Articles: Monitors

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Right now let’s check out the monitor’s main feature, its enhanced color gamut.

In the Custom mode, when the monitor shows all the colors it can show, it is indeed superior to AdobeRGB, yet doesn’t fully cover AdobeRGB. The latter reproduces green and yellow better, but the XL20 is superior at reproducing red and blue-green. However, I have to admit that our ColorVision Spyder Pro calibrator doesn't guarantee high precision when working with monitors featuring broad color gamut, therefore, the green may not be measured correctly.

Alas, the XL20’s color gamut proves to be smaller than it should be to cover the AdobeRGB gamut in the AdobeRGB emulation mode. What’s sad, it is blue and red colors that are cut off, although you have seen in the previous diagram that the XL20 surpasses AdobeRGB exactly at reproducing red! It means the problem is only about the way the emulation is set up.

Alas, there is the same problem with the sRGB emulation: red and green are “suppressed” too much and the monitor’s actual color gamut in the sRGB emulation mode proves to be smaller than it should be. This can even be perceived by the eye, especially with red color.

Thus, the only reasonable way to achieve a precise emulation of the sRGB or AdobeRGB color space on the SyncMaster XL20 is to use the appropriate option of the Natural Color Expert program and write the result into the Emulation item of the Color Mode menu. Unfortunately, there is only one such item there, so you can emulate one mode only.

But I hope that by the moment the monitor is released to the market – this is expected to happen in March – these drawbacks will have been corrected. As the first diagram shows, the monitor has no problems on the hardware level. It indeed covers a much wider range of colors than sRGB.

But let’s move on to other, more trivial, parameters of the monitor.

The gamma curves are acceptable, but only for home applications. The XL20 is much worse than NEC’s 2190 series monitors in this respect. By the way, the X-Rite Huey is unable to correct the shape of the curves because it does not actually measure that shape. But the Eye-One Display 2 calibrator solves this problem.

With all the abundance of color temperature variants, the setup is rather inaccurate. The temperatures of different levels of gray vary greatly, by over 1000K in some modes. The calibrator is needed once again.

The photographs of gray squares on each of which the gray balance is set up by a different square show the problem: if you base the balance setup on white (the first row), the grays become noticeably bluish, but if you base the balance on gray (the second and third rows), white becomes too warm.

By the way, the LED-based backlight provides new opportunities for color temperature setup. This backlight consists of blocks of LEDs of three different colors (red, green and blue) as the use of white LEDs makes no sense due to an inappropriate design and spectrum of such LEDs. So, the color temperature can be regulated by the LEDs, rather than by the matrix. It can be regulated by adjusting the brightness of LEDs of each of the three colors. This provides a larger dynamic range at high and low color temperatures and a higher accuracy of temperature regulation. The color temperature is indeed regulated in this way in the NEC SpectraView Reference 21, but I couldn’t find out definitely how this is implemented in the XL20.

I could only measure the monitor’s response time on black-gray transitions. I couldn’t measure halftone transitions due to the pulse-width modulation of the power of the backlight LEDs at a frequency of 625Hz (like with CCF lamps, other control methods have low efficiency and offer a small range of brightness adjustment).

I can say, however, that the monitor has an average response time by today’s measures, with slower transitions on dark tones as is usually the case with *VA matrixes. The XL20 is not intended for games, after all, whereas its speed is quite enough for work. I didn’t feel any discomfort due to image fuzziness while working with the XL20.

The monitor’s contrast ratio isn’t high. It’s comparable to that of the above-described LCD2190UXi with an S-IPS matrix. The maximum of brightness is ordinary enough, a little over 200 nits. This is more than enough for work.

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