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Notebook LCD Screen Characteristics

We checked out some parameters of the notebook’s LCD panel with a ColorVision Spyder3Elite calibrator and a photo-sensor designed to measure the response time of the LCD matrix. You can refer to this article to learn more about our methods of testing LCD monitors.

The brightness and contrast ratio parameters are just what you can expect from a notebook’s screen. The maximum brightness is sufficient for working under daylight but it may be too low for a sunny day. For comparison, desktop LCD monitors have a max brightness of 250-300 nits. The screen brightness is regulated by means of backlight modulation.

The contrast ratio is rather low, too. For comparison, modern desktop monitors have a contrast ratio of 500:1 and higher in this test. This won’t be a problem at work, but watching a movie in a dim room won’t be as enjoyable with this notebook as with a standalone monitor not only because of the screen size but also because of the lack of deep black.

The gamma curves suggest that the notebook’s color reproduction is far from perfect. The curves deflect from each other as well as from the theoretical curve (it is black in the diagram). The notebook displays colors, especially blue halftones, lighter than they should be.

The color temperature setup is nothing but awful. White has a normal color temperature (it is going to look white under ordinary conditions), but the grays are obviously bluish. The color temperature grows twofold on dark gray! The M50Sv produces a very cold-looking picture. It is even unpleasant to look at, let alone using the notebook for editing or viewing photos. Unfortunately, this problem can hardly be corrected manually. If you adjust the gray balance in the graphics card settings, white will get too warm and reddish. Such problems can only be corrected with a hardware calibrator.

You can see this in the diagrams showing the position of the white and gray points on a fragment of the standard CIE diagram: the cross denoting white is indeed white whereas the crosses denoting grays are lower on the left, in the blue zone. Fortunately, there is no deflection towards greens or pink.

But even if you have calibrated the notebook’s screen and got rid of pale faces and blue shadows, you cannot get the same color reproduction as on a desktop LCD monitor. Why? Because of the color gamut. Desktop monitors have an sRGB or larger color gamut (it is marked with a black triangle in the diagram above) whereas notebooks have a color gamut of about 60% of sRGB. In other words, if a color looks red on a desktop monitor, it will look orange on this notebook. This notebook gives you a greenish blue and a yellowish green as well. This is a fundamental problem. You cannot solve it by tweaking the notebook’s settings.

Finally, we measured the response time of the notebook’s LCD matrix. Alas, the M50Sv is not brilliant from this aspect, either. It has a response time average of 19.1 milliseconds (GtG) with a maximum of 34.8 milliseconds. This roughly corresponds to desktop LCD monitors produced a few years ago.

This section of our review may sound a bit pessimistic, but the LCD matrix of the M50Sv is in fact quite standard as notebooks go. Perhaps its color temperature setup is worse than usual, but we have not yet met a notebook whose LCD panel was set up really accurately. We just wanted to show you that notebooks can’t compete with desktop PCs in terms of color reproduction. There are problems that you can solve with a calibrator, but there are fundamental drawbacks that cannot be corrected at all. We don’t mean the notebook’s display is no good at all, but you should keep this fact in mind if you are buying a notebook as a replacement to your desktop PC.

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