I've had occasion to buy a couple of small (8 char 2 line) LCD modules from eBay and I thought it would be worth documenting the results for other LCD newbies.
The two LCDs were http://cgi.ebay.com/Mini-0802-Characters-LCD-Module-LCD-Demo-Board_W0QQitemZ370213664670QQcmdZViewItemQQptZLH_DefaultDomain_0?hash=item563274379e&_trksid=p3286.c0.m14&_trkparms=65%3A12%7C66%3A2%7C39%3A1%7C72%3A1205%7C240%3A1318%7C301%3A1%7C293%3A1%7C294%3A50 US$12.99 from Sure Electronics and http://cgi.ebay.com/CHARACTER-LCD-MODULE-LCM-JHD-802-A-TN-8X2_W0QQitemZ190314186724QQcmdZViewItemQQptZLH_DefaultDomain_0?hash=item2c4f9c07e4&_trksid=p3286.m20.l1116 US$5.00 from E'go China Electronics.
I'll call them Sure and E'go for short.
Both prices included shipping and both took about a week and a half to arrive in Ottawa Canada.
The two modules look about the same, the Sure being slightly wider where the backlight fits. !(http://i.ebayimg.com/17/!BU(UT2QBGk~$(KGrHgoOKjcEjlLm(,PeBKNOIsTnh!~~_2.JPG)
As you look at the Sure module (on the left) you can see behind it the demo board included in the price. This is quite a cute little thing with a pic micro pre-programmed to drive the LCD board. If you're just slapping this into a chassis you won't care about it but I found it great for being sure the thing worked and understanding the connections.
Both modules have dual inline header spots above the lCD - the Sure is 16 pins and the E'go 14 (no backlight connection needed). I was able to drive the E'go with the Sure demo board with a bit of fooling around.
Both modules work with the standard Arduino liquidcrystal library for standard and custom characters.
As far as viewability goes, I like the Sure module a lot better. Both are nominally set up for 6:00 o'clock viewing (highest contrast when seen at an angle from below) but the Sure is highly visible from dead on to 60 degrees off axis with the contrast Vo set at 0 where the E'go seems to have less contrast to start and requires the Vo to be adjusted when you go from dead-on to maybe 45 degrees off.**
The E'go also seems to flicker if updated rapidly.
E'go Module Specs Display: 8 Characters X 2 lines LCD Type: TN LED Backlight: No Backlight Module Size: 40.0 X 35.4 X 6.0 Viewing Area: 30.4 X 13.9 Character Size: 2.95 X 4.15 Controller IC: S6A0069 or equal Sure Module Specs Display Format: 8 Characters X 2 Lines Drive Method 1/16 Duty , 1/5 Bias LCD Type STN Yellow Green Driving Voltage single +5V supply Viewing Direction 6 o'clock Operating Temperature -10 celi ~ +60 celi Module Size 40 mm X 35.5 mm X 12 mm Viewing Area 30 mm X 14 mm
**Further note These modules all seem to have a contrast adjustment connector on pin 3. This adjustment is usually set to a low-ish voltage(maybe .5 to 1.5V) with a variable resistor and the adjustment affects the contrast differently for different LCD types and at different angles. For example the E'go is visible dead on with 0 volts on pin 3 but not at a 45 degree angle; if you set pin 3 to around 1 volt the characters are visible at 45 degrees but have disappeared when viewed head on. The Sure module is visible at 45 degrees and dead on with pin 3 set to 0 volts.