24" LCD Monitors Roundup. Part II

Although TN matrices are an attribute of budget monitor models, they have not just penetrated the relatively expensive 24-inch monitor segment, but they tend to be a leader there already, at least judging y the number of new models announced lately. But is it necessarily a bad thing? Not very advanced characteristics of TN matrices are well compensated by their low price. Today we are going to talk about 6 monitors on such matrix from Acer, Dell, NEC and Samsung.

by Oleg Artamonov
04/28/2008 | 11:40 AM

You will see six new models of 24” monitors in this roundup. They are based on two matrix types, PVA and TN. Although the latter type is traditionally considered an attribute of low-end models due to its modest technical characteristics, it is not only available in the sector of rather expensive 24-inchers but claims the leadership, at least in terms of the number of new products announced. For example, only two monitors to be discussed here are based on PVA, and the remaining four are TN.

 

But is it so bad after all? The lower characteristics of TN matrixes are made up for by the lower price. So the question is if the quality is up to the price or not.

Testing Methodology

Click the following link for a description of our testing methodology, the equipment we use, and a brief explanation of what the specified and tested parameters of LCD monitors mean: the article is called Xbit Labs Presents: LCD Monitors Testing Methodology Indepth. If you feel overwhelmed with the numbers and terms this article abounds in, check out an appropriate section of the mentioned Description for an explanation.

Acer AL2416WBsd

In our previous 24-inch LCD monitor roundup we tested the Acer AL2416Ws model. The new monitor differs by only two letters in the model name.

The specs suggest that the AL2416WBsd is not an update of the AL2416Ws but a completely different model. It differs with the matrix type in the first place: the AL2416WBsd has a TN matrix without Response Time Compensation.

The exterior is simple, even somewhat rude. A light-gray front panel with a black stand. The monitor is hardly appealing. It just won’t be noticeable among its surroundings.

The stand allows adjusting the tilt of the screen. You cannot tilt it forward, however. The native stand can be replaced with a standard VESA mount.

The monitor’s got analog and digital inputs. The latter is indicated by the letter d in the model name.

The control buttons are placed in a separate block below the screen. The Power button differs from the others with its shape and size. The Power indicator is built into it. It is green and not distracting at work. In sleep mode the indicator changes its color into amber. Quick access is provided to the automatic adjustment of analog connection and to switching between the factory-set image modes.

I’ve seen this menu in many other models from Acer. It offers a standard selection of options without anything extraordinary. Particularly, it doesn’t allow you to choose the interpolation mode (to stretch a 4:3 image out to the full width of the screen or not).

By default, the monitor has 77% brightness and 50% contrast. I lowered the brightness setting to 30% and the contrast to 35% to achieve a 100nit white. You shouldn’t increase the contrast setting above 50% as it makes light halftones indistinguishable from white. The brightness is regulated by means of backlight modulation at a frequency of 209Hz.

Against my apprehensions, the viewing angles proved to be quite acceptable. Of course, the image gets darker when viewed from below as is typical of TN technology. You won’t be able to watch a movie on this monitor while lying on a sofa, for example. People who are sensitive to distortions of brightness at the border of the screen shouldn’t buy it, either. And still, the viewing angles are going to satisfy most users. You may want to buy a high chair for such a monitor not only because it’s better for the eyes to look at the screen slightly from above but also because the top viewing angle of TN matrixes is wider than the bottom one. Ideally, the user’s eyes should be level with the top edge of the screen.

Color gradients are reproduced perfectly at the default settings but barely visible banding appears at reduced values of contrast.

The color gamut is quite standard for a monitor with ordinary fluorescent lamps. It is about as large as sRGB – somewhat better in greens and worse in reds.

 

The average uniformity of white brightness is 4.3% with a maximum deflection of 18.7%. For black, the average and maximum are 3.5% and 15.3%, respectively. The numbers are good although the maximum deflection on white is rather high – it is due to the darkening in the top right corner as you can see in the picture above.

 

The monitor’s contrast is too high at the default settings as is indicated by the characteristic bend of the curves in the right part of the diagram. From a practical point of view, it means certain problems with the reproduction of the lightest halftones.

