24" LCD Monitors Roundup

We’ve covered almost each and every existing diagonal in our LCD monitor roundups, from now-obsolete 15" models to newest 27" and 30" giants, but 23-24-inchers have remained out of our focus for some reason. Today we are going to make up for this omission by offering you a detailed review of 8 eight 23" and 24" monitors including solutions from Acer, Apple, Dell, LG, Samsung and ViewSonic.

by Oleg Artamonov
10/23/2007 | 08:48 AM

We’ve covered almost each and every existing diagonal in our LCD monitor roundups, from now-obsolete 15” models to newest 27” and 30” giants, but 23-24-inchers have remained out of our focus for some reason. The price of such monitors has been steadily declining while the number of available models and their popularity among the consumers has been growing up. Now we want to make amends to you for this omission and offer you the results of our tests of eight 23” and 24” monitors, some new and some that have been selling for a while already.

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.

New in our reviews is the objective measurement of the uniformity of the monitor’s brightness. This uniformity is measured with a photo-sensor on both white and black backgrounds because it may differ between these two cases. For each monitor we draw a picture that shows the qualitative character of the irregularity and also publish two quantitative marks: the average and the maximum deflection of brightness. You can refer to the appropriate section of the mentioned article for a detailed explanation of the measurement method.

Unfortunately, most monitors in this review were tested before the introduction of the brightness uniformity test, and we didn’t perform this test for them, but we promise to measure the brightness uniformity for every monitor in our future reviews.

Acer AL2416Ws

The AL2416Ws is not the newest model from Acer, but it’s interesting for being in fact the first inexpensive 24” monitor. Generally speaking, every technology follows the same development cycle. First there appear expensive products that offer the fullest functionality possible, but their price begins to go down after a while. Finally, the manufacturers come to the conclusion that the market is ready to be treated as a mass market and it’s not reasonable to develop it with only expensive products. So, they begin to seek for ways to make their products cheaper by stripping them of certain functions.

There are several ways to make a monitor cheaper: installing a TN matrix, using a simpler case, reducing the number of inputs. The AL2416Ws represents the two latter techniques. It has a very simple stand and comes with only one, analog, input, which seems a questionable solution for a 24” monitor with a native resolution of 1920x1200 pixels.

The AL2416Ws doesn’t differ from other products in the same category: a PVA matrix, good viewing angles, and Response Time Compensation.

It is hardly attractive externally. The monitor’s got a plain light-silver case with a rather large (even in contrast with the 24” screen) rough bezel and a square black stand.

The stand allows to adjust the tilt of the screen only. If you need anything else, you have to replace the native stand with a VESA-compatible mount (using the appropriate fasteners) or buy another monitor.

The monitor’s back panel looks empty. The few connectors you find here are simply lost on such a large background. There is a mains connector for the integrated power adapter and a D-Sub input for analog video connection. Digital connection is only available on the more expensive AL2416Wd.

The control buttons are grouped on a small ledge at the bottom of the case. The Power button is placed separately and is sized and shaped differently from the other controls. It is highlighted with a green LED at work.

The standard menu from Acer offers a standard selection of setup options you can find in any other inexpensive monitor: brightness, contrast, color temperature, automatic adjustment, and settings that regulate the display of the menu itself. These are the options you have in any low-end 19-incher. There are no options to adjust the image to non-native resolutions (including non-widescreen ones; the image will always be stretched out to 16:10).

The monitor has 100% brightness and 50% contrast by default. To achieve a 100nit brightness of white I reduced both to 25%. The brightness is regulated by means of pulse-width modulation of the power of the backlight lamps at a frequency of about 210Hz.

Color gradients are reproduced correctly. There appears slight banding in them at certain values of contrast, but that’s a trifle really.

I connected the AL2416Ws to a Sapphire Radeon X600 graphics card using the cable included with the monitor. The card worked well at 1920x1200 and the picture seemed quite sharp to me after the automatic adjustment. Below is a photo of a fragment of the image on the screen of the AL2416Ws at its native resolution.

The image didn’t call for a manual adjustment, but I had to run the automatic adjustment procedure (with a press of the appropriate button) almost each time I turned the PC on. On entering Windows – when the screen resolution was changed to 1920x1200 – the monitor would run it automatically, but its result would often call for improvement on the low-contrast Windows wallpaper. So I had to open some high-contrast black-and-white image (a page of text or an Explorer window with a large number of files) and run the auto-adjustment once again so it could “catch” the signal properly.

The gamma curves look neat at the default settings, lying in a dense group near the ideal curve for gamma 2.2. Both darks and lights are reproduced without problems.

The gamma curves rise up at the reduced brightness and contrast, making the image somewhat faded, but do not suffer any dramatic change otherwise.

The color temperature modes are set up perfectly. It’s only on the darkest halftones that the temperature deflects by more than 200K from the average value. My only gripe is that there are only two factory-set modes, Cool and Warm, while most other monitors usually offer at least three (Warm, Normal and Cold). If you prefer a color temperature below 6800K, you’ll have to set this monitor up manually.

The response time average is 9.7 milliseconds GtG with a maximum of 35.3 milliseconds. Not exceptional, yet this is a good enough result for a PVA matrix. The monitor is going to suit fine for both work and games/movies.

The level of RTC errors is low at 3.9% on average and 35.5% at the maximum. The error is really big on quite a small number of transitions, so the RTC artifacts won’t be conspicuous. You’ll have to look for them specifically in order to see them.

The monitor’s contrast ratio is low, unfortunately. It is even below 300:1, which is a disappointing result for a PVA matrix. There can be two theoretical reasons for that: monitor’s overall setup and its analog input.

My overall impression about the AL2416Ws proved to be better than I had expected before testing it. Yes, considering the rapid decline of prices on 24” models with digital input and much broader functionality, this monitor doesn’t look very appealing. I think the price difference between the AL2416Ws and more serious products is very small and tested it out of academic interest. I wanted to see what would come out if the functionality of a 24” monitor is cut down to the level of a low-end 19-incher.

And, the result isn’t too bad, by the way. In fact, all the problems boil down to the inconvenience of using an analog input instead of a digital one. The image quality should be all right if you’ve got a modern graphics card, but the necessity of having to run the auto-adjustment becomes irritating sooner or later. Otherwise, the monitor’s parameters such as color reproduction, response time and others are quite good, matching those of more serious models.

The advantage of the digital interface over the analog one is actually true for monitors with smaller sizes of the screen. The good point of DVI is not even in providing a higher-quality picture (modern graphics cards cope not only with 1600x1200 but even with 1920x1200 as I’ve made sure when testing this monitor), but in being more practical. You get an absolutely sharp picture right away, on the first connection, without additional setting up, and on almost every graphics card.

