Closer Look at 19" Monitor Features. Part IV.

We continue the good tradition of testing 19-inch LCD monitors. Today we are going to introduce to you 15 models from Acer, ASUS, BenQ, EIZO, NEC, Philips, Samsung and Viewsonic. We will look at a few widescreen models and discuss the monitors’ response time and RTC errors for all RTC-enabled monitors. Read more in our detailed roundup now!

by Oleg Artamonov
07/07/2006 | 11:08 AM

It’s been a while since we last tested 19” LCD monitors on our site. Not only new monitor models but, what is more exciting, new technologies have emerged since then (alas, a release of a new model today just too often turns out to be a minor revision of an older monitor, so it is even hard to tell sometimes where the new model differs from the older one).

 

Trying to keep up with the times we are adjusting the methodology we employ to test LCD monitors. A two-dimensional diagram of response time measured on transitions from black to levels of gray and back again once used to provide an exhaustive description of a monitor, but when it comes to the new models with response time compensation it is important to know how long transitions between different levels of gray may take. And we want to know this not only to evaluate the response time parameter proper but to check out if there are any RTC artifacts which may arise when the compensating impulse is way too strong and the pixel brightness shoots up above the necessary level (this shows up on the screen as light shadows, rainbow patterns, etc).

In order to help you compare different monitors better, from this article onward I will provide 3D diagrams of response time and RTC error for all RTC-enabled monitors and will calculate an average response time by averaging all the non-zero values in the table of transitions (zero values correspond to “zero” transitions like “128-128” and to transitions which our measurement system lacks precision to measure, e.g. transitions between the lightest color tones). I will also calculate an average RTC error by averaging all the values in the RTC error table that have non-zero correspondences in the response time table.

I want to remind you that you shouldn’t base your judgments on numbers only because the distribution of numbers may also be important. For example, take and compare the RTC error diagrams for Samsung’s 940BF and 960BF monitors (you can find them in the text of this review): although the former model has a bigger average error, its errors are more uniformly distributed among all the transitions and thus are going to be less conspicuous visually than the huge errors of the 960BF on a few transitions from black to gray. Yes, this analysis is hard to make and is even harder to justify because there is always room for an argument like “What’s better: to have a few big errors or a lot of smaller ones?”, but we just have no choice other than to analyze deeply. If we operate with averaged numbers only, we run the risk of becoming like the manufacturers of LCD matrixes who measure response time by a black-to-white transition and come up with a number that often tells you nothing about the real speed of a particular matrix.

Acer AL1916Ws

Widescreen monitors with an aspect ratio of 16:10 rather than 5:4 or 4:3 had been largely ignored by the public until recently. The main problem was that such monitors were in fact cut-down versions of ordinary matrixes in terms of matrix resolution: the standard 19” monitor has a native resolution of 1280x1024 (or 1.31 megapixels) whereas the typical widescreen monitor had a resolution of 1280x768 (0.98 megapixels or two thirds the total area). And while it was all right to use widescreen matrixes in TV-sets for which the physical size is more important than the number of pixels, the reduction of workspace by one third wasn’t at all welcome in PC monitors. Moreover, pixels in widescreen matrixes just looked large (they don’t look small even on ordinary 19” matrixes).

Still, it goes without saying that widescreen monitors brings about a number of advantages over ordinary ones. It is easier to organize your workspace on them by tucking the additional menus, toolsets, etc. away to the sides of the document (photograph, a fragment of program code) you are working on. Widescreen displays are also superior in terms of ergonomics because it is easier to place them in the right way on the desk (ergonomics demands that the top of the screen be not higher than your eyes level). The eyes are also getting tired less when moving left and right rather than up and down.

And now the manufacturers seem to have listened to the customers’ cries and introduced a new type of widescreen 19” matrixes with an increased native resolution of 1440x900 (1.3 megapixels which almost equals the total area of a classic 1280x1024 matrix). Quite a few companies have already produced their monitors on such matrixes. Acer in particular released an AL1916Ws model.

The 1400x900 matrixes are currently being manufactured with TN+Film technology exclusively, with a curious consequence: the horizontal viewing angle of modern TN+Film matrixes is already quite wide while the vertical one calls for improvement, so the wide TN matrixes look even better in practice than classic TN matrixes with the same diagonal! But surely it would be good if this widescreen trend were spread to S-IPS and MVA/PVA technologies, too.

I want to draw your attention to the fact that the aspect ratio of the widescreen matrixes for PC monitors is 16:10 rather than 16:9, so there will be narrow black bands above and below the frame when you are watching movies on them.

The monitor is assembled in the uniform case for Acer’s low-end models which doesn’t show any trace of originality in design.

The stand only allows adjusting the tilt of the screen. It’s also rather flimsy, so the monitor wobbles all over at the slightest push.

You can attach a standard VESA mount to the four screw-holes in the back panel. There is no decorative cap over the holes.

The monitor has an analog input only and is equipped with an integrated power adapter. Of course, it’s a drawback not to have a digital input here, but the monitor worked normally on the Radeon X600 graphics card our testbed is fitted with, yielding a sharp and noise-free picture and not requiring manual image setup.

The monitor’s controls are located separately on a slat below the case. The Power button differs in shape and size from the others and is highlighted with a mild green LED at work. Quick access is provided to the automatic image adjustment feature. The “<” and “>” buttons have no purpose outside the menu.

The monitor has a standard and rather handy menu from Acer. It doesn’t offer any extra features, though, just the basic settings any LCD monitor offers.

By default, the contrast and brightness settings are set at 50% and 100%, respectively. By choosing 27% brightness and 30% contrast I achieved 100-nit brightness of white. The monitor’s brightness is controlled through pulse-width modulation of the power of the backlight lamps at a frequency of 270Hz.

The backlighting is quite uniform, yet on closer examination you can discern that the top and bottom of the screen are darker than the rest of it.

Just as I said above, the viewing angles of this monitor are quite normal for a modern TN+Film matrix, but the narrowness of the vertical angle isn’t that striking in comparison with an ordinary 19” monitor due to the reduced height of the screen. The difference isn’t big, though, and if you are not satisfied with the vertical viewing angle of a standard 1280x1024 TN matrix, you’d better consider matrixes with other manufacturing technologies rather than with a different screen aspect ratio.

The monitor produces undesirable bands in color gradients, but they are not very conspicuous. These bands are not affected by the monitor’s settings (it often happens that a monitor is well tuned up at its default settings, but you can see errors in color gradients as soon as you change the contrast setting).

The gamma curves lie very close to the theoretical curves for gamma 2.2. There are no problems here that would affect the reproduction of light or dark tones. The situation doesn’t change at the reduced brightness and contrast – the monitor still honestly reproduces all the color tones it is supposed to show.

There is a small difference between the temperatures of levels of gray, which is an achievement for a low-end monitor. The problem is that the image looks cold. Even in the Warm mode the temperature doesn’t lower to the sRGB standard 6500K whereas a majority of other monitors produce something like 5400K in their Warm modes. So, if you’ve got a rather “warm” illumination at your home, you may want to manually set up the color temperature of your AL1916Ws.

The AL1916Ws’s matrix lacks response time compensation, so its speed cannot impress. The pixel rise time is over 30 milliseconds at the maximum and goes down to acceptable level on black-white transitions only. Well, this is quite a typical picture for RTC-less TN+Film matrixes, but it anyway looks depressing after you’ve seen the latest models of gaming monitors.

The AL1916Ws’s brightness and contrast are quite typical for its class – there’s nothing to be surprised at. The max brightness of 250 nits allows playing games and watching movies with comfort even under bright lighting.

Thus, the AL1916Ws may be an interesting option for people who’d want to have a widescreen 19” monitor but are not satisfied with the low resolution and large pixels of the older 1280x768 matrixes. The monitor suits well for work and for watching movies (a special thanks to the wide display!), but you should think twice if you need a monitor for playing games. The matrix installed in the AL1916Ws is way slower than the matrixes of modern gaming LCD monitors. Don’t forget about the type of the matrix, too. The characteristic problems of TN+Film technology with viewing angles may have become less annoying, but have not disappeared yet.

Acer Ferrari F-19

Acer’s Ferrari F-19 is exactly the opposite of the low-end model I described and tested in the previous section. This is one of the most expensive products in its category, owing its high price to two factors: 1) its design is licensed from Ferrari and 2) it is equipped with a TV-tuner, a set of video inputs, and a remote control.

The black-and-red Ferrari style is easily recognizable by any admirer of the brand. Standing on a shop shelf or on your home desk, the monitor will surely be eye-catching. There is one blunder, however. The Power indicator on the left of the screen is blue! Well, I’m quite aware that blue LEDs are currently in fashion, but it looks so much out of place here. I wonder they have a line in their design guidelines at Acer that reads, “No one will ever buy a device without a blue LED indicator!” So they put it down there, but for no real purpose. It’s not only that the blue color doesn’t fit within the overall black-and-red Ferrari-style color scheme, but the position of the LED on the right of the screen is probably the worst possible because it distracts your eyes much more than if the LED were placed under the screen. And Acer didn’t provide a menu option to disable the LED completely as LG’s and NEC’s monitors offer.

The stand is simple and plain. It only allows changing the tilt of the screen.

The monitor’s connectors are drawn together in three groups. Video inputs are on the side of the case: the tuner’s antenna input and S-Video with corresponding audio inputs. In the nearby niche with a rubber cover there is a SCART connector and a universal digital interface connector (DVI-I as opposed to DVI-D which is meant for transferring only digital signal and lacks certain pins).

And finally, you can see a D-Sub connector for analog connection to the monitor, an audio input, and a power adapter connector (the Ferrari F-19 has an external power adapter). These are located at the bottom of the case like in a majority of other monitors.

