by Aleksey Meyev
07/15/2008 | 07:03 PM
LCD monitors with a screen aspect ratio of 5:4 used to be viewed as mainstream just a little while ago. They were ordinary in contrast to widescreen models with an aspect ratio of 16:10. But now that the manufacturers have got to producing widescreen monitors in earnest, it is possible that we will soon be calling them ordinary instead.
Why are widescreen monitors so popular? There are several reasons for that. First of all, widescreen matrixes are more profitable for the manufacturer because they are somewhat cheaper to make. In the highly competitive market this is a very important factor to consider when you are launching a new model. The lower price of a matrix is explained by its lower size: a 19-inch matrix with an aspect ratio of 5:4 has a total area of 1136 sq. mm as opposed to 1047 sq. mm of a 19-inch matrix with an aspect ratio of 16:10. The amount of displayed information is about the same, though: a classic 19-inch monitor has a native resolution of 1280x1024 or 1.31 million pixels whereas a widescreen 19-incher has a resolution of 1400x900 pixels or 1.296 million pixels. From many users’ point of view, the latter is even preferable, producing a smoother picture due to the smaller pixel pitch.
Widescreen models are also better for watching movies most of which have 16:9 format of the frame. It is easier to work with two open documents simultaneously on them and organize a workspace with lots of subsidiary windows as in Adobe Photoshop. They only do not suit well for CAD/CAM applications – it is handier to work with design drawings on a classic, “square” monitor.
And finally, widescreen monitors are better in terms of ergonomics. It is easier to install them on the desk in such a way that the top edge of the matrix were at the same level with your eyes. Such positioning helps reduce your eye strain: if you are looking somewhat downwards, the eyes are half-covered by the lids and do not dry out (we are blinking less frequently when at work, which is the reason for sore eyes). Monitors with an aspect ratio of 5:4 are taller and you need a lower desk or a higher chair to install them properly. This is a problem considering that many inexpensive monitors do not permit you to adjust the height of the screen above the desk.
Unfortunately, there has never been a single widescreen 19-inch monitor with a matrix type other than TN. It means you have to look among other screen formats if you want to have a monitor with really good vertical viewing angles.
Use the following link for a description of our testing methodology, the equipment we use, and a brief explanation of what the specified and tested parameters of LCD monitors mean: the article is called X-bit Labs Presents: LCD Monitors Testing Methodology In Depth. If you feel overwhelmed with the numbers and terms this article abounds in, check out an appropriate section of the mentioned article for an explanation.
We tested Acer’s AL1916W Asd model for our earlier review. Acer uses the letter "d" to denote the DVI interface. Obviously, the AL1916W Ab lacks it. Let’s see if it is the only difference between the two models.
These specs are perfectly typical of most 19-inch widescreen monitors. The response time of 5 milliseconds indicates a TN matrix without Response Time Compensation. Otherwise, this parameter would be 2 or 4 milliseconds. The viewing angles are very modest but only because they are measured for a contrast ratio of 10:1. As you know from our reviews, the viewing angles of TN matrixes are usually measured using a relaxed method (with a reduction of the contrast ratio to 5:1) producing prettier numbers in the specs.
The monitor follows the traditional design style of the company’s inexpensive models. It has a modest matte plastic case standing on a simple plastic base. The sample I dealt with was black (indicated by the letter b in the model name) but there exists a silvery version called AL1916W As. Well, I think the black version looks better, the color concealing the simplicity and inexpensiveness of the exterior design to some extent. The AL1916W A is going to look good in an office environment but most users may want to prefer more elegant models for home use.
The square plastic stand allows you to tilt the screen as necessary. It can be replaced with a VESA-compatible mount using the holes in the back panel of the case.
The monitor offers a minimum of connectors: an analog D-Sub and a connector of the integrated power adapter. You will hardly have problems with signal quality on modern graphics cards but the digital interface is handier when it comes to connecting and setting the monitor up. That’s why I don’t think it’s right on the manufacturer’s side to save on it.
The control buttons are placed on the protrusion below the front panel, the Power button differing from the others with its size and shape – it is highlighted with a soft green LED at work. Quick access is provided to the auto-adjustment feature and to switching between the factory-set modes. These modes are referred to as Empowering Technology. I will discuss them later. There is one peculiarity about using these modes: when you switch from one to another, the automatic adjustment procedure is done. That’s not a big nuisance, though.
The menu is typical for monitors of this brand. It is not very pretty and does not offer any special conveniences, but it does its job well enough.
The monitor has 77% brightness and 50% contrast by default. I lowered both to 31% to achieve a 100nit white. You should be careful with the contrast setting of this model: when it is as high as 60% and more, details are lost in lights. And when it is 20% or lower, details are lost in darks. Color gradients are reproduced correctly through the entire range of settings. The monitor regulates its brightness by means of pulse-width modulation of the backlight lamps at a frequency of 239Hz.
The brightness of white varies by 5.5% on average, reaching a maximum deflection of 17.5%. That’s acceptable especially as there are no conspicuous spots on the screen: the brightness is smoothly diminishing from the center towards the edges. For black, the average brightness uniformity is 5.8% with a maximum of 14.1%. That’s quite okay, too.
The gamma curves are good at the default settings, differing but slightly from the theoretical curve.
The gamma curves remain almost the same at the reduced brightness and contrast. They are still good, but not ideal.
The monitor’s color temperature setup is far from perfect. It doesn’t really offer a low-temperature mode because the temperature is over 7000K even in the warmest mode (called Warm). There are also huge deviations of temperature between the different levels of gray – up to 10,000K! This model should be set up with a calibrator or at least manually.
