Closer Look at 20" and 21" LCD Monitor Features. Part II

This is another article in our series of LCD monitor roundups. Over the next two days we would like to introduce to you 17 monitor models with the 20” and 21” screen targeted for different application fields and hence belonging to different price segments. Today we will look at 9 solutions from Acer, BenQ and NEC.

by Oleg Artamonov
10/24/2006 | 10:23 AM

Summer is commonly held to be a calm season, but this year that was an exciting time on the PC monitor market. Many manufacturers not only redesigned their older models but also came up with something absolutely new: new types of the matrix, new capabilities and, what is perhaps the most important thing for the customer, new prices.

 

Before I begin to deal with the new products, I’d like to remind you about our methods of testing LCD monitors. Our tests fall into three groups: color reproduction, response time and contrast ratio.

The term color reproduction is somewhat vague. It cannot be described with one number, and I have to perform a number of tests in this category. First, I subjectively evaluate the quality of the image or, to be exact, color gradients (smooth transitions from black to red, from black to green, etc). Such gradients look striped on many monitors, sometimes at any settings or at any settings other than the factory ones. Some users think that striped gradients are due to the use of 18-bit matrixes instead of 24-bit ones, but this is not exactly true. The lower color depth of the matrix may indeed lead to stripes in gradients if the Frame Rate Control is poorly implemented (this is the technology that emulates 16 million colors while the matrix itself is only capable of displaying 262 thousand), but the real reason is usually different. Before outputting the image on the screen, the monitor performs a series of calculations and transformations: color temperature correction, gamma compensation, contrast correction, etc. If the accuracy of those calculations is low, you see striped gradients. The matrix’s color depth has nothing to do with it. Even an “honest” 24-bit matrix cannot guarantee that the monitor will correctly process the data before sending them to the matrix. You can learn more about the different matrix types and their parameters from our article called X-bit’s Guide: Contemporary LCD Monitor Parameters and Characteristics.

The second step in my test program is about gamma curves. These are curves that show the dependence between the signal sent from the graphics card and the monitor’s pixel brightness. This dependence is not linear, but exponential and the exponent is denoted with the letter gamma . Without correction, an LCD matrix has an S-shaped curve rather than an exponential one, so it’s the monitor’s electronics’ job to bring that dependence to the necessary shape. The quality of color reproduction depends on how well the electronics does this job.

In each diagram I publish in the review there are three frames (one for each basic color) and two curves, a theoretical curve for gamma 2.2 and the curve that I draw basing on my measurements. In the best possible case the two curves coincide. If they do not, there may be image defects. If the actual gamma curves are much higher than the theoretical ones, the image will look whitish on the screen. If they go lower, the image will look dark and with too much contrast. If the gamma curves for the different colors go too far from each other, some tones of gray will have a slight coloring. If the gamma curves reach the axes of the diagram sooner than at the points (0, 0) and (1, 1), the monitor won’t reproduce details in lights or darks, displaying them as pure white or pure black, respectively.

The gamma curve graphs are drawn for the default settings and for reduced contrast and brightness settings. I usually publish only the former graphs because in most cases the two diagrams do not differ much. However, there are monitors which react to your changing their settings by getting free of image defects (for example, many monitors from NEC poorly reproduce details in light images at the default settings) or by acquiring them (for example, by losing details in dark images). In this case I publish the second diagram and tell you what difference is between it and the first diagram, created at the default settings.

The last test of the quality of color reproduction involves measuring the color temperature of different levels of gray. Ideally, this temperature must be the same, but in practice it is often the case that the temperature of a level of gray is hundreds or even thousands degrees higher or lower than the temperature of white. So when you set up the temperature of white correctly on such a monitor, you’ll see that some tones of gray look not exactly gray but bluish (i.e. their temperature is higher than necessary) or yellowish (i.e. their temperature is lower than necessary).

The matrix response time is measured with an oscilloscope and a photo-sensor that register how the brightness of a pixel is changing. In my reviews I publish the results in either of two formats: a flat diagram whose X-axis shows levels of gray (from 32 to 255, i.e. from a dark gray to white) and Y-axis shows the time it takes to switch a pixel from black to a gray and back again to black. Or I publish a 3D histogram that shows transitions not only from black to gray, but also between different levels of gray. In the second case the average for all the transitions is calculated; it is a value indicative of the matrix speed. Besides that, I measure the error of the response time compensation circuitry for RTC-enabled monitors. An RTC error is a miss that leads to a too-high or too-low brightness of a pixel (you can learn more about RTC and its artifacts in our article called LCD Panels with Response Time Compensation: 7 Monitors Reviewed ).

And finally I measure the monitor’s brightness and contrast ratio. It’s simple: I use a Pantone ColorVision Spyder calibrator to measure the levels of white and black for a few variants of settings, usually at the default settings, at the maximum settings and at the settings that yield a 100nit brightness of white (1 nit = 1 candela per square meter). The ratio of those levels is the contrast ratio. The higher it is, the closer the monitor’s black is to the real color of black.

If you would like to check out the monitors reviewed in Part 1 of our roundup series, check out the article called Closer Look at 20" and 21" LCD Monitor Features.

Acer AL2017

A notorious drawback of LCD monitors, not of some particular models but of LCD monitors at large, that is often called up in user discussions is the inability to normally work in more than one resolution plus the dependence of that resolution on the size of the screen. In notebooks, matrixes with the same diagonal may vary in native resolution, but with desktop monitors there is not much choice: all 15” models work in 1024x768, all 17” and 19” models work in 1280x1024, all 20” and 21” models work in 1600x1200. Of course, there are exceptions (Iiyama was once producing a 19” monitor with a native resolution of 1600x1200 pixels), but they remain just exceptions. What makes things worse, those resolutions are not quite appropriate: many people find that pixels are too small on 17” monitors and too big on 19” models. 18” monitors that might be the golden mean haven’t stayed long on the market, although were produced for some time.

But now it seems like a wind of changes has blown. In my previous review of 19” monitors I spoke in favor of widescreen panels with an unusual resolution of 1440x900 pixels (such panels used to be 1280x768 until recently), and today I’m proud to introduce to you 20” monitors with a native resolution of 1400x1050 pixels.

What benefits does it bring to the manufacturer? The manufacturing cost of such panels is lower in comparison with ordinary ones (there are fewer pixels and fewer transistors and, therefore, fewer defective panels), and they also provide an opportunity to enlarge the product range. How does the user benefit from that? When the pixel size is important, particularly for people with weak eyesight or users who prefer to sit rather far from the monitor, there is now an interesting alternative to 19” models: the screen is one inch larger and has a 10% bigger horizontal resolution (the vertical resolution is almost the same due to the difference in the screen aspect ratio, which is 5:4 with 19” models and 4:3 with 20” models) whereas the pixel size remains almost as large as before. The screen aspect ratio is a plus, too. The virtually square-shaped 17” and 19” models aren’t very convenient because it’s better to have a wide screen rather than a tall screen, for work.

