19" LCD Monitors Roundup. Part XIII

In our today’s article we are going to discuss another seven displays with 19-inch diagonal from Acer, Asus, Samsung and ViewSonic. Among them are a couple of pretty unusual solutions: one based on PVA matrix and another one with a built-in web-cam.

by Aleksey Meyev
01/09/2009 | 11:08 AM

You cannot expect to find stunning technological novelties in today’s 19-inch monitors. This product category is considered inexpensive and suitable for low-end home and office computers. More and more users get interested in larger monitors and larger display resolutions. Widescreen 22-inch and 24-inch models are getting popular, and HD video content at resolutions up to 1920x1080 pixels is widespread.

 

Anyway, the manufacturers do not completely forget about those users who cannot afford a large monitor or just have no room for it on their desks. They introduce new models, even though most of them are simple products with TN matrixes and without response time compensation. But occasionally you can still come across an interesting 19-inch monitor that has special design or technical features. For example, you will see a new PVA-based model in this review.

Testing Methodology

Use the following link for a description of our testing methodology and the equipment we use, and for a brief explanation of what the specified and tested parameters of LCD monitors mean: 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.

Our toolbox has changed somewhat as we have replaced our old ColorVision Spyder Pro calibrator with a Spyder 3 Elite. This newer model ensures more accurate measurement of the level of black. As a result, we can now measure the contrast ratio with more precision. So, don’t be surprised to see that the contrast ratio is now suddenly higher in our tests. It is not the result of a technical breakthrough. It is just that our measurement precision has improved.

Besides that, when we are talking about a monitor’s setup quality, we will not only show you a table with the values of color temperature for different levels of gray, but also put the corresponding dots down on a CIE diagram. The black line in this diagram denotes the colors the eye perceives as white. If a dot does not lie on the line, it means that the monitor produces an unwanted tincture of green or pink.

You can also check out the Monitors section of our site if this review doesn’t cover the model you are interested in.

Acer AL1917Nsd

Following alphabetic order, Acer goes first with its AL1917Nsd model. This multimedia monitor (it has integrated speakers) is a typical representative of the 19-inch class.

There is nothing interesting about the specifications. The AL1917Nsd is based on a TN matrix without response time compensation and with characteristically limited viewing angles. The contrast ratio of 2000:1 is dynamic. The static contrast ratio is not declared but it can hardly be higher than 700:1, the typical value for modern matrixes of this type. Take note that the dynamic contrast mode has reached even the most inexpensive models but, unfortunately, its usefulness is limited to watching movies. It is no good for text-based and image-processing applications as well as for games. Indeed, why would you want to make a dark game scene even darker?

The monitor has a rather boring exterior, just like most other inexpensive products from Acer. The gray plastic case with a simple plastic stand should be just fine for an office environment, but home users may want something more attractive.

The stand allows to adjust the tilt of the screen. This is in fact the only adjustment option that modern entry-level monitors usually offer. Acer has been using this stand for a very long time already, by the way. The stand can be replaced with a VESA-compatible mount using the screw holes in the back panel.

It is good that the monitor offers both analog and digital interfaces. Well, it is high time for all monitors to transition to digital connectors. Every graphics card currently offers a digital interface (and the newest models don’t even have analog D-Sub connectors, offering a universal DVI-I port instead – you can connect a monitor’s analog input to it via an adapter). Integrated graphics cores have acquired digital interfaces, too.

Besides that, there is a power connector and an audio input in the recess of the back panel. There is no headphones socket here.

As is typical of Acer’s monitors, the buttons are grouped below the front panel. They include four controls and a Power button on the right (it is larger than the others and has an integrated green LED). The button labels are pressed out in the plastic and rather hard to read.

Quick access is provided to the sound volume setting, to the Empowering technology (the name of a few quickly selectable image presets), and to the automatic adjustment feature (evoked by a long press on the Empowering button).

The menu follows Acer’s traditional style, too. It is not particularly pretty or user-friendly. It just does its job of helping you control the monitor. The menu doesn’t remember the item you opened last but always opens up on the preset selection screen. This is not logical because you can select an image preset by means of the dedicated quick button.

By default, the monitor has 77% brightness and 50% contrast. I reduced the brightness setting to 70% in order to achieve a 100nit level of white. Color gradients are reproduced with barely visible banding. Lights and darks are both distinguishable at any level of contrast. The monitor regulates its brightness by means of pulse-width modulation of the backlight lamps at a frequency of 388Hz.