The monitor’s color gamut is quite what you can expect from a model with ordinary backlight lamps. Perhaps it differs more than usual from the sRGB color space in reds.
The response time average is 12.6 milliseconds with a maximum of 22.5 milliseconds. These are typical values for TN matrixes without response time compensation. They are even good as such matrixes go. On the other hand, RTC-enabled models are incomparably faster.
The brightness of white and the contrast ratio are quite satisfactory. It’s good that the contrast ratio is never lower than 250:1. That’s not something extraordinary, yet noteworthy anyway.
Now let’s check out the factory-set image modes.
The monitor is too bright even in the Text mode. To remind you, the screen should be 80-120 nits for you to work with text comfortably. So I’d recommend you to set the monitor up manually for text-based applications and switch to the factory-set modes for games and movies.
Unfortunately, the Graphics and Movie modes do not deliver correct colors as the diagram above shows. The contrast setting is set too high, making light halftones indistinguishable from white. The image is overall too whitish. Added to that, the curves go far from each other, so there is no talking about accurate colors. Thus, the Text mode may be the most demanded one because the gamma curves retain their good shapes in it (as at the default settings).
The Acer AL1916W A model will only be good for those people who can put up with its unassuming design, low matrix speed and color reproduction (the AL1916W Asd delivers much better colors) just to save some money. You should consider other models if you can spend more money for your monitor.
Next goes the ASUS VW192C, yet another product from the VW19XX series which includes very similar monitors differing in small details only. Let’s try to make out what is special about this model.
Judging by the specs, the distinguishing trait of the VW192C is that it supports dynamic contrast – this contrast ratio is declared in the specs. To remind you, the point of dynamic contrast technology is in the monitor automatically making the matrix brightness higher or lower depending on the predominance of lights or darks in the current picture. The resulting value of dynamic contrast is calculated as the ordinary contrast ratio multiplied by the brightness adjustment range in that mode. The dynamic contrast mode is meant for watching movies. It can hardly be good for games (for example, you are standing in a dark passage, but the monitor lowers the brightness even more and you can’t see anything at all) and absolutely useless for work.
The declared viewing angles are rather large. As usual, you should not be confused by these numbers. The monitor darkens just like any other TN-based model if you take a look at it from below. The big numbers in the specs are due to the relaxed measurement method (with a reduction of the contrast ratio to 5:1).
The monitor’s exterior should be familiar to everyone who has seen any model from this ASUS series. It is an elegant dark-gray plastic case with a charming bright strip at the bottom of the front panel and a glossy coating of the matrix. As opposed to the above-discussed Acer, the VW192C is going to look good at home as well as in the office. Unfortunately, the glossy matrix, although it looks pretty and increases contrast, may become a problem as it reflects everything in front of the monitor. A bright source of light will become a distracting and irritating flare on the screen.
The simple plastic stand allows you to adjust the tilt of the screen. You can use the holes under the sticker on the back of the case to replace the stand with a VESA-compatible mount.
You can find the following connectors under the cover at the bottom of the back panel: analog and digital inputs, a connector of the integrated power adapter, and an audio input for the built-in speakers. A microphone connector is missing, though.
The control buttons are lined up in a narrow strip at the bottom right of the front panel. They are made from ordinary plastic painted the color of the case and are accompanied with easily readable icons. The Power button is the same shape as the others, but its position at the end of the row of buttons prevents you from pressing it accidentally (as opposed to when the Power button is fitted in between the others).
Quick access is provided to the sound volume and brightness settings and to the Splendid feature (factory-set profiles varying in brightness, contrast and color reproduction). When you press and hold the Splendid button for a few seconds, the automatic adjustment of analog signal is performed.
This is ASUS’s standard menu with all of its characteristics drawbacks. It doesn’t remember the last option you change and always opens up on the Splendid tab although this feature can be accessed by means of a quick button. The lack of an instant-access button to select the signal source is unhandy as you have to move quite a lot through the menu to find this option.
The monitor’s brightness and contrast are set at 90% and 80% respectively by default. I achieved a 100nit white by lowering both to 47%. The monitor doesn’t have problems reproducing darks or lights. Every halftone is distinguishable through all the range of settings; there is no banding in color gradients. The monitor regulates its brightness by means of pulse-width modulation of the power of the backlight lamps at a frequency of 300Hz.
The average uniformity of white brightness is 4.8% with a maximum deflection of 14.3%. For black, the average and maximum are 5.3% and 17.8%, respectively. These numbers are acceptable especially as there are no eye-catching irregularities except for the side edges of the screen.
The gamma curves betray a low value of gamma at the default settings. The resulting image is whitish and low-contrast. The curves of different colors go far apart from each other.
The value of gamma is still lower than necessary at the reduced settings, but the curves are close to each other, producing more accurate colors than at the default settings.
The selection of color temperature modes is wide, but they are not set up quite properly. The monitor does not offer a really warm temperature. The Warm mode is going to be too cold for some users. The temperature dispersion between the levels of gray amounts to 2000K, which is not good, either. Well, the problem may not seem too big if you count in gray colors only (because pure white is but seldom seen on the screen), yet the lack of a warm mode is a disappointment.
The monitor’s color gamut is standard. It is wider than sRGB in greens and smaller in reds.
The response time average is 12.5 milliseconds with a maximum of 24.7 milliseconds. That’s a good result for an RTC-less TN matrix but RTC-enabled models are four to six times as fast as that.