Well, the specified parameters and the exterior make it clear right away that the unconventional native resolution is the only exceptional feature of the Acer AL2017 model. This is an ordinary monitor on a TN+Film matrix (this matrix type is steadily moving on towards longer diagonals) without response time compensation.

The monitor has a black-and-silver plain-looking case which is rather thin despite the integrated power adapter. The stand is of a simplest variety and only allows to adjust the tilt of the screen. It is also the most fragile spot of the design: the monitor wobbles even on your pressing the control buttons.

You can replace the default stand with a standard VESA mount using the fastening holes.

The monitor is equipped with an analog input only. I’d regard this as an obvious defect in a 1600x1200 monitor (at that resolution the image quality might depend greatly on the quality of the graphics card – cable – monitor link), but the resolution of 1400x1050 shouldn’t be a problem with a majority of graphics cards. At least, the Radeon X600 installed in our testbed produced a sharp and clear image on this monitor.

Besides the video input, the monitor has a line audio input for the integrated speakers.

The control buttons are centered at the bottom of the front panel; the Power button has a different size and shape, so you can hardly mistake it for any other button. Quick access is provided to the sound volume setting and to the auto adjustment feature.

This is the standard menu of inexpensive monitors from Acer. It is quite easy to use but doesn’t offer any unusual or remarkable options.

The monitor has 100% brightness and 80% contrast by default. To achieve a 100nit brightness of white I reduced the contrast setting to 33% and the brightness setting to 32%. The monitor’s brightness is controlled by means of pulse-width modulation of the power of the backlight lamps at a frequency of 270Hz.

Color gradients are reproduced well enough at any brightness/contrast settings. There are minor defects, which won’t be a problem at regular use.

The viewing angles aren’t very good because it is a TN+Film matrix. Any deflection of your head upwards or downwards results in a considerable change in the brightness of the screen (fortunately, this technology already provides wide enough horizontal viewing angles as to provoke no complaints about them).

The gamma curves look surprisingly good for such an inexpensive model. There is a certain misbalance between the different colors, but there are no serious defects. The curves keep their shape at the reduced brightness/contrast: the monitor reproduces all the color tones it is expected to.

The AL2017 also features a surprisingly good color temperature setup: there is a very small difference between the levels of gray. There are unfortunately only two color temperature modes, except for the user-defined mode: Warm (it yields a color temperature of about 6500K which is usually called Normal rather than Warm in most other monitors) and Cold (about 9000K). I think the first mode will suit a majority of users.

The AL2017 does well in this test in comparison with other RTC-less models. Its response time is 25 milliseconds at the maximum while you can find monitors with a max response of 30 or even 35 milliseconds. On the other hand, it is no competitor to monitors with RTC which are many times faster than the AL2017.

The monitor’s contrast ratio is average (as TN+Film matrixes go), never reaching 300:1.

So, the only exceptional thing about the AL2017 is its somewhat unusual matrix that has a native resolution of 1400x1050 pixels and a diagonal of 20”. Otherwise, this monitor doesn’t have any remarkable features whatsoever. The AL2017 is set up very neatly (I’d even say unexpectedly neatly for its price), but has an average contrast ratio and a slow matrix. The lack of a DVI interface and the flimsy stand are disappointing, too. However, this monitor may seem interesting to undemanding users as an inexpensive model for home or office.

Acer AL2032WA

The AL2017 belongs to the bottom tier of Acer’s product range whereas the AL2032WA costs 50% more and occupies one of the top steps there (moreover, you will see shortly that Acer’s topmost Ferrari F-20 model is actually based on the AL2032WA, so the latter can be said to occupy the topmost step indeed).

The mention of the MVA matrix type in the specs is not a typo. Although Acer’s website declares an S-IPS matrix with a response time of 16 milliseconds, our sample of the monitor had an MVA matrix and its own documentation declared a response time of 8 milliseconds (GtG). Note that the website describes an AL2032W model, i.e. without the “A” suffix.

The front panel of the case, and the LCD matrix itself, has a glossy surface – you can even see a reflection of the camera I photographed the monitor with. This glossiness is a matter of personal taste, I guess. The AL2032WA looks pretty, yet you have to choose such a place for it that there were no light sources in front of the monitor. If you don’t take care about that, the light will be reflected in the screen, which is a nuisance, especially in games and movies.

Although the native stand seems to be the only option for this monitor at first sight, the decorative cover conceals fasteners for a standard 100x100mm VESA mount.

The monitor’s own stand is elegant, but not functional. It only allows to adjust the tilt of the screen.

The monitor’s connectors are divided in three groups. One group includes an analog input, an audio input and a power connector. They are not easily accessible, but these are not very frequently used connectors, after all.

The second group includes a DVI-D and a SCART connector. These are placed in a deepening in the case which is closed by a rubber cover. I don’t quite grasp the purpose of the covering, though. SCART is perhaps not a very frequently used interface, but DVI will surely be utilized in a majority of cases, so that cover will always be open. The DVI cable will be in your sight while the cable to the analog D-Sub hides behind the stand.

The third group of connectors, on a side panel, includes S-Video and composite video inputs and a second audio input (the first audio input is a mini-jack for connection to a PC, while the second consists of two RCA connectors).

The monitor’s controls are gathered on its right side, and there is also an Input button at the bottom of the case.

Quick access is provided to volume adjustment, to auto-adjustment (for the analog connection), and to switching between the inputs. The latter operation is performed very slowly and the monitor can’t detect which inputs signal sources are connected to. It will browse though the analog input, for example, on your pressing the Input button, even if nothing is attached to that input.

The onscreen menu isn’t very user-friendly, mostly due to its illogical organization as I already wrote in my earlier review, describing the Ferrari F-19 model. For example, the option of choosing the input is located in the Settings section when the monitor works with a PC, but then this option moves into the Options section when you begin to work with the video inputs. Such small things begin to get on your nerves if you have to use the appropriate menu options often. Moreover, the monitor doesn’t provide Picture-in-Picture mode, which is rather strange for a model with video inputs.

The menu offers two display modes: Wide and Normal. This only affects images in 4:3 or 5:4 formats. A widescreen image is always shown in full screen mode.

By default, the monitor has 100% brightness and 80% contrast. To achieve a 100nit brightness of white I reduced the brightness setting to 35% and the contrast setting to 40%. Brightness is controlled by means of pulse-width modulation of the power of the backlight lamps at a frequency of 340Hz.