Apple Cinema HD

Products from Apple are always special, covered with a veil of legends and myths. Thanks to superb marketing and original design solutions they leave no one indifferent. Like products from no other brand, Apple’s ones have a large army of fans that are ready to buy any device from Apple and a larger army of adversaries who can’t even think of buying an Apple. Moreover, Apple provokes an interest among people who do not even belong with either of these camps!

From a technical standpoint, the Apple Cinema HD is a 23” monitor with an S-IPS matrix from LP Displays (also known as LG.Philips LCD). This makes it different from the other monitors in this review that are based on *VA matrixes. To remind you, S-IPS matrixes are superior to every other existing technology in terms of viewing angles and are held in great esteem by people who need the best reproduction of colors possible (its quality is determined by the viewing angles among other things – the colors must not get distorted when you deflect your head from the center of the screen). They also have a reasonable response time even without RTC. The drawbacks of S-IPS matrixes are their rather low contrast ratio and characteristic violet hue that appears in black when viewed at an angle.

The monitor looks splendid, standing out of the mass. It’s got an aluminum case with rounded-off top and bottom edges and white plastic sides. It is perfectly smooth, without buttons or labels, save for the Apple logo. Many manufacturers try to make the front panels of their monitors clean and free from labels, buttons, etc, often at the expense of the device’s ergonomics, but Apple surpassed everyone. Simplicity of form is the main design concept implemented in the Cinema HD.

The stand is designed in the same style: it is a curved metallic plate without a single sharp angle. It complements the monitor’s case but, unfortunately, is very simple functionally, allowing to change the tilt of the screen only.

The stand is fastened to the case by means of an original cylindrical hinge. This stand is detachable, by the way. Apple sells (separately from the monitor, for $30) a mounting plate for fastening the monitor to a standard VESA mount. You can buy it and replace the native stand with a VESA mount to hang the Cinema HD on the wall, for example.

The monitor’s connectors are designed in an original manner, too. The monitor has a cable that is dead fixed in the case and splits into four connectors at the end: DVI (Apple’s monitors used to have an exclusive Apple Display Connector but transitioned to the standard DVI since 2004; now you don’t need an adapter to connect the Cinema HD to a regular PC), USB, FireWire, and a power connector.

Having one cable for all signals is a questionable solution. On one hand, this reduces the clutter of cables on your desk, but on the other hand, you’ll have to take the whole monitor to the repair shop if one connector fails. And if you need to use longer cables or non-standard connectors you’ll have to elongate the existing cable with adapters and extension cords rather than just replace it with a suitable one.

The monitor’s external power adapter is shaped rather oddly. It’s got connectors on the wide side rather than on the narrow ones, as is more common. The connector for the 220V cord is standard while the connector for the monitor’s cord is of an unusual, rectangular, shape. What’s interesting, its pins are symmetrical so you can orient the connector just as you wish when plugging it in.

The monitor has four connectors, though. It’s got two integrated hubs, USB and FireWire, each of which offers two ports. All the ports are placed at the back – not quite handy for various small things like USB flash drives, but appropriate for a mouse, keyboard or a digital camera’s cord.

The monitor doesn’t have an onscreen menu. It is controlled with only three buttons: one to turn it on and two to adjust its brightness. I’ve seen such controls in 30” models from Dell and Samsung, but the lack of a menu in them must have been due to hardware limitations. Here, it is purely a design element.

The only indicator on the Cinema HD is a white LED that shines though a tiny hole in the front panel. It lights up when the monitor is turned on and off, but doesn’t shine at work. I like this solution because large bright blue LEDs of other monitors have become irritating already.

I connected the monitor to an ordinary PC in my tests and had no compatibility issues. Having a standard DVI connector, the Cinema HD was successfully recognized by the graphics card and turned on at its native resolution of 1920x1200 pixels.

A subjective evaluation of the image quality revealed one problem – a noticeable after-image on the matrix. For example, if you output a bright white grid on a black background for 20-30 minutes, the trace of that grid will “shine through” the image for a while afterwards. As opposed to plasma panels or old CRT monitors in which the phosphors would burn out irrecoverably, the after-image on LCD panels is a temporary thing. The picture becomes normal by itself (and you can facilitate the process by outputting a white and a black solid fill alternately).

To avoid the after-image effect, you should use a screensaver with some moving picture.

The gamma curves look very good, being very close to the theoretical curve for gamma 2.2. Yes, Apple’s monitors now comply with the sRGB standard and work with gamma 2.2 like monitors for the PC. To remind you, Apple’s platform used to have a gamma of 1.8, while the PC had a gamma of 2.5 (this is the “native” gamma of the cathode-ray tube). One of the aims of the sRGB standard was to standardize the value of gamma, and 2.2 was accepted as the medium value between the PC and Apple.

The color temperature proved to be rather uniform on grays but low on white. As a result, white looks warmer than gray on the Cinema HD.

I measured the response time only on transitions from black to different levels of gray due to technical reasons, but the diagram shows definitely that the monitor uses an ordinary S-IPS matrix without Response Time Compensation. It is fast enough for work, movies and even games as it is somewhat faster on average than RTC-less TN matrixes (those that have a specified response of 5 milliseconds or higher). On the other hand, it is definitely slower than modern matrixes (of any type) with RTC.

Although the monitor allows to regulate the brightness setting only, the adjustment range for the level of white is impressive: from 63 nits to over 330 nits. It means you won’t have to change your graphics card’s settings to achieve a comfortable brightness on the Cinema HD. At the minimum value the brightness is just what you need for working at home in the evening. At the maximum value, the brightness suits for playing games and watching movies under bright daylight. The contrast ratio is not high, but it has never been a strong point of S-IPS technology.

Of course, the Apple Cinema HD deserves your attention as a high-quality and neat monitor with a nice exterior design. It is mainly meant for the home user who doesn’t need as many setup options as competing products offer, who doesn’t need the portrait mode or height adjustment, but who can appreciate its aesthetic appearance, simplicity of use, and good technical parameters “out of the box”.

On the other hand, many people regard Apple monitors as products for professionals who need the most accurate reproduction of colors. As you have seen above, this is not exactly true. The Cinema HD is set up well, but not perfectly. Compared with the NEC MultiSync 2190UXi, for example, the Cinema HD is inferior in every aspect as it has somewhat worse gamma curves, a less accurate color temperature setup, and a noticeable after-image effect. And it doesn’t have image setup options except for brightness. While NEC’s UXi series has earned a reputation of near ideally set-up monitors, ready for work even without calibration (not to mention that the SpectraView version of the monitors allows for a full-featured hardware calibration of the monitor’s LUT), you’ll need a calibrator if you want to do some serious work on the Cinema HD.

