Mid-tone response time is usually declared for monitors with response time compensation. Such models do have a considerably better speed as you could see in my previous article called LCD Panels with Response Time Compensation: 7 Monitors Reviewed . However, my tests of the L173WT prove that it still uses an old 25ms matrix without any compensation.
The first picture, a 3D histogram, shows that mid-tone transitions are performed no faster than by ordinary S-IPS matrixes. The matrix is as slow as 30 milliseconds on some transitions, although the average response time is really about 15 milliseconds.
The second picture, a 2D chart showing transitions from black to deferent levels of gray, is the same as an ordinary non-overdriven S-IPS matrix would have.
Thus, it is the speed measurement method that has changed rather than the matrix. From the user’s point of view, there is of course no difference between the old and new matrixes.
This gamma curves diagram represents the monitor’s color transfer capacity at the default settings. It’s easy to see the monitor has too much contrast – the green and red curves have a characteristic bend in the top of the diagram, and the blue color is over-saturated. In other words, light-blue tones are not distinguishable from each other.
Let’s check it at the reduced brightness/contrast settings.
Alas, the monitor now doesn’t differentiate between dark tones – of all the three basic colors. It doesn’t reproduce almost one third of the range.
So, nothing has improved since the L172WT as concerns color reproduction. The monitor still reacts very badly at any change of the brightness and contrast settings.
The color temperature proved to be exceedingly high. There is no mode with a temperature of less than 8000K, despite the menu claiming a temperature of 6500K. You should make the image warmer by manual adjustment of the R-G-B channels rather than by choosing a menu option.
As for the brightness characteristics of the monitor, its contrast ratio is quite normal for an S-IPS matrix (which never sported a really high contrast), but it degenerates suddenly as soon as you change anything in the settings.
So, here’s my verdict: the Flatron M173WA is nothing else but the old L172WT in a new case. There’s no difference in functionality or image quality between them. Moreover, the M173WA has all the defects of its predecessor. These monitors are made on absolutely identical matrixes, even though they have different response time values written in their specifications – the speed has improved due to the new measurement method rather than to any real improvement of the matrix. Alas, the utter inaccurateness of color reproduction setup – the monitor can only reproduce all the colors normally at the default or close-to-default settings – makes it unappealing as a monitor for work or games or as an LCD TV-set.