The contrast ratio (to remind you, I measure the static, not the dynamic, contrast ratio of the monitor) is over 400:1 at the maximum, which is very good. It is thanks to the high level of white reaching 280 nits.
The ASUS VW192C is overall a good and nice-looking workhorse. It doesn’t have any special advantages, but it has no obvious drawbacks, either. Of course, I’d like it to have a better color temperature setup and a faster matrix, but this model is worth your consideration even as it already is.
This ASUS comes from the 193 series.
The VW193S features an earlier implementation of dynamic contrast technology than the previous model and the declared ratio is smaller as the consequence. However, the monitors’ static contrast ratios may prove to be the same. The VW193S is declared to have a narrower horizontal viewing angle but I couldn’t spot the difference. It must be too small to be caught with the eye.
For you to have some bearings among this brand’s monitors: the letter S at the end of a model name in the VW series means an inexpensive model without a digital input. Models with the letter D at the end do not have both a digital input and dynamic contrast mode. Models with the letters C and T are equipped with both analog and digital inputs.
This model comes either with a light strip along the bottom of the front panel or without it. The version with the strip resembles the above-discussed VW192C, having but a slightly different stand. The all-black model looks more restrained and official. You may like it if you are assembling an all-black PC.
As opposed to the previous model, the connectors at the back panel have no cover, but the stand has a plastic ring to lay the cables neatly. The stand is not very functional, only allowing to adjust the tilt of the screen.
The selection of connectors is frugal: an analog video input, an audio input for the integrated speakers, and a connector for the integrated power adapter.
The icons above the monitor’s buttons are painted dark gray. This maintains the dark style of the case, but the icons are barely readable, especially under dim ambient lighting.
Quick access is provided to the sound volume and brightness settings as well as to the Splendid feature (a few factory-set image profiles with varying brightness, contrast and color reproduction). A long press on the Splendid button evokes the automatic adjustment procedure.
The menu is the same as on the above-discussed model.
The monitor has 90% brightness and 80% contrast by default. I achieved a 100nit level of white by lowering both to 75%. Like on the VW192C, every halftone is distinguishable through the entire range of settings. There is no banding in color gradients. The brightness is regulated by means of backlight modulation at a frequency of 239Hz.
The average uniformity of white brightness is 4.2% with a maximum of 10.6%. That’s a very good result. In fact, it is the best result among all the 19-inch monitors I have tested so far. The average is even lower on black, being a mere 3.0%, but the maximum is 13.7%. Still, that’s a good result, too. The monitor seems to be absolutely uniformly bright to the naked eye.
The gamma curves lie close to the theoretical curve and to each other at the defaults settings.
Alas, the curves get worse at the reduced settings. They are still close to each other, but their value of gamma is now too low, resulting in a whitish and low-contrast image. The problem is not as big as to affect color reproduction seriously, though.
Interestingly, the gamma curves do not hit the ceiling of the diagram even at the maximum values of brightness and contrast. The curves sag, resulting in a dark and high-contrast image, yet light halftones do not merge into white.
The color temperature setup is good. It is only on the dark tones in the Warm mode that the color temperature varies greatly. In the other modes the temperature dispersion is within 600K. A minor drawback is the lack of a really warm mode (with a color temperature below 6500K).
The color gamut is standard, being somewhat larger than sRGB in greens and smaller than it in reds.
This model is somewhat slower than the above-discussed one. Its response time average is 14.8 milliseconds with a maximum of 26 milliseconds. That’s an average result as RTC-less TN matrixes go.
The maximum brightness is lower than that of the VW192C but quite acceptable. The contrast ratio is good, never lower than 250:1. The maximum contrast ratio is 400:1.
The ASUS VW193S is surprisingly better than its more expensive mates from the same series. It features very uniform brightness of the backlight, good color reproduction, and a high contrast ratio. You don’t often meet all that even in expensive monitors. So, this model is worth your consideration unless you want a fast matrix and a digital interface. Keep in mind the narrow viewing angles of TN matrixes, too. Well, there are actually no other matrix types available among widescreen 19-inch LCD monitors.
The E900WA belongs to the new monitor series from BenQ. That’s good because the widespread FP9xx series models we have repeatedly tested in our labs are overall rather boring and alike to each other as well as to other brands’ products.
The specifications suggest that it is yet another widescreen LCD monitor based on a TN matrix without response time compensation.
The designers’ job is obvious to the eye. The E900WA differs dramatically from the dull gray rectangles of BenQ’s previous models. I wouldn’t say I like everything in this exterior design, yet it is remarkable. The slim case made from black matte plastic is nicely complemented with a light band at the bottom. There are blue LEDs shining in that band when the monitor is in sleep mode. Quite a nice thing, but some people may not like this kind of a night lamp. If you are among them, you can use the Power button placed at the bottom center of the front panel. It is the single control element that does not reside on the side of the case.
The monitor has inherited its stand, perhaps somewhat more elegantly shaped now, from BenQ’s previous models. This simple square stand only allows you to change the tilt of the screen. It can be replaced with a VESA mount – you can find the necessary screw holes at the back of the case.
This sample is equipped with an analog input only although the model may come with a DVI interface (it doesn’t have the letter A at the end of the model name then). There is also a connector of the integrated power adapter and an audio input of the integrated speakers here. A headphones socket is located on the right panel. I would prefer to have it on the left panel, though. Most people have the mouse on the right, and the headphones cable may get in the way.