 

When the contrast setting is lowered in the monitor’s menu, the curves become normal. They go close to each other, being but slightly different from the theoretical curve for gamma 2.2.

As might have been expected, the 5ms TN matrix is not really fast. Its response average is 13.2 milliseconds (GtG) with a maximum of 24 milliseconds. To remind you, the specified response time of 5 milliseconds is arrived at by measuring the black-white-black transition only. And this transition happens to be the fastest for RTC-less TN matrixes.

The color temperature setup is acceptable. The temperature dispersion is within 1000K in the Warm and User modes (which are going to be preferred by most users), and the biggest deflection is on white due to the monitor’s contrast being set too high by default. If you work at a reduced contrast, you won’t have this problem at all.

The monitor’s max brightness is even higher than specified. The contrast ratio is normal for a modern TN matrix.

As I noted above, the AL2416WBsd offers a few factory-set image modes you can switch between by pressing the dedicated button on the front panel.

There are four such modes here, the Standard mode coinciding with the monitor’s default settings. Alas, the Text most is too bright (a brightness of 80-120 nits is recommended for working with text depending on ambient lighting) and the Graphics mode is the brightest of all for some reason although it should be somewhere between the Text and Movie modes, I guess.

Moreover, the reproduction of colors worsens in each mode.

 

The Text mode is set up for low brightness at 50% contrast. As you’ve seen above and see now, this leads to certain distortions in the reproduction of the lightest halftones.

 

These distortions grow bigger in the Movie mode. Now, not only red and green but also blue reach saturation in the right part of the diagram. As a result, light halftones are displayed as pure white.

 

It’s hard to tell what kind of graphics the Graphics mode is intended for but the color reproduction is even worse in it than in the Movie mode. Light halftones merge into white.

So I think the AL2416BWsd should be set up manually for working in text-based applications. The Text mode can be used for games and movies as it is just bright enough for such applications and the color reproduction is acceptable. You shouldn’t touch the Movie and Graphics modes if you care about color reproduction.

Highs:

Lows:

Recommended usage:

Dell 2407WFP-HC

We reported about Dell’s 2407WFP model in our previous review. The HC suffix of the newer model means backlight lamps with improved phosphors. These lamps are going to provide an extended color gamut.

The other parameters of these two models coincide in general except that the HC version has a lower specified brightness. Anyway, 400 nits is more than enough for any application including watching movies under daylight.

Dell’s monitors are known to undergo several revisions to get rid of found defects. My sample of the 2407WFP-HC was revision A00, i.e. the very first revision.

It is pretty on the outside with the combination of black and silver, an elegant stand (it is made from steel for the necessary rigidity), and superb ergonomics.

The stand allows adjusting the tilt of the screen, its height (4 to 14cm counting from the desk surface to the bottom edge of the matrix). You can also pivot the screen into portrait mode or turn it around its vertical axis (the sole of the stand remains motionless at that). The height adjustment is blocked if the screen is lowered to its bottommost position. To unblock, press the button at the back of the stand while pulling the screen up.

The stand can be detached (by merely pressing a button) and replaced with a standard VESA mount.

The monitor offers a large selection of inputs: analog and digital interfaces for the PC and three video inputs (component, composite and S-Video). It also has an integrated USB hub. Two USB ports are available at the back panel, too.

Two more USB ports can be found on the left panel, which is handy for connecting flash drives and other such devices. Next to them there is an integrated card-reader. The monitor cannot view the contents of memory cards independently, though. The card-reader will only work when connected to the PC via USB.

The control buttons are located in the bottom right of the front panel. They are large and have easily readable white icons. Quick access is provided to switching between the inputs (the number of the current input is shown to the left of the button), to the Picture-in-Picture mode, to the brightness setting, and to the automatic adjustment of analog connection.

The traditional menu of Dell monitors is beautiful but unfriendly to the user. The current position of the cursor is not marked consciously, the menu doesn’t remember the last changed option, and it takes a lot of pressing on the buttons to get to the necessary menu item. Oddly enough, the simpler onscreen menus of Dell’s budget models are far more user-friendly.

What is good, the menu offers not only Picture-in-Picture mode but also the option of choosing an interpolation variant. You can stretch the image out to full screen, stretch it out but keep the aspect ratio intact (it’s handy for images of 4:3 format), or to display it on a per-pixel basis (that’s handy for working with HDTV signal in 1080i and 1080p formats).

The monitor’s brightness and contrast are both set at 50% by default. I lowered them both to 35% to achieve a 100nit white. You should not increase the contrast setting above 50% as it leads to an increase in the level of green relative to the other basic colors and then to a loss of light halftones. The monitor’s brightness is regulated by means of pulse-width modulation at a frequency of 145Hz.

The monitor’s color gamut is indeed much larger than sRGB but only in greens. If you put a 2407WFP and a 2407WFP-HC next to each other, you can see the former produce a slightly yellowish green. The latter model yields a purer green. The color gamut coincides with sRGB in blues and reds just like on many other monitors.

Users have complained at a yellowish tincture of the image on the screen of the 2407WFP-HC, often relating it to the extended (towards greens) color gamut. This is not correct because the color gamut cannot affect the monitor’s reproduction of white or grays. If these colors have unwanted hues, pink or green or whatever, it is the consequence of certain flaws in the color reproduction setup. For example, I saw such a defect on the Hanns.G HG216D model before although it had quite a common color gamut.

As I said above, selecting a high contrast in the monitor’s menu leads to the appearance of a green hue in the picture. That’s why I don’t recommend you to use this monitor at a contrast of higher than 45%. If you feel the picture is too green on your sample of the monitor even at such settings, you should lower the level of green manually in the color temperature settings.

 

The average uniformity of white brightness is 5.7% with a maximum deflection of 21.9%. For black, the numbers are 4.9% and 17.0%. These are average results, especially for white where, as the picture above shows you, the right part of the screen is darker. On black, there is a brighter center of the screen but no brighter bands at the corners and along the edges of the matrix as are common for many other monitors.

 

The monitor’s gamma value is too low at the default settings: darks look lighter than they should.

 

It only gets worse at the reduced settings. The image is whitish, colorless. The monitor doesn’t offer a gamma setting in the menu, so you can only correct this by changing your graphics card settings or by means of hardware calibration.

The response time average is 6.6 milliseconds (GtG) with a maximum of 13 milliseconds. As you can see, Response Time Compensation technology helps PVA matrixes, which are traditionally considered slow, outperform TN matrixes with a specified response of 5 milliseconds.

Of course, there are RTC artifacts. The RTC error level is rather high at 13.5%. The diagram shows that there are long transitions from dark to lights as well as vice versa. As a result, you can see both light and dark trails behind moving objects depending on the specific colors.

Dell’s monitor is not the only one to have this problem. The Samsung SyncMaster 245T has an average RTC error of over 13%, which is quite a lot for a PVA-based monitor.

The color temperature is set up perfectly but you should note that there is no really warm mode here. If you choose Red, you get a color temperature of about 7000K. The temperature dispersion between the levels of gray is small, though.

The monitor’s contrast ratio is surprisingly low. Notwithstanding its PVA matrix, it is inferior to many modern TN-based models in this respect.

Formally, the Dell 2407WFP-HC offers factory-set image modes but they are hard to access. There is no quick access to them – you have to loop deep in the menu instead. Anyway, I checked out the monitor’s characteristics in those modes, too.

There are three modes here, their names quite self-explanatory. They all have the same brightness. Does it mean they differ in color reproduction?

 

In the Game mode the gamma value is too low again, resulting in a whitish and dull picture.

 

It’s no better in the Multimedia mode: the curves are all higher than the ideal one and are shaped so curiously that you can hardly correct them using the gamma setting in your graphics card driver.

Well, considering that these modes are hard to access, you may just think the monitor doesn’t have them at all.

Highs:

Lows:

Recommended usage:

NEC AccuSync LCD24WMCX

The AccuSync brand traditionally designates NEC’s inexpensive monitors, yet the LCD24WMCX is hardly cheap, being considerably more expensive than most other TN-based models. Let’s see if this price is justified.

The monitor’s specs are ordinary enough. It is based on a TN matrix without Response Time Compensation.

The case is black and glossy (but the LCD matrix itself is matte). The exterior design is not exceptional, but the black coloring conceals small details, resulting in a nice appearance overall.

You can change the tilt of the screen. The stand can be replaced with a VESA mount.

The LCD24WMCX has a gorgeous selection of inputs. Besides analog and digital PC inputs, it has component and composite video inputs, and a HDMI interface. There is an audio input and a headphones output (the latter is located inconveniently at the back panel, together with the rest of connectors).

The control buttons are centered below the screen. Quick access is provided to switching between the inputs (this operation is rather slow – the screen fades out for a few seconds after each press), to the auto-adjustment feature, and to the sound volume setting.

The onscreen menu is extensive and overall easy to use. It works somewhat sluggishly, but remembers the last changed option. For example, if you change the color temperature option, the next time you open the menu you’ll find yourself in the same menu section.

There are quite a lot of various additional settings. Besides adjusting brightness and contrast, the first menu screen (see the picture above) allows you to adjust the gamma, to choose a DV mode and to enable the dynamic contrast mode (“DCR”).

Quite untypical for low-end monitors is the option of manual setup of color temperature using six (rather than three as usual) color coordinates. You can also choose the interpolation mode: stretch the image out to full screen or restrain proportions.

The menu also offers an abundance of image-enhancing features but nearly all of them produce a picture with unnaturally saturated colors. The practical value of this enhancement seems to be low. There is also an interesting, but not very practical, feature called BrightFrame: you can select a rectangular area on the screen, defining its size, position and color reproduction parameters in the menu.

Notwithstanding the numerous video inputs, the monitor doesn’t have a Picture-in-Picture mode.

The monitor has 90% brightness and 50% contrast by default. I selected 40% brightness and 30% contrast to achieve a 100nit white. You shouldn’t set the contrast above 56% as it makes light halftones indistinguishable from white. The brightness is regulated by means of backlight modulation at a frequency of 223Hz.

Color gradients look striped on this monitor. The viewing angles are good enough for a TN matrix but the darkening of the top of the screen is noticeable when you are looking at it from below. Moreover, white transforms into turquoise and yellow into green at that. But as opposed to the Samsung SyncMaster 226CW where you could see this effect even while sitting in front of the monitor, you have to deflect your eyes down from the center of the screen to see it on the AccuSync LCD24WMCX. That’s not going to be a big trouble in practice. On the other hand, the other TN matrixes in this review are free from this defect.

The monitor’s color gamut is close to the standard sRGB color space, being larger than it in greens and smaller in reds.

 

The uniformity of white brightness is 3.3% with a max deflection of 16.9%. On black, the average and maximum are 2.7% and 11.9%, respectively. On black, there is only a narrow lighter band along the left edge of the screen which has had a little effect on the measurements and is almost invisible in the picture above.

 

The gamma curves don’t look right at the default settings. They do not coincide and go higher than the theoretical curve for gamma 2.2.

 

It’s not much better at the reduced settings: the image is still whitish due to the low gamma (the lower the gamma value, the higher the curves go).

 

Fortunately, the monitor’s menu offers a gamma adjustment option. Setting it at Mode 3, you can improve the situation considerably.

As you might have expected, the monitor is not fast. Its response time average is 14.1 milliseconds (GtG) with a maximum of 22 milliseconds. The manufacturers are obviously trying to get everything from the market by releasing only RTC-less models in the first wave of TN-based 24” monitors. In a little while, they will proudly announce new series of fast 2ms and 4ms monitors.

The color temperature setup is very neat. The temperature dispersion between the levels of gray is small.

The contrast ratio is average while the maximum brightness is even higher than declared by the manufacturer.

As I noted above, the LCD24WMCX offers factory-set DV modes as well as various image-enhancing options. Let’s now see what they do.

There are five DV Modes for you to choose from. Each mode corresponds to a specific usage of the monitor but I think each mode is rather too bright. The Text mode should have a brightness of 100 nits. It’s also not quite clear why sports events should be watched at a much higher brightness than movies.

Each mode has a bad effect on color reproduction. They differ in the brightness setting only while the contrast is also set at 80% and you cannot change that. As I wrote above, selecting a contrast setting above 56% leads to a loss of light halftones in the image – they are displayed as pure white then.

 

That’s exactly what we have in each DV Mode. There is only one diagram. The modes only differing in brightness, which has no effect on color reproduction, the gamma curves are identical in all of them.

The lack of a dedicated button to switch between the DV Modes is a problem, too. You have to enter the monitor’s main menu to select one.

The menu also offers a few image-enhancing methods most of which just increase the saturation of one or several basic colors, so there is no talking about accurate colors. I’ll discuss two modes as examples: Full Enhance and Green Field.

 

The Full Enhance mode leads to a loss of lightest halftones, especially of red and blue.

 

The Green Field mode increases the saturation of green in an intellectual way: in those parts of the image where green is predominant. In other words, gray remains gray but green grass acquires a fantastically bright, acid, hue. The gamma curves are shaped correspondingly, of course.

If you are into blues, there is a blue-enhancing mode as well. It works in the same manner and has the same dubious practical value.

Overall, the AccuSync LCD24WMCX can hardly be regarded as a low-end monitor not only because of its price but also because of its functionality: video inputs including a digital HDMI interface, dynamic contrast mode, and a settings-rich menu. As a result, the LCD24WMCX is somewhere in between the simpler TN-based monitors and the more advanced VA-based models (such as the above-discussed Dell 2407WFP-HC) in terms of price, specs and functionality.

Highs:

Lows:

Recommended usage:

NEC MultiSync LCD2470WNX

The MultiSync series combines NEC’s midrange and top-end monitors. Most of the company’s products belong here.

A PVA matrix is the main distinguishing feature of the LCD2470WNX. It is distinguishing indeed when four out of the six monitors in the review are based on TN technology.

The monitor looks bulky due to the thickness of the case and the exterior design. The rounded-off silver bezel around the screen makes the case look massive.

The stand is not compact, but allows adjusting the tilt and height (from 75 to 185cm) of the screen, pivot it into portrait mode and turn it around the vertical axis. A minor drawback, the stand is not locked in the bottommost position, making it difficult to carry the monitor. The stand just stretches out to its full length when you lift the monitor up.

The stand can be replaced with a VESA-compatible mount.

The monitor has analog and digital video inputs and an integrated 4-port USB hub. Two USB ports are at the back panel, and two more are on the side panel as you can see in the photos above. The ports in the pairs are placed very close to each other, making it difficult to plug in two devices simultaneously.

The control buttons are placed under the front panel. Traditionally for NEC, there is a small 4-position joystick here. It used to provoke my criticism before, but I should confess it works perfectly in the LCD2470WNX.

The Power indicator is in the Power button. Although the menu allows adjusting its intensity, the green LED is not too bright by default.

Quick access is provided to the brightness and contrast settings, to switching between the inputs and to selecting a DV Mode.

The menu offers three interpolation variants: full screen, with restrained proportions, and pixel-per-pixel.

By default, the monitor has 100% brightness and 50% contrast. To achieve a 100nit white I lowered both settings to 24%. The brightness is regulated by means of backlight modulation at a frequency of 310Hz.

Color gradients are reproduced with banding, especially in the area of darks. Dark halftones are distinguishable at any contrast but lights merge into white at a contrast of 50% and higher.

The color gamut is standard differing but slightly from the sRGB color space. I can only note that the monitor’s white point (marked with a white circle) almost coincides with the sRGB point of white (marked with a black cross; it corresponds to a color temperature of 6500K).

 

The average uniformity of white brightness is 7.3% with a maximum deflection of 20.6%. There is a strong darkening in the top right corner. For black, the numbers are better: 3.2% on average and 12.4% at the maximum.

 

The gamma curves are nearly ideal at the default settings, going close to the theoretical curve for gamma 2.2.

 

It’s worse at the reduced settings: darks become lighter than they should be.

The monitor is rather fast thanks to RTC technology. Its response time average is 7.0 milliseconds (GtG) with a maximum of 19 milliseconds.

The RTC error level is quite high at 14.1%, which is quite a poor result for a PVA matrix. But as three PVA-based monitors (from Dell, NEC and Samsung) had similar results in my tests in terms of response time and RTC errors, I’m inclined to think that it is the matrix manufacturer’s rather than the monitor maker’s fault.

The color temperature setup is excellent. It is only in the two coldest modes that the temperature dispersion between the levels of gray is over 500K. Besides, the available modes cover the entire range of temperatures, from warm to cold.

The contrast ratio is high as well, over 400:1. The max brightness didn’t make it to the specified level, yet it is quite enough for any possible application. I guess the user may want to lower it rather than otherwise.

As mentioned above, the monitor not only offers a few factory-set image modes grouped under the name of DV Mode technology, but also a button for accessing them quickly. So, this feature may be useful if the modes are set up properly.

Alas, each mode is too bright. For most users who buy this monitor for home and do not use it under direct sunlight, the Text mode will be suitable for games and movies while the other modes are just excessively bright. The monitor should be set up manually for working with text.

 

That’s not the only problem, though. The contrast setting is too high in the Gaming mode, resulting in a loss of all lights which are displayed as pure white. Moreover, the three curves go far from each other, so the gray balance is not good, either.

The same is true for the Movie mode.

 

The Photo mode is supposed to have as accurate color reproduction as possible but the level of green is too high in it. The resulting image has a greenish hue and also lacks some of the lightest halftones.

Thus, the Text mode is the only one with a normal brightness and without serious defects in terms of color reproduction.

Highs:

Lows:

Recommended usage:

NEC MultiSync LCD2470WVX

One letter is added to the model name. What does it mean? V usually stands for Value, yet the monitor belongs to the MultiSync rather than AccuSync series.

The specs make it all clear: just one letter of difference, but we’ve got an RTC-less TN matrix instead of PVA. That’s why the LCD2470WVX is closer to the above-discussed AccuSync LCD24WMCX especially as the two models have similar retail prices.

The exterior design is identical to the LCD2470WNX: a large bulky case, a silvery front panel, and a black stand.

The stand permits you to adjust the tilt and height (from 75 to 185cm) of the screen and pivot it into portrait mode. The default stand can be replaced with a standard VESA mount.

The monitor’s got analog and digital inputs. There are no additional video inputs here.

The control buttons are placed below the front panel just as on the LCD2470WNX. The joystick works perfectly in this monitor, too.

The menu is standard for the MultiSync series. It is rather user-friendly and also pretty. Quick access is provided to the brightness and contrast settings, to switching between the inputs, and to choosing a DV Mode.

The monitor has 100% brightness and 50% contrast by default. I lowered both to 20% to achieve a 100nit white. You should not increase the contrast above 50% as it makes light halftones indistinguishable from white. The monitor regulates its brightness by means of power modulation of the backlight lamps at a frequency of 226Hz.

Color gradients are reproduced with barely visible banding.

The viewing angles are rather good – for a TN matrix. The screen gets darker when viewed from below, but that’s not a big problem. Yes, the LCD2470WVX won’t be a good choice if you need really wide viewing angles, but most users are going to be satisfied with this parameter. The monitor is also free from color distortions such as I saw on the LCD24WMCX: the contrast ratio is the only parameter that degenerates on your deflecting your head from the center of the screen.

The monitor’s color gamut is quite ordinary, similar to the standard sRGB color space.

 

The average uniformity of white brightness is 4.0% with a maximum deflection of 19.4%. On black, the numbers are 3.1% and 16.2%, respectively. That’s a good result although the darker top right corner has spoiled it somewhat.

 

The gamma curves don’t look good at the default settings, going far from each other as well as from the theoretical curve. The contrast is set too high by default in many monitors from NEC. Reducing this setting even by 5% improves the reproduction of colors.

 

As you can see, the curves look much better at the reduced settings.

The monitor is slow as it lacks Response Time Compensation. The response time average is 13.9 milliseconds (GtG) with a maximum of 22.8 milliseconds.

The color temperature is set up not as neatly as on the LCD2470WNX, yet well enough. It’s only in cold modes that the temperature dispersion is over 1000K.

I found another drawback, though. At the default contrast, white has a pink huge in the sRGB, 7500K and 5000K modes. To remove it, you should lower the contrast setting in the monitor’s menu to 45% at least.

The max brightness and contrast ratio are good.

Like the two previous models, the LCD2470WVX offers DV Mode technology, factory-set image modes you can switch between by pressing a single button.

Alas, these modes are even brighter than in the monitors discussed in the previous sections. I wonder if the developers ever tried to work with text at a brightness of 250 nits. Do they wear sunglasses when working at the monitor? The rest of the modes are close to 400 nits which is too bright even for games and movies unless you are going to watch them under direct sunlight.

 

The Photo mode has a high level of green again. That’s not as bad as the Green Fields of the above-discussed LCD24WMCX, but has little to do with accurate color reproduction, either.

 

All the basic colors are too intensive in the Movie mode, yet green is again the brightest of all.

 

20% of lights are indistinguishable in the Gaming mode.

If the MultiSync LCD2470WVX is compared with the AccuSync LCD24WMCX, it’s not quite clear why the latter belongs to the cheaper AccuSync series. These two models are very similar in their parameters, but the LCD24WMCX is superior in terms of functionality, being only less ergonomic than the LCD2470WNX (less convenient controls and a simpler stand). The price of the LCD2470WNX seems too high to me in comparison with other manufacturers’ models.

Highs:

Lows:

Recommended usage:

Samsung SyncMaster 2493HM

Samsung is never tired of introducing new monitor models. We have discussed the 245B and 245T recently, and now I’ve got a monitor with a new 4-digit number.

The specs are not extraordinary, though. It is yet another TN-based model without Response Time Compensation. The declared contrast ratio of 10,000:1 is very high because it is dynamic contrast. The static contrast ratio is lower at 1000:1.

The monitor is pretty with its black glossy case, ideally smooth stand and chrome band along the bottom of the case. Samsung’s designers can really catch the customer’s attention.

The stand allows adjusting the tilt and height (from 110 to 205mm) of the screen, pivot it into portrait mode and rotate it around the vertical axis. The stand can be replaced with a VESA mount if necessary.

The monitor has analog and digital inputs and a HDMI interface. The DVI input supports HDCP and can be used for connection to a HD video source, but the additional input allows connecting the monitor to a PC and, for example, to a HDMI video player at the same time.

The SyncMaster 2493HM doesn’t have analog video inputs such as component or S-Video.

There is a 2-port USB hub built into the stand. It is not very handy for plugging devices in and out frequently due to its position. Moreover, it is passive, i.e. without its own power supply.

The monitor is controlled with touch-sensitive buttons whose labels are in the bottom right of the front panel. The only downside – you can see it in the photo above – is that it’s hard to read the thin gray labels and icons on the glossy plastic. Otherwise, the buttons are implemented almost ideally. As opposed to many other monitors with such controls including the recently tested SyncMaster 225UW, I never missed a button on the SyncMaster 2493HM.

The power indicator is a mild blue LED. It is not distracting at work, but begins to blink in sleep mode. You cannot turn the LED out or lower its intensity.

This is a typical menu of a Samsung monitor but some of its settings are new. First of all, you now select a MagicBright mode in the first menu tab.

It is because the user can now assign a function to the button that used to switch between the MagicBright modes in previous monitors from Samsung. It can now be made to switch between the MagicColor modes (to increase color saturation), ColorEffect modes (I’ll discuss them shortly), or between image interpolation variants (full screen or with restrained proportions).

Color Effect is a new feature of Samsung’s monitors that renders the image colorless. You can do it in four different ways: besides ordinary black-and-white mode, there are three modes with additional toning of the black-and-white picture.