The monitor’s controls are divided in two groups. The first group is placed on the right edge of the screen and is meant for general setup and controlling the F-19 as a PC monitor. The controls are easy to use and are labeled on the front panel so that you didn’t have to turn it towards you to find the necessary button (as I had to do with certain models from BenQ).

The second group of controls is located below and is mostly meant for managing the tuner. One of the buttons switches between the monitor’s inputs and the remaining two switch the tuner’s channels into appropriate mode.

The monitor comes with an infrared remote control which was the first bewildering thing to me. It not only lacks any trace of the Ferrari style but even looks as if enclosed with some low-end model. It is just a small, unhandy rectangular box with a lot of same-shape tiny buttons that are virtually impossible to use by touch alone. For example, I would often miss the TV button and hit the Power one, which was no fun, as you can imagine. However, the remote control does make all the TV and monitor-related settings available for you to play with.

After the remote control I was next bewildered at the onscreen menu. It looks a regular enough menu at first sight, but its amazing ineptness become instantly apparent as soon as you try to do anything in it. It seems like the monitor’s firmware was written in pieces by several people who just didn’t communicate among themselves during their work.

For example, you want to switch to one of the video inputs while in PC monitor mode. You enter the menu and find the necessary setting (which is in the Settings menu as you can see in the snapshot) and realize you can only switch between D-Sub and DVI. You can’t switch between DVI and S-Video! What to do? Just keep on tapping on the Input button until the monitor reaches the S-Video input – and the sluggish thing takes about three seconds to meditate on something after each of your presses.

Well, it turns out you only have to press the Input button just once. After that the monitor switches to its TV-tuner and you can enter the menu again and open the Options tab… Yes, I mean Options because the option of switching between the inputs has disappeared from the Settings to emerge among the Options. So, it’s now in the Options screen that you choose the Input Select item and get surprised at finding that you can now switch to any input the monitor has.

I can’t find a reasonable explanation of this other than that the menu was indeed written in pieces by different people who wouldn’t speak to each other for some reason. In all LCD monitors with integrated TV-tuners I have ever seen there was one menu irrespective of the operation mode, unused functions just becoming inactive in a particular mode. The menu of the Ferrari F-19 is just full of marvels like menu items disappearing to crop up on a different menu tab, and you can’t switch from DVI to S-Video or SCART, skipping the TV-tuner.

That was not the end of surprises, though. Next I found the Ferrari F-19 lacked Picture-in-Picture mode. It is simply not supported by this monitor! You can either watch TV or work on your computer, but not both simultaneously. Again, this is the first monitor with a TV-tuner I’ve dealt with that lacks the Picture-in-Picture feature. I usually describe the difference in the setup options for the second window (position, size, brightness and contrast, etc), but my job is much easier here: this mode is not available. Contact Acer for the why!

After that, I was not astonished at all at finding that I could adjust the sound timbre and stereo-balance in TV-tuner mode but couldn’t do that in PC monitor mode. In this particular case, however, I suppose the sound sources are different and the balance is set up somewhere on the tuner rather than in the monitor’s final audio amplifier.

And then I decided to plug in the antenna and watch something TV-like. So I attached everything, entered the channel settings page in the menu, and began to search for new channels. After about 15 minutes of deep thinking the monitor reported there were no TV channels available, although it should have found at least a dozen. I tried selecting each of the five countries available in the menu but to no purpose (and this is the only monitor I’ve seen that offered me to choose my country before the automatic setup).

To cut the long story short, I somehow managed to make it show the channels available in our area by manually typing in the channels settings, but it was real hard and I’m not sure I could repeat that feat again. By the way, the TV-tuner employed in the Ferrari F-19 isn’t very high quality. Ordinary PCI-interfaced TV-tuners tested in our labs with the same antenna produced a better picture.

It turned out eventually that the monitor’s firmware was to bear the blame for the problems with the tuner and Acer’s service center was ready to solve them. Still, I find it wrong that nearly defective samples of the monitor were allowed to sell (the sample I actually tested had been taken from a retail shop). And there has been no company statement that the defective batch has been called back from the shops and replaced with working monitors. I don’t think that people who have spent quite a big sum of money for a Ferrari F-19 – which is a very expensive monitor – will be pleased to hear that they should be heading to the nearest service center right after the purchase. Add also the menu-related problems I’ve described above which are not a defect as such, but are a big annoyance all the same.

But enough of that TV-tuner thing. I’m now going to describe and test the Ferrari F-19 as a regular PC monitor.

The monitor has 100% brightness and 80% contrast by default. To have 100-nit brightness of white I lowered the contrast setting to 28% and the brightness setting to 20%.

The gamma curves look well, even though not exactly ideally. The blue curve deflects from the theoretical one the most. The curves have the same shape at the reduced brightness/contrast, so there is no loss of dark tones.

Like with the AL1916Ws, the color temperature is obviously set too high, resulting in a cold-looking image on the screen. To make things worse, there is 3 thousand degrees of difference in the temperatures of different levels of gray even in the Warm mode which is set up best of all.

The monitor uses a TN+Film matrix without response time compensation. It’s not fast – the total response reaches 35 milliseconds at the maximum.

The monitor’s brightness is quite high, amounting to 350 nits at the maximum. The contrast ratio is good as TN+Film matrixes go, but not record-breaking.

So, it took much less space to publish the results of the Ferrari F-19 in tests than to describe my personal experience of using it. As a PC monitor, it is an average model on a rather slow TN+Film matrix. I can only recommend it for purchase to loyal Ferrari fans that put the Ferrari style above any technical characteristics. But apart from its design, the F-19 is a tangle of problems and imperfections absolutely unacceptable in a product of its class and price like a disorderly and illogical organization of the menu, unhandy remote control, lack of Picture-in-Picture mode, malfunctioning TV-tuner, slow matrix, and inaccurate color temperature setup. If you need just a good monitor with a TV-tuner, you’d better consider alternatives from other manufacturers, which are also more moderately priced.

ASUS PW191

Like Acer’s AL1916Ws, this model employs a new-type widescreen matrix with a native resolution of 1440x900. But the AL1916Ws is a low-end model with an unassuming appearance whereas the PW191 looks spectacular even when turned off.

The monitor’s front panel is made of black glossy plastic. The matrix has a glossy coating, too. The photograph above shows how it reflects the daylight lamps hanging on the ceiling of our laboratory. This coating does look splendid on a shop shelf, but I’m inclined to put its usefulness in doubt. For example, you can’t work with this monitor if you’ve got a light source behind your back – it will be distinctly reflected in the monitor’s screen. The two speakers on the sides of the matrix make this widescreen monitor even wider.

The monitor’s base resembles the stand of Samsung’s SyncMaster 193P. It consists of an aluminum disc and a leg with two hinges, one where the stand meets the monitor and another where it is attached to the base. As a result, you can position the monitor’s screen in any manner imaginable, even in parallel to the desk.

The ASUS PW191 is quite a pretty thing, but I think the aluminum base looks somewhat bulky. I like Samsung’s color solution more: the base of the 193P is also painted black, except for a shiny polished edge, and this looks more elegant and concordant with the black color of the monitor’s case.

If you remove the decorative cover, you can see the fastening of the stand. You can replace it with any VESA-compatible mount. Unlike with Samsung’s monitors, the monitor’s connectors are in the case rather than in the base.

The monitor has analog and digital inputs, audio input and headphones output (the latter is unfortunately at the back, too). The power adapter is external.

Well, the most original element of this monitor is its controls. The monitor even seems to lack them when turned off – you can see only one label painted on the Power button. But as soon as you press it, the button itself begins to shine in blue, and labels for four more buttons come to life in amber light on the left of it.

The highlighting of the buttons is turned on and off automatically. It goes out if you don’t touch them, but lights up again at your press. It’s only the Power indicator that is shining all the time.

The buttons are touch-sensitive, of course. That’s why they are not visible when the monitor is turned off. They are ready to react to your presses, but not to foreign objects (if a strayed cable is drawn over them, for example). There is one thing you should get used to, though. You have to press on the buttons softly, with a short delay of your finger the moment you touch the monitor’s panel. The monitor will process the presses well then while short, quick touches may be disregarded as accidental.

Quick access is provided to the sound volume and brightness settings, and to switching between the monitor’s factory presets (the so-called Splendid feature). There are five presets available: Scenery Mode (100% brightness, 90% contrast, 43% saturation), Standard Mode (user-defined settings; by default it has 100% brightness, 70% contrast, 37% saturation), Theater Mode (90% brightness, 80% contrast, 37% saturation), Game Mode (90% brightness, 80% contrast, 48% saturation), and Night View Mode (90% brightness, 90% contrast, 37% saturation). So, not only image brightness, but color reproduction as well is varied in the presets. By the way, Night View Mode suits fine for use during the day, too. It increases the level of black, so dark scenes in games become lighter, making it easier to spot a lurking enemy even under bright external lighting.

I personally prefer to have colors reproduced as closely as possible to natural ones. That’s why the Splendid feature with its adjustment of the color saturation parameter is no better for me than the ordinary browsing through brightness/contrast presets as implemented in a lot of today’s monitors (LightView technology from LG, MagicBright from Samsung, ECO from Sony). I prefer Samsung’s approach which separates saturation and brightness adjustments which go under the names of MagicColor and MagicBright, respectively, and you can use one feature without touching the other. But after all, this all depends on your particular tastes and preferences, of course.

Another interesting thing about this monitor is the opportunity of fine-tuning color reproduction through the so-called Skin Tone parameter which can be set at Reddish, Natural and Yellowish. This setting affects some colors other than the color of the skin of movie characters – the monitor is not as intelligent as to precisely distinguish the outline of each face in each frame.

The menu itself has an ordinary design and its usability is average, too.

The monitor displays color gradients well enough, yet you can see color bands in them at some levels of contrast. The backlighting is not exactly uniform – there are light bands along the top and bottom edges of the screen. The matrix is TN+Film, so its vertical viewing angles aren’t very wide.