Talking about the home user again, the drawbacks of the Cinema HD are its rather low (but quite sufficient for many applications) matrix speed, after-image effect, and the lack of height adjustment. The latter can be corrected, though, if you buy a VESA compatible mount and a special plate to fasten it to the monitor. If you are not taken aback by anything in this list, the Apple Cinema HD is going to be a good choice as a home monitor although I can’t say it surpasses its opponents greatly in anything, except for the exterior design.

I want to note once again that modern monitors from Apple easily work with the PC platform if the latter has a DVI connector. You don’t need adapters, special software or drivers for that.

Dell 2407WFP

We have reviewed different monitors from Dell, from 19” to 30” models, but the middle of the range, the 24” 2407WFP, has been escaping our spotlight till today. I tested revision A04 of the monitor.

It is based on a PVA matrix with Response Time Compensation. The manufacturer declares the response time according to both ISO 13406-2 (for the black-white-black transition) and GtG (the average of all the transitions) methods.

The monitor looks nice and neat, representing Dell’s standard exterior design. It’s got a narrow black bezel, a light-silver stand, and a silvery back panel.

The stand allows adjusting the height of the screen (from 45 to 145mm – the monitor nearly lies on the desk in the bottommost position), turning it into the portrait mode as well as around the vertical axis. When you do the latter thing, the pole of the stand is rotating while the base remains motionless.

The stand clicks locked automatically in the bottommost position so that the monitor could be easily carried over. To unlock the stand, you should push the monitor down from above and press the square button at the back of the stand. Keeping the button pressed, pull the monitor up. The stand cannot be locked in any position save for the bottommost one.

The stand can be removed (it is fastened without screws and is easily detached when you press the round button under its fastening) and replaced with a VESA-compatible mount if necessary.

The monitor offers a rich selection of inputs. Besides the analog D-Sub and digital DVI, there are component, composite and S-Video video inputs, and a built-in 4-port USB hub. If necessary, you can attach speakers, purchased separately, to the monitor using the two lugs and the Speaker Power connector.

Two USB ports are placed at the back for permanent peripherals such as mouse, keyboard, etc. Two more can be found on the side panel for USB flash drives and other such devices. Also on this panel there is a card-reader supporting half a dozen memory card formats. It only works when the monitor is connected to the PC with a USB cord. The 2407WFP cannot read files from memory cards on its own.

The control buttons are located in the bottom left of the case. They are easy to see and use. Quick access is provided to switching the inputs and to enabling PiP and PbP modes (Picture-in-Picture and Picture-beside-Picture). The “+” and “-“ buttons do not do anything outside the onscreen menu, although they might have been assigned the function of changing the brightness setting.

The switching between the inputs is implemented in a very handy way: when you press the appropriate button, the name of the input is displayed first and this input is selected only if there is no second press. There are five digits next to the buttons. The digit corresponding to the currently selected input is highlighted with a green LED.

The indicator integrated into the monitor’s Power button is green at work and yellow in sleep mode. Its brightness isn’t very intensive, so it won’t distract you from your work.

This is a standard menu of Dell’s monitors. It is pretty, but not quite user-friendly. You have to do a lot of pressing on the buttons in it. The lack of an Exit button that would immediately get you out of the current menu item is particularly annoying. It would have allowed to do without the Back and Exit items you see in every menu section.

The selection of setup options is very rich, but a contrast setting is missing which is typical of Dell monitors. Among Dell models I have reviewed so far the 22” E228WFP was the only one to allow adjusting contrast for a digital connection. Three modes are offered for images in non-native resolution: “1:1” to reproduce the picture on a per-pixel basis, “Aspect” to scale the image up keeping the aspect ratio intact, and “Full” to stretch the image to full screen. For example, if you output a 1280x1024 image to the monitor, it will be reproduced in the center of the screen without any scaling in “1:1” mode. In the Full mode it will be stretched out to fill the entire screen (with distorted proportions) and in the Aspect mode it will be stretched to the height of the screen and will have black margins on the sides.

There are three modes with factory settings as you can see in the photo of the menu above. But you can only enable them from deep in the menu and they distort the reproduction of colors greatly. I don’t think these modes are going to be of any use to you.

The monitor’s brightness is regulated with the lamps and the matrix, and details are lost in darks at a brightness of 35% and lower. The lamps are modulated at a frequency of 150Hz.

The 2407WFP has a standard color gamut, slightly larger than sRGB in greens. An extended color gamut is delivered by the newer 2407WFP-HC model that features backlight lamps with improved phosphors, but I haven’t yet had a chance to test it.

The gamma curves look good at a brightness of 35% to the maximum. They are just a little higher than the ideal curve and betray no problems with color reproduction.

When the brightness is set lower than 35%, the drawback I mentioned above becomes conspicuous: the curves lie on the X-axis in the left part of the diagram. In other words, all dark halftones merge into black. Keep this in mind as you are changing the brightness setting on the 2407WFP.

The color temperature modes are set up acceptably well. There is a small difference between the temperatures of grays. The only thing you should be aware of is that the Red mode yields 6500K which is considered a normal, not warm, temperature whereas the Normal mode yields a colder color. If you prefer really warm colors (i.e. below 6500K), you’ll have to set color temperature up manually.

The response time average is 9.9 milliseconds GtG with a maximum of 41.1 milliseconds. That’s a good, but not exceptional, result for a *VA matrix.

The RTC error average is 5.4%. That’s a good result for a *VA matrix, meaning that these errors are not going to be visible in most cases. You can find them, though, if you look for them on purpose.

The monitor is bright. Its minimum brightness is over 135 nits which is too much even for working under dim evening lighting. Considering that it’s undesirable to select a brightness setting lower than 35% on the 2407WFP, you have to use the contrast setting, too. And since the latter setting is locked in this monitor when you connect it via the digital interface, you have to use your graphics card settings. This is not very handy, of course.

So, the Dell 2407WFP is a well-made product with such advantages as a stand with a full set of screen adjustment options, a large selection of video inputs, an integrated card-reader and USB hub, and the option of displaying a picture in a non-native resolution without interpolation. The monitor boasts a sufficiently high matrix speed and a good quality of color reproduction. Alas, the latter worsens when you reduce the brightness setting to 35% and lower.

On the downside are the unhandy onscreen menu and the lack of contrast regulation while the brightness adjustment range is too small. This makes you change the contrast setting of your graphics card driver to achieve the desired brightness of the screen.

LG Flatron L245WP

This monitor is a 24” model from LG Electronics. Although LG is inclined towards inexpensive products (for example, its product range doesn’t include monitors with a screen size of over 24” and there are almost no models with matrixes other than TN), the Flatron L245WP seems a worthy opponent to the Dell 2407WFP rather than to the above-described low-end Acer AL2416Ws.