The monitor’s controls are located on the side panel. They are just the right width and are accompanied with clear icons on the front panel, so I have no complaints about them. Quick access is provided to the sound volume setting, to the automatic adjustment feature, and to switching between the preset image modes (BenQ calls them Senseye+Photo).
This is the standard menu of BenQ’s latest series. It is handy and offers all the necessary settings. The only drawback is that it doesn’t remember the last changed option and that some menu items (such as the color temperature option) require too many presses to get to.
The monitor has 90% brightness and 50% contrast by default. I achieved a 100nit level of white by lowering both to 46%. Color gradients are displayed without banding. When the contrast level is 25% or lower, darks become indistinguishable from pure black. When it is 65% or higher, there are problems with lights. Thus, you can only regulate the contrast setting from 25% to 65%. The brightness is regulated by means of pulse-width modulation of the backlight lamps at a frequency of 217Hz.
The white brightness shows good uniformity: an average of 3.5% and a maximum of 13.2%. Notwithstanding the small numbers, you can note the X-shaped pattern on the screen. The numbers are higher for black: an average deflection of 6.7% with a maximum of 19.5%. Of course, the bright X-shaped pattern is conspicuous on a black background.
The gamma curves are very good at the default settings, lying close to the theoretical one. The green curve is somewhat different, but not too much.
The curves are still very close to the theoretical one at the reduced settings. The green curve gets closer to the others while the blue curve betrays a certain distortion in the area of darks. This can hardly be noticed with a naked eye, though.
The color temperature setup is good, too. There is a wide choice of modes for you to pick up what suits you best. The color temperature varies but little between the levels of gray – within 700K (except for the User mode which is actually meant for manual adjustment). The difference is within 350K in the most popular Normal mode.
The color gamut is standard: larger than sRGB in greens and smaller in reds.
The response time average is 13.3 milliseconds (GtG) with a maximum of 24.3 milliseconds. This is good enough for an RTC-less TN matrix. Unfortunately, response time compensation is quite a rare feature even in newest monitors.
The contrast ratio is acceptable, never lower than 200:1 and reaching above 400:1 at the peak. That’s good for this matrix type.
Now let’s see what we have in the factory-set Senseye+Photo modes.
It’s all right in terms of contrast and brightness, although the Movie mode might be even brighter. Unfortunately, there is one problem about this feature. In every mode the image becomes exceedingly sharp, producing white outlines around dark objects. You may be familiar with such visual artifacts if you have used the Unsharp Mask filter in Adobe Photoshop.
Color reproduction worsens in the Movie and Photo modes. The curves are not so neat in the Movie mode. In the Photo mode, which is expected to produce colors with near-ideal precision, the value of gamma is too low, the level of contrast is too high, and the blue curve deflects too much from the others.
The new model from BenQ is quite a success overall. The E900WA has a nice appearance, offers good color reproduction and is free from obvious defects. If you are looking for a monitor to do some basic graphics processing on and can put up with a slow matrix, you may want to consider this model. Its only real problem is the small viewing angles typical of any TN matrix, but you have no choice of the matrix type among 19-inch widescreen models.
Similar to the above-discussed E900WA, the G900WA doesn’t have integrated speakers and is designed somewhat differently. Let’s see what setup quality this model offers.
The specifications are generally the same as those of the previous model except for the contrast ratio of 800:1 instead of 700:1. Is it a marketing trick or a real difference? We’ll see.
Well, the monitor has become more boring. The lack of highlighting is notable. The light gray square of the plastic case without eye-catching elements stands on a simple black support. It just asks to be put on your office desk. Many people (and I, personally) prefer a simple style at home too, yet I would like my home monitor to be more interesting visually. By the way, the control buttons are now hidden from your eyes on a small ledge at the bottom of the case.
The stand and back panel have not changed. You can still adjust the tilt of the screen only and replace the stand with a VESA-compatible mount if necessary.
Without integrated speakers, there is a bare minimum of connectors left: an analog input and a connector for the integrated power adapter.
The buttons were better placed on the previous model. The problem is that they are accompanied with barely visible icons that can hardly be read from the gray plastic of the case. You have to find the necessary button almost blindly.
Quick access is provided to the auto-adjustment feature, to the brightness and contrast settings combined in one small menu, and to choosing a factory-set mode (Senseye+Photo).
The menu is the same as in the previous model and with the same drawbacks: it is not organized logically and does not remember the last changed option.
The monitor has 90% brightness and 50% contrast by default. I achieved a 100nit brightness of white by choosing 56% brightness and 50% contrast. The matrix is the same quality as the E900WA’s: color gradients are reproduced without bandings but darks are indistinguishable from black at a contrast of 25% and lower. At a contrast of 65% and higher lights are the same as white.
As for the backlight brightness, it is the contrary to what we had with the previous model. The average deflection is 6.5% on white, the maximum being as high as 20.4%. It is a barely satisfactory result. The X-shaped pattern is not so conspicuous here – the brightness is just getting lower from the center to the edges. The result is good on black: an average of 2.8% with a maximum of 8.4%.
The gamma curves are almost perfect, lying close to the theoretical curve for gamma 2.2.
The value of gamma is somewhat higher at the reduced settings, yet the curves are still good overall.
This monitor has a very good color temperature setup for its product class. The choice of modes should satisfy most users while the temperature dispersion is not higher than 700K and even within 350K in the Normal mode.
The color gamut is the same as with the previous model.
The matrix is about as fast as the matrix of the above-discussed E900WA: an average response time of 15 milliseconds (GtG) with a maximum of 25.5 milliseconds. This is not fast even for an RTC-less TN matrix.