The monitor reproduces color gradients without any flaws.

The gamma curves go a little higher than normal. This results in a whitish, low-contrast image. When the brightness and contrast settings are reduced, the curves remain as they are. The monitor reproduces all the color tones it is supposed to reproduce.

Like the previous model, the AL2032WA offers two color temperature modes and one user-defined mode. The setup quality is average. The temperature of dark gray is too high (and is perceived by the eye as a colder color). The difference is not as big as to become a problem for an ordinary user, though.

The monitor behaves just like many other RTC-enabled MVA matrixes do: the response time is high on dark tones (61.5 milliseconds at the maximum), but falls down suddenly towards the lighter tones (on MVA matrixes without response time compensation it was diminishing smoothly). As a result, the average response time is 8.5 milliseconds, which is quite close to the specified 8 milliseconds.

Of course, there are RTC artifacts. I want to remind you that I mean only those visual artifacts that you can see when the accelerating impulse is stronger than necessary. It’s only in this case that you can see a new type of distortion on the screen: a white trail behind dark objects that are moving on a gray background. This effect cannot occur on monitors without response time compensation. In the opposite case, when the impulse is lower than necessary, you will see the ordinary fuzziness typical of older LCD monitors. This effect is fully described by the response time parameter, so there’s no sense in paying it special attention.

So, the AL2032WA has artifacts, but not big ones: 4.4% on average and 13.8% at the maximum. It means that you will only spot them if you are specifically looking for them. Otherwise, this won’t be a problem at all. You can compare the performance of the AL2032WA with today’s super-fast TN+Film matrixes (such products, with a response time of 2 and 4 milliseconds, were discussed in my previous review) which have an average error of 15% and higher with peaks of tens of percent. That’s what I call big artifacts. With the AL2032WA, it is no problem at all, really.

The contrast ratio is, unfortunately, rather low. I had expected a better result from the MVA matrix. The numbers are rather average even in comparison with TN+Film technology. The maximum brightness almost coincides with the specified value.

So, the AL2032WA is a good enough home monitor. It has a number of drawbacks, none of which can be considered as a serious defect: a mediocre contrast, average-accuracy color temperature setup, illogical menu structure, and an inconvenient switching between the inputs. On the other hand, the monitor looks cute (I do not count the glossy matrix among the monitor’s drawbacks because it is rather a matter of personal taste than a technical issue, but keep this feature in mind when you’re evaluating this monitor). It offers a number of video inputs and a fast matrix with excellent viewing angles which makes it competitive as an all-purpose home monitor against other manufacturers’ models.

Acer Ferrari F-20

This is in fact a tuned-up version of the above-described AL2032WA. Having the same characteristics, the two differ in the color of the case. The F-20 also features an integrated TV-tuner.

The aggressive red color of the case and the yellow Ferrari emblem leap into your eyes as soon as you cast a glance at this monitor (the front panel is black, though). But putting the coloring aside, you realize that it is in fact a replica of the AL2032WA, with the same case and stand. What puts these two models even closer together is the bright blue LED indicator on the right of the screen, which doesn’t fit well at all with the Ferrari-style design.

The stand permits to adjust the tilt of the screen. It is all made of metal and is steady enough despite its moderate size.

The first group of connectors is located at the back of the case, under the stand. It includes a power connector (the monitor comes with an external power adapter), an analog D-Sub and a line audio input.

In a nearby compartment, under a plastic cap, there are SCART and digital DVI connectors. As I said in the section about the AL2032WA, it is strange that the DVI is placed here because the monitor is most likely to be connected to the computer via this very interface.

The third and last group of connectors is located on the monitor’s side: S-Video and composite video inputs, one more audio input and an antenna input for the TV-tuner.

The monitor’s controls are divided into two groups: the main one is on the right edge of the case and includes a Power button, and buttons to open up and navigate the onscreen menu. The Up and Down buttons allow to quickly adjust the volume of the integrated speakers when outside the menu.

The second group of buttons is placed at the bottom. While it is just a single button to switch between the inputs on the AL2032WA, there are as many as three buttons here on the F-20 (the two additional buttons switch between the TV-tuner’s channels).

You receive a remote control with the monitor. Being small and rectangular, it doesn’t evoke any associations with Ferrari or even with ergonomics. The buttons all have the same size and shape and are placed at an equal distance from each other. As a result, it’s very inconvenient to use the control by touch (an accidental press of the Power button is very irritating because the monitor just shuts down after that). I wonder why they couldn’t have designed a remote control that would better match the price and status of the monitor it is included with.

I wrote about the bad points of this menu two times already (when talking about the Acer AL2032WA above and when reviewing the Acer Ferrari F-19 in my previous article). There is in fact only one improvement over the F-19: the input selection menu shows all the available options (when the F-19 was used as a PC monitor, the menu showed only DVI and D-Sub). Otherwise, the menu is still astonishing with its illogical operation. It is a convention in many monitors with TV-tuners that the TV-related menu options become unavailable in the PC monitor mode, but do not disappear completely. Here, the menu changes noticeably on your switching between the monitor and TV-set modes, which is somewhat confusing. Moreover, the monitor doesn’t support the Picture-in-Picture mode, which is strange for a model with a TV-tuner. As a result, you can’t work at the computer and watch TV at the same time.

I had had some problems setting the F-19 model’s TV-tuner up either due to errors in its software or some other reasons. It’s better with the F-20, fortunately. The monitor found all the available channels and displayed a good-quality picture. The only drawback is that you can start the setup procedure and go drink coffee or something because, judging by the progress indicator, the monitor will be looking through the entire range of frequencies for a few times, which takes about 20 minutes.

By default, the monitor’s brightness and contrast settings are set at 100% and 80%, respectively. To achieve a 100nit brightness of white I selected 35% brightness and 37% contrast in the monitor’s menu. Brightness is controlled with the backlight lamps. The monitor doesn’t provide quick access to brightness adjustment and lacks any brightness presets.

The viewing angles are good, the monitor features an MVA matrix after all. It displays color gradients very tidily at any brightness/contrast settings. The backlighting is uniform.

The gamma is somewhat lower than necessary (the curves go above the theoretical ones). In other words, the image on the screen of this monitor looks pale, low-contrast, at the default settings. The term contrast may have different meanings in the mouth of a specialist and an ordinary user. For a specialist, contrast is the ratio of white to black, but for many users it is a subjective image property that depends on brightness, color saturation, etc. So, if you hear a user say that some monitor has low contrast, this most often means a paleness of colors, i.e. a reduced gamma like in the diagram above.

