G-Sync and FreeSync Premium Pro technologies, and a rapid 1ms response time. With a peak brightness of 1,000 nits, the G9 is also much brighter than typical monitors.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 29, 2020, with the headline 'Work-from-home trend powers monitor sales'. Print Edition | Subscribe