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Screensavers
And LCD Displays

It's ironic but 100% true: while screen savers once served a very useful purpose when we all used cathode ray tube monitors (ie they helped prevent phosphor burn and thus extended monitor life), the rise of LCD monitors in the last few years has changed everything.

In fact, some people argue that screen savers now reduce the lifespan of monitors and we should all stop using them.

Why so? Well, two reasons:

  • Monitors running screensavers consume the same amount of power as they do when running normally. However, most modern computers can be set to switch the monitor into a lower power mode and blank the screen altogether after a set period of inactivity. In fact, a power saving mode for monitors which allows this to happen is usually part of the power management options supported in most modern operating systems (though it must also be supported by the computer hardware and monitor itself).
     
  • In addition to this, using a screensaver with a flat panel or LCD screen instead of powering down the screen can actually reduce the lifetime of the display, since the fluorescent backlight remains lit and ages faster than it would if the screen was turned off completely (a typical LCD screen loses about 50% of its brightness during a normal product lifetime if left on continuously).

Both of these arguments are perfectly true.

But against this, it has to be said that monitors are nowhere near as expensive as they once were (many people now buy a new monitor every few years as a matter of course). And many people enjoy screen-savers for their own sake, regardless of purely practical considerations.

So the choice of whether or not to use a screen saver these days really comes down to an individual, personal choice about how you'd like your desktop to look and work

The days when this choice also had a practical aspect are quickly going, going... gone.

Other Screen Saver Saver Resources

Screen Savers
Background: A screen saver is a program that displays images - or even nothing at all - when your monitor hasn't been used for a certain period of time.

In general, screen savers will prolong your monitor's life and help you avoid screen-burn (ie having an image burned into your monitor screen because the same image has been displayed for too long).

Screen burn is something that used to be a big problem with early cathode ray tube monitors but is far less of a problem with today's flat-screen LCD monitors, which don't produce images via phosphors.

As a result, most screen savers in use today have more of a decorative or entertainment function more than a practical one.

Nonetheless, some quite practical uses that screen savers can still be put to include:

  • providing rudimentary security for PCs (eg: asking a user to enter a password before allowing them to resume work)
  • activating a useful background task (such as a virus scan or a distributed computing application like the SETI@home project). This is convenient because these applications only use resources when the computer would be otherwise idle.
  • delivering real time images and/or data on computer displays (some applications have now been developed which will display live weather, news headlines or traffic data on computer screens).

Windows comes supplied with a variety of screen savers, and you can set which one will be displayed and the inactivity period after which the screen saver will kick in through your Control Panel (this is generally found in Start > Control Panel > Display > Screen Saver).

However, many people find Windows screen savers dull and prefer to use their own instead. So they either build their own using a Screen Saver Maker or download one from the many that are freely available on the Net.

Unfortunately, some screen savers on the Net can be infected with adware, spyware, viruses or other malware. So downloading and/or installing new screen savers without adequate protection can be a fast road to ruin. In 2006, for example, the BBC reported that "screensavers" and "free screensavers" respectively were the first and third most likely search terms to return links to malware

Because of this, we recommend that you use trusted screen saver sites that either distribute the files off their own servers or pre-emptively scan the screen savers they review, rather than from anonymous sites (though movie web sites which make screen savers available to promote their movies are a pretty safe bet).

Here's our quick guide to 8 of the best and most trustworthy screen saver mega-sites on the Net. Between them, they'll easily give you more than 2,000 unique, often beautiful and completely free screen-savers to choose between:

 

Popular Screen Saver Sites
AAAScreensavers.Com
AAAScreensavers.Com offer instant downloads of literally thousands of screen savers in a wide variety of categories. Each screen saver is reviewed and can be downloaded on the spot. You can also view a static clip of each one's screen (to get a feel for what it would be like) and they have a very effective site search engine too. Go to AAAScreensavers.com.

 

Screensaver.Com
Screensaver.Com are part of the Freeze.com global network and they have many thousands of free screen savers available. Their catergorisation system isn't as easy as AAAScreensavers (above) and their search function doesn't turn up as many options, but if you just want the best of the bunch their primary categories (eg: "most Popular", "Seasonal Favourites" etc) are very helpful. Like AAAScreensavers, they also make preview screen snapshots available.
Go to Screensaver.com.

 

Screen-Savers.Com
Screen-Savers.Com (not to be confused with Screensaver.Com, above) is a smaller site that's also part of the Freeze.com network. They make around 30 very high-quality screen savers available that they've developed themselves. They include interactive screen savers and a Photo Cube screen saver you can customise with your own photos. All screen savers come with a preview screen and because of the limited number available, the site is quick and easy to navigate. Go to Screen-Savers.com.

 

JoBlo.Com
JoBlo.Com is a very large movies site, and they have an equally large screen savers area where you can download literally hundreds of movie screen savers (most of which have been produced by the movie studios). You can search out particular movie screen savers by the movie's name using an alphabetical index or the site's search engine, and all screen savers display a preview image. This is quite an awesome site if you're a big movies fan!
Go to JoBlo.com.

 

FreeHalloweenScreensavers.com
If you're a Halloween or gothic horror buff, this unique site specialises in halloween and horror movie screen savers - and it has around 65 of them (including some halloween and horror themed animated screen savers). All screen savers are available with previews and because the site isn't all that big, it's very easy to look through. In fact, we think it's quirky, fairly unique and quite a lot of fun! Go to FreeHalloweenScreensavers.com.

 

4-Free-Screensavers.com
4-Free-Screensavers.com is a big screen saver review site (ie they don't actually distribute the files themselves, but instead send you to the author's site). However, they do check all their listings for adware, spyware and viruses and will instantly remove any screensaver in their links that contains something objectionable. You can search for screen savers alphabetically by name and each screen saver comes with a review and screen preview. The site site is also very pleasant to browse through. Go to 4-Free-Screensavers.com.

 

Topdownloads.net's Screen Savers
Topdownloads.net is a large download site and their screen saver section has around 1,000 free screen savers broken down by category (this is probably a faster way to browse the site than using the site's search engine). All screen savers come with a review and screenshots, and users are invited to add their comments too. And once you've made your choice you can download the screen saver directly from TopDownload's site. Go to TopDownloads.net.

 

ScreenSaverGallery.com
ScreenSaverGallery.com is one of the oldest and largest free screen saver review sites on the Net, and have been around almost as long as we have. They have a formidably large collection of screen savers and remove any infected screen saver from their listings that's reported to them. All their screen savers have reviews and many (though not all) have screen previews as well. Users are also invited to provide feedback about any screen saver they download.
Go to ScreenSaverGallery.com.
This page last updated: 16-Aug-2008

 


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