The monitor is based on an MVA matrix with Response Time Compensation (although it was reported to have an S-IPS matrix by some sources).

It has a matte black case without any decorations. The stand is black but glossy. Glossy surfaces look pretty on photographs and in shop windows, but get soiled easily in reality. You can’t protect it from dust and fingerprints.

The stand has a massive, cylindrical pole. It allows changing the tilt and height of the screen (from 105 to 205mm) and also offers portrait mode. The stand is fixed with a wire pin in the bottommost position to make it easier to carry the monitor over from one place to another.

The monitor’s got one HDMI input instead of a traditional DVI. The two use the same data transfer protocol, so you won’t need a HDMI graphics card. The simple adapter included with the monitor is all you need. There is also a D-Sub input, a component video input (composite and S-Video inputs are not implemented), a power connector for audio speakers you can purchase separately, and a 2-port USB hub.

Both ports of the mentioned USB hub are located on the monitor’s side panel, very appropriately for USB flash drives and other temporarily attached peripherals. There is a headphones output nearby, but the monitor doesn’t have a line audio input – it can only receive audio via a HDMI connection. The included HDMI-DVI adapter cannot transfer audio, so you won’t be able to use the headphones socket when the monitor is connected to the PC.

The monitor’s Power button is located in the bottom right corner. It is designed in a rather unusual way as an angle shining in blue.

The other buttons are located on the left of the bottom edge of the case, which is not quite good. You are habitually reaching for the buttons with your right hand at first while the lack of any labels on the front panel make you confuse the seven same-size round buttons rather too often.

Quick access is provided to switching the inputs, to the auto-adjustment for analog connection, to enabling the Picture-in-Picture mode, and to the brightness and contrast settings.

The monitor’s menu behaves oddly. The brightness and contrast settings get blocked on your selecting a color temperature mode other than User. But if you then press the button for quick access to those settings, they get unblocked while the color temperature you’ve set on the previous step is automatically transferred into the User mode. So, you can select a color temperature of 9300K and a custom contrast, but only in two steps. First you select the temperature (the contrast setting is blocked at that) and then you select the contrast (using the quick access buttons).

And if you select the sRGB mode, the brightness setting is unblocked and set at 41% by default.

Well, you can give up the onscreen menu altogether and use the Windows-based forteManager program instead. It allows changing every monitor parameter and has no problems with adjusting brightness, contrast and color temperature simultaneously. The program’s interface isn’t very user-friendly (the adjustment sliders occupy a smaller portion of the screen than the help text, for example) and takes about 50 seconds to start up on our test PC.

The monitor offers Picture-in-Picture and Picture-beside-Picture modes for the video inputs, but provides scanty options for adjusting those modes to your taste. The only adjustment available for the PiP mode is choosing the position of the secondary window on the screen. You cannot change its size (you can see the default size in the photo above – the black square in the top right corner is the PiP window). Moreover, the appropriate button switches between one image, PiP and PbP. So, if you want to simply turn PiP off you’ll have to press the button two times as the first press will switch the monitor into PbP mode.

The monitor has 64% brightness and 100% contrast by default. To achieve a 100nit white I reduced the brightness and contrast settings to 32% and 34%, respectively. Color gradients are reproduced well at the default settings, but become striped if you reduce brightness or contrast.

Moreover, the L245WP has serious problems with the reproduction of both darks and lights. Its brightness is regulated with the matrix and very sloppily so. When it is set below 60%, dark halftones merge into one. When it is above 65%, lights do the same. Thus, the brightness adjustment range that does not affect color reproduction is only from 60% to 65% on the L245WP. At the above-mentioned settings of 32% brightness and 34% contrast the monitor doesn’t reproduce about one third of the dynamic range – darks are displayed as pure black.

I want to show this problem to you in a more understandable way by measuring the levels of black and white depending on the brightness setting selected on the monitor. The table shows the results in some imaginary units (I didn’t convert them into candelas per square meter):

The ranges in which the level of black or white is constant are marked in red. In other words, the brightness setting does not affect the monitor’s brightness in those ranges, but only worsens the reproduction of colors. You can see that only the 60-65% range is not red.

You can improve the situation somewhat by not setting brightness below 60%. But then, even if the contrast setting is set at 0%, the level of white is 117 nits, which is too much for working under mild home lighting.

The gamma curves look acceptable at the default settings. The blue curve is close to the ideal one, but the red and green curves are higher than necessary.

The monitor has a standard color gamut, slightly smaller than sRGB in reds and larger than it in greens.

The color temperature modes are set up accurately. The only downside is that there are few preset modes. There are in fact only two of them since the sRGB mode is the same as 6500K in terms of real color temperature.

The response time diagram shows a typical picture for a MVA matrix with RTC. There are long transitions from black to dark grays and quick transitions between all other colors. The response average is 7.5 milliseconds, which is a good result for *VA matrixes, most of which have a response of 9-10 milliseconds and few are quicker than 7 milliseconds. By the way, the number I achieved in my tests is even lower than specified by the manufacturer – the difference of half a millisecond must be due to slight differences in the measurement methods.

The RTC error average is 7.2% with noticeable (up to 20%) errors on transitions from black to gray. They are going to be visible not only in games but also in Windows applications. So, although 7.2% is not a critical number, the L245WP is going to look worse than monitors with a higher average of errors, but with no errors on black-gray transitions.

Contrary to our traditional method, I performed the measurements not only at the standard combinations of settings (maximum, factory, 100nit brightness), but also at 60% brightness plus 0% contrast, which is the minimum the L245WP has no problems with color reproduction at. Alas, at the latter settings it cannot boast a low brightness (it is higher than necessary for office applications, especially under mild ambient lighting) or a good contrast ratio. The contrast ratio is only acceptable at the monitor’s factory settings, by the way.

So, the LG Flatron L245WP can’t be viewed as a good product. Having a neat exterior design and good functionality, it also has serious problems with color reproduction which are due to the sloppy regulation of brightness with the matrix. In fact, you can only change the brightness setting within 60-65% without worsening the image noticeably. It’s like not changing it at all.

As a result, the monitor calls for an additional adjustment of brightness in the graphics card driver and also has a low contrast ratio. When the brightness is regulated with the matrix, the minimum level of black is rather high. In other words, black looks really black on the L245WP only under bright daylight. In other situations it is gray rather than black.

Considering that there are alternatives with similar capabilities but without such defects, the Flatron L245WP is not a good choice among 24” monitors.

Samsung SyncMaster 244T

Samsung is producing a very extensive line of LCD monitors, but it had only included one 24” model until recently.