The contrast ratio is good at 300:1 and higher. Its maximum value is lower than that of the E900WA (although their specs suggest the opposite) but higher than 400:1. Subjectively, there is no difference between the G900WA and E900WA in terms of contrast ratio.
The Senseye+Photo modes are set up almost exactly like in the previous model. Unfortunately, there are the same white outlines on this monitor, too.
Color reproduction is awful in every mode other than sRGB (in this mode colors are as good as at the default settings). Above you can see the gamma curves as they are in the Photo mode. The value of gamma is too low for the blue and red curve and their shapes have little in common with the theoretical curve. People at BenQ have a peculiar notion about how photos should look I should say.
The BenQ G900WA is a very fine monitor and differs from same-class products with its good color reproduction. However, the E900WA model from the same series seems to me to have a better exterior design but similar characteristics. Perhaps you would personally prefer the calmer design of this model, though.
This model obviously represents the next evolution step after the L192WS model we tested some time ago.
The specs seem to imply some breakthroughs in TN technology, but there are no breakthroughs actually. The declared contrast ratio of 5000:1 is of course dynamic whereas the large viewing angles are achieved by means of the relaxed measurement method. In practice, the matrix betrays its TN roots as soon as you look at it from below: the screen gets dark immediately.
The monitor represents a minimalistic trend in design. There is a thin bezel around the screen, lacking any additional or eye-catching elements. The controls are hidden at the back panel. The stand is simple. This model comes in two colorings: black (as in the photo) and dark-gray. The black version looks stern and even elegant to me while the gray-plastic version is rather too simple and can only suit an office environment.
The stand is made from glossy plastic while the case is matte. It doesn’t make the monitor much more beautiful but dust and greasy fingerprints are going to be readily visible on the glossy surface.
The stand allows you to adjust the tilt of the screen. It can be replaced with a standard VESA mount.
There is a modest selection of connectors: an analog input and a connector for the integrated power adapter. The monitor lacks a digital interface.
The designer’s idea to remove the controls from the front panel proves to be impractical. It is quite a bother to set the monitor up. The buttons are all placed in the bottom right of the back panel. It is problematic to use them although this is better than another solution used in some LG monitors when the buttons were placed at a distance of a few centimeters from the edge of the back panel and you had to stretch your fingers to reach them. Even guided by the clear icons on the front panel you can miss the necessary button. It is good that the Power button is placed separately from the others, though. I only don’t understand why it is a different color. Do they suppose I should use a mirror behind the monitor?
Quick access is provided to the automatic image adjustment and to selecting an f-Engine mode.
Most LG monitors share this menu. It is user-friendly and logically organized.
The monitor has 100% brightness and 70% contrast by default. I achieved a 100nit level of white by lowering both to 49%. I wouldn’t recommend you to increase the contrast setting. If it is set at 75% or higher, lights merge into white. Color gradients are reproduced well at any settings. The monitor regulates its brightness by means of pulse-width modulation of the power of the backlight lamps at a frequency of 261Hz.
The average non-uniformity of the brightness of white is 5.1% with a maximum deflection of 16.2%. For black, the average and maximum are 6.5% and 18.4%, respectively. These are rather average results.
The gamma curves are good enough at the default settings except that the blue curve has a slightly higher level of contrast than necessary.
The red and green curves retain their shapes at the reduced settings and the blue curve gets closer to them. As a result, the curves are all very similar to the theoretical curve for gamma 2.2.
The color temperature setup is rather sloppy. Every mode is too cold. The temperature of white is 1000K colder than necessary in both 6500 and sRGB modes and the temperature of gray is colder still. Moreover, there is high temperature dispersion among the different grays: over 1000K in every mode and up to 10,000K in the coldest modes. Darks are displayed with a definite bluish hue as the consequence.
The color gamut is perfectly standard. I have seen such a gamut in lots of monitors I have tested.
The matrix is as fast as you can expect from an RTC-less monitor: an average response time of 14.1 milliseconds (GtG) with a maximum of 27.1 milliseconds.
The max brightness and contrast ratio are ordinary (for a TN-based monitor) and should satisfy most users.
Let’s now check out the factory-set f-Engine modes.
The Text mode is quite a surprise: the high contrast ratio is okay but why such a high brightness? You need only half that brightness to work with text unless you’ve got bright sunlight falling on your monitor. You shouldn’t use the Text mode for text applications if you care about your eyes.
Color reproduction is no good in the f-Engine modes. The red and blue curves have too much contrast in the Movie mode, and the green curve has even more of it. As a result, about 15% of the lightest greens are displayed as the same color. There is the same problem with green in the Text mode.
The LG L194WS is a member of an already big family of inexpensive widescreen 19-inch monitors with a slow matrix. If price is your guiding factor, you may want to consider this model as an option. Otherwise, I’d recommend you to look among other models.
The NEC LCD19WV has but recently appeared on the market and belongs to the cheapest models from this brand. It is cheaper than the MultiSync LCD195WXM. Interestingly, NEC’s monitors are traditionally divided into two series: the entry-level AccuSync and the more expensive MultiSync. The LCD19WV is not declared to belong to either.
I don’t know if it is a typo or a further relaxation of the measurement method but the horizontal viewing angle is specified to be as large as 176 degrees. Such a big number used to be declared only for *VA and S-IPS matrixes. I could not spot a dramatic improvement of this monitor’s viewing angles in comparison with the other models in this review, so it is yet unable to compete with the other matrix types. The LCD19WV is going to be inferior to any S-IPS matrix in terms of viewing angles.