The gamma curves are nearly ideal at the default settings (Standard Mode). At the reduced brightness and contrast settings the gamma value is for some reason reduced, too, resulting in a paler image:

Anyway, the monitor doesn’t have any problems reproducing halftones.

Unfortunately, the color temperature setup isn’t very accurate. The sRGB mode has the smallest difference between white and gray, but the temperature in this mode is about 500K lower than necessary. Strangely enough, the Warm mode turns to be colder than sRGB (and also has a big difference between the temperatures of white and gray). The Normal mode has a rather warm white color, but cold gray tones. In the Cool mode the temperature is as high as 15,000K.

The monitor can’t boast a good response time, either. Like the AL1916Ws, it has a rather slow matrix with a pixel rise time of over 30 milliseconds at the maximum. The response time graph of the PW191 lacks the sudden fall on the black-white transition which is characteristic of TN+Film matrixes, but I think this is only due to the fact that the signal coming to the matrix is not exactly pure white even when the highest contrast setting is selected in the menu. There is nothing wrong about that since no user is likely to work with the contrast slider set at the maximum, so the drop of speed in the right part of the graph doesn’t give you any real advantages. This is just a laboratory obtained result that allows matrix manufacturers to write down a low response time value in the specs.

The contrast ratio is similar to that of the Acer AL1916Ws, but the max brightness is lower. On the other hand, 200 nits is still quite enough for movies and games even under daylight.

Being a rather ordinary monitor in terms of technical parameters (except for its native resolution of 1440x900), the ASUS PW191 features an extravagant appearance: touch-sensitive buttons with highlighting, functional design, a very stable and practical stand. This model is superior from this point of view, but the AL1916Ws makes up for its low-end looks with its better setup. The difference between the two doesn’t go beyond color reproduction, though. The response time, contrast and viewing angle parameters of these two models are in fact identical.

BenQ FP93GX

Notwithstanding its rather humble exterior, the FP93GX monitor from BenQ is not a low-end product. Its price is quite high in comparison with BenQ’s T905 or FP91G+, for example. Why is it so expensive then? It’s simple: the FP93GX features response time compensation technology. Moreover, the declared response time of 2 milliseconds (on gray-to-gray transitions) puts it among the fastest monitors of today.

It has a simple black-and-silver case. The stand allows adjusting the tilt of the screen.

The decorative cap on the back panel conceals fasteners for a standard VESA-compatible mount. If you want to use one, remove the monitor’s own stand by unfastening the screws.

The FP93GX has both analog and digital inputs, and an integrated power adapter.

The monitor’s controls are placed in the bottom left corner of the case and are designed in quite an unassuming fashion, too. Plain rectangular buttons the color of the case and an indicator of power. Quick access is provided to the brightness and contrast settings:

This is a typical BenQ menu, which is user-friendly and remembers the last changed parameter. There is only one unusual option here – you can completely turn off response time compensation. The rest of the options are customary enough.

I’d say this model is somewhat odd – an expensive games-oriented home monitor in a very plain-looking case that would suit a low-end office model better. Gaming monitors are usually designed like the above-described ASUS PW191 so that the device would surely strike the eye of a potential customer. This seems the stranger to me since BenQ has had experience developing “image-making” models – take the 17” FP72V as an example.

By default, the monitor has 50% contrast and 90% brightness. I achieved 100-nit brightness of white by dropping the settings to 40% contrast and 39% brightness.

Color gradients are reproduced immaculately at the monitor’s default settings but look striped at lower values of contrast. The stripes are not very conspicuous, though.

The viewing angles are just what you can expect from a regular TN+Film matrix. That is, the vertical angle is narrow and the image appears dark when you are looking at the screen from below. Although the manufacturer declares a viewing angle of 160 degrees, this number was arrived at by relaxing the measurement conditions (they now measure the contrast ratio by its drop to 5:1 instead of 10:1; this “innovation” was introduced by many monitor manufacturers to mask the striking difference in viewing angles between TN matrixes and other technologies). The vertical viewing angle would have been much smaller if measured in compliance with the standard methodology.

The gamma curves are not ideal (the red curve sags rather too much), yet I can’t say the monitor has any serious problems with color reproduction. The curves are getting closer to the theoretical ones at lower contrast values, but the difference isn’t big.

The color temperature modes are set up rather sloppily. Like on many other LCD monitors, white is too warm and gray tones are too cold.

The manufacturer declares a response time of 2 milliseconds, which is the averaged number for all gray-to-gray transitions. The average of my measurements is 3.5 milliseconds (I don’t count in the “zero” diagonal of the diagram and “short” transitions like 244-255 which I didn’t measure due to an unacceptably high measurement error).

I don’t mean that the manufacturer lies to us. I use a rather rude measurement method with a step of 32 whereas some manufacturers are already using a step of 1 (that is, they measure transitions like 0-1, 1-2, 2-3, …, 162-163, etc). It’s possible that the monitor has low response time on such transitions. However, in this and upcoming reviews I will be giving an averaged response time for monitors with response time compensation because my methodology remains the same, thus allowing to compare different models correctly. By the way, the averaged response time of TN+Film matrixes without response time compensation is typically 15-20 milliseconds and this doesn’t prevent the manufacturers from declaring a response time of 8 milliseconds in the specs.

Another thing you may be interested in when it comes to a monitor with response time compensation is how accurately this new technology works. The diagram above shows the value of the RTC miss in percent. The miss is 15.2% on average, with a maximum of almost 200% (that is, the pixel brightness grows up to a value three times higher than it should be). The monitor isn’t that bad overall, though. The averaged value of the miss is acceptable, and the RTC error is rather small on black-to-gray transitions, which means RTC artifacts won’t be too obvious at work.

Last go brightness and contrast measurements. Both these parameters are at a very good level in this monitor. The contrast ratio exceeds 300:1 which is an excellent result for a TN+Film matrix.

Thus, the FP93GX is a very good gaming monitor. It is indeed very fast, and its RTC error is reasonably small in most cases. The inaccurate color temperature setup is a drawback of this model, but not a very serious one since it is positioned as a gaming monitor. The unassuming exterior design may prove to be a bigger drawback because people usually want a pretty-looking monitor for home.

EIZO FlexScan L778

EIZO took part in our tests with its very expensive ColorEdge CG21 monitor intended for professional work with color in pre-press and other such areas, but the company also produces a series of LCD monitors for ordinary people. FlexScan L778 is one of them:

What’s appealing in the design of this monitor is that the developers managed to keep within certain aesthetical limits, restraining themselves to using the same silver color and avoiding contrasting elements or glossy surfaces. But the very shape of the case is somewhat odd with the screen protruding a little forward and the two rounded speakers on the sides.

The design of the monitor’s stand is even more remarkable. There are sort of rounded rails on the monitor the stand can move up and down along. As a result, the screen position can be adjusted from vertical (the stand is in the bottom part) to nearly horizontal (the stand is in the top part):

This curious solution is indeed arguable because the monitor lacks screen height adjustment as such. The height is adjusted along with the screen tilt, and the latter is changing quicker than the height. And it is impossible to change the tilt without changing the height of the screen. I think this stand will suit people who like to position the screen at a large angle and look at it from above.

If you don’t like it, you can remove the stand altogether and replace it with a standard VESA-compatible mount.

The monitor has analog and digital inputs, two audio inputs (each corresponding to one video input), and an integrated USB hub.

There is an impressive row of ten controls here, including the Power button, and all ten are the same small size. I’m not quite sure this abundance of buttons makes it easier to set up the monitor. It’s just not convenient anymore to have a dedicated button for a particular option when there are over half a dozen such buttons to deal with.

The menu looks plain and is not very user-friendly. It doesn’t remember the last changed option and you have to move through to the appropriate menu item to quit a submenu. On the other hand, the menu offers a rich selection of settings, some other them quite unusual. Particularly, you can set up image saturation and hue and adjust the color temperature from 4000K to 10000K stepping only 500K.

Using the Mode button, you can switch between several presets of image parameters (Custom, sRGB, Text, Picture, and Movie) which differ not only in brightness but also in color temperature.

A curious thing here is that the monitor totally lacks a contrast setting, offering you brightness alone. Instead of contrast, you have three Gain settings, one for each of the basic colors (this monitor doesn’t offer the six coordinates-based adjustment of color reproduction, so the basic colors are the ordinary R, G and B).

By default, the brightness and all the three Gain settings set at 100%. To achieve 100-nit brightness of white, I reduced brightness to 57% and the Gain of each of the three colors to 80%. By the way, when you change the color temperature, the Gain values for the different channels are changed automatically.

Taking a glance at the monitor’s screen I couldn’t find any obvious problems with the image quality. The matrix backlighting is uniform, color gradients are reproduced normally, the viewing angles are wide enough for normal work (the monitor uses a PVA matrix).

The measurements reveal certain defects, however. The monitor’s gamma is initially set too low, resulting in a pale image. The characteristic bend of the curves in the top left part of the graph indicates a problem with reproduction of light tones. The problem is not very serious, though, and most users aren’t even going to notice it. This bend can usually be cured by reducing the contrast and brightness settings, but the curves remained largely as they had been on my doing so in this monitor’s menu.

The color temperature modes are set up with a very high precision. Yes, the temperature is a little too high in the warm modes and a little too low in the cold ones, but there is almost no difference in temperature between different levels of gray which is much more important than an exact coincidence of the real temperature with the name of the mode in the menu. Moreover, there are so many modes available that you can pick one up exactly for your particular conditions.