The SyncMaster 244T is based on a PVA matrix with Response Time Compensation. It has a peculiar specified response time – 6 milliseconds GtG instead of 8 milliseconds as is typical of *VA matrixes.

The monitor is hardly elegant because of the large stand. The silver color of the case doesn’t make it smaller visually, either. It looks very solid on the desk, but some people may find it bulky.

The stand is indeed large as you can see from the front as well as from a side, but it allows adjusting not only the tilt of the screen but also its height (from 100 to 200mm), and to turn the screen into the portrait mode and around the vertical axis (the sole of the stand remains motionless at that). The height can only be adjusted when the screen has a landscape orientation. This adjustment is blocked when the screen is oriented portrait-wise.

The stand can be replaced with a standard VESA mount.

The monitor offers a full selection of inputs: digital DVI-D, analog D-Sub, component, composite and S-Video. The power adapter is integrated into the case.

A 2-port USB hub is located on the left panel – the input connector and the two output ports all together. This is not quite handy as the cord the hub is connected to the PC with is going to be a nuisance. It would be much better if the hub’s input connector were placed at the back together with the other connectors like in the above-described Dell 2407WFP and LG L245WP.

The control buttons are placed on the right of the front panel and accompanied with easily readable icons. Quick access is provided to switching the MagicBright modes, to the brightness setting, to choosing the input, to the auto-adjustment feature, and to enabling Picture-in-Picture mode.

The onscreen menu isn’t quite good. Designed in a TV-set style, it is very large and has an illogical structure from a PC user’s point of view – it opens up on the input selection option. This would make sense if the 244T were controlled remotely, but it is not the case. Sitting at the monitor, it is much easier to choose the input with the Source button. By the way, this is also easy because the monitor doesn’t browse through all the inputs it has – it can identify which of them have video sources attached and ignores the unused ones as you are pressing the Source button.

The monitor can show a picture from one of the computer interfaces (DVI or D-Sub) and one of the video inputs (in the secondary window in PiP mode; you can choose the size and position of that window in the menu).

The monitor offers generous color reproduction settings. Besides color temperature, you can change the value of gamma and adjust color reproduction by six coordinates (i.e. you can change the saturation and hue not only for red, green and blue, but also for cyan, yellow and magenta). An image-enhancing technology called MagicColor is available, but it distorts colors, making them too bright and lush.

By default, the monitor has 65% contrast and 90% brightness. To achieve a 100nit white I selected 35% brightness and 40% contrast. The image loses its lights at a contrast higher than 67%. The 244T regulates its brightness by means of pulse-width modulation of the backlight lamps at a frequency of 180Hz.

Color gradients are reproduced perfectly, without bending, at any settings.

The average brigthness uniformity is 3.8% on black; the maximum is 14.5%. The image gets brighter towards the left of the screen, especially to the corners, and darker to the right of the screen.

The brightness is more irregular on white: 5.5% on average and 18.5% at the maximum. The overall picture is the same: the image is getting darker towards the right side of the screen.

The SyncMaster 244T has got a standard enough color gamut. It is somewhat larger than sRGB in greens but coincides with it in blues and reds.

The gamma curves look perfect. They lie in a dense group, not differing from the theoretical curve almost. The monitor has no problems reproducing darks or lights.

The color temperature setup is less ideal, yet good anyway. The difference between the temperatures of grays is within 200K in half of the modes and is never larger than 1000K in any of them. It’s also good to have as many as seven modes to choose from. Any user is going to find a suitable mode without having to adjust color temperature manually.

The monitor has a response time average of 6.5 milliseconds GtG with a maximum of 11.1 milliseconds. These are excellent numbers for a *VA matrix, so the manufacturer didn’t lie to us. The 244T is a very fast monitor indeed.

Alas, the speed is accompanied with errors. The RTC error average is 11.0%. This is not a critical value yet, but RTC artifacts are going to be visible occasionally at work and in games.

The monitor has a good contrast ratio, over 400:1, but that’s what you can expect from a PVA matrix. PVA-based monitors generally boast a high real contrast ratio. The maximum brightness is almost as high as 400nits. This should be enough for any situation, including watching movies or playing games under bright daylight.

Besides our traditional test of brightness and contrast ratio at different monitor settings, I also explored the MagicBright feature. It allows to switch quickly between several presets of brightness, contrast and color temperature defined by the manufacturer. For example, you want to have a rest from your work and play the good old Wolfenstein 3D but the monitor’s brightness, normal for working with black-and-white text, proves too low for the game. The MagicBright feature is meant just for such situations. Instead of entering the monitor’s menu and changing the brightness setting (and changing it back again after the game), you can press an appropriate button and switch into the Entertain mode in which the monitor changes the values of brightness and contrast both at once. Having had your rest, you press the button again to return to the Custom mode that stores your own monitor settings safely.

The SyncMaster 244T offers four MagicBright modes in which the monitor changes the values of brightness and contrast. The table above shows those values according to the monitor’s menu. The menu shows them, but doesn’t allow to change them. You can change the settings in the Custom mode only (the table shows the default settings of this mode).

The measurements of the real contrast ratio and brightness with a calibrator show the difference: in the Text mode the brightness corresponds to the commonly accepted level for working with text in a brightly lit office room (about 100 nits). It is higher in the Internet mode and near the monitor’s maximum in the Entertain mode, which is meant for games and movies.

Not arguing the obvious convenience of the MagicBright feature, I can note three drawbacks about it. First, as I said above, the settings of each mode cannot be changed by the user. Second, there are too few modes, only three, and none of them fits within the brightness range of 150-200 nits that is going to be demanded by the home user. Third, the Text mode may prove too bright for home use. In that case you can set up the Custom mode for work with text and enable MagicBright for movies and games.

An indisputable advantage of MagicBright is that this feature concerns only brightness and contrast settings. It doesn’t affect the monitor’s color reproduction while similar features in other monitors often distort colors.

Thus, the Samsung SyncMaster 244T is a good 24” monitor with a PVA matrix that should be considered by anyone who’s choosing a monitor with this diagonal size. The drawbacks of this model are insignificant. It’s got a rather high level of RTC errors, an inconvenient USB hub, and an exterior design that may be thought bulky by some. On the other hand, it offers a fast matrix with a high contrast ratio, good ergonomics and functionality (including the above-described MagicBright feature), and an accurate setup of color reproduction.