 

The average nonuniformity of white brightness is 4.1% with a maximum deflection of 12.3%. The results are worse for black brightness: 6.4% and 23.0%, respectively. There are conspicuously brighter areas along the top and bottom of the screen.

The red and green curves are almost perfect at the default settings, but the blue curve is higher than necessary.

We’ve got the same curves at the 100nit settings because I only reduced the Brightness setting to achieve the 100nit white. But since this setting changes the brightness of the backlight lamps, it has no effect on color reproduction. If you try to reduce the Contrast setting, the screen gets too dark.

Interestingly, the gamma curves retain their shapes even at the maximum Brightness and Contrast. This is a rare thing indeed. It means you can use the monitor at a high brightness of its screen. Just don’t forget that the ambient lighting must match the monitor’s screen. Otherwise your eye will get tired too soon.

There are few color temperature modes to choose from and their setup is not very accurate. There is no really warm or really cold mode, and the difference between the levels of grays is over 1000K. Darks are noticeably colder than lights in every mode.

The CIE diagram not only confirms what I’ve said above but also indicates a deflection towards green. It is not as strong as to be disturbing at work, though.

The monitor’s color gamut is quite standard for a model with ordinary backlight lamps. It is larger than sRGB in greens and differs from it in reds.

The response time average is 15.4 milliseconds (GtG) with a maximum of 32.6 milliseconds. This is a normal speed for a matrix without response time compensation. RTC-less matrixes can be faster, but cannot match RTC-enabled models anyway.

The maximum brightness and contrast ratio are not high at the default settings. As opposed to most other monitors, you won’t have to lower these settings in the menu – the monitor is originally set up for comfortable brightness. Of course, it also offers a reserve of brightness of games and movies. The maximum value is about 250 nits, which is normal for a modern monitor.

Now let’s check out the preset image modes.

These modes are set up quite properly, especially for people who prefer to work under dim ambient lighting. The screen may prove to be insufficiently bright in the Text and Movie mode for a well-lit office room. The contrast ratio is not very high, either.

 

In each of the preset modes color reproduction remains the same as at the default settings.

Summing it up, the Acer AL1917Nsd is a cheap multimedia monitor without obvious defects. However, it has a number of small drawbacks such as a low contrast ratio, unassuming exterior design, average color accuracy, and a slow matrix.

Highs:

Lows:

Recommended usage:

ASUS VK191D

The VK191D monitor from ASUS is interesting for its integrated web-camera in the first place.

Its specifications are standard enough. It has a widescreen matrix without response time compensation and offers a dynamic contrast ratio of 2000:1.

Like many other monitors from ASUS, this one has a modest but attractive exterior. Its black glossy case has a slim screen bezel and a shiny strip below the screen. The control buttons are placed in the right part of that strip. The black plastic stand looks neat, too.

The stand allows you to adjust the tilt of the screen. There is a cable holder at its back. You can replace the stand with a VESA-compatible mount if necessary.

The monitor has an analog input, a power connector and a USB port. As you may guess, the latter is necessary for the integrated web-camera.

The web-camera is located in the protrusion in the top center of the front panel. It is fixed in place, so you can change its vision field only by changing the position of the whole screen. This shouldn’t be a big problem as the user is supposed to sit in front of the monitor. However, people can be tall or short and can take different sitting postures, so it would be better if the camera could turn up and down.

Included with the monitor is ASUS LifeFrame2, a simple program for controlling the camera and the nearby microphone. For example, you can use this program to record a video clip or make a photograph and apply some basic processing to it.

The camera’s image quality is surprisingly high. Of course, it is no match for a standalone digital camera, yet most integrated cameras produce a worse picture in terms of noise, sharpness and vignetting (the darkening of the periphery of an image). Here, we’ve got a camera that can match the best models. The maximum resolution of a frame is low at 640x480, but do you really need more from a web-camera? By the way, video is also recorded at 640x480 with a frame rate of 30fps.

But let’s get back to the monitor now. After all, the web-camera is just a nice addition to it.

Placed in the bottom right of the front panel, the control buttons are designed in ASUS’s traditional style. The Power button is the rightmost in the row. It is the same size and shape as the others but has a dim blue LED. The monitor provides quick access to the auto-adjustment feature, to the Brightness and Contrast settings, and to choosing a Splendid mode.

