I know whay you mean by loosing a monitor. I've been crying like a little girl with a skinned knee when my KDS blew up. It was cheap a few years back and I was juuuust starting to talk good about it here in the forums...then boom. Like you, I had to scrounge up a 15" to get back to my PC. (I found mine on the side of the road! hahaha...)
That being said, I've totally rethought my idea of monitors value-wise. When I bought that monitor, I knew it was cheap and it was bigger than the 17" I had at that time. But a few years down the road, it not only toasted itself, but took out my video card and then screwed the second monitor too. No way. This time I spent some cash...
But don't feel like I'm scaring you away from the refurbs. If it's a good company, their refurb process should be fine. If a card blows in the monitor, then they just swap the board with a new one. I don't see too much else in there that could go bad that wouldn't cause a new one to go as well.
But why refurbished? I see that you've found the viewsonics for about $160, but don't overlook that it's a shadow mask unit and has a pretty horrible 27mm diagonal dot pitch. Those kind of specs really aren't worth having around with even MODERATE graphic work. I really love the P95F+B 19" from viewsonic. It has everything I'd look for in a monitor in that size range. I've compared them all in another thread, so i'm not too excited about doing it again...
http://www.newegg.com/app/ViewProductDe ... 232&depa=0
If you shop refurbished (and I would) I'd still try to get the monitor I would want in retail area rather than just getting some other brand because it's available.
Things I'd look for:
- at least .25mm DIAGONAL pitch. Some list horizontal which really isn't a fair comparison.
- aperature grill. I can't even stare at a shadow mask unit more than a few minutes anymore.
- high refreshrates. I'd say 1600x1200 @ 85Hz is a good goal. If you run 1024x768 still, a monitor with that spec should be able to run that resolution at 100Hz. High is good. Again, I can't look at something below 80 without getting a serious headache.
Once you find one you want, check and see if you can find one cheap on pricewatch, then try to look at what you can get in the refurbs.
Monitors I like: Viewsonic (G or P series), NEC and HP for the middle class CRT's. But again, I'm a Viewsonic P-series whore at the moment!
Oh, Don't forget shipping on either the refurb or the retail! I see that the 19" monitors run $35 to ship.