The monitor looks like AccuSync series models with its plain case made from matte gray plastic. The stand is simple and the control buttons are centered below the screen. Thanks to its rounded-off corners and the thin bezel around the screen the LCD19WV has a modest yet neat appearance.
You can only adjust the tilt of the screen with this stand. It can be replaced with a VESA-compatible mount.
The monitor has a minimum of connectors: an analog input and a connector for the integrated power adapter.
The small elongated control buttons are painted the color of the case and placed in the center bottom of the front panel. The Power button is no different from the others, so you should remember its position – it is the rightmost button in the row – because the labels are barely readable. Quick access is provided to the auto-adjustment feature and to the brightness and contrast settings.
The LCD19WV has a new menu. It doesn’t look like any other menu I have seen in monitors of this brand. It has most of the old menu’s drawbacks, though. It does not remember the last changed option and you have to guess the purpose of most menu options by icons because there are no text labels. Added to that, the menu’s interface is not pretty at all.
The monitor has 90% brightness and 50% contrast by default. I achieved a 100nit white by selecting 63% brightness and 50% contrast. Color gradients are reproduced correctly at any settings. There are no problems with the reproduction of the lightest and darkest halftones.
The monitor has a normal uniformity of brightness. The average deflection is 6.2% on white with a maximum of 19.5%. On black, the average and maximum are 6.1% and 15.1%, respectively. You can note brighter spots along the top and bottom of the screen and reaching into the middle.
The gamma curves are very close to the theoretical curve at the default settings. They betray no problems at all. The curves retain their shape at the reduced settings.
As opposed to most other monitors, the LCD19WV, like the above-discussed ASUS VW193S, retains a near-ideal shape of the curves (they just sag a little) and does not have the typical bend in the right part of the diagram (which would indicate an exceedingly high level of contrast) at the maximum settings.
The color temperature setup is high quality. The temperature dispersion is within 400K in every mode save for Cool. In the Cool mode the dispersion is within 700K, which is quite acceptable, too.
The monitor’s color gamut is perfectly standard.
The monitor has a TN matrix without response time compensation and is predictably slow. The response time average is 13.9 milliseconds (GtG) with a maximum of 22.3 milliseconds.
The maximum brightness and contrast ratio are not record-breaking, yet high enough to satisfy most users.
So, what is the summary about this one? The NEC LCD19WV is an average product that only stands out among other products of its class with its good color reproduction setup. Unfortunately, it is priced higher than many other models with slow matrixes. Coupled with its limited functionality and simple exterior design, I wouldn’t recommend it to you for purchase.
Like many other brands, Samsung supplies widescreen counterparts to many of its classic 5:4 models. The 931CW is such a counterpart for the SyncMaster 931C. The letter C in the model name indicates backlight lamps with improved phosphors that endow this monitor with an enhanced color gamut.
Monitors with response time compensation can occasionally be seen among widescreen 19-inchers. Judging by the specified response time of 2 milliseconds (GtG) the SyncMaster 931CW is such an occasion.
This model looks like the SyncMaster 931BW which has an ordinary color gamut. The black glossy case is nicely complemented with a thin silvery strip. A metallic-like Power button is placed on the right of that strip. Some people may not like this black case, especially as dust and greasy fingerprints are going to be visible on the glossy surface, yet it is surely stylish and appealing. The monitor just demands to be placed on a gamer’s desk.
The stand is simple, providing tilt adjustment only. You can replace it with a VESA-compatible mount.
There is a standard selection of connectors at the back panel: analog and digital inputs, and a connector of the integrated power adapter.
The control buttons are hidden on the bottom edge of the case, except for the Power button which is on the front panel and has a soft blue highlighting rim. The labels on the front panel make it easy to use the controls. Quick access is provided to the brightness setting, to selecting the source of the video signal, to the automatic adjustment of analog signal, and to choosing a MagicBright mode.
This is Samsung’s standard menu, handy and functional. It doesn’t offer any color temperature modes, providing a selection of three other modes instead: Mild, Normal and Brilliance. These modes change color saturation.
The monitor has 100% brightness and 75% contrast by default. I dropped them both to 33% to achieve a 100nit white. When the contrast setting is higher than the default level, light halftones are indistinguishable from pure white. There is barely visible banding in color gradients. The monitor regulates its brightness by means of pulse-width modulation of the power of the backlight lamps at a frequency of 318Hz.
The brightness of the monitor’s backlight is quite uniform. The average deflection is 4.2% on white, with a maximum of 11.8%. On black, the average and maximum are almost the same at 4.1% and 11.9% respectively – there are three brighter spots visible.
The gamma curves are just acceptable at the default settings. They are higher than the theoretical curve in the left part of the diagram and lower than it in the right part.
Color reproduction improves when the contrast setting is set lower, but the green curve is still sagging in the right part of the diagram. The red and blue curves differ from the green one and are higher than the theoretical curve in the middle of the diagram.
The color temperature setup is depressing. White is much warmer than the other tones which vary by as much as 3000K among themselves.
The color gamut is indeed larger than standard. Green is far deeper and saturated than on monitors with an ordinary color gamut. Unfortunately, the monitor doesn’t match sRGB in reds. The blue point is shifted relative to sRGB as well, although the two usually coincide on other monitors.
Response time compensation is obvious: the response time average is a mere 2.9 milliseconds (GtG) or five times faster than with RTC-less models. The matrix is only relatively slow, up to 17.2 milliseconds, on transitions between the darkest halftones.