The monitor is free from serious color reproduction defects. It gives you the entire range of color tones. The gamma curves have the same shape at the reduced brightness/contrast.

The monitor offers only two color temperature modes except the user-defined mode. The Warm mode produces an average color temperature of about 7000K. This mode would be called Normal rather than Warm in most other monitors. The setup quality is average in terms of how far the temperatures of different levels of gray differ. The difference amounts to over 1000K here.

The average response time of the F-20 is only 8.6 milliseconds, which is an excellent result for an MVA matrix and differs by a mere 0.1ms from the AL2032WA. This is yet another indication of the close similarity between these two monitors (the difference is in fact within the measurement error range).

The RTC error is 4% on average with a maximum of 13.8%. That’s a very good result – you won’t see much of RTC artifacts on this monitor. Well, you will be able to see them without an oscilloscope if you deliberately sit down to search for them, but they won’t be disturbing at everyday work.

The monitor’s contrast ratio is higher than the AL2032WA’s, but not by much. Alas, these numbers are very humble as VA matrixes go. I would like to see a contrast ratio of 400:1 and higher, but the F-20 couldn’t give me 300:1 even.

There is currently a price difference of over $150 between the AL2032WA and the Ferrari F-20. This money buys you:

It’s a matter of personal taste, of course, but I don’t think the Ferrari F-20 will make a good buy for anyone other than a loyal fan of the Ferrari brand. It is a good enough monitor (but not exceptional in its characteristics), but its high price and a few drawbacks make it less appealing to me than even its closest relative AL2032WA.

BenQ FP202W

The FP202W belongs to the recently established class of entry-level 20” monitors that not only have humble characteristics but also a very low price, less than $450. But unlike the above-described Acer AL2017, it is based on a matrix with a full native resolution of 1680x1050. It is, however, TN+Film, too.

The monitor looks elegant and imposing notwithstanding the utter simplicity of design: it has a simple black case with a thin screen bezel and a neat rectangular base. It doesn’t look at all that it is one of the cheapest models available on the market. The monitor also turns to be surprisingly low due to its widescreen matrix. In the Acer monitors reviewed in the previous sections the size of the matrix was compensated by the large case and the under-screen speakers. Here, nothing conceals the wideness of the matrix.

The monitor proves to be rather large in profile. It has a thick case and a massive stand. The latter only permits to change the tilt of the screen.

But you can replace the stand with a standard VESA-compatible mount. The monitor has mounting holes for the latter, they are covered with a decorative cap in the photo. The monitor’s native stand must be removed before doing that.

The FP202W has analog and digital inputs, which is an obvious advantage because it’s more convenient to control the monitor via the digital interface and there also may be problems with the quality of the image provided by the analog interface at 1680x1050 resolution. It has an integrated power adapter.

The monitor’s controls are an example of how monitor’s controls must not be implemented! They are placed in a groove in an edge of the case and are labeled there, too. As a result, you can’t see the buttons when you’re sitting at the monitor but using them by touch is inconvenient, too, because there are as many as eight buttons, all shaped identically. So, if you want to set up this monitor, you have to turn it round so that its edge was before your eyes or you have to stand up from your chair to look at its side panel. Well, I can understand the manufacturer’s logic. They didn’t put buttons or at least labels on the front panel in order not to spoil its restrained appearance, yet I can’t approve of that logic. I think ergonomics should be more important than exterior design, especially in inexpensive products.

This is a typical menu of a BenQ monitor. It is quite user-friendly, but its advantages are negated by the above-mentioned problem with the position of the control buttons. The selection of setup options is ordinary enough for that product class. Quick access is provided to the brightness and contrast settings, to switching between the inputs and between the three presets (Movie 1, Movie 2 and Photo).

By default, the monitor has 90% brightness and 50% contrast. I achieved a 100nit brightness of white by selecting 60% brightness and 37% contrast.

It’s all well with the horizontal viewing angles (white doesn’t turn into yellow on modern TN+Film matrixes as it used to; such matrixes are in fact comparable to MVA and PVA in this parameter, being only inferior to S-IPS). But on taking a look from below or above the screen, you can see a thing very typical of TN+Film technology: the image becomes either very dark or exceedingly bright, depending on your angle of sight. The vertical viewing angles aren’t as important for widescreen matrixes as the horizontal ones (because the height of a 20” widescreen matrix almost equals that of an ordinary 17” matrix and is 3cm smaller than that of an ordinary 19” one), yet they are as poor with TN+Film as to be noticeable.

Well, at least the manufacturer honestly specified the viewing angles by a contrast drop to 10:1 (many other manufacturers have begun to measure the viewing angles of TN+Film matrixes by a contrast drop to 5:1; when measured like that, a viewing angle of 140 degrees miraculously turns into a viewing angle of 160 degrees; with other matrix types, however, the viewing angles are 170-178 degrees even if measured by a contrast drop to 10:1).

Color gradients are reproduced incorrectly on this monitor. They look striped at any brightness/contrast values (on many monitors the stripes disappear at the default settings; such settings, however, usually have an uncomfortably high brightness and can’t be used normally). The colors look somewhat unnatural, too.

The color curves look good, though. The gamma is lower than necessary, but by not too much. The FP202W carefully reproduces all colors, and the curves do not change their shape when you change the contrast setting in the monitor’s menu (it is often the case with many monitors that the curves look well at the default settings, but the monitor stops to distinguish between darks as soon as you set its contrast lower than the default value).

The monitor’s color temperature is set up surprisingly well. There is a small difference between the levels of gray in any of the available modes, and the average temperature is close to the nominal one. The monitor doesn’t offer very cold (9300K) or very warm (5400K) modes, but this doesn’t matter much since monitors of this class are expected to work at 6000-7500K which corresponds to typical applications and to typical home and office lighting. The FP202W offers as many as three modes in the mentioned temperature range.

The monitor doesn’t have response time compensation and is rather slow, but its speed isn’t too bad if compared with other RTC-less models. The full response time is a little over 25 milliseconds at the maximum – it can be over 30 milliseconds on many other monitors. The above-described Acer AL2017 has a max response time of 25 milliseconds, though.

The contrast ratio is low. It is only higher than 200:1 at the max settings. A modest result, even for TN+Film technology which has never had a real good contrast.

So, the FP202W seems to be suitable for office use and for undemanding home users. Its ergonomic properties are awful (the control buttons are placed in a very improper place), it shows stripes in smooth color gradients, it has a low contrast ratio and a not-very-fast matrix. All this is not really a problem for an office monitor, but if you like to watch movies or play dynamic games, you can hardly be satisfied with the FP202W. The good thing about this monitor is its low price. You could only buy a 19” model for that money just a little while ago. Today, you can buy a 20” FP202W which is overall quite a satisfactory product and even has a digital input!