This monitor is based on a PVA matrix with response time compensation and its speed characteristics are quite typical and familiar to our readers: even with RTC technology transitions from black to dark-gray are slow on PVA and MVA matrixes (here, such transitions can take as long as 75 milliseconds). However, RTC does help to reduce response time on lighter tones, so RTC-enabled monitors on such matrixes are indeed faster than older models. Here, the averaged response of the monitor is 13 milliseconds (a typical RTC-less PVA matrix has an averaged response of about 21 milliseconds) and there are no RTC artifacts at all (to be exact, the RTC error was always so negligibly small that it made no sense to measure it – you can’t spot such a small deviation in practice).

Just as you can expect from a PVA matrix, the monitor’s contrast ratio surpasses any monitor on TN+Film. The maximum brightness is high enough for using the monitor under normal external lighting.

I should confess I can’t make up my mind about this monitor. The FlexScan L778 is a good but somewhat peculiar model. It features an original design, but with a queer stand. It offers rich setup opportunities, but in a not-easy-to-use menu. Talking about image quality alone, the L778 will make a perfect monitor for work and for watching movies, but gamers may find it too slow, even though not as slow as PVA matrixes without RTC are.

NEC MultiSync LCD1970GX

The LCD1970GX is NEC’s first attempt to create a mainstream 19” monitor on a TN+Film matrix (the company used to put such models, e.g. the LCD92VM, into the low-end market segment). The monitor has the new design which our readers may be already familiar with by our review of the LCD2070NX model. I wouldn’t say it differs dramatically from NEC’s older models, but the case has got a sleek rounded outline and the controls are now placed on a separate panel. A joystick is provided instead of buttons for navigating the menu. The rounded angles are a definite plus since NEC’s older models used to look rather bulky and awkward as if hewn out with an axe, but the joystick is not such an indisputable advantage because I’ve heard many users complaining about it and I’ve noticed it malfunctioning, too. I should acknowledge, however, that the joystick in our sample of the monitor worked well.

The LCD1970GX is actually being ousted from the market by newer models with response time compensation, and it’s for the comparison’s sake that I’m interested in testing it.

The monitor’s matrix has a glossy coating with a tremendous reflection capacity. I guess this monitor will be ideal for people who want to be aware of the boss sneaking up to them from behind to check if they’re not wasting the company’s Internet traffic for some fun. But if you’ve got light sources behind your back, this monitor cannot suit you at all. The reflections on the screen will be disturbing at work, not to mention when you’re watching movies or playing games.

The monitor’s base allows adjusting its height within 65 to 170 millimeters from the desk to the screen bottom. The tilt of the screen can also be adjusted, but the portrait mode is unavailable.

The monitor has analog and digital inputs, and a 4-port USB hub. I’d like to remind you that the USB interface is used in modern LCD monitors exclusively for the hub. The monitor itself doesn’t need it because the DDC/CI channel of the ordinary video interface (D-Sub or DVI) is used for management purposes (some CRT monitors used to be managed from Windows via USB). The monitor has an integrated power adapter.

As I said above, the controls are placed on a separate panel below the monitor’s case, and a 4-position joystick is prominent among them.

The monitor’s menu has got much better since NEC’s older models, but hasn’t acquired any additional functionality (I already checked it out in my tests of the LCD2070NX). The menu is quite easy to use.

The monitor’s brightness and contrast are set at 100% and 50% by default. On analog connection, 100-nit brightness of white is achieved by choosing 30% brightness and 38% contrast. Brightness is controlled through pulse-width modulation of the power of the backlight lamps at 210Hz frequency.

Color gradients are reproduced by this monitor without serious defects. The backlighting is overall uniform, but with brighter areas in the corners (you can only see that in the dark, though). Like with any TN+Film matrix, the vertical viewing angles are rather too narrow and this cannot be improved even by the glossy coating.

The gamma curves look good, except for the minor bend in the top right of the graph (it’s most clearly seen with the red curve). It means that the monitor has a little too much of contrast. And really, if you lower the monitor’s contrast setting from 50% to at least 45%, this color reproduction defect is completely cured.

The gamma curves look excellent now and do not get any worse if you reduce the contrast setting more. So, it is best to keep this monitor’s contrast at 45-47%. By the way, this is a common thing for many NEC monitors I have dealt with in my earlier tests – the default contrast was a little higher than necessary in quite a number of them.

The color temperature is set up quite accurately, making allowances for this model’s gaming orientation. The “warm” modes (sRGB and warmer) yield a considerably lower temperature than necessary, but the difference between the temperatures of white and gray is small, and it is this difference that is indicative of the quality of setup. What’s not good here is that the monitor lacks a mode with a color temperature of 6500-7000K: the “7000K” mode is in fact colder than this, while the “sRGB” mode (in which the temperature is supposed to be 6500K) is warmer.

The response time graph doesn’t differ from other typical TN matrixes without response time compensation: it has a maximum of about 30 milliseconds and a minimum of 11 milliseconds (on black-white transitions).

The monitor has a very high maximum brightness and an excellent contrast ratio, too – for this type of the LCD matrix, of course. I think there’s even some excess of brightness because 300 nits is enough for you to work comfortably even when sunlight hits the screen directly. Well, having good specs helps sell a product after all.

All in all, the LCD1970GX is a very good monitor in its class if you do not care that its RTC-less matrix is now out-dated. It features an accurate setup, good contrast and brightness, and a nice exterior design. Like I said above, the 1970GX is going to give way to the new 90GX2 which is the subject of the next section of this review.

NEC MultiSync 90GX2

The outward appearance of the MultiSync 90GX2 is very much alike to the 1970GX: it has a similar-looking silver-and-black case, which is large but has smoothed-out corners unlike NEC’s older models. Like the previous model, this one uses a glossy-coated matrix.

The side view hasn’t changed much, though. The back panel of the case is totally rounded and the stand has been simplified. It now only allows changing the tilt of the screen. The height of the screen remains constant at 95 millimeters above the desk surface.

The monitor has analog and digital inputs, and a 4-port USB hub. The power adapter is integrated into the case.

The controls are the same as in the previous model: a 4-position joystick and four buttons, including a Power button (the Reset button is but rarely used in the menu, but instead works as a switch between the DV Modes).

Talking about DV Mode, sometimes this feature is wrongly considered as an equivalent to the brightness/contrast presets in other manufacturers’ monitors. The difference is that DV Mode affects the gamma compensation value rather than the brightness setting, which results in a lighter or higher-contrast image. This function is meant for movies and games, but not for work. Changing the gamma correction distorts the reproduction of colors up to a total loss of the darkest or lightest image tones.

The monitor’s menu doesn’t differ much from the previous model’s.

The monitor has 100% brightness and 50% contrast by default. To achieve 100-nit brightness of white I chose 25% brightness and 28% contrast. Color gradients are reproduced well at the default settings, but solid-color bands become discernable in them at reduced values of contrast. They are not very conspicuous, though.

The backlighting is normal, but you can see in the dark that the top and bottom of the screen are a little lighter than the middle.

The gamma curves look almost the same as they did on the 1970GX, except that the gamma value is a little lower than necessary, making the image somewhat whitish. The drawback I noticed with the 1970GX – its overstated default contrast – can be observed here, too. You can cure this by lowering the contrast setting in the monitor’s menu from 50% to 45% or even a little lower.

The monitor’s color temperature modes are set up well for its class, except for cold tones: the temperature of white is lower than that of different levels of gray when you select 7500K or higher. The sRGB mode gives you a perfect setup, though.

The monitor uses a TN+Film matrix with response time compensation. Its speed is overall good, except for a few transitions between light tones that may take as long as 21 milliseconds. The averaged response time is 5.9 milliseconds, which is higher than the BenQ FP93GX’s, but the specified response time of the 90GX2 is higher, too.

There are RTC artifacts, but not too serious. The average error amounts to 11.7% with two peaks of 70% (on light tones, when transitioning from the lighter to the darker tone).

The monitor has an excellent contrast ratio and an even higher maximum brightness than the 1970GX has. So, I can’t have any complaints about its brightness/contrast characteristics.

Thus, the NEC MultiSync 90GX2 is a worthy successor to the 1970GX, with similar characteristics, but a considerably lower response time. Unfortunately, the stand has been simplified in comparison with the 1970GX and now doesn’t allow adjusting the height of the screen. This monitor is equally suitable for gamers and home users who want to have a good-quality and well-configured product. The only thing that may set you aback is the monitor’s price of over $500. This sum can buy you a good monitor on a PVA or MVA matrix with RTC which is going to be better than the 90GX2 with its TN+Film matrix in every parameter except for response time. You can also buy an inexpensive 20” monitor on TN+Film for this money. For example, the rather good monitor Acer AL2017 with a 1400x1050 matrix has a considerably lower price than the mentioned $500.

NEC MultiSync LCD1990SXi

NEC’s 60th and 70th series of monitors (e.g. LCD1960NXi and LCD1970GX) are officially positioned as monitors for home and office use whereas the 80th and 90th series are touted as serious products for work with color and CAD/CAM applications. These are manufactured exclusively on S-IPS and PVA matrixes, the former having the suffix “i” in the model name (thus, the reviewed LCD1990SXi employs an S-IPS matrix manufactured by LG.Philips LCD whereas the LCD1980SX has a PVA matrix from Samsung).

The monitor has a solemn-looking black case (a light-color version is available, though) without any decorations which are of course unacceptable in a professional model. The overall design resembles NEC’s older models. In the 70th series the designers tried to smooth out the angles of the case to make it more appealing for a home user, but the 90th series has it the old straight-lined way. It’s only the base that has become a little more elegant – it has a rectangular shape in the LCD1980SXi.

The base allows doing just everything you can imagine with the screen: change its tilt, pivot it into the portrait mode, adjust its height, and rotate the screen around its vertical axis.

The LCD1990SXi has three inputs in total: a digital DVI-I, an analog D-Sub, and a universal DVI-I. You can attach both digital and analog (via an adapter) sources to the latter. A DC out connector can be seen on the left of the video connectors. It is a power output for speakers that have to be purchased optionally.