The practical purpose of Color Effect eludes me, though. The result looks funny, but I don’t think that the black-and-white image looks any better than with colors.

By default, the monitor has 100% brightness and 75% contrast. I lowered them both to 40% to achieve a 100nit white. You shouldn’t increase the contrast setting above 75% as it makes light halftones indistinguishable from white. The monitor regulates its brightness by means of backlight modulation at a frequency of 180Hz.

Color gradients are reproduced ideally.

The monitor has very good (for a TN matrix) viewing angles. When viewed from below, the top of the screen gets darker, but without color distortions.

The color gamut is standard and similar to other models that use ordinary backlight lamps.

 

The average uniformity of white backlight is 2.6% with a maximum deflection of 16.4%. For black, the numbers are 2.2% and 12.1%, respectively. Surprisingly, all the TN-based monitors in this review have uniform brightness although judging by the viewing angles the NEC AccuSync LCD24WMCX surely uses a different matrix than the others. Perhaps the relatively high price of 24” models in comparison with 22” and smaller ones allows the manufacturers to pay more attention to the assembly, setup and quality assurance processes, which results in more stable parameters.

 

The gamma curves don’t look good at the default settings. The characteristic bend in the top right part of the diagram means that the contrast is set too high.

 

At the reduced settings the color curves are almost ideal.

The response time is no good really. The response time average is 13.9 milliseconds (GtG) with a maximum of 24.2 milliseconds. I still can’t understand the reasons, except for marketing reasons, why the manufacturers cannot make 24” TN-based monitors with Response Time Compensation.

The color temperature is very good. The temperature dispersion is within 500K in every mode. You don’t often see such a result from a TN-based monitor.

The contrast ratio is high at 400:1. The monitor’s max brightness is lower than that of the other models in this review, but sufficient for any possible application.

Like all modern monitors from Samsung, the SyncMaster 2493HM features MagicBright technology, a few factory-set modes you can switch through quickly by pressing a button on the front panel.

The Text mode is indeed not bright just as you need for working with text under good ambient lighting (you should set the monitor up manually for working in text applications under mild evening lighting). There is also the Internet mode with a slightly higher brightness – you can use it for viewing photos and even for movies and games. The other three modes differ in color temperature and yield maximum brightness.

 

The monitor’s color reproduction has the same problem in "bright" modes as at the default settings: the contrast is set too high. This doesn’t affect the image much, though, especially if compared with the above-discussed monitors that used to lose a large share of lights when you enabled one of such factory-set modes.

Highs:

Lows:

Recommended usage:

Conclusion

Although four out of the six monitors tested for this review are based on TN matrixes, I’m not disappointed. The main drawback of this technology is small viewing angles, but those of modern TN matrixes are suitable for most users. Of course, if you prefer to watch movies while lying on a sofa (with the monitor above your head level) or if you are just sensitive to minor deviations in contrast, you should consider models with *VA or S-IPS matrixes such as Dell 2407WFP-HC and NEC MultiSync LCD2470WNX or those we tested earlier.

The second, unobvious, drawback of TN technology is that such monitors belong to the low-end market sector and the manufacturer saves on many things including the setup quality. As a result, many models of smaller diagonals cannot show proper color reproduction. Fortunately, 24” models differ for the better so far. Most of the tested models have accurate color reproduction and uniform brightness. Perhaps this will change when prices get lower in this market sector, but there is no reason to worry as yet.

Thus, a 24” TN-based monitor can be a reasonable buy if you need a large screen with a resolution of 1920x1200 but don’t have enough money to buy a VA-based model.

There is one more problem, though. While Response Time Compensation has been used in TN matrixes of smaller diagonals for long already, there are no 24” models with this technology as yet. So, although TN matrixes are traditionally considered the fastest, it is PVA matrixes that are faster among 24” models currently. The manufacturers try to appeal to the customer with the pretty number of 5 milliseconds in the specs, but you should be aware that the numbers depend not only on real characteristics but also on the method they are measured with.