BenQ FP2091

Unlike its predecessor, this model is a classic 20” model on an S-IPS matrix with an aspect ratio of 4:3. Not so long ago a majority of 20” monitors were made in this form-factor, but now they are being steadily replaced with widescreen models.

Running a little ahead, I want to inform you that the FP2091 is included in this review mostly for the sake of comparison because it has been replaced with the FP2092 model.

With all its external likeness to the FP202W, this monitor looks somewhat less elegant, perhaps due to the silver color of the bezel or to the different aspect ratio. Whatever the reason, it doesn’t look cute to me.

The stand is massive. The screen with all of its 20 inches seems small against that background. It is functional, though, and allows to change the tilt and height of the screen (the latter changes within 14 to 27 cm from the desk to the bottom edge of the screen), to rotate the screen around the vertical axis and to pivot it into the portrait mode. The minimum height of the screen is still quite high, so you may find it difficult to place the screen at a comfortable level if you’ve got a tall desk. You can replace the monitor’s own stand with a standard VESA mount if necessary.

The FP2091 offers a full set of inputs: analog D-Sub, digital DVI-I, composite and S-Video, and USB. The latter is used for the integrated 4-port hub. One of the hub ports is located at the back panel of the monitor, too. Two more are placed on a monitor’s side and the last one is centered at the top of the case (it is obviously meant for a web-camera).

The monitor’s controls are all located on the left side of the case and, like with the FP202W, ergonomics was the last thought on the designer’s mind. You have to turn the monitor round to face its side panel in order to read the labels. It is inconvenient to press the buttons by touch as they are all the same shape and size.

The monitor has a standard onscreen menu of BenQ’s design. If it were not for the position of the buttons, it would be quite easy to use. Quick access is provided to the brightness and contrast settings, to selecting an input and to the auto adjustment feature. The monitor supports the Picture in Picture mode; you can independently adjust the size and position of the secondary window and set up its brightness, contrast, tone, and saturation.

The monitor’s brightness and contrast settings are set at 90% and 50%, respectively, by default. The brightness setting has a very small effect on the overall image brightness, so you have to play with the contrast setting instead. When the contrast is higher than 60%, light tones get lost.

Color gradients are reproduced correctly at the default settings, but become striped when you reduce the contrast setting.

The gamma curves have a superb appearance, very close to the theoretical ones. The same goes for the reduced contrast: the monitor fastidiously reproduces the entire color range from the darkest to lightest tones.

The color temperature is set up quite tidily: the difference between the levels of gray is small in the sRGB mode (which is likely to be preferred by a majority of users) and the average temperature is close to the expected 6500K. It’s somewhat worse with the high temperature (Bluish mode) where the discrepancy amounts to 1000K, yet this is not a disaster, either. So, I say it quite confidently that it’s all right with the color temperature setup of this monitor.

The FP2091 makes use of a 16ms S-IPS matrix without response time compensation. Alas, like with fast TN+Film matrixes, the maximum, specified, speed is only achieved on switching from black to white and is worse on switching between mid-tones. However, the monitor doesn’t look slow. It easily copes with movies and will satisfy a majority of gamers, I think.

The contrast ratio is low, not reaching even to 200:1 in any of the test modes. The max brightness doesn’t make to the promised level, too, but this is not a big deal because LCD monitors are usually used at home with a brightness of 120-150 nits (or even 100 nits for processing text), so the results are quite satisfactory.

Summing it up, the BenQ FP2091 is a midrange model with both good and bad points. On one hand, it employs an S-IPS matrix with excellent viewing angles, offers video inputs and is accurately set up. But on the other hand, its ergonomic properties are lacking, its matrix isn’t fast by today’s standards, its contrast ratio might be higher and color gradients might be not striped. The FP2091 will find its customer, I guess, yet it will have some tough time fighting competing products.

BenQ FP2092

The FP2092 is in fact a slightly improved modification of the FP2091 as you can see from its characteristics (brightness and contrast are the only parameters that have changed there) and appearance (which has remained unchanged). Let’s see what’s different between the two models if there is any difference at all.

The FP2092 looks exactly like its predecessor: a dark-gray case (that’s better for the eye comfort than a pure black) and a silvery bezel around the screen.

The massive base allows to adjust the tilt and height of the screen, to turn it into the portrait mode and around the vertical axis (only the top part of the stand turns around at that, which is very convenient).

The height of the stand is fixed by means of a button at the bottom. You will find this useful for taking the monitor over from one desk to another because non-fixed stands (like in NEC’s monitors) tend to stretch to their full length with a terrible rumble on your lifting the monitor up. Here, you just push the monitor down to the limit and press on it a little so that its lock snapped in place. The height is adjusted within 14 to 27 centimeters above the desk surface.

The base can be replaced with a standard VESA-compatible mount.

The monitor has a rich selection of inputs (composite, S-Video, analog D-Sub and digital DVI-D) and an integrated USB hub. The power adapter is external.

You may have some problems with that power adapter if you’ve got an UPS. The power adapter’s connector is not of a widespread variety, so you will either have to change the plug on the cord supplied with the monitor or search for another cord. The only exception is the few UPS models that have ordinary sockets (recently released models from APC and other firms).

The USB hub has four ports: one at the back panel of the monitor, two on the left edge, and one is centered on the top of the case. The latter is meant for a web-camera (BenQ manufactures cameras with an appropriately positioned connector) and can be closed with a plastic cover.

Like in the previous model, the buttons are placed on the left side of the case and are not visible from the front. The button labels are only visible from the side, too. This is not convenient, of course. You have to turn the monitor round to you to see the buttons or try to find the necessary button by touch, which can hardly be a success because they are all the same shape and size.

This is the standard menu from BenQ – the FP202W and the FP2092 come with such menus, too. The options available are ordinary enough for that class of monitors. Quick access is provided to the brightness and contrast settings, to switching between the inputs and to the auto-adjustment feature.

The Picture-in-Picture mode is supported for the video inputs. You can set up the size and position of the secondary window and to independently adjust its brightness, contrast, saturation and tonality. There are no preset modes for either window.

By default, the monitor has 90% brightness and 50% contrast. I achieved a 100nit brightness of white by choosing 43% brightness and 45% contrast.

The same thing as with the FP2091, color gradients look striped on the screen of the FP2092. They are less contrasting on the FP2092 but are visible at any settings, save for the factory ones. The latter thing may depend on the particular batch because different batches may be calibrated differently back at the factory.