Like most other ASUS monitors, this one has the typical blue menu with its typical drawbacks. This menu opens up on the Splendid screen although the Splendid technology can be accessed with a quick button. The menu does not remember the option you selected last, and some menu screens have so many items that you don’t see them all at once on the screen. Oddly enough, such options as Skin Tone, ASCR (dynamic contrast mode) and Sharpness are only available when you select a Splendid mode other than Standard. Otherwise, you can’t change those options.

The monitor has 90% brightness and 80% contrast by default. I achieved a 100nit white by lowering both to 53%. Color gradients are reproduced with slight banding. When in a Splendid mode, you can also see the characteristic graininess indicating inaccurate dithering (emulation of 24-bit color on a 18-bit LCD matrix). Darks are displayed properly at any level of Contrast but lights become indistinguishable from white at a Contrast of 80% and higher. The monitor’s brightness is regulated by means of backlight modulation at a frequency of 437Hz.

 

The average nonuniformity of white brightness is 6.2% with a maximum deflection of 15.4%. The results are worse for black brightness: 4.5% and 16.7%, respectively. The numbers are good. The sides of the screen are somewhat darker than the rest of it in both cases.

The red and green curves are good at the default settings but the blue curve is sagging.

The blue curve rises up to normal level at the reduced settings.

The color temperature setup is good in every mode. The temperature dispersion is within 1000K in the Cool mode and within 500K in the other modes. I guess the only thing this monitor lacks is a really cold mode, with a color temperature of about 9300K.

The dots are always higher than the white curve in the diagrams. Thus, the VK191D is going to produce a yellow-greenish hue, noticeable in gray.

The color gamut is standard. I can only note that the monitor’s reds are very close to those of the sRGB color space. There is usually a bigger discrepancy between them. Anyway, this improvement can hardly be noticed without a calibrator.

The response time average is 13.7 milliseconds (GtG) with a maximum of 28 milliseconds. That’s quite a normal speed for an RTC-less TN matrix.

The maximum brightness and contrast ratio are satisfactory at each of the three variants of settings. The contrast ratio is even higher than 600:1 in one mode, which is just excellent for a TN matrix.

Now let’s check out the image presets referred to as Splendid technology.

Well, they are no good, actually. It’s nice to have a high contrast ratio, but why is every mode so bright?

Color accuracy is low in the Splendid modes. Each of them has gamma curves similar to those of the diagram above (the diagram was built for the Scenery mode). The contrast setting is too high, making 20% of the lightest halftones indistinguishable from white.

Thus, the ASUS VK191D would be just a regular widescreen 19-incher if it were not for its integrated web-camera with surprisingly high image quality. As a monitor proper, this model is no different from others of its class. If you communicate via Skype often, you may be interested in the VK191D. Otherwise, it can hardly be an interesting buy.

Highs:

Lows:

Recommended usage:

ASUS VW195D

We have already tested a few models from the series the VW195D belongs to. Their names differ with the last letter. Let’s see what other differences they have.

Judging by the specs, this monitor is a copy of the VW195S but does not have integrated speakers like the latter.

The exterior design is similar to the previous model in this review except that the case is now matte rather than glossy. The light strip along the bottom of the screen is designed somewhat differently, too. Otherwise, it is a typical representative of ASUS’s widescreen monitors. It has a neat and restrained design, without any extravaganza.

The stand has not changed, either. It still allows to adjust the tilt of the screen only and has a cable holder. You can replace the stand with a VESA-compatible mount if necessary.

There is a minimum of connectors at the back panel: a power connector and an analog interface. Despite the letter D in its name, the monitor does not have a DVI input.

The control buttons are the same as on the previous model. The Power button is the rightmost one and differs from the others with an integrated LED. Quick access is provided to the automatic adjustment, to the Brightness and Contrast settings, and to selecting a Splendid mode.

The menu is identical to the VK191D’s menu, too. And it has the same drawbacks. It always opens up on the Splendid screen although this technology can be accessed with a dedicated button on the front panel. The menu does not remember the option you changed last. Some menu screens contain too many options and you have to scroll down to see all of them. And finally, some setup options are only available if you have selected a Splendid mode.

The monitor has 90% brightness and 80% contrast by default. I achieved a 100nit white by lowering both to 60%. As opposed to the above-discussed VK191D, this model displays color gradients without any banding. Darks are reproduced properly at any level of Contrast. Lights are indistinguishable from white at a Contrast of 90% and higher. The monitor adjusts its brightness by means of backlight modulation at a frequency of 205Hz.