The RTC mechanism is not set up ideally, though. The average RTC miss is 18.2% with a maximum of 87%. That’s a poor result. Visual artifacts will be conspicuous on a large number of transitions.
The contrast ratio is not high. Modern TN-based monitors typically have a higher contrast ratio.
The SyncMaster 931CW is one of the few 19-inch widescreen monitors with a fast matrix. It also features backlight lamps that provide an extended color gamut. Unfortunately, that’s all the good about this model. The biggest of its drawbacks is the low quality of the RTC mechanism. It’s up to you to decide if the larger color gamut makes up for the monitor’s downsides.
I’ve got yet another widescreen monitor from Samsung for this review. The SyncMaster 961GW is almost the same as the 961BW but features a glossy matrix and a lower power draw (38W against 42W).
This Samsung has response time compensation, too. I hope its implementation is better than in the previous model. The table lists the static contrast ratio but the monitor also supports dynamic contrast technology (its specified value is 3000:1).
This monitor is a kingdom of gloss. It even comes with a neat microfiber napkin for cleaning. It is only with this napkin and monitor care products that you can keep this beauty from dust and greasy fingerprints. For all its pretty appearance and increased contrast, the glossy matrix reflects every light source behind your, which may be a nuisance. You should keep this in mind when you are choosing the place to install your SyncMaster 961GW. It would be a mistake to place it with the screen facing a window or a wall-mounted lamp.
As for its design, the monitor is superb. The sharp outline of the case transforms smoothly into the stand. The metallized Power button is the only eye-catching element as the rest of the buttons are placed on the bottom edge of the case. The monitor is pretty although some people may prefer something more modest – and less easily dirtied.
Besides being pretty, the stand is also highly functional. Its two hinges – at the points where the “leg” is fastened to the base and to the case – allow to tilt the screen and adjust its height from 30 to 120 millimeters. The monitor’s case just hits against the desk in the bottommost position, hiding the stand. You can also rotate the screen around the vertical axis or pivot it into portrait mode although few people would use a TN matrix in this mode because the poor vertical viewing angles become poor horizontal viewing angles, which is no good at all.
If you are not satisfied or if you want to wall-mount the monitor, you can replace the stand with a VESA-compatible mount.
The monitor’s got a standard selection of connectors in the recess under the top hinge: analog and digital inputs, and a connector of the integrated power adapter.
Save for the Power button (highlighted with a mild blue rim), the control buttons are hidden on the right of the bottom edge of the case. Unfortunately, it is hard to read the labels on the front panel and you have to find the buttons blindly. The buttons are placed at an appropriate distance, which helps. Like on many other monitors from Samsung, quick access is provided to the brightness setting, to choosing a factory-set MagicBright mode, to switching the inputs, and to the automatic adjustment feature.
The menu is the same as the above-discussed Samsung has, but offers color temperature modes. Besides, it offers a gamma setup option, MagicColor and MagicBright modes – I will discuss them all shortly.
The monitor has 100% brightness and 75% contrast by default. I lowered both to 23% to achieve a 100nit white. Darks are reproduced correctly through the entire range of settings. Lights merge into white at a contrast level of 90% or higher. Color gradients are displayed with slight banding. The brightness is regulated by means of backlight modulation at a frequency of 331Hz.
The white brightness is quite uniform: an average deflection of 4.5% with a maximum of 14.4%. It is worse on black (an average of 4.7% with a maximum of 18.5%) but mostly due to the darker bands along the sides of the screen.
The gamma curves are good at the default settings even though differ somewhat from each other. Let’s see what effect the gamma option can provoke (gamma mode 1 is selected by default).
It’s clear that the value of gamma is somewhat reduced in Mode 2 and increased in Mode 3. What is important, the three curves all retain their shape and relative position.
At the reduced settings the curves nearly coincide with each other but have a lower value of gamma than necessary. The image is whitish and low-contrast as the consequence. You can choose Mode 3 in the monitor’s menu and get nearly ideal curves without using a calibrator.
The color temperature setup is not quite neat: there is a large dispersion of temperature between the levels of gray. Besides, the monitor doesn’t offer a warm temperature because most of the gray tones are too cold, 7000K and higher, even in the Warm mode.
This is a typical color gamut again, somewhat larger than sRGB in greens and smaller in reds. Of course, it cannot compare with the color gamut of the above-discussed SyncMaster 931CW.
The monitor is not as fast as the 931CW, but far faster than RTC-less models. Its response time average is 3.8 milliseconds (GtG) with a maximum of 17.4 milliseconds on some transitions.
The level of RTC errors is lower than on the SyncMaster 931CW. The average error is 10.2%, the maximum is 60.5%. It means that RTC-provoked artifacts will be visible on some transitions.
The SyncMaster 961GW boasts a superb contrast ratio. It is never lower than 300:1 and as high as 500:1 at the maximum. That’s a very good result for a TN matrix.
Samsung’s monitors traditionally offer two sets of predefined modes. The MagicBright modes differ in contrast and brightness while MagicColor varies color saturation. Interestingly, many Samsung monitors have a quick button on the front panel for choosing a MagicBright mode but the MagicColor option is only available from the menu. Let’s see what is different in these modes.
The levels of brightness and contrast are selected quite properly in every MagicBright mode and correspond to the names of the modes. It is nice the contrast ratio is never lower than 350:1. The gamma curves have the same shape (as at the default settings) in every mode.
Dynamic contrast is also listed among MagicBright modes but it is not mentioned in the table. We can’t yet do any measurements for dynamic contrast technology in our labs.