The gamma curves look no worse than on the previous model’s screen and are very close to the theoretical ones. The monitor reproduces the entire range of color tones at the default settings as well as at the reduced brightness/contrast.

The color temperature setup is as accurate as on the FP2091. I can’t have any complaints here.

The response time graph differs but little from the FP2091’s. The lines go a little higher in the right part and a little lower in the left part of the diagram, but there are no great changes on average. The matrix response time suits well for watching movies and for playing games, but the FP2092 can’t match the latest generation of matrixes with response time compensation.

Contrary to the contrast ratio increase from 400:1 to 700:1 promised by the manufacturer, the real numbers have improved but little. The monitor’s contrast ratio is better than 200:1 at the max settings only.

Summing it up, I should confess I couldn’t find any significant differences between the FP2091 and the FP2092. Both monitors are very similar in their characteristics, not to mention their identical exterior design. You shouldn’t regret your not having the latest model if you own a FP2091. And if you’re going to buy a new monitor, mind that the FP2092 is an average model without serious defects but without any exceptional advantages, either.

NEC MultiSync 20WGX2

The specs of this monitor provoked my excitement: an S-IPS matrix with a declared response time of 6 milliseconds GtG should have response time compensation. With such parameters it could prove to be competitive against fast games-oriented monitors on TN+Film matrixes while being superior to them in viewing angles and color reproduction.

The monitor follows the new style of NEC monitors with slightly rounded angles and a block of buttons under the screen. Notwithstanding the large size of the screen, the monitor doesn’t leave a feeling of bulkiness. On the contrary, it looks quite well-proportioned.

Its dimensions strike your eyes when you take a side view of it. The screen looks thick as opposed to the slim stand. The stand only allows to adjust the tilt of the screen. It doesn’t support height adjustment, let alone the portrait mode.

The MultiSync 20WGX2 has analog and digital inputs, and a 4-port USB hub. Two of the hub’s ports are located on the side (you can see them in the previous snapshot), and two more are at the back, next to the other connectors. The power adapter is internal.

The monitor’s controls are designed as a separate block of buttons under the case: Power, three control buttons and a four-position joystick. It’s the joystick that may be troublesome as it works badly on quite a lot of monitor samples. In our sample, it didn’t work well when you pushed it to the right. Sometimes it reacted as if you had pushed it leftward while you had actually pushed it downward.

The monitor’s menu is typical of modern models from NEC; it is user-friendly and pretty-looking.

Quick access is provided to the brightness and contrast settings (by moving the joystick), to switching between the inputs and between the DV Modes. A minor inconvenience is that the auxiliary menus that open up on your pressing the quick-access buttons always appear in the center of the screen regardless of the position of the main menu (whose position is specified in the settings).

Those DV Modes are different from the preset brightness/contrast modes that are offered by a lot of other monitors. In DV Modes, the gamma compensation value is adjusted instead of contrast/brightness, and this may lead to the loss of dark or light image tones. The Advanced DV Mode means automatic brightness adjustment depending on the onscreen image (the lighter the image is, the higher the monitor’s brightness gets). Theoretically, this should increase the dynamic range available to the monitor, but in practice this depends on the user’s taste. Some people may not like such “floating” settings.

By the way, besides having a contrast ratio of 700:1, the 20WGX2 is declared to have a dynamic contrast of 1600:1 which is only available in the Advanced DV Mode. This number is arrived at in a very cunning way: the level of white is measured on a light image when then Advanced DV Mode increases the screen brightness and the level of black is measured on a dark image when the Advanced DV Mode decreases the screen brightness. The ratio of the two values equals 1600:1. In other words, the Advanced DV Mode feature can automatically change the screen brightness by 2.3 times (1600/700).

The dynamic contrast doesn’t work on static images. The monitor can’t give you more than 700:1 on them whatever you do. The effect can only be seen in dynamic scenes, i.e. in games and movies, when the automatic “on-the-fly” brightness adjustment makes light (or dark) images brighter (or darker) than what they would be without the auto-adjustment. Of course, the whole screen is adjusted at once, so there is no effect on dark images with a few light areas (like on an image of a night street with a few lampposts). To me, this adjustment looks like a crutch to make up for the rather narrow dynamic range of modern monitors, yet it can be useful at times. This depends on the user’s particular taste, though.

One of the most annoying problems with our sample of the monitor was its very uneven backlighting. There were light blots with rainbow-like contours in every corner of the screen, perfectly visible even in daylight. I guess this must be due to the improper case design. The matrix is pressed too hard at the corners and is deformed as a result. On the other hand, there are quite a lot of samples of the 20WGX2 without that problem while those users who did complain about the non-uniform backlighting would notice that it improved within a few weeks (this is logical since every over-tight fastening, also the fastening of a monitor case, slackens a little over time). Anyway, I do recommend that you check out the uniformity of the backlighting at the shop (it’s best to do that on a black background and at the highest brightness setting), so that you didn’t get a defective sample.

By default, the monitor has 100% brightness and 50% contrast. I achieved a 100nit brightness of white by selecting 20% brightness and 23% contrast. Brightness is controlled by means of pulse-width modulation of the power of the backlight lamps.

Color gradients are reproduced quite well. You can discern stripes in them, but they are not very conspicuous and won’t show up at everyday work.

The use of an S-IPS matrix brings you good and bad things at once. On one hand, its viewing angles are superb. You can take a look at the screen from a side and the image will only lose a little in contrast and nothing in color reproduction. On the other hand, there is a violet hue, typical of S-IPS technology, on a black background as soon as you deflect your line of sight from strictly perpendicular to the screen. This is not a fatal defect (to me, it’s better to have that violet than the narrow viewing angles of some TN+Film matrixes), but it is conspicuous even if you are not specifically looking for it.

The monitor’s matrix has a glossy coating. It looks cool in a shop window, but is not very practical. Depending on the position and brightness of light sources in your room, you may see flares, reflections and other irritating things on the screen.

Having a superb shape, the monitor’s gamma curves nearly coincide with the theoretical ones. The monitor reproduces all color tones, and it does so even at the reduced contrast, but only until you make use of a DV Mode. Moreover, you shouldn’t increase the monitor’s contrast setting above its default value of 50%. If you do, the matrix will stop to distinguish between light tones and will display them all as pure white.

The MultiSync 20WGX2 offers an impressive (for the class of inexpensive home monitors it belongs to) selection of preset color temperatures, as many as six of them! Each preset is very accurate, there is a very small difference between the different levels of gray.

The MultiSync 20WGX2 indeed turned to have an RTC-enabled matrix inside. This is the first monitor tested in our labs to have an accelerated S-IPS matrix. According to my measurements, its average response time is 6.6 milliseconds with a maximum of 10.0 milliseconds. So, the 20WGX2 is faster than models on MVA and PVA matrixes (among which the Acer AL2032WA with an average response time of 8.5 milliseconds stands out) and is close in speed to modern monitors on RTC-enabled TN+Film matrixes.