The professional positioning of the 1990SXi model didn’t allow the NEC engineers to use the frivolous joystick (which is also inclined to malfunctioning often), but they obviously didn’t want to introduce any radical changes into the way the monitor is controlled. So, they came up with a curious solution. They removed most of the meaningful labels from the buttons, and the labels now appear next to the buttons right on the screen when you enter the menu.

This solution isn’t blameless in my eyes. Yes, it is innovative, but they should have labeled the button you enter the menu with. And secondly, it’s easier to read text on buttons rather than on the screen, while the functionality of the monitor’s controls isn’t as large as to call for context-sensitive labels. A minor plus of this labeling system is that the text is of course visible in full darkness, but it’s generally not recommended to work without external lighting, and you also have to fumble for the buttons by touch alone. So, I personally prefer the LED-based highlighting like in the ASUS PW191 (not necessarily with touch-sensitive buttons).

The menu hasn’t changed much externally, just a face-lift over the 70-th series, but the selection of options it provides has been greatly extended. First, the monitor is equipped with an external light sensor and you can enable automatic adjustment of contrast and brightness. When the Auto Brightness feature is turned on, the monitor’s brightness is adjusted whenever the lighting in your room changes. This adjustment is performed smoothly rather than in a jump – you can even enter the monitor’s menu at this moment and see the Brightness slider moving slowly. This auto-brightness feature is implemented perfectly and is not at all annoying (I personally dislike electronics that’s deciding something for me – it often fails to do things right, you know). The top and bottom brightness limits are specified by the user: you should turn on all the lights in your room, enter the menu and put the Brightness setting into the necessary position. The minimum limit is set up in the same way. From this point on, the monitor will only be varying its brightness within these two threshold values when in Auto Brightness mode.

What’s more, another mode for automatic brightness adjustment is available. It doesn’t use the light sensor – the monitor adjusts brightness by analyzing the current image. I think this mode is less interesting just because a monitor is supposed to display images as they are, without trying to make them look better.

The automatic contrast adjustment feature works with the analog input only and, quoting the manual, “Adjusts the image displayed for non-standard video inputs”. I didn’t see any visible effect from this feature in my tests – our testbed is obviously equipped with a standard video output :).

This Auto-Brightness feature has one more use, by the way. The monitor can “go to sleep” on its own when it gets dark in the room. The light intensity threshold for the monitor to turn off is specified by the user.

The color reproduction setup options have been extended, too. Color temperature can be set up by six coordinates (save for the sRGB, Native and Programmable modes) – this feature is customary for professional monitors, but rare in consumer products.

Two programs can be used with the MultiSync LCD1990SXi: NaviSet (allows changing the monitor’s settings from Windows) and GammaComp (per-point gamma curves correction; this feature might be called “hardware calibration” if it were not for one hitch – GammaComp doesn’t support calibrators directly, so it takes some time and ingenuity to perform a real hardware calibration). The LCD1990SXi uses 12-bit internal color representation, but has an ordinary 8-bit matrix. The enhanced color precision is needed for a more accurate processing of the image when adjusting it for the specified contrast, color temperature and gamma curve and allows avoiding such artifacts as striped gradients. In other words, the monitor receives 8-bit data from the computer, translates them into 12-bit format for processing, processes and translates back into 8-bit form and finally sends them to the matrix.

The monitor’s brightness and contrast are set at 100% and 50% respectively by default. To achieve 100-nit brightness of white I selected 51.4% brightness and 42.1% contrast (the numbers are not rounded off in the monitor’s menu, although there’s not much practical sense in such precision).

The gamma curves are very neat except for the small bend in the top right. This small defect can be observed on other NEC monitors at the default settings, but it doesn’t vanish here when you lower the contrast. This defect isn’t too serious, though. You will hardly notice it at work.

The quality of color temperature setup can be evaluated from two standpoints: 1) how close the real temperature is to the name of the corresponding menu setting/mode and 2) how far the temperatures of different levels of gray differ at the same menu setting. The first parameter is not critical, especially if the deflection from the nominal value isn’t too big and the number of available settings/modes is large enough for you to choose exactly what you need. As you can see, the real temperature is a little higher than the nominal value in each mode the LCD1990SXi offers. The second parameter is more important because if there is a great difference between the temperatures of different levels of gray (it amounts to thousands degrees in some monitors!), an ordinary grayscale gradient looks toned or colored in some spots. The worst case is when the temperature of white is much lower than that of light-gray – this difference can be easily caught by the eye. And from this point of view, the LCD1990SXi is blameless. It’s only the temperature of dark tones that differs much from white, but this difference is not readily perceived by the eye whereas the temperatures of white and light-gray are very close.

The monitor has an S-IPS matrix without response time compensation. A full response time of 18 milliseconds is declared (on a black-white-black transition), but it is in fact closer to 25 milliseconds. Generally speaking, the 16ms S-IPS matrixes installed in 20” monitors are noticeably faster than their 19” 25ms counterparts, but here you can’t see any big difference from 25ms matrixes. The monitor is rather fast, however. Although the full response is nearly 35 milliseconds, its rise time nearly equals the fall time whereas in TN+Film matrixes with a full response of 35 milliseconds the fall time is only 2-4 milliseconds. As a result, S-IPS matrixes look subjectively faster if you compare RTC-less monitors on S-IPS and TN+Film (S-IPS technology cannot compete with RTC-enabled monitors, of course).

The monitor’s contrast ratio is average, which is no news since S-IPS matrixes have never had a really high contrast. Moreover, a violet shimmer, characteristic of this matrix manufacturing technology, can be seen on a black background if you’re looking at the screen from a side, especially along the diagonal of the screen. This effect isn’t conspicuous and most users just don’t care about it, considering the fact that S-IPS matrixes are unrivalled in terms of viewing angles and color distortions on other LCD matrix types become apparent much more readily than the mentioned violet.

So, the MultiSync LCD1990SXi is a very high-quality work-oriented monitor (but it is also rather expensive at about $700). It comes in a handy and workplace-suitable case. The portrait mode and screen height adjustment are available. The monitor also offers rich setup opportunities and boasts a good reproduction of colors. All this makes it an excellent choice as a basic model for work with color and in CAD/CAM applications (after all, not all people can afford a professional monitor from the SpectraView or ColorEdge series). You may want to buy this monitor for home if you need an accurate color reproduction and options to fine-tune it. Otherwise you should be informed of the fact that the same money can buy you, say, a 20” NEC MultiSync 20WGX2 which has a larger screen and a faster matrix.

Philips Brilliance 190G6

It’s no use to describe this monitor – you must see it for real. Philips came up with something that’s not a PC monitor proper, but a sort of a home multimedia system. The product you take out of a huge box is bigger than many monitors with a larger screen diagonal. There are four speakers on the sides of the 190G6 which are also quite large as monitors’ speakers go. You say that even these large speakers are no good at reproducing a really deep bass? Well, there is a separate subwoofer for that in the package:

And that’s not the most thrilling feature, either. The biggest surprise is that the monitor sports its own audio card with a USB interface for the computer. I confess I haven’t seen anything like that before!

This thing cannot be described as “compact” if viewed from a side. There’s a kind of a cup behind each speaker which are in fact speaker enclosures. As you know, a speaker sounds bad by itself and needs an acoustic enclosure, a closed volume. Here, this volume is quite big while keeping the monitor relatively thin.

The stand allows changing the tilt of the screen only. And it is quite unnecessarily chrome-plated. Shiny monitors look splendid on a shop shelf, but all this excessive gloss and shine will only be distracting at real use.

The monitor has a full set of video connectors. At the back and bottom there are analog and digital inputs, an audio connector (in addition to the integrated audio card), SCART and S-Video connectors. This all can be hidden with a black cover after you’ve attached all the cables.

Two more groups of video connectors are located on the side: a composite input (labeled CVBS) with its accompanying audio input, and a component input (labeled HDTV) with a couple of its own audio connectors. I’d want to remind you that there are two standard resolutions in HDTV, 720 and 1080 lines (which split further in twos by the type of line scanning, but it doesn’t matter here). The 1080 lines mode is considered the basic one. Like a standard 19” monitor, the 190G6 has a native resolution of 1280x1024 or 56 lines less than in a HDTV frame.

The base is rigged up well, too. There are three more connectors on its back: power (the monitor’s got an external power supply), a USB input for the audio card and for the integrated USB hub, and an audio output for the subwoofer.

You will find the mentioned hub on the left of the base. It gives you two more USB ports.

On the left of the base, there are also two audio sockets: microphone input and headphones output. This seems to be all. I hope I haven’t missed any of the monitor’s numerous connectors :).

The top of the base has an impressive appearance, too. It’s here that the monitor’s controls are located. To my mind, the monitor offers even too many of controls.

A sound volume control is placed in the middle. It is not a variable resistor, but a so-called encoder. An encoder works like the ball of a computer mouse: it sends the controller the number of impulses proportional to the angle of turning. Unlike a variable resistor, an encoder has no limits – you can turn it around as long as you want to.

Encoders have come to be used extensively in home appliances due to the need of synchronization between the various controls. For example, a music box allows changing the sound volume with a knob on the box itself or with a remote control button. Suppose you’ve selected a certain sound level with the knob and are now adjusting it with the remote control – the hairline on the knob now points to a wrong volume value! The problem can be solved by implementing an electromechanical drive in the knob so that when you are pressing down on a remote control button, an electromotor is activated in the device to turn the knob around by the necessary angle. This solution looks cool, but is rather costly and difficult to implement (this is mechanics, after all). The encoder is a simpler solution to the same problem. Since it doesn’t have a limiting position, you just don’t gauge it and that’s all. When you change the sound volume from the remote control, the electronics remembers it. And then if you begin to turn the encoder’s knob around, the electronics detracts from (or adds to) the sound volume value according to the impulses produced by the encoder.

