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The monitors described in this article can’t be considered as direct rivals. They rather offer you some freedom of choice between models each of which has its own pros and cons.

If the SyncMaster XL20 cost $5000, there wouldn’t be any competition because NEC and EIZO offer professional monitors with the same LED-based backlighting, but broader capabilities and much better setup in this sector. But the XL20 costs less than half that money and is thus a competitor to the NEC SpectraView 2190.

Compared to it, the XL20 has drawbacks:

  • One-inch smaller display, although with the same native resolution
  • Lower quality of the factory setup: the monitor is set up just like good home monitors, but no better. This is largely compensated by the included calibrator GretagMacbeth Eye-One Display 2 and the monitor’s support for full-featured hardware calibration
  • Fewer settings: the XL20 doesn’t differ much from ordinary home monitors in this respect whereas NEC’s 2190 series offers broad opportunities for manual color reproduction setup. Yet this drawback is again partially compensated by the calibrator.

And it has one big advantage:

  • Enhanced color gamut. The XL20’s color gamut is indeed much larger than that of monitors with CCFL-based backlighting. It doesn’t have competitors in this parameter in the price category of $2000.

Thus, the problem of choice between NEC’s 2190 series (MultiSync or SpectraView, depending on whether you need the calibrator or not) and the XL20 comes down to what’s important for your personal needs, accurate and rich settings or a larger color gamut. I can’t say that the NEC or the Samsung is definitely better. Either of them can be preferable, depending on the particular requirements. I also hope that Samsung will have corrected most of the mentioned drawbacks by the release date as they are all related to the monitor’s setup and software rather than to its hardware capabilities. They’ve already decided to change the included calibrator, replacing the X-Rite Huey with the more advanced Eye-One Display 2.

I also want to draw your attention to the fact that Samsung has proved that the LED-based backlight isn’t that expensive by itself. It is quite possible to make a monitor with such backlight that would have a high, yet more or less affordable, price. I am sure there will soon appear new monitors with LED-based backlight at prices comparable to the XL20. Without doubt, such models will eventually oust all others in the sector of professional monitors.

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