The RTC error is small on average, only 3.1%, but reaches 58.2% at the maximum, on a transition from black to dark gray. It means that you’ll see an annoying silvery trail behind moving objects in some of dark scenes in movies and games. You won’t see this too often, though, because the error is really big only on a few transitions.

The contrast ratio of this monitor is average, just a little above 250:1 at the maximum (I mean the contrast of static images, of course). The max brightness is very high enabling you to watch movies even under bright daylight. A majority of users won’t use even half the brightness this monitor can offer, I guess.

So, the MultiSync 20WGX2 leaves a good impression. NEC has created a home/games-oriented monitor that combines a fast matrix with excellent viewing angles and accurate color reproduction. On the downside are the stand that doesn’t permit to adjust the height of the screen, the relatively low contrast ratio, the characteristic violet hue of the S-IPS matrix, and the glossy screen coating. However, people who are looking for a universal home monitor that would suit equally well for games/movies and for work, also for processing photographs, should certainly take a look at the 20WGX2. I think it won’t disappoint you.

NEC MultiSync LCD2070WNX

The name of this monitor can brings forth associations with the old and widely reputed LCD2070NX model, but this is a false trail. The 2070NX used to be a mainstream monitor on an S-IPS matrix, while the 2070WNX is an inexpensive product on a widescreen TN+Film matrix. There’s only one parameter that looks interesting in the specs: the unusual response time of 10 milliseconds (the ISO mark means that the response is measured as a total time it takes to switch from black to white and back again, i.e. according to the ISO13406-2 standard). I’ve seen a lot of 12ms and 8ms matrixes, but it’s the first time I see a 10ms one. However, the mention of the ISO13406-2 standard implies that the monitor doesn’t support response time compensation and is unlikely to impress us with its speed.

The viewing angles specified in the table are measured by a contrast drop to 5:1. If the common method of measuring by a contrast drop to 10:1 is used (unfortunately, this method has recently been used only for matrix types other than TN+Film), these angles will get narrower to quite an unimpressive 140/125 degrees.

The monitor resembles the above-described 20WGX2, but the buttons are painted a different color. Otherwise, it is the same large case of NEC’s new monitors. It doesn’t look bulky thanks to the rounded angles.

The stand has changed a little. It has become more robust and now permits to adjust the height of the screen. The adjustment range is 11 centimeters wide. In the lowest position, the screen is indeed very low, which is suitable for owners of tall desks (it is recommended that the top edge of the screen be not higher than the level of the user’s eyes). We’ve got a kind of paradox here: the entry-level 2070WNX is designed better than the considerably more expensive 20WGX2!

The monitor is equipped with analog and digital inputs, and a 4-port USB hub. Two ports of this hub are on a side panel of the case (for plugging in flash drives, for example) and two more are at the back, next to the rest of the connectors (for connecting a keyboard, mouse, or card-reader). The power adapter is internal.

Like with the 20WGX2, the monitor’s controls are grouped into a single block under the screen. There are four buttons and a joystick here. The latter misbehaved as usual, not quite accurately processing a rightward press (this direction seems to be a common problem with NEC’s joysticks; at least I’ve had it on a number of samples in a row).

The menu is standard but doesn’t offer the Advanced DV Mode. An entry-level monitor isn’t worthy of such advanced features.

By default, the monitor has 100% brightness and 50% contrast. To achieve a 100nit brightness of white I reduced both brightness and contrast settings to 30%.

Color gradients are reproduced well on this monitor, but with a barely visible banding. This is not a gross defect, though.

The gamma curves are acceptable. They deflect from the theoretical ones, especially the blue curve. When the contrast setting is reduced in the monitor’s menu, the curves improve somewhat, but are still far from perfect. On the other hand, the monitor honestly reproduces the entire color range at the default settings as well as at the reduced brightness/contrast (unless you touch the DV Modes that distort the reproduction of colors, as they always do).

There are many and well set-up color temperature modes here. The difference between the levels of gray is small. Although the real temperature values may differ from the option names in the menu, choosing from six options instead of two or three helps easily select what suits you most.

The LCD2070WNX indeed lacks response time compensation, yet I measured its response not only on black-to-gray transitions but also on all gray-to-gray ones in order to compare it with RTC-enabled monitors. Alas, the result isn’t encouraging: an average response time of 16.6 milliseconds (compare this with the NEC 20WGX2’s 6.6 milliseconds or with the Acer AL2032WA’s 8.5 milliseconds) with a maximum of 37.3 milliseconds! This is very far from the specified 10 milliseconds.

Perhaps we’ve got an old and slow TN+Film matrix here? Here’s a 2D diagram that helps compare this monitor with those that we tested earlier on our site.

So, the matrix is fast. On this diagram, the maximum is a little above the 25 milliseconds mark which I long considered an excellent result. So, the LCD2070WNX once again illustrates the effect from response time compensation technology. Having a matrix that would have been considered rather fast just a little time ago, it is now two or more times slower than RTC-enabled monitors. Moreover, the Acer AL2032WA and the NEC 20WGX2 are based on matrixes that have traditionally been viewed as slower than TN+Film, but the introduction of RTC technology has made this view obsolete.

The monitor’s contrast ratio is average, or even below the average, at only 200:1. So, there’s nothing more to comment upon.

My tests suggest that it would be wrong to associate the LCD2070WNX with the older LCD2070NX model or with the new 20WGX2. This monitor has a TN+Film matrix with rather small viewing angles and a not very high speed due to the lack of RTC. Low price is usually the main feature of such products, but the LCD2070WNX doesn’t look winsome from this point of view, either, because it is about $50 more expensive than its main competitors (BenQ FP202W, Samsung 205BW, etc). There’s nothing exceptional about the monitor’s parameters. It is oriented at office applications and at undemanding home users who won’t bother about its small viewing angles and rather low speed. Demanding users should better consider the MultiSync 20WGX2, the senior model I have tested above.

NEC MultiSync LCD2190UXi

While all the above-described monitors have been in fact ordinary home models, the MultiSync LCD2190UXi comes from a completely different category. The manufacturer positions it as a basic model for work with color, in CAD/CAM applications, etc.

The monitor is designed in the old classic NEC style, with an angular outline and a large case as if hewn with an axe. The stand has become somewhat more elegant (it used to be strictly rectangular, too). NEC’s designers have transitioned to sleek and rounded shapes in their home monitors, but professional series models (with UX, SX and FX suffixes) have retained their sober exterior.