Well, you may say there is a hairline on the encoder in the snapshot above. Yes, it’s there, but only for the sake of beauty. The direction this hairline points to means absolutely nothing (by the way, this is the single drawback of an encoder – the position of its knob doesn’t tell you the current sound volume level. That’s why it is usually not gauged at all). You can check this out yourself: set a certain volume on the monitor, turn it off, turn the encoder’s knob around how you like (you can even make several rounds, if you wish), turn the monitor back on, and see that the volume setting is intact.

Under the volume control there are Mute and auto-adjustment buttons. The Power button is above it (by the way, the integrated speakers produce a rather loud click when you turn the monitor off). On the left there are five menu navigation buttons (when not in the menu, one of them switches between the inputs and two others work as sound volume controls, although the encoder makes their purpose unclear). Another exclusive feature of this monitor is the four buttons on the right to choose the equalizer mode. Each button is accompanied with a blue LED, indicating which mode is currently selected. Frankly speaking, it looks to me as if the manufacturer just desired to put as many blue LEDs as possible into the monitor. I don’t think switching between the equalizer’s modes is such a demanded and frequently used function as to require a whole new group of buttons.

The menu is user-friendly, offering standard enough settings, the sound equalizer being the single extra option here. The Picture-in-Picture mode is supported for the video inputs: you can specify the second window’s size (several options, from tiny to half-screen size) and position (in any of the four corners of the screen).

A TN+Film matrix with a glossy coating is installed in the monitor. The viewing angles aren’t impressive. Besides the characteristic darkening, the image also becomes pinkish when viewed from below or bluish when viewed from above. It’s only when looking from a side that you see the color distortion typical of TN+Film technology, i.e. a muddy yellowish hue. Many last-generation TN+Film monitors have better viewing angles, I should say.

The monitor has 50% of both brightness and contrast by default. To achieve 100-nit brightness of white I selected 20% brightness and 22% contrast. The Brilliance 190G6 reproduces color gradients flawlessly irrespective of the current settings.

The gamma is set noticeably low, so the image looks paler than it should be. This doesn’t change at the reduced brightness/contrast.

The monitor gives you a rather high color temperature in every mode. You simply cannot get a temperature of below 7000K from this monitor without manual setup. In terms of difference between levels of gray, the sRGB mode is the only acceptable, but the screen brightness is greatly reduced in it. In the other modes gray is noticeably colder than white.

The matrix installed in the 190G6 lacks response time compensation, yet has a rather good speed. Its full response time is a mere 20 milliseconds at the maximum. Thus, the monitor occupies an in-between position as it is obviously slower than RTC-enabled monitors, but faster than a majority of RTC-less models.

The monitor’s maximum brightness is very high but the contrast ratio is average as TN+Film matrixes go: it didn’t reach 300:1 and even degenerated almost to 100:1 at the low screen brightness.

So I’m not sure this monitors is going to be popular. Yes, it is very attractive when standing on a shop shelf, but only due to its originality rather than elegance of design. A closer inspection reveals that the 190G6 is bulky and awkward and looks rather tastelessly with its shiny chrome-plated surfaces. To my mind, even LG’s Artistic Series monitors with a chrome-plated stand and a black-white color scheme look prettier and nicer to the eye.

As a monitor proper, the 190G6 is nothing extraordinary, except for the full set of video inputs, even including a composite one – but are there a lot of users who need this? It has an ordinary TN+Film matrix and a rather average setup quality. The integrated speakers and audio card are a special feature of this product, but the sound quality they provide still cannot match even inexpensive desktop speakers while an entry-level audio controller is installed on every mainboard manufactured today.

The retail price of the 190G6 is over $600 whereas you can have a good home monitor for only $400-500 (in the top end of this range you’ll even meet RTC-enabled PVA or MVA matrixes rather than TN), and this home monitor will have better characteristics and setup than the 190G6. The difference in price will get you a good speaker system (a basic 5.1 model or a very good multimedia stereo system) that’ll have better sound quality than the 190G6’s integrated speakers can deliver.

Thus, I can’t imagine why you would want to buy a Brilliance 190G6. It is a fanciful, expensive, not-very-handy device with no record-breaking parameters. It’s rather meant for an instant visual effect rather than for long and fruitful work.

Samsung SyncMaster 940T

Samsung just can’t stop releasing new models. One series is replaced with a new one in the blink of an eye. We have just recently discussed the points of difference between the 920 series and the older ones, but now it is obsolete and is ousted by the new 940 line-up.

The monitor has a compact case, plain yet nice-looking. That’s what you can expect from Samsung. The company is not into contrasting color schemes or chrome-plated surfaces, preferring a more restrained design for its LCD monitors. I’ve repeatedly expressed my personal and favorable opinion on such design in my reviews. I hold that the monitor is an information display device in the first place and only then an object of the interior and if the appearance of a monitor interferes with its main function, the appearance must be changed.

The stand allows to adjust the height and tilt of the screen. The portrait mode is also available.

The monitor has analog and digital inputs, and an integrated power adapter.

Many monitor manufacturers try to hide the controls from view somewhere at the bottom or on a side and don’t label them, forgetting that it’s not convenient to press buttons you don’t see. Samsung has it in a simple and elegant way: the neat round buttons are located right on the monitor’s front panel and bear clearly identifiable icons. This doesn’t spoil the monitor’s appearance in the slightest, while the controls are really easy to use. The buttons sink down easily, with a clear quiet click. The Power button is highlighted with a mild blue LED at work.

The standard menu from Samsung is very user-friendly. Among extra settings, you are offered five MagicBright modes (brightness/contrast presets), MagicColor mode (increases color saturation), and three gamma compensation values. Quick access is provided to the brightness setting, to MagicBright, to switching between the inputs, and to automatic adjustment for analog signal.

To achieve 100-nit brightness of white I selected 25% brightness and 30% contrast. By default, the brightness and contrast settings are set at 100% and 75%, respectively. Color gradients are reproduced by this monitor without problems at any settings. The backlighting is uniform, and the viewing angles are typical of a PVA matrix, i.e. they are wide enough for a majority of users, even though with minor artifacts (dark tones are lost when your line of sight is exactly perpendicular to the screen, and the image becomes pale sooner than with S-IPS matrixes when you are deflecting your line of sight sideways).

The gamma value is too low at the default settings. This is no news for Samsung’s monitors – most of them come out set up this way and I don’t know the reason for that. The image looks faded, lacking contrast, as a result, but don’t forget you can improve this by simply changing the gamma setting.

The gamma curves do not change at the lowered brightness and contrast whereas MagicColor leads to significant problems.

As you see, the monitor just stops to distinguish between all the light tones. I am rather suspicious about such color reproduction enhancement modes as I have seen similar effects when using LG’s f-Engine and NEC’s DV Mode…

The quality of this color temperature setup is average. The difference between the temperatures of white and levels of gray isn’t that big as with some other monitors, yet is considerable. Moreover, the SyncMaster 940T just doesn’t offer warm temperatures: the Warm mode gives you about 6500K on average but warm colors are actually those with a temperature of below 6000K. This is not going to be a problem for a majority of users, though. Color temperatures between 6500K and 7500K are usually used in practice.

The monitor employs a PVA matrix without response time compensation, so you can’t expect a high speed from it. The response time is over 100 milliseconds at the maximum (on dark tones) and lowers towards light tones to 26 milliseconds, the specified response time being 25 milliseconds. So, I can’t recommend this model to gamers.

The contrast ratio is good, just as it should be in a regular PVA matrix. Running a little ahead, I want to say that no other matrix in this review produced a better contrast ratio.

Describing the SyncMaster 940T in a single sentence, I’d say it is a “nice monitor for everyday work”. It is well made, has all the necessary functionality, is rather well set up, and employs a PVA matrix instead of the popular TN+Film. You cannot expect marvels from it (like an extremely good reproduction of colors, for example), but it will suit nicely for work with drawings, text, the Internet, etc. You may consider buying a 940T for your home only if you are not into dynamic games. A PVA matrix without “overdrive” can do for movies, but will most likely prove to be a disappointment in games.

Samsung SyncMaster 940B

This monitor is similar to SyncMaster 940T, except that it is based on a TN+Film rather than PVA matrix.

The sample we got for our tests was black, but the 940B is also available in a silver case.

The stand allows to change the tilt and height of the screen and to turn it into the portrait mode.

The monitor has analog and digital inputs, and an integrated power adapter.

The controls are designed in the same way as on the 940T, but the labels are white.

By default, the monitor has 100% brightness and 75% contrast. To achieve 100-nit brightness of white I selected 20% brightness and 25% contrast. Brightness is controlled through pulse-width modulation of the power of the backlight lamps at a frequency of about 340Hz.

Solid-color stripes are noticeable in dark areas of color gradients. The brightness and contrast settings have almost no effect on them.

The vertical viewing angles are much worse in comparison with the PVA matrix, of course. The picture becomes dark as soon as you just lower your head a little below the screen. When you are looking at the screen from below at an angle of about 50 degrees, the image goes almost completely black.

The 940B’s gamma curves look better than the 940T’s. They lie close to the theoretical curves, so the image looks normal, without excessive whitishness. There are no serious problems with the curves and none arise when contrast is reduced in the monitor’s settings.

The 940B’s color temperature setup is similar to the 940T’s, too. In every mode it yields a colder image than the 940T does, but the difference in negligible.

Despite the declared response time of 8 milliseconds, the matrix installed in the SyncMaster 940B is not too fast. It’s an ordinary TN+Film without response time compensation, and a rather slow TN+Film, too: the response time is as high as 35 milliseconds at the maximum. Of course, the 940B can’t stand competition against modern monitors with RTC and doesn’t suit well for applications that require a fast matrix.

