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One would want to have a more serious tool for professional applications, and the XL20 is going be shipped with the more advanced Eye-One Display 2.

The Natural Color Expert software is included with the calibrator. It has three operation modes: calibration, emulation and backlight irregularity correction. In the first mode the program calibrates the monitor, and the user can specify the desired levels of white and black. In the second mode the program can use the monitor’s profile to create another profile with desired parameters (e.g. with another color temperature). In the third mode the screen is divided into 9 zones and the program measures the levels of black and white in each zone and corrects those levels if they differ between the zones. Well, our sample of the monitor had a uniform backlight to start with, so the correction results were hard to see.

The monitor is surprisingly compact. While the NEC LCD2190UXi is rather bulky and the NEC SpectraView Reference 21 is huge (with a very thick case and a weight of over 18 kilos), the XL20 is just one centimeter thicker than Samsung’s consumer models and weighs only 7.6kg.

Light-emitting diodes are very compact light sources, so why are the NEC and the Samsung larger than their counterparts with CCFL-based backlighting? It is actually the compactness of LEDs that presents a certain problem here. It’s more difficult to make a light-diffusing system for them that would ensure a uniform lighting of the entire screen. It is also more difficult to dissipate heat from them. The efficiency of a LED is comparable to the efficiency of CCFLs, but the lamp is large and is a kind of a heatsink for itself whereas the tiny LED crystal needs a separate heatsink. We don’t see heatsinks on ordinary LEDs only because they have relatively low power.

Otherwise, the design of the case resembles both the popular SyncMaster 215TW and the xx6 series, expected to come out this spring (SyncMaster 206BW and SyncMaster 226BW). The case is black and the front panel is dark blue (some people don’t even realize it has any tone at first – the color is very dark).

The monitor is based on an VA matrix, so everything I’ve said above about the difference in the viewing angles of S-IPS and VA applies to it, too.

The XL20 comes with a light-visor, very neatly made and padded with black velvet on the inside. Such visors are included with NEC’s SpectraView monitors and can also be purchased separately.

There is a shiny label on the monitor informing you that the monitor uses LED-based backlighting. Unfortunately, this label cannot be removed, although it is a common practice with monitors of this class to make any contrasting elements on the front panel easily detachable (for example, on EIZO ColorEdge monitors even the manufacturer’s name is not painted, but printed on a removable sticker).

The monitor’s base allows to adjust the height of the screen (in a range of 100 millimeters), to tilt it, to turn it into the portrait mode, and to rotate it around the vertical axis. The stand can be replaced with a standard VESA-compatible mount.

By the way, the photograph above shows a 1cm wide insertion between the monitor’s front and rear panels. It is this insertion that makes the monitor thicker in comparison with consumer models.

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