 

The average nonuniformity of white brightness is only 3.8% with a maximum of 15.1% - a very good result. The numbers are almost the same for black: 3.7% average and 16.7% maximum. The center of the screen is somewhat brighter than the rest of it, but you can hardly notice this without tools – the screen looks very uniform to a naked eye.

The gamma curves are good at the default settings. All the three of them lie close to the theoretical curve.

The blue curve rises up a little at the reduced contrast, getting farther from the other curves. But most users won’t even notice this difference in color reproduction.

The color temperature setup is not ideal, but good. Darks are colder in every mode but the temperature dispersion between the different grays is always within 1000K. I guess the Warm mode might be warmer, yet this setup is overall good for an inexpensive monitor.

The dots are near the theoretical curve, indicating the lack of any unwanted hue in the image. So, this model is set up surprisingly well for its class.

The color gamut is standard. There is nothing unusual about it.

The monitor’s TN matrix without response time compensation delivers predictable speed: a response time average of 13.2 milliseconds (GtG) with a maximum of 25.7 milliseconds. Transitions between grays take the longest time.

It’s all right with the maximum brightness and contrast ratio. The contrast ratio is almost as high as 800:1 at the max settings, which is very good for a TN matrix. Take note that this is the ordinary, static, contrast ratio rather than the dynamic one.

Now let’s check out the quality of the preset modes (Splendid technology).

Unfortunately, there are no improvements in this area. Every mode is too bright and cannot be used for working with text under dim ambient lighting unless you adjust these modes manually.

The Splendid modes are set up better than in the previous model in terms of color accuracy. Better, but not well enough. For example, the Contrast setting is too high in the Game and Night View modes, making lights indistinguishable from white.

There is no bend in the right part of the curves in the Scenery and Theater modes, however. It means that the Contrast setting is set properly. The curves are close to the theoretical one. Still, the gamma curves are even better when you don’t enable the Splendid technology.

Thus, the ASUS VW195D is a widescreen monitor with good color reproduction setup (for this product class) and uniform brightness of the backlight. Unfortunately, it has a slow TN matrix and lacks a digital input. If it were not for these deficiencies, it might make a good monitor for undemanding users.

Highs:

Lows:

Recommended usage:

ASUS VW198T

The VW198T is one more widescreen monitor from ASUS.

The monitor’s specs confirm its kinship with the VW198S we have tested earlier. It has the same brightness and dynamic contrast (3000:1), the same viewing angles and native resolution (1680x1050). Yes, this is a third model (the first one was the ViewSonic VX1940w) with an increased resolution and, accordingly, reduced pixel pitch. It means that gamers will need a faster graphics card for this monitor (or have to play at a nonnative resolution). In office applications fonts will look smoother, and you can place two open documents next to each other. There is also a lot of additional space for placing menus, palettes, etc. Even photographs and movies look better on an LCD panel with a small pixel pitch. Of course, these advantages can only be appreciated by people who have good eyesight and don’t mind working with small interface elements. Therefore you should check out if this resolution suits you before purchasing the VW198T.

Unfortunately, the replacement of the letter S with the letter T in the model name only means that the monitor now has a digital interface. It has not acquired response time compensation. Anyway, a DVI input is an important thing for a monitor with a native resolution of 1680x1050, too.

The monitor’s appearance is absolutely the same as that of the above-described models from ASUS: the company probably considers this design to be close to ideal. Perhaps they are right. It is a good combination of simplicity, sternness and certain elegance. On the other hand, users may want to have a wider choice of design options.

The plastic stand allows to adjust the tilt of the screen only.

The digital interface is an important addition to the analog one in this model. The latter can support the resolution of 1680x1050 but EMI may become a problem. The audio input of the integrated speakers (located in the top of the case) can be seen near the video inputs. The connector of the integrated power adapter is on the other side from the stand.

The monitor is controlled by means of the same set of buttons as the above-discussed models from ASUS. The Power button is at the end of the row and differs from the others with its built-in LED. Quick access is provided to the automatic adjustment feature, to the Brightness and Volume settings, and to choosing a Splendid mode.

The menu is identical to the menus of the above-discussed models and has the same drawbacks. It always opens up on the Splendid screen although this technology can be accessed with a dedicated button on the front panel. The menu does not remember the option you changed last. Some menu screens contain too many options and you have to scroll down to see all of them. And finally, some setup options are only available if you have selected a Splendid mode. It is good the menu offers the Aspect Ratio option that allows choosing an aspect ratio of 16:10 or 4:3 for nonnative resolutions.