The TN matrix cannot compare with the PVA when it comes to contrast ratio, yet it is good enough against many other TN-based monitors. Moreover, the contrast ratio remains good even at the low screen brightness thanks to the considerable decrease in the level of black.

Thus, the SyncMaster 940B can be viewed as a monitor for everyday work, a kind of cheaper 940T for those who don’t care about the small vertical viewing angle. It is well (but not perfectly) set up, has good parameters and is assembled in a neat, cute and practical case. Like the 940T, the SyncMaster 940B should only be purchased for home if you are sure its speed suits you fine. I can’t say it is much faster than the 940T despite the threefold difference in their specified response times (they differ, of course, but there is a bigger difference between them and modern monitors with RTC).

Samsung SyncMaster 940BF

The SyncMaster 940BF looks very much like the above-described SyncMaster 940B – and their names differ by only one letter! There is an important difference between them, though: the 940B uses a rather slow (as we’ve just found out) TN+Film matrix whereas the 940BF features RTC technology and claims a response time of only 2 milliseconds on gray-to-gray transitions. It is in fact a direct rival to the BenQ FP93GX. Only these two models sport so fast matrixes at present.

Unfortunately, the monitor’s stand has been simplified. In this respect it succeeds not to the 940B, but rather to the inexpensive 940N which had a simple stand. You can only change the tilt of the screen here; the portrait mode and height adjustment are not available on the 940BF. If necessary, the stand can be replaced with a VESA-compatible one.

The monitor has analog and digital inputs, and an integrated power adapter.

The monitor’s controls are the same cute round buttons located on the front panel. The menu is Samsung’s standard one, too. It’s easy to control the monitor – I have no complaints here.

By default the monitor has 75% contrast and 100% brightness. To achieve 100-nit brightness of white I dropped the brightness setting to 35% and the contrast setting to 40%. Brightness is controlled with the lamps here, through pulse-width modulation at 360Hz. Color gradients are reproduced superbly irrespective of its current settings.

The gamma curves looks neat enough, but the gamma is set too low, even though not as low as, for example, on the SyncMaster 940T (the curves lie higher than they should, resulting in a brighter than necessary image).

There’s a bigger dispersion of the color temperatures than in the previous model, and once again there is no mode with warm colors. The colors in the Warm mode can only be characterized as neutral, not warm. The Normal mode yields downright cold colors.

The monitor is indeed very fast, even surpassing the BenQ FP93GX. The average response is a mere 3.0 milliseconds. The maximum is 7.0 milliseconds (on a transition between two light tones).

Alas, the high speed is accompanied with errors. The average RTC error is 19.1% here while the FP93GX’s average error was 15.2%. Fortunately, the value of the error is rather small on black-gray transitions, which means that the artifacts won’t be too conspicuous at everyday work, unlike on Samsung’s 60th series monitor (the SyncMaster 760BF model was reviewed in our article dedicated to response time compensation technology and the SyncMaster 960BF will be discussed later in this article) which produce artifacts even when you’re dragging dialog boxes in Windows (white shadows trail behind black letters on a gray background).

The monitor offers the option of disabling response time compensation completely (it’s referred to as RTA in the menu) and the result of your doing so is shown in the diagram above. As you see, the matrix installed in the 940BF is quite fast even without RTC (but of course the response time is much lower with enabled RTC, except for the rightmost point on the graph which is the transition to pure white where RTC technology doesn’t work). But why would you want to buy an RTC-enabled monitor, paying extra for this very response time compensation, only to disable it right after purchase?

The monitor’s contrast ratio of over 300:1 is very good, especially for a TN+Film matrix. It can’t beat PVA matrixes in this respect, but has a good result for its own class.

Thus, the SyncMaster 940BF is very short of being an ideal monitor (if such a thing is at all possible), a rather big RTC error being its only drawback. Alas, Samsung’s monitors are still a long way from the competitors in this respect. The good news is that the error is now smaller on black-gray transitions and, consequently, less conspicuous, but the average error on all the transitions is still quite big. On the other hand, the 940BF is the fastest monitor among the models included in this review with an average response time of only 3.0 milliseconds which is 0.5 milliseconds smaller than the second-best result of the BenQ FP93GX. Half a millisecond isn’t a big difference, of course, but the current record-holder should be praised anyway.

In the rest of its parameters the 940BF is a good, if not exceptional, midrange monitor on a TN+Film matrix. It is quite well set up for its class, has a good contrast ratio and is assembled in a neat and nice-looking case. It doesn’t make much sense to choose an office monitor from RTC-enabled models only, while for home users and for gamers this monitor is a good choice.

Samsung SyncMaster 960BF

I tested the 17” version of this monitor in our article dedicated to Response Time Compensation technology. Though having a bigger model number than the 940BF, the 960BF model was released earlier and has a specified response time of 4 milliseconds, i.e. 2 milliseconds higher than that of the 940BF.

The SyncMaster 960BF looks just splendid. It has a milk-white case with rounded angles and decorative light-gray inserts with a bit of a lilac hue. The stand is round with a kind of a handle at the back. This monitor looks attractive due to its all-around harmony and gracefulness of design rather than to contrasting colors or shiny surfaces. Although the plastic of the case is glossy, it doesn’t produce too many flares. Reflections on this plastic are not as irritating and distracting as on the popular glossy black plastic. Moreover, fingerprints and dust which is too visible on black plastic is almost invisible here. And of course this design raises associations with products from Apple – a white glossy plastic is a very traditional solution for this company.

The monitor is equipped with Samsung’s dual-hinge stand that allows adjusting the tilt and height of the screen. The height can be varied in a small range (compared with classic vertical stands), but the fact is many users want to lower the screen rather than to lift it up because the laws of ergonomics recommend positioning the screen in such a way that its top is at your eyes level or a little lower. And from this point of view, the stand of the 960BF is superb: you can almost lay the screen on the desk and, unlike with the above-described EIZO FlexScan L778, you can place it vertically or push the top a little backwards. Unlike other Samsung monitors with similar stands, this monitor is folded forward rather than backward for transportation. The portrait mode is available here.

The monitor has analog and digital inputs, but only one DVI-I connector. DVI-DVI and DVI-D-Sub cables are included in the box. They must have resorted to this solution due to the lack of space for connectors at the back of the base, under the “handle”. A connector for the external power adapter is located there, too.

The single button this monitor offers is Power. But unlike Apple who’s abandoning all settings (besides brightness) in its monitors, Samsung prefers full-featured control over the monitor, but via software from the computer the monitor is connected to. Windows and MacOS users can install the MagicTune program (originally developed by Portrait Displays Inc., but further improved and supported by Samsung); Linux users should take a look at the DDCcontrol project and users of other OSes at other monitors.

The monitor has 80% brightness and 50% contrast by default. To have 100-nit brightness of white, I dropped the brightness and contrast settings to 30% and 33%, respectively. After that you can close MagicTune altogether because the monitor remembers the values you specify.

The monitor has too much of contrast at its default settings: all the three gamma curves have that characteristic bend in their top right. Well, everything returns back to norm as soon as you reduce the contrast setting.

Here, the gamma curves look well and I have nothing to complain about. And my advice to you is to keep the monitor’s contrast setting below 40-45% to have a more accurate reproduction of colors.

The color temperature setup is better than average, yet the difference between the temperatures of white and gray may be as big as 1000K. Still, this is a rather good result for a games-oriented home monitor, which is not meant for serious work.

The average response time of this monitor is 5.4 milliseconds, which is almost two times the response time of the SyncMaster 940BF, but much better than the speed of RTC-less models. The 960BF takes the longest time to perform transitions between light tones which may be as slow as 15-20 milliseconds.

The RTC error measurements produce an ambiguous picture. On one hand, the averaged error of 17% is a little lower than the 940BF’s. But on the other hand, the error amounts to 270% on black to dark-gray transitions, i.e. where it is the most conspicuous. You can imagine what you’re going to see on the screen of this monitor in dynamic games with dark textures! And the average error itself, even though smaller than the 940BF’s, is higher than the competitors’. For example, the BenQ FP93GX has an average RTC error of 15.2% in my tests and is faster than the 960BF, too.

The monitor’s contrast ratio is excellent, which is in fact typical of Samsung’s matrixes, even if they are TN+Film.

So, the SyncMaster 960BF is a cute-looking, handy and generally well set-up monitor. It is a nice diversion from both uniform-looking office models and fanciful home monitors. The downside is Samsung’s persisting problems with implementing RTC in TN+Film matrixes (it’s all right with PVA matrixes as you’ve seen earlier) – the average RTC error on Samsung’s monitors is considerably higher than on competitors’. And while the excellent speed of the 940BF’s matrix is a kind of compensation for that, the 960BF is not that fast, but has a rather big average error.

ViewSonic VG920

ViewSonic positions its entire VG series as LCD monitors for processing complex graphics and for playing games. The positioning is strange in both respects. For example, the VG920 model uses a TN+Film matrix without response time compensation which makes it an equally poor choice for processing graphics and for playing dynamic games. The manufacturer touts the 8ms matrix as being very fast, but we know that this 8 milliseconds is only achieved on black-to-white transitions on TN+Film matrixes. Only RTC-capable monitors are really fast, but their specified response is 2 or 4 milliseconds, but not 8 (by the way, the number alone is an indication that the VG920 lacks response time compensation).

The monitor’s appearance is modest, yet eye-pleasing. The case is painted a matte black with silver speakers underneath. The panel with the speakers is slanted in such a way that they are facing downward at an angle (it can be seen more clearly in the next snapshot). This is of course wrong from the point of view of “serious” acoustic systems (speakers have a directional diagram of their own), but with the sound quality the monitor’s speakers provide it is indeed unimportant where they are directed at. Such speakers are only good for reproducing the simple sounds from Windows, ICQ, etc.

The base allows changing the tilt of the screen and turning the monitor around its vertical axis. With its rather limited functionality it is at least differs visually from the clumsy and tall stands of some low-end monitors from ViewSonic, e.g. the VX724 and VX924 (for details see our article called LCD Panels with Response Time Compensation: 7 Monitors Reviewed).

The monitor has an integrated power adapter, analog and digital inputs, and an audio input. It lacks a headphones output.

It’s not very easy to control this monitor. The onscreen menu remembers the option you changed last, but this is the only good point about it. The buttons are made not very well. It’s hard to sense them by the touch. The Down button is placed above Up for some reason. The Menu/Exit and Select buttons are traditionally for ViewSonic labeled as “1” and “2”, which only adds more confusion.

Quick access is provided to the brightness and contrast settings (the Up and Down buttons), to sound volume adjustment and to switching between the inputs (the “2” button).

By default, the brightness setting is set at 100% and the contrast setting at 70%. 50% of brightness and 55% of contrast yield 100-nit brightness of white.

Color gradients are reproduced well on this monitor with artifacts barely visible at any brightness/contrast settings. On the other hand, some fuzziness, a sort of noise, can be seen in certain halftones. It is not easily visible, but it’s there. This is probably a defect of dithering (Frame Rate Control, to be exact) because the monitor uses an 18-bit matrix and produces 24-bit color through emulation.

The monitor reproduces the full range of color tones at its default settings, but the gamma value is obviously too low, making the image look pale and unsaturated.

The curves straighten up at the reduced brightness/contrast, but the monitor begins to lose some of the darkest tones: the gamma curves meet the X-axis in the bottom left of the diagram not exactly in the point (0.0), but on the left of it. At these settings (55% contrast) the monitor cannot reproduce about 15-17% of the color range (i.e. these tones are all displayed the same as pure black). This defect is going to aggravate on further reduction of contrast.

The VG920 features a rather accurate color temperature setup. The sRGB mode should be a little colder than 6500K, but that’s the only thing I can cavil at here.

So, my words about the VG920 lacking response time compensation are confirmed by the tests. The graph shows a typical old TN+Film matrix for which the declared response time has little to do with the real speed. The matrix’s speed is fluctuating around 35 milliseconds through nearly the entire range of transitions, but then drops suddenly on the black-to-white transition to enable the manufacturer to declare a low response in the specs. But few users will ever happen to experience this speed in practice. I want to remind you that white color means the maximum value the matrix (not the monitor!) can receive via its digital interface, not the signal the graphics card outputs! In other words, this pure white color can only be achieved if you’ve selected the highest possible contrast setting in the monitor’s menu. But real monitors are hardly ever used with this kind of setup, so you won’t be wrong to assume that the response time of this monitor is closer to 30 rather than to 8 milliseconds.

The contrast ratio is good. It is lower than Samsung monitors have, but above average nonetheless. The maximum brightness of 250 nits is quite high for a PC monitor, too. Note also that the measured brightness is quite close to the specified value.

Thus, the “monitor for games and processing complex graphics” positioning of the VG920 doesn’t seem to have a solid base. It is an ordinary inexpensive 19” model with a slow matrix, average setup quality and unimpressive design. This monitor will do well as an office model, but I wouldn’t recommend purchasing it as a gaming monitor. It is many times slower than the new models with response time compensation, which you should consider first.

ViewSonic VP930

This monitor belongs to another product category than the model discussed in the previous section. ViewSonic positions its VP series as professional monitors for a fastidious user (but I wonder if they don’t count in processing complex graphics the VG series is meant for among professional tasks?)

The VP930 doesn’t look too impressive. It has a simple black-and-silver case with a large wide-stretching base. It lacks any decorations.

Still, we’ve got some high functionality here. You can adjust the height and tilt of the screen as well as to turn it into the portrait mode. And even though the many-legged stand doesn’t make the monitor look any more beautiful, it is a solid support indeed.

The monitor has three inputs, two ordinary analog D-Sub and one universal DVI-I. The point of this solution escapes me because almost all modern graphics cards have a DVI-I output and even barebones and mainboards with an integrated graphics core have begun transitioning to DVI, so the owner of this monitor is unlikely to have two computers with D-Sub outputs only. On the other hand, the extra connector doesn’t make things worse.

The monitor’s controls are placed in a row at the bottom of the monitor’s case and are designed in the traditional ViewSonic style. And in a rather user-unfriendly style, I should say. There’s a minimum of labels – just one character per button. Even though you quickly get used to regard the “2” button as switching between the inputs and the “1” button as entering the menu, it would be much easier to have them labeled as Input and Menu, respectively.

The menu is ViewSonic’s standard one. It is not very convenient, but remembers the last changed position (this is a traditional item in my pros and cons list). A slow reaction to your pressing the buttons is the main drawback of the onscreen menu.

By default, the monitor has 100% brightness and 70% contrast. To achieve 100-nit brightness of white I selected 55% brightness and 60% contrast. Color gradients are reproduced by this monitor not perfectly, but acceptably well, and their quality isn’t any worse at reduced values of the contrast setting (which is a common problem with many other monitors).

The gamma curves are acceptable. The monitor reproduces all the tones you expect it to, but not very accurately. The averaged gamma for the blue component is normal, but this curve deflects from the theoretical one rather much through the diagram; the gamma for green is a little too low.

The color temperature is set up well enough, so there is a small difference between the temperatures of white and gray, especially in the most frequently used modes with temperatures of 6500-7500K and whereabouts.

I was left highly satisfied with how response time compensation is implemented in the VP930. Unfortunately, the manufacturer couldn’t get rid of the sudden response time growth on darkest tones which is characteristic of MVA and PVA matrixes (the VP930 employs an MVA matrix made by AU Optronics). But unlike with RTC-less MVA matrixes, the response time quickly goes down to 10-11 milliseconds towards lighter tones, so the monitor proves to be quite suitable for playing games. The averaged response time on all the transitions is 11.5 milliseconds, a little lower than that of the above-described EIZO L778.

The monitor has no RTC artifacts. There’s something like them only on a few transitions, but the maximum error amounts to only 8.9%. The average error is a mere 0.5%.

To tell you the truth, the VP930 with its matrix can be used as an example of an accurate implementation of RTC technology. For example, here is an oscillogram of one of its transitions:

That’s just a picture for a schoolbook: the pixel brightness is growing linearly exactly up to the moment it reaches the necessary level. There is no bend at the end that occurs when the overdrive impulse is turned off sooner than necessary, and the brightness doesn’t go above the necessary level which occurs when the impulse is turned off too late.

Alas, this monitor cannot sport record-breaking contrast/brightness characteristics. Its 190 nits of max brightness is more than enough for work and play under not-very-bright lighting. You’ll only have a problem if you try to watch a movie on this monitor on a sunny day – this is when you need higher brightness and this is why LCD TV-sets typically have a maximum brightness within a range of 350-450 nits, which is considerably higher than PC monitors can usually offer).

So, my overall impression about the ViewSonic VP930 is positive. It’s not something extraordinary, yet can make a good monitor for home and office use. It has a functional stand, accurate setup, good response time without artifacts, and an MVA matrix with large viewing angles. The only drawbacks are its rather unassuming exterior design and a not-very-handy onscreen menu, but I think these are not going to stop you if you are looking for a monitor to work on.

Conclusion

There are currently two discernable trends on the market (and I am more interested in technical trends, rather than marketing ones).

First, it is the second advent of widescreen monitors. The wide aspect ratio is quite an ordinary thing for 20” and larger monitors, but there seemed to be no choice on the market of smaller monitors. Widescreen 19” models used to be a poor choice due to their large pixels and relatively low matrix resolution (this is not crucial for watching movies, but you don’t buy a PC monitor only for movies – there are LCD TV-sets for that!), but the new 19” matrixes with a resolution of 1440x900 have nearly the same number of pixels as ordinary 1280x1024 ones, making widescreen monitors a more appealing option. They are currently assembled only on TN+Film matrixes without response time compensation, but I hope this will change in the future.

Second, Response Time Compensation technology is victorious. The results of my tests are indicative that RTC-enabled matrixes leave no chance to monitors without this technology. They are much faster. The difference in real response time is nearly twofold with MVA and PVA matrixes, threefold with S-IPS matrixes and five- or sixfold with TN+Film matrixes.

I don’t claim it’s all well with RTC because it has brought about such an annoying thing as RTC artifacts, but you can compare monitors from different manufacturers to see that it’s possible to eliminate them and that a smaller response doesn’t necessarily mean greater artifacts (e.g. the BenQ FP93GX is not only faster, but more accurate than the Samsung 960BF). The RTC error is usually very small on MVA/PVA and S-IPS matrixes and they have a decent response time, even though higher than TN+Film have (I’m anticipating a little here: we haven’t yet tested 19” RTC-enabled monitors on S-IPS matrixes in our labs, so I’m basing my conclusion on the results of tests of 20” and larger models).

The last thing I want to dwell upon in this review is that some reviewers have reported that RTC leads to the residual image effect. That is, if you have a static picture on the monitor for a few hours, you will see a shadow of this picture afterwards on the screen. This effect is well-known to owners of plasma panels and it is irrevocable there – the shadow of the picture remains on the screen forever. On LCD monitors this effect is temporary, and the matrix returns to its normal state after a while. I personally cannot see any connection between RTC and the residual image effect. The RTC technology doesn’t put any higher load on the matrix – the maximum voltage applied to a cell is not higher than the voltage corresponding to ordinary white. And after all, RTC is only used on dynamic, moving images whereas there is no response time compensation on static images just because there is no response!

So, the residual image effect is related to the specifics of the pixel structure, chemical composition of the liquid crystals and other factors on the matrix manufacturing technology level, but no direct relation between this effect and RTC technology can be established.

And from my personal experience, I saw the biggest residual effect on an Apple Cinema HD monitor (with a 23” S-IPS matrix) which didn’t have any RTC!