Samsung SyncMaster 245B

Talking about the possible ways to reduce the cost of an LCD monitor I mentioned TN matrixes. Such matrixes boast a low manufacturing cost. They are the cheapest LCD matrix type to manufacture, to be exact. That’s why, even though they have a number of drawbacks, particularly narrow viewing angles, they enjoy high popularity among manufacturers as well as customers. For example, almost all 19” monitors, a large share of 20” models and all 22” monitors come with TN matrixes today. There have been no 24” TN matrixes until recently, though…

So, let me introduce to you the first 24” monitor with a TN matrix. You can see the TN technology at once by the declared viewing angles of 160 degrees as this number is too small even though measured by the reduction of the contrast ratio to 5:1 whereas for other matrix types it is measured by the contrast ratio reduction to 10:1.

The specified response time is 5 milliseconds (measured according to the ISO 13406-2 standard, i.e. on the transition between black and white). From what I’ve learned testing 19”, 20” and 22” monitors with TN matrixes, this means that the 245B doesn’t have Response Time Compensation.

The monitor has a stern black case. Its design has been changed significantly since the 244T and resembles other well-known monitors from Samsung such as SyncMaster 215TW or 225BW.

The stand has got neater. It doesn’t look bulky anymore. As for its functionality, it allows to adjust the tilt and height of the screen and to rotate it around the vertical axis (the whole stand is rotating at that, including the base). The portrait mode is not available, but it is not quite proper for TN matrixes. When the screen is turned around, the poor vertical viewing angles of the TN matrix become poor horizontal viewing angles, which is downright unacceptable.

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

The monitor is equipped with two inputs: an analog D-Sub and a digital DVI-D. There is a power connector for speakers – our sample of the monitor came without speakers, though. The power adapter is integrated into the case.

The control buttons are placed in the bottom left of the front panel and accompanied with clear and readable white icons. Quick access is provided to the MagicBright modes, to the brightness setting, to switching the inputs and to the auto-adjustment feature.

The Power button is designed prettily. It is larger than the others and has a thin shiny chrome rim that is in contrast with the matte plastic of the case. The middle of the button is highlighted with blue LED. It is mild enough not to distract you from your work, but it begins to blink in sleep mode, irritating some users. You can’t disable the LED in the 245B as this option is only available on a few newest models of Samsung monitors although it has become a standard feature of other brands like NEC or LG.

As opposed to the 244T, the 245B has got a standard menu of Samsung monitors. It is simple, logical and user-friendly. The difference in the menu design must be due not to the screen size but to the video inputs. Samsung monitors with video inputs (215TW, 244T, and the 245T I’ll talk about below) has another firmware with a different onscreen menu.

The setup options are just what you can expect from a mainstream monitor. You don’t have the option of setting color reproduction up by six coordinates or choosing from multiple color temperatures modes here.

The monitor has 75% contrast and 100% brightness by default. To achieve a 100nit white I selected 50% brightness and 54% contrast. The brightness is regulated by means of backlight modulation at a frequency of 180Hz.

Color gradients are reproduced perfectly. You don’t lose dark halftones if you reduce the brightness or contrast below their defaults, but increasing the latter above the default value (75%) leads to a loss of light halftones, which begin to be displayed as pure white.

Alas, the viewing angles get to be the main, and negative, first impression from the 245B. The horizontal angle is more or less comparable to that of the other matrix types, but the vertical one is just too bad – the top of the screen gets dark as soon as you lower your head just a little. For other matrix types the position of the eyes at the same level with the top edge of the screen is dictated by health considerations (the eyes should be half-covered with the lids to prevent them from drying up), but for the 245B this is in fact the only position from which the monitor’s screen looks more or less uniform. A few centimeters lower – and the top of the screen gets dark. A few centimeters higher – and the bottom of the screen becomes brighter.

The 245B has a standard color gamut, which is somewhat larger than sRGB in the area of greens and almost coincides with it in reds and blues.

The gamma curves don’t look good at the default settings. They differ from each other and are much lower than the theoretical curve. This means the image looks darker on the screen than it should be.

The curves become normal at the reduced contrast. They look almost ideal now.

The color temperature is set up well enough. The difference between the temperatures of different levels of gray is but slightly higher than 1000K. You can also note that the Warm mode is not in fact warm producing a color temperature of 6500K on average, and gray looks considerably colder than white in it. Most users are going to prefer the Normal mode which yields a somewhat cold color (your perception of it depends on the ambient lighting of your workplace, of course) but has small temperature dispersion.

The matrix in the SyncMaster 245B doesn’t have Response Time Compensation. As a result, the response time average is 14.4 milliseconds GtG. It’s clear why the manufacturer declares the response according to the ISO method (as opposed to the GtG method, it only measures the speed of a transition between black and white, which is in fact the shortest for TN matrixes) – they would have to write a full 15 milliseconds there otherwise.

So, the 245B is not a fast monitor. It is far slower not only on RTC-enabled TN matrixes (there are no such matrixes among 24” monitors, though) but also than RTC-enabled *VA matrixes discussed in this review. Hopefully, there’ll soon be an updated model (like SyncMaster 246B? or 245BF?) with RTC and a specified response time of 2 or 4 milliseconds.

The 245B has a good contrast ratio, nearly matching the PVA-based 244T in this respect. The two monitors also have similar values of maximum brightness.

So, the SyncMaster 245B is a good product overall. It is neat and practical, with a good setup and a much lower price than its competitors based on other matrix types. I can see only two drawbacks in it: it lacks Response Time Compensation (if you want a monitor for playing games, you may find the 245B too slow) and it has narrow vertical viewing angles.

Alas, the problem of narrow viewing angles of TN matrixes becomes even worse as the screen size grows up. The standard measurement method refers to the reduction of the contrast ratio in the center of the screen at different angles of view, but if your head is level with the center, you see the sides of the screen at an angle – and this angle is larger if the screen is larger (if you don’t move your head away from the screen, that is). As a result, using a large monitor with a TN matrix may prove inconvenient even in office applications, let alone watching movies or viewing photographs. Many users complain about the irregularity of the brightness of the screen even on 22” monitors: the top of the screen is darker than the bottom, which is actually the consequence of small viewing angles (this irregularity vanishes if you look at the screen a little from above).

So, before purchasing the SyncMaster 245B, take a look at it alive. Think about its possible applications and how it will stand on your desk. It’s quite possible that it would be better for you to add some money and buy a VA-based model with much wider viewing angles, for example a SyncMaster 245T.

Samsung SyncMaster 245T

While the SyncMaster 245B (see above) represents the beginning of a new branch in the evolution of 24” LCD monitors, being the first TN-based model with such a screen diagonal, the SyncMaster 245T is a logical development of the 244T model.