The monitor looks large and massive, especially in profile. The base allows setting the screen height as necessary, but lacks a lock. So when you lift the monitor up from your desk, it stretches to its full length with a rumble. You can also adjust the tilt of the screen and turn it into the portrait mode. The monitor’s default stand can be replaced with a VESA-compatible mount.

The LCD2190UXi has three inputs: digital DVI-D, universal DVI-I (both analog and digital sources can be connected to it) and analog D-Sub. The round connector labeled DC Out is intended for optional speakers that you can hang at the bottom of the monitor’s case. There is not much value in those speakers. They are rarely sold in shops and have only one advantage over ordinary desktop speakers – they don’t take any extra space on your desk. The monitor is equipped with an integrated power adapter.

The controls are designed in a curious fashion, originally implemented in the company’s 90 series monitors. Most of the buttons are not labeled, but captions appear next to them on the screen on your entering the menu. The captions turn around automatically in the portrait mode. Otherwise, I can’t see any good in this. Ordinary labels painted on the buttons would be more readable and easier to work with.

There are some small problems even. For example, when the following message appears…

…the captions do not light up and you have to take guesses which button works as Exit.

The menu itself resembles the menu of the NEC 20WGX2 (tested earlier in this review), but with an ascetic design and more options. You can even choose the colors of the onscreen menu and the color of the Power indicator. The latter can be blue or green, leaving room for further development. If an RGB LED were integrated into the button, its color could be chosen from a very large palette. This is going to attract more customers, for sure. :)

Well, a majority of options are indeed very practical and useful. The monitor offers two automatic brightness adjustment modes (based on a lighting sensor and on the analysis of the onscreen image), automatic contrast adjustment (works with the analog input only), and setting up the color temperature by six coordinates.

Two Windows-based utilities are supplied with the monitor: NaviSet offers the same options as you have in the onscreen menu, and GammaComp allows to reprogram the monitor’s LUT, i.e. to perform its hardware calibration. Unfortunately, you have to input the new values in GammaComp manually. Unlike the software for the SpectraView series, this program cannot work with a calibrator directly.

Besides the main menu, there is an advanced menu, too. You can enter it by pressing the Input button as you’re turning the monitor on. The advanced menu is text-only and thus contains considerably more options than the main one (it offers the main menu settings, too). One of the most interesting options (it is highlighted in the photograph above) is turning on the response time compensation, which is off by default.

The monitor has 100% brightness and 50% contrast by default. To achieve a 100nit brightness of white I reduced the brightness setting to 70% and the contrast setting to 42%. Brightness is regulated by modulation of the power of the backlight lamps.

I could find no fault with the backlighting and the reproduction of color gradients. The monitor does its job superbly in this respect.

The gamma curves are perfect, almost merging into the theoretical ones. The entire range of color tones, from darkest to lightest, is accurately reproduced. The color reproduction doesn’t worsen when the brightness/contrast settings are lowered.

The user can choose from six color temperature modes, four of which can be adjusted manually (except for “sRGB” and “Native”). The setup quality is highest. This is in fact one of the most precise setups I’ve ever seen in my tests. The difference between the temperatures of the different levels of gray is as small as to fit within the measurement error range, i.e. a few dozen degrees (if you don’t count in the “warming” of dark gray, but it is insignificant, and the calibrator’s accuracy degenerates on dark colors, too). Compare this with the usual difference of a few hundred or even a thousand degrees!

The monitor isn’t fast at its default settings. The response time graphs goes upwards on dark colors, not as steeply as with VA matrixes, yet reaches about half a hundred milliseconds. However, the monitor’s advanced menu offers the Overdrive option that enables response time compensation. It is disabled by default (I guess this can be explained by the market positioning of the model. It is mainly targeted at people who need an accurate reproduction of colors. Such users must not be frightened away by new-fangled technologies associated with home/gaming models).

So, I turned that technology on to see the following:

Well, the diagram hasn’t changed dramatically, yet it certainly looks better now. The pixel rise time is 50-100% smaller (the fall time remains the same because the pixel is switched to black and RTC is useless on such transitions).

Measuring gray-to-gray transitions yields an average response time of 11.8 milliseconds. On one hand, this is quite a lot as today’s gaming monitors go (the average response time of the NEC 20WGX2 is 6.6 milliseconds, for example), yet the LCD2190UXi easily beats any RTC-less matrix, including the so-called fast TN+Film (my tests of the NEC LCD2070WNX show why such matrixes are not actually fast: with a specified response of 10ms, that monitor has a real average response time of 16.6ms or almost 50% higher than that of the LCD2190UXi). The maximum response time of the LCD2190UXi is 27.3 milliseconds on a transition from black to a dark gray.

Alas, the monitor is not free from RTC-related artifacts. The average miss of the compensation circuitry is 3.0% with a maximum of 27.9%. This peak is somewhere in the middle of the diagram, i.e. it occurs on a transition between two rather close levels of gray and won’t be very conspicuous in practice. So, the visual artifacts provoked by RTC aren’t gross and won’t be annoying, but they do exist.

The monitor’s contrast ratio isn’t very high, but normal for an S-IPS matrix. After all, this matrix manufacturing technology has never featured super-high contrast. The specified contrast of 500:1 isn’t recording-breaking, either.

Thus, the NEC MultiSync LCD2190UXi is an excellent choice for working with color. It is superbly set up and is free from any defects when it comes to color reproduction. In these aspects, this is one of the best monitors of all I’ve tested so far. It also offers an abundance of various setup options, some of which even seem superfluous (I could get along quite well without changing the color of the Power indicator, for example). You’ve got options for every event in your life, including fine-tuning the monitor for analog cables, although I doubt many users will use an analog connection for it. The LCD2190UXi is halfway between ordinary models and the SpectraView series that is intended for professional work with color. So, if you need an accurate color reproduction, but SpectraView models are too expensive, consider the LCD2190UXi. This monitor doesn’t even need calibration, it is set up that well originally.

With all that, the LCD2190UXi is not slow. After you turn RTC on, it becomes suitable for dynamic games, even though it is slower than the best models of home/gaming monitors available today. Moreover, its RTC error is small, so most users won’t ever want to disable this technology. You can keep it always on without any negative consequences for your work.

There is only one thing that may repel you from the LCD2190UXi. It costs over $1500. This money can buy you one 24” monitor or a couple of 20-21” ones. That’s why I don’t recommend going for the LCD2190UXi unless you are absolutely sure that you need this very model. A lot of users just won’t see a big difference between it and home-oriented models that cost half its price. For them, the purchase of an LCD2190UXi would be just a waste of money.

To be continued!