The monitor has 90% brightness and 80% contrast by default. I achieved a 100nit white by lowering both to 56%. Color gradients are reproduced with slight banding. Darks are reproduced as black at a Contrast of 35% and lower. Lights are indistinguishable from white at a Contrast above 80% (i.e. above the default value). The monitor adjusts its brightness by means of backlight modulation at a frequency of 250Hz.

 

The average nonuniformity of white brightness is 5.1% with a maximum of 12.8%, which is a good result. The numbers are higher for black: 7.0% average and 20.8% maximum. The picture above shows a characteristic X-shaped pattern.

The gamma curves are not good at the default settings. The red and green curves look good but the blue curve is sagging.

When the brightness and contrast settings are reduced to produce a 100nit white, the blue curve gets higher.

Anyway, the color temperature setup is very good in every mode save for Cool: the temperature dispersion is within 500K. In the Cool mode the temperature varies by 1500K.

The CIE diagram shows that the monitor has a considerable greenish hue. Fortunately, the deflection towards green is small in the Normal mode which is going to be preferred by most users.

The monitor’s color gamut is standard and does not need any comments. The majority of monitors with ordinary backlight lamps provide the same color gamut.

As I said above, this model lacks response time compensation. Its response time average is 14.1 milliseconds (GtG) with a maximum of 25.1 milliseconds.

The monitor doesn’t set any records when it comes to maximum brightness and contrast ratio. It is similar to typical 19-inch TN-based models in this respect and is going to satisfy most users.

Now let’s check out the factory-set Splendid modes.

The contrast ratio is good but the default screen brightness is too high for most applications.

The diagram above shows the gamma curves in the Game mode (they are similar in the other modes). The Contrast setting is too high, which makes the lightest halftones indistinguishable from white. The curves differ in shape, so there is no talking about color accuracy.

Thus, the ASUS VW198T is one of the few 19-inch monitors with a small pixel pitch. Like the VW198S from the same series, this model has good viewing angles and good color temperature setup. It differs for the better with its digital input but has somewhat worse gamma curves. The VW198T may be a good buy for people who prefer small pixels and high resolutions but who won’t buy a larger monitor for some reason.

Highs:

Lows:

Recommended usage:

Samsung SyncMaster 943NW

The SyncMaster 943NW comes from the new series of Samsung’s monitors with low-key exterior design. This series is meant for people who don’t like fanciful monitors, but find the square cases of typical inexpensive office-oriented models, like the Acer AL1917Nsd, rather boring. With all its simplicity, the 943NW is compact, neat and even attractive. We have already tested the SyncMaster 943N in our labs, and now it’s time to check out its widescreen counterpart.

The monitor’s specs are standard for this generation of matrixes. It has large (for a TN matrix) viewing angles, a static contrast ratio of 1000:1 and a dynamic contrast ratio of 8000:1. It lacks response time compensation, but you may have already surmised that RTC technology is rare in this price category. The 943NW is meant for office use where you don’t need a high-speed matrix. For home, Samsung has got other models.

Like its non-widescreen counterpart, the monitor has a compact, stern and nice-looking case. The plastic of the case and the LCD matrix are lusterless. This model comes in two versions: with a black or silvery front panel. It’s hard to prefer one of them, but I guess the black version has a graver appearance while the silvery version looks calmer.

The stand has been updated as well. It only allows to adjust the tilt of the screen but looks more elegant now. You can replace it with a VESA-compatible mount if you want to hang this monitor on a wall, for example.

Every Samsung monitor with the letter N in its name lacks a digital interface. The SyncMaster 943NW has an analog input only, too. Although I didn’t spot any problems with image sharpness, this is a downside. It is high time to transition to digital interfaces already. The power adapter is integrated into the case like in most other modern monitors.

Samsung’s new series features touch-sensitive buttons. The buttons are as many and placed in the same manner as in previous models from this brand but you don’t have to press them now. Just touch them gently with your finger. The buttons respond correctly to every touch without misses or false responses. A quick sequence of touches is processed correctly, too. There is a blue LED indicating power to the right of the buttons.