The main difference between the specs of the 245T and 244T is that not only static, but also the dynamic contrast ratio is specified for the former. The 244T did not offer such a mode at all. To remind you, the high value of the so-called dynamic contrast ratio is achieve through the automatic regulation of the backlight depending on the prevalence of darks or lights in the currently displayed image. The darker the image, the lower the backlight intensity is, and vice versa. The dynamic contrast ratio is thus the ratio of white at the maximum backlight intensity to the level of black at the minimum backlight intensity.

The dynamic contrast technology is meant for movies (this depends on your personal taste, though – some people don’t like it even in movies) but is absolutely useless for work or games. It is just constantly changing the brightness of the screen in professional applications and makes dark game scenes, in which it is hard to see the lurking enemy, even darker. So, monitors should be compared by the static contrast ratio for everything other than movies, and the 244T and 245T have the same static contrast, according to the manufacturer.

Well, I have met with the dynamic contrast technology in a number of monitors already, so it is nothing particularly new. It is another feature of the SyncMaster 245T – the MPA mode – that is new to me.

To be exact, I once wrote about MPA when I was discussing the problem of fuzziness on the screen of an LCD monitor due to the non-zero response time of the human eye (the persistence of vision effect) in the article called Contemporary LCD Monitor Parameters: Objective and Subjective Analysis. One solution to the problem was to turn off the backlight lamps one by one under the part of the matrix the picture is being updated in, so when the lamp is turned on again (with a new picture on this part of the matrix) the image of the previous picture on the eye retina has had enough time to fade out. You can follow the link above for details about the theory, I’ll discuss the practice here.

MPA technology in the SyncMaster 245T is in fact the technology of turning off the backlight lamps alternately in sync with the refresh of the picture on the screen. If you enable MPA and make a series of photos of a white background on the monitor’s screen, you’ll see a dark band in each photo – where one of the backlight lamps is turned off. I cut out a vertical strip from each photo and glued them together so you could see how the dark band is running along the screen.

Unfortunately, it is impossible to evaluate the effect of MPA technology objectively. The photo-sensor shows the ordinary response time of the matrix with “slumps” due to the periodically turned-off backlight lamps. And subjective impressions are just too subjective. You cannot run a blind-test of a monitor with and without MPA because it’s clear from certain factors that MPA is turned on. So, you can’t say if the monitor has got really faster or you just think it has got faster (that’s like the placebo effect in medicine).

Anyway, MPA is definitely a good thing because this technology is enabled independently of any other monitor setting (particularly, of the matrix’s response time compensation which is referred to as RTA by Samsung). So if you don’t need it, you can just not use it. But if you feel the monitor works faster with MPA, then this technology works for you!

MPA technology can be useful in games or when watching movies, but you may want to turn it off for work because the flickering of the screen (at a frequency of 60Hz) it provokes becomes conspicuous.

Talking about technicalities, the lamps are always being turned on alternately in the SyncMaster 245T, but they do so with a frequency of 180Hz in normal mode, and the eye can’t see the flicker just as it cannot see the flicker of a CRT screen even at a scan rate of 100Hz. When MPA is enabled, the frequency is reduced threefold, to 60Hz, and each lamp is turned off once during each frame.

The monitor is alike to the 245B model externally. It’s got a stern black case that is going to look just as appropriately at home as in the office. The monitor’s stand allows adjusting the tilt of the screen and its height (from 100 to 200mm) and to rotate it around the vertical axis and into portrait mode. The stand can be replaced with a VESA mount if necessary.

The monitor has as many as two digital inputs, HDMI and DVI-D. The former can be connected to a graphics card with a DVI-I output (via an adapter) while the latter supports HDCP protection and thus suits for reproducing protected HDTV video. You can also see here an analog video input, composite and S-Video inputs, a power connector for optional speakers and an audio connector for them (it receives the signal from the HDMI), and an input of the integrated USB hub.

The left panel offers the four ports of the mentioned USB hub and a component video input. As a result, the monitor offers as many as six different input interfaces.

It is controlled with a row of buttons in the bottom right of the front panel. Besides the standard set of buttons you can find on Samsung’s monitors of this class, this one also offers a button to enable the MPA mode I described above. Besides MPA, the monitor provides quick access to the MagicBright modes, to the brightness setting, to choosing the video input, to the auto-adjustment feature, and to enabling Picture-in-Picture mode.

The menu structure hasn’t changed since the 244T, but its interface has got prettier. The menu is still not quite user-friendly, mainly because it doesn’t remember the last changed item. It always opens up on the input selection tab.

Added to the color temperature and gamma options and to the fine color reproduction setup by six coordinates, there is a Color Innovation menu item offering three values: Custom, Mild, and Brilliant. I’ll talk about it shortly.

A new and long-anticipated option is the opportunity of regulating the brightness of the Power LED, up to disabling it altogether. This is indeed a valuable option because the LED is blinking on Samsung monitors in sleep mode, and many users don’t like it.

The monitor has 100% brightness and 81% contrast by default. To achieve a 100nit white I selected 30% brightness and 39% contrast.

I want to note here that a considerable (below 60%) reduction of contrast leads to an abnormally intensive red, but you can correct the problem by lowering the level of red by 5-8 steps in the menu of color reproduction setup by six coordinates (the 6-Color option shown in the photographs above). This problem doesn’t occur in the MagicBright modes because the contrast is 66% in the darkest of them and higher in the others.

Note: The problem with over-saturated red was successfully solved in the second sample of SyncMaster 245T we received later – it didn’t require a manual adjustment of color reproductions settings .

By the way, any reduction of contrast reduces the matrix’s dynamic range whereas a reduction of brightness (if it is done with the lamps) does not. That’s why it is always preferable to achieve the best-looking image using the brightness setting, especially as it has a wide adjustment range in the 245T.

Darks and lights are reproduced properly, never merging into black or white at any values of brightness and contrast, from 0 to 100%. Color gradients are reproduced perfectly, too.

The average brigthness uniformity is 2.6% on black; the maximum is 11.1%. That’s a good result. There are no bright spots on the screen. The 245T is better in this respect than its precursor 244T.

Alas, the irregularity is higher on white: 3.8% on average and 17.2% at the maximum. The distribution of the irregularity is similar to the 244T: the right part of the screen is darker than the left.

The monitor uses fluorescent lamps with improved phosphors, and its color gamut is far larger than sRGB in greens and somewhat larger in reds.

The gamma curves are higher than the theoretical one at the default settings, producing a low-contrast, faded image. It means that the gamma value is set too low.

If you select “+0.6” in the monitor’s gamma settings, the curves improve, but not completely so. They are still above the theoretical curve in the left part of the diagram.

The curves are even higher at the reduced contrast than at the default settings.

Again, you can improve the curves somewhat by choosing “+0.6” in the monitor’s gamma settings. So, the gamma compensation setup is rather sloppy in the 245T, but you can easily make it acceptable using the monitor’s own settings, without additional calibration.

