The color reproduction setup options have been extended, too. Color temperature can be set up by six coordinates (save for the sRGB, Native and Programmable modes) – this feature is customary for professional monitors, but rare in consumer products.
Two programs can be used with the MultiSync LCD1990SXi: NaviSet (allows changing the monitor’s settings from Windows) and GammaComp (per-point gamma curves correction; this feature might be called “hardware calibration” if it were not for one hitch – GammaComp doesn’t support calibrators directly, so it takes some time and ingenuity to perform a real hardware calibration). The LCD1990SXi uses 12-bit internal color representation, but has an ordinary 8-bit matrix. The enhanced color precision is needed for a more accurate processing of the image when adjusting it for the specified contrast, color temperature and gamma curve and allows avoiding such artifacts as striped gradients. In other words, the monitor receives 8-bit data from the computer, translates them into 12-bit format for processing, processes and translates back into 8-bit form and finally sends them to the matrix.
The monitor’s brightness and contrast are set at 100% and 50% respectively by default. To achieve 100-nit brightness of white I selected 51.4% brightness and 42.1% contrast (the numbers are not rounded off in the monitor’s menu, although there’s not much practical sense in such precision).
The gamma curves are very neat except for the small bend in the top right. This small defect can be observed on other NEC monitors at the default settings, but it doesn’t vanish here when you lower the contrast. This defect isn’t too serious, though. You will hardly notice it at work.
The quality of color temperature setup can be evaluated from two standpoints: 1) how close the real temperature is to the name of the corresponding menu setting/mode and 2) how far the temperatures of different levels of gray differ at the same menu setting. The first parameter is not critical, especially if the deflection from the nominal value isn’t too big and the number of available settings/modes is large enough for you to choose exactly what you need. As you can see, the real temperature is a little higher than the nominal value in each mode the LCD1990SXi offers. The second parameter is more important because if there is a great difference between the temperatures of different levels of gray (it amounts to thousands degrees in some monitors!), an ordinary grayscale gradient looks toned or colored in some spots. The worst case is when the temperature of white is much lower than that of light-gray – this difference can be easily caught by the eye. And from this point of view, the LCD1990SXi is blameless. It’s only the temperature of dark tones that differs much from white, but this difference is not readily perceived by the eye whereas the temperatures of white and light-gray are very close.
The monitor has an S-IPS matrix without response time compensation. A full response time of 18 milliseconds is declared (on a black-white-black transition), but it is in fact closer to 25 milliseconds. Generally speaking, the 16ms S-IPS matrixes installed in 20” monitors are noticeably faster than their 19” 25ms counterparts, but here you can’t see any big difference from 25ms matrixes. The monitor is rather fast, however. Although the full response is nearly 35 milliseconds, its rise time nearly equals the fall time whereas in TN+Film matrixes with a full response of 35 milliseconds the fall time is only 2-4 milliseconds. As a result, S-IPS matrixes look subjectively faster if you compare RTC-less monitors on S-IPS and TN+Film (S-IPS technology cannot compete with RTC-enabled monitors, of course).
The monitor’s contrast ratio is average, which is no news since S-IPS matrixes have never had a really high contrast. Moreover, a violet shimmer, characteristic of this matrix manufacturing technology, can be seen on a black background if you’re looking at the screen from a side, especially along the diagonal of the screen. This effect isn’t conspicuous and most users just don’t care about it, considering the fact that S-IPS matrixes are unrivalled in terms of viewing angles and color distortions on other LCD matrix types become apparent much more readily than the mentioned violet.
So, the MultiSync LCD1990SXi is a very high-quality work-oriented monitor (but it is also rather expensive at about $700). It comes in a handy and workplace-suitable case. The portrait mode and screen height adjustment are available. The monitor also offers rich setup opportunities and boasts a good reproduction of colors. All this makes it an excellent choice as a basic model for work with color and in CAD/CAM applications (after all, not all people can afford a professional monitor from the SpectraView or ColorEdge series). You may want to buy this monitor for home if you need an accurate color reproduction and options to fine-tune it. Otherwise you should be informed of the fact that the same money can buy you, say, a 20” NEC MultiSync 20WGX2 which has a larger screen and a faster matrix.