Quick access is provided to the auto-adjustment feature, to the brightness setting and to choosing a MagicBright mode. The button that used to select MagicBright modes in Samsung’s previous models can now be redefined in the monitor’s menu. Besides switching the MagicBright modes, it can now switch Color Effect, MagicColor and image interpolation modes. Image interpolation is available in two variants: Auto and 4:3. The picture is always stretched out to the aspect ratio of 16:10 in the former mode. In the latter mode, graphics content in 4:3 format is displayed in its native aspect ratio, without distortions.

Color Effect is the name of the discoloring feature available in this series. Its result looks funny, but its practical value is unclear to me.

Except for the above-mentioned changes, the menu is the same as Samsung’s monitors have had for years. It is clear, handy and easy to use.

The monitor has 100% brightness and 75% contrast by default. I achieved a 100nit level of white by lowering both settings to 36%. Color gradients are reproduced correctly at any settings. Darks are displayed properly, too. Lights become indistinguishable from each other when you increase the level of contrast above 90%. The monitor regulates its brightness by means of backlight modulation at a frequency of 343Hz.

 

The average nonuniformity of white brightness is 6.5% with a maximum of 19.7%. For black brightness, the average and maximum are 7.3% and 20.7% and you can see that the bottom of the screen is brighter. The numbers are far from good. The pictures above show that the monitor has darker corners when displaying a white fill. On black, there are bright spots, especially at the bottom of the screen.

The gamma curves look good at the default settings even though they are somewhat lower than the ideal curve.

The curves all rise up to the theoretical one when the Contrast setting is reduced, indicating nearly ideal reproduction of color.

The Warm and Normal modes are set up very well for an inexpensive monitor. The temperature dispersion between the levels of gray is not larger than 200K. It is worse in the Cool mode: the dispersion amounts to 1500K, darks being noticeably warmer than lights. Note also that this model doesn’t offer a really warm mode with a color temperature of below 6000K.

It’s all right about the white balance: the dots almost lie on the theoretical curve in every mode. There is no deflection towards pink or green.

Like every monitor in this review, this one has a standard color gamut. It is larger than sRGB in greens and coincides with the latter in reds and blues.

The lack of RTC makes this monitor as slow as every other inexpensive monitor. Its response time average is 13.8 milliseconds (GtG) with a maximum of almost 30 milliseconds.

The maximum brightness and contrast ratio are not record-breaking but will satisfy most users anyway.

Now let’s check out the preset modes. To remind you, Samsung offers two technologies: MagicBright (it adjusts brightness and contrast and does not affect color reproduction) and MagicColor (it changes color reproduction, “improving” colors while keeping the screen brightness at the same level). I guess this approach is the most convenient for the users: you can use MagicColor to get more saturated colors and MagicBright to change the screen brightness without affecting colors.


MagicBright

These modes are set up almost perfectly. The contrast ratio is never lower than 400:1 in any of them. I say “almost” perfectly because the screen brightness is somewhat higher than necessary. 132 nits is too much for text-based applications. I guess two thirds of that level would be quite enough. By the way, the latter two modes differ in color temperature, too. It is set at Cool in the Sport mode and at Warm in the Movie mode.

Again, this feature doesn’t affect color reproduction. It is only in the brightest modes that the lightest halftones are indistinguishable from each other due to the excessively high contrast.

It is diametrically different with the MagicColor feature. There are two modes: Full and Intelligent. The third option in the menu is to turn MagicColor off.


MagicColor

As you see, the level of brightness doesn’t change much from mode to mode. But what about color reproduction?

This mode is just up to its name: the changes won’t strike your eye. Contrast is increased somewhat (making some lights indistinguishable from pure white), and colors are more saturated. This mode can be suitable for those who prefer saturated, even though not accurate, colors.

There is no talk about color accuracy in the Full mode. The blue and green curves are very high whereas the red curve is sagging.

Highs:

Lows:

Recommended usage:

Samsung SyncMaster 943T

Here is another monitor from Samsung’s new 943 series but from a different product class.

The specs say it all: the SyncMaster 943T is based on a PVA matrix that provides a higher contrast ratio and larger viewing angles than TN ones. This matrix type is becoming ever rarer among 19-inch models. Old models are getting out of production while new models are scanty. As a result, there is but a few *VA-based 19-inchers available in shops today even if you count in the expensive semiprofessional models from NEC. This type of matrix differs from TN greatly. It doesn’t get dark when viewed from below. The picture on a PVA matrix depends on your angle of view, true, but not as heavily as with TN matrixes. Unfortunately, the high price of PVA matrixes leaves them a small market niche although they do enjoy stable demand. Some users, particularly experienced users, need monitors with good viewing angles.

It is a shame that this model does not have response time compensation. This technology can solve the main problem of PVA matrix, the high response time when switching between dark halftones. Unfortunately, such models are virtually extinct. The Samsung SyncMaster 971P is the only such monitor produced today that I can recall.

The 943T looks exactly like the rest of the 943 series monitors. It has a neat and compact silvery or black case. The design is simple and unsophisticated, but doesn’t look cheap.

The monitor’s stand is very functional. Like the simpler models, it features the new, sleeker, design, but besides tilt adjustment, it now allows to turn the screen around the vertical axis (using a rotating disc in the sole of the stand), adjust its height (from 60 to 140 millimeters from the desk surface to the bottom edge of the matrix), and pivot the screen into portrait mode. As opposed to TN-based monitors, portrait mode is more useful here due to the excellent viewing angles.

You can also replace the stand with a VESA-compatible mount, for example if you want to wall-mount the monitor or have even wider adjustment options.

There is no paltry economy in this model. It has both interfaces, analog and digital. The power adapter is integrated into the case.

Like the other monitors from this series, this one is controlled with handy touch-sensitive buttons. The single drawback of these buttons is that you cannot control the monitor in darkness. You just won’t be able to feel them with your fingers. Quick access is provided to the automatic adjustment feature, to the Brightness setting, and to assigning a function to the redefined button (it selects a MagicBright mode by default).

The menu is the same as in the above-discussed 943NW. I won’t describe it here. Let’s get right to the tests.

The monitor has 100% brightness and 75% contrast by default. I lowered both to 39% to achieve a 100nit level of white. Color gradients are reproduced without banding, and there are no problems with the reproduction of darks. Lights are displayed the same as white if the Contrast setting is set above its default value. The monitor regulates its brightness by means of pulse-width modulation of the backlight lamps at a frequency of 321Hz.

 

White brightness is quite uniform: an average deflection of 4.7% with a maximum of only 12.9%. When the monitor is displaying a black screen, you can see a characteristic X-shaped brighter pattern. The average deflection is 8.5% with a maximum of 39.5%. That’s a very depressing result. Hopefully, this is a problem of our particular sample. If not, this problem should be solved in the next revision of the monitor.

The gamma curves look good at the default settings even though the red curve goes higher and the blue curve lower than the theoretical one.

As is often the case, the curves improve at the reduced settings. They now differ but slightly from the theoretical one.

The color temperature setup is very good. The temperature dispersion is no larger than 800K and even fits within 200K in the Warm mode.

The dots lie higher than the theoretical curve in the CIE diagrams, yet the greenish hue shouldn’t be a serious problem. The dot corresponding to dark gray deflects much, but white and light gray almost lie exactly on the curve. As a result, this defect can hardly be perceived with a naked eye.

The color gamut is standard again. It doesn’t require special comments.

PVA matrixes are very slow without response time compensation. The response time average of this matrix is 24.0 milliseconds (GtG) with a maximum of over 80 milliseconds on transitions between the darkest halftones. This sluggishness of PVA technology can only be remedied with response time compensation. The matrix is fast enough for working in image-editing and text-based applications, but there will be problems with dynamic graphics content, i.e. with games.

PVA matrixes are still superior to TN ones in terms of static contrast ratio. Having the same level of white, they can deliver two times more contrast.

Now let’s check out the predefined MagicBright modes.

They prove to be set up very well, except that the screen is rather too bright. You may want to set the monitor up manually for working with text and use the MagicBright modes for viewing photos and watching movies. Note how high the contrast ratio is in every mode.

Thus, the Samsung SyncMaster 943T is a unique product. With its 19-inch PVA matrix, it has very few competitors. Besides the superb viewing angles no TN matrix can provide, it offers a good color reproduction setup, excellent contrast ratio, nice exterior design, and a reasonable choice of preset modes. So, if you are not taken aback at its poor response time and nonuniform black brightness, you should consider buying it. It is worth your consideration.

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Recommended usage:

ViewSonic VA1916w

The VA1916w is the widescreen version of the VA916 model that belongs to the most inexpensive series of ViewSonic’s monitors.

There is nothing unusual in the specifications. Take note of the dynamic contrast mode (which leads to such a high specified number) that has become available in the cheapest monitors even.

The black square case with a gray band along the bottom looks boring and unexciting. It will do for an office environment but may seem too unexciting to home users.

The monitor has a simple plastic stand that permits to adjust the tilt of the screen only. There are two cable holders at the back of it. You can replace the monitor’s native stand with a VESA-compatible mount.

There is a minimum of connectors here: an analog input and a connector for the integrated power adapter. The digital interface is again missing to make the monitor cheaper.

The plastic buttons centered below the screen are the same as on the non-widescreen version. They are far from handy because they are small. The Power button is in the middle of the group and is prone to be pressed accidentally even though it has an integrated blue LED. The buttons’ labels are pressed out in the plastic, which makes them almost invisible. All of this is combined with ViewSonic’s traditionally unintuitive way of labeling the buttons as “1” and “2” instead of some more informative words or icons.

Quick access is provided to the automatic adjustment feature and to the Brightness and Contrast settings.

ViewSonic’s typical menu is neither pretty nor very user-friendly, but is free from obvious defects. There is one peculiarity about ViewSonic monitors: when you select the sRGB mode in the color menu, the Brightness and Contrast settings get locked.

The monitor has 100% brightness and 70% contrast by default. I lowered both to 56% to achieve a 100nit white. Color gradients are reproduced without banding. Lights and darks are distinguishable at any level of Contrast. The monitor regulates its brightness by means of backlight modulation at a frequency of 266Hz.

 

The average nonuniformity of white brightness is quite high at 8.5% with a maximum of 20.2%. For black brightness the average and maximum are 4.9% and 14.0%, respectively. Fortunately, there are no conspicuously darker or brighter spots in either case, so this nonuniformity won’t be apparent.

The gamma curves go very close to each other and to the theoretical curve at the default settings.

When the contrast setting is reduced, the blue curve rises up somewhat in darks, but this doesn’t have a big effect on color accuracy.

Moreover, the monitor delivers nicely shaped gamma curves even at the maximum Brightness and Contrast. The blue curve is somewhat sagging, but that’s the only problem.

The color temperature setup is surprisingly good. The temperature dispersion is about 300K in every mode. Both warm and cold modes are available.

There is no tonal shift, either. The small deflection towards green cannot be noticed with a naked eye.

The color gamut is standard. There are no extended-gamut monitors in this review, so all of them produced the same color triangle.

The monitor’s response time is normal, too. The response time average is 15.4 milliseconds (GtG) with a maximum of 32.6 milliseconds. This is a typical result for a TN-based monitor.

The contrast ratio does not reach 500:1 but it is high enough at the 100nit settings (higher than with many other monitors). These distinctions cannot be spotted easily, however. They can’t be decisive for your shopping choice.

Thus, the ViewSonic VA1916w is just a regular inexpensive widescreen 19-inch monitor. Besides its low price, its surprisingly good setup is an advantage. But I doubt that it can make up for the dull exterior design and the lack of a digital interface.

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Conclusion

The 19-inch monitor market is becoming inexpensive. These monitors come at low prices but the downside is that they are all alike. They have fewer advantages whereas the users have to make their shopping choice basing on what drawbacks they are ready to put up with. However, 19-inch models are still popular, even though they meet more competition from inexpensive 20-inchers and even from 22-inch models based on slow TN matrixes. And there are a few interesting models and it would be wrong not to mention them in this conclusion.

First of all, it is the Samsung SyncMaster 943T which features a PVA matrix. It offers excellent viewing angles, a high contrast ratio, and a nice exterior design suitable for both office and home. It makes a good addition to the few *VA-based 19-inchers available on the market. Unfortunately, the 943T is not free from drawbacks. This monitor has highly nonuniform black brightness and does not have response time compensation, which makes it unsuitable for gamers who constitute the most demanding and numerous category of users of 19-inch monitors.

The ASUS VW198T represents the recently established class of widescreen 19-inchers with a native resolution of 1680x1050 pixels. Its small pixel pitch may be appreciated by some users.

The ASUS VK191D provokes some interest, too. Its specifications as of a display device are ordinary but it has an integrated web-camera with high image quality. This functional enhancement can hardly attract many customers, but it’s always good to have a wider choice of functional options.

And finally, the SyncMaster 943NW deserves a good word from me. This inexpensive monitor from Samsung’s new series features a nice appearance, handy controls, and good setup – quite a rare mix of characteristics to see in an entry-level product.