Color reproduction does change with the MagicColor technology. It is not accurate anymore (the overall shape of the curves is the same in the Intelligent mode but they are not so high up). So, it is reasonable that this technology is hidden deep in the menu. If you prefer a very high contrast ratio and very saturated colors, you can enable it one and for all. Other people won’t ever need it.
So, if you are looking for an appealing shiny monitor with a fast matrix, you should definitely consider the SyncMaster 961GW. The only problems I can see with this model are that its color reproduction setup is somewhat sloppy and its case gets soiled just too easily.
I will end this review with the ViewSonic VG1930wm, which formally belongs to a graphics-processing series of products. This positioning is questionable for a TN-based monitor, though.
The specifications are no different from those of other products in this class. As for the unusually large viewing angles, it is the same as with the above-discussed LG L194WS: the angles may be indeed larger than those of other TN matrixes but you cannot spot this in practice. The high values are arrived at by using a relaxed measurement method. You shouldn’t compare these numbers to the specs of S-IPS or *VA matrixes.
The monitor is elegant thanks to its thin bezel and black color but the wide band of plastic at the bottom (it covers integrated speakers) is not very aesthetic.
As opposed to regular inexpensive models, this monitor has a stand that allows you to rotate the screen around the vertical axis (the monitor and stand rotate all together at that) and adjust the height (from 155 to 230mm) besides just changing the tilt. Alas, the screen is quite high even in the bottommost position. You should acquire a sufficiently high chair to work at this monitor comfortably. To remind you, ergonomics demands that the eyes be at the same level with the top edge of the screen, your eyes looking somewhat downwards.
The back panel offers a standard selection of connectors: analog and digital inputs, an audio input, and a connector of the integrated power adapter. A headphones connector is missing.
There is only one button (Power) on the front panel – it is highlighted with a blue LED. The rest of the monitor’s controls are on the right side of the case. This is rather unhandy: the buttons are way too small, hard to find by touch. Pressed out in the plastic of the front panel, their icons are hard to read. Moreover, the icons follow ViewSonic’s traditional incomprehensible style: two arrows, “1” and “2”. It’s hard to tell what button is responsible for a particular function.
What I did like, there is a dedicated Mute button to turn off the integrated speakers. I guess it is really useful.
This is ViewSonic’s traditional menu. It is not very pretty or handy, but offers every option necessary to set the monitor up.
By default, the monitor has 100% brightness and 70% contrast. I achieved a 100nit level of white by lowering both to 47%. Lights are distinguishable at any settings while darks are displayed the same as black at a contrast of 40% and lower. Color gradients are reproduced without banding but jitter somewhat in the area of darks. This is perhaps due to incorrect emulation of 24-bit color on the 18-bit matrix. The monitor seems to control its brightness with the matrix because I could not spot any trace of pulse-width modulation.
The backlight brightness is quite uniform on both white and black. On white, the average deflection is 6.9% with a maximum of 16.2%. On black, the average and maximum are 6.1% and 17.4%, respectively.
The gamma curves are good at the default settings.
The overall shape of the curves doesn’t change at the reduced settings but they become flat in the left part of the diagram. It means that darkest halftones are indistinguishable. I noted this drawback above, though. This problem concerns the blue curve the most: about 20% of all blues are going to be displayed as black at such settings.
The monitor offers five color temperature modes, each with the same problem: the actual temperature is about 700K lower than the name of the mode. You should just be aware of it. Otherwise, you can easily select a suitable mode. The temperature dispersion is within 700K excepting the coldest 9300 mode that is suddenly warm on dark colors.
The monitor’s color gamut is standard overall. Perhaps it is somewhat smaller than usual in reds if compared with sRGB.
The ViewSonic VG1930wm does not have response time compensation and shows a very modest speed: the response time average is 15.6 milliseconds (GtG) with a maximum of 32.5 milliseconds. These numbers are quite depressing after you have dealt with RTC technology.
The contrast ratio is rather low, sinking to 119:1 in one test mode.
The ViewSonic VG1930wm can do as an inexpensive multimedia monitor but it doesn’t have significant advantages over its opponents. Its ergonomics is far from perfect, too.
Interestingly, most 19-inch monitors are still based on matrixes without response time compensation. It may be a kind of a deficit or the manufacturers just try to separate different monitor series. What is remarkable, I have only seen RTC-enabled widescreen monitors from two brands, Samsung and LG, which have their own LCD matrix manufacture. Well, I won’t be expounding any conspiracy theories. It just takes a little waiting: I am sure there will be plenty of fast 19-inch monitors soon.
As for the products tested in this review, there are several leaders that can be singled out. First of all, it is the Samsung SyncMaster 961GW, splendid on the outside and with a fast matrix inside. It is free from serious drawbacks. The high contrast ratio, wide selection of setup options and acceptable other parameters are going to suit you fine unless you are absolutely against “glossy” monitors.
The second RTC-enabled model in this review, the SyncMaster 931CW, differs from the others with its extended color gamut. Unfortunately, its RTC mechanism is implemented with a high level of errors while the color reproduction flaws cannot be made up for by the color gamut (as I wrote in my reviews, an extended color gamut is nothing more but a nice addition to accurate color reproduction).
Among the slower models, BenQ’s E900WA and G900WA feature good color reproduction, which is quite a rare thing for TN matrixes. The ASUS VW193S is somewhat inferior to BenQ’s models in terms of color reproduction, yet good enough anyway. It also has a surprisingly uniform brightness of the backlight.
The other tested monitors have considerable drawbacks and do not compensate them with some special advantages.