The user manual is rather vague about the purpose of the Color Innovation feature, saying that it improves color reproduction and simplifies the configuring of monitors with an extended color gamut. I have indeed met this option on such monitors only. Perhaps it regulates the color gamut?

No. The Mild and Brilliant modes do not differ from each other and from the Custom mode when it comes to color gamut. So, it’s unclear to me how these modes are related to the extended color gamut.

The gamma curves rise up in the Brilliant mode: the picture becomes brighter, but the monitor “swallows” some light halftones, which merge into white.

Things are better in the Mild mode, but the rise of the curves and the distortion of lights (the top right of the diagram) can be observed even here.

The purpose of the Color Innovation hasn’t become any clearer, but it doesn’t regulate the monitor’s color gamut, that’s sure. This must be just another “image-enhancing” feature that has come to replace MagicColor technology that used to perform the same function – to transform natural colors into pretty-looking colors. If you need accurate colors, you should better leave this setting at the Custom position.

The monitor offers seven color temperature modes, plus a user-defined mode. Each mode is set up quite accurately. The dark-gray is the only color that deflects much from the name of the corresponding mode, but the human eye doesn’t discern the temperature of dark halftones well, anyway. I guess most users will prefer the Warm1 and Normal modes out of the available ones.

The response time average is 6.2 milliseconds with a maximum of about 16 milliseconds. That’s an excellent result for a VA matrix.

Alas, the level of RTC errors is rather high, 13.2% on average. The errors are not very conspicuous at work, but may become irritating in games.

I wrote above that it’s preferable to achieve the necessary brightness of the screen on the 245T using the brightness rather than contrast setting. That’s why I tested the monitor two times at a white level of 100nits. In one case I achieved that number by reducing both brightness and contrast settings proportionally, and in the other case I achieved the same mostly with the brightness setting. As you can see, the latter variant provides a rather good contrast ratio. In the modes with a high brightness the contrast ratio is lower.

Like with the SyncMaster 244T I performed a check of the MagicBright feature that allows switching between several presets with a single button.

Only brightness and contrast settings changed in the 244T. Here, the MagicBright modes differ in the color temperature setting as well. The 245T also offers more MagicBright modes, five as compared with the 244T’s three, not including the Custom mode in which the ordinary brightness, contrast and color temperature settings are available for adjustment.

Measuring the real screen brightness I learned that its adjustment range grew considerably in the 245T as compared with the 244T. The Text mode now provides a less than 70nit white, which should be just what you need for processing text under mild home lighting. At the office, where the ambient lighting is generally more intensive, the Internet mode is going to be just fine. There has appeared a special mode for games with a brightness of about 150 nits – I talked about the lack of such a mode in the 244T model as of a drawback. The Sports and Movie modes do not differ much in the brightness of the screen, but differ in the color temperature. The former is cold and the latter is warm.

Of course, there is also the user-defined Custom mode whose settings are kept intact when you are switching between the MagicBright modes.

Thus, the Samsung SyncMaster 245T looks not only a worthy replacement to the 244T model, but just a worthy representative of the whole class of 24” LCD monitors. It has a neat exterior design, a good setup, a rich selection of video inputs, a fast matrix, and excellent ergonomics. The latter thing includes not only the adjustments offered by the stand, but also the ease of accessing various settings – the manufacturer didn’t save on the control buttons. The SyncMaster 245T differs from most opponents with its extended color gamut and MPA technology that is meant to minimize the blurring effect. Its practical worth is a matter of personal taste, though.

On the downside is the necessity of a small correction of color reproduction using the monitor’s own settings. Its RTC mechanism is accompanied with a rather high level of errors, and the contrast setting has a narrow adjustment range. The latter is not a serious drawback, though, as the preset MagicBright modes meet the needs of a majority of users. The 245T always scales the image up to full screen, but among its competitors I can name only Dell 2407WFP, with its 1:1 interpolation mode, that can disable such scaling.

Overall, the SyncMaster 245T is a very interesting option for people who are choosing a high-quality home monitor with a large screen diagonal.

ViewSonic VP2330wb

The last one in this review is a 23” monitor with the same native resolution as the 24” models have, i.e. 1920x1200 pixels.

The monitor is based on an MVA matrix with Response Time Compensation. Its specified response is measured according to both ISO and GtG methods. The latter value is lower as is typical of RTC-enabled matrixes.

Even with a big and long-legged stand the monitor doesn’t look large thanks to its dark color and a thin screen bezel. The stand itself looks better than if it were just square.

Alas, it doesn’t look so elegant from a side, but it offers a full set of adjustments: tilt, height, rotation around the vertical axis (the pole is rotating while the base of the stand remains motionless), and portrait mode.

The monitor offers the following connectors: analog D-Sub, universal DVI-I (as opposed to the purely digital DVI-D, you can connect an analog output of your graphics card to this one), and a USB hub whose four ports are located here at the back, making them convenient only for permanently attached devices like keyboard or mouse rather than for USB flash drives.

The monitor comes with an external power adapter which is impressively large. For comparison, there is an external power adapter from a Samsung monitor (bottom right) next to it in the photo above.

There are only four control buttons here, two of which are labeled in ViewSonic’s traditional style as “1” and “2”. You can’t say ViewSonic doesn’t keep up its traditions. Anyway, the small black labels pressed out in the small black buttons are practically indiscernible.

The Power indicator is green at work and yellow in sleep mode.

Quick access is provided to the brightness and contrast settings and to switching between the video inputs.

The monitor’s got the traditional, quite user-friendly ViewSonic menu. The functions assigned to the “1” and “2” buttons are shown at the bottom of the menu window. You are offered a standard set of options here except for color reproduction settings: besides color temperature, the monitor allows regulating Saturation and Hue.

By default, the contrast and brightness are set at 70% and 100%, respectively. I achieved a 100nit white by selecting 42% brightness and 45% contrast. The brightness is regulated by means of backlight modulation at a frequency of 217Hz. Color gradients are reproduced normally, yet you can see slight banding in them on closer inspection.

The monitor’s got a standard color gamut which is somewhat larger than the standard sRGB color space in greens.

The gamma value is too low at the default settings, producing a faded and low-contrast image. You could correct this problem in the Samsung 245T by choosing a different gamma in the monitor’s menu, but the VP2330wb just doesn’t offer such a setting. So, you have to correct the gamma in your graphics card driver or using a hardware calibrator.

The problem deteriorates at the reduced brightness and contrast. The curves rise up and the image gets paler.

The monitor offers half a dozen preset color temperature modes plus a user-defined mode. The setup accuracy is somewhat worse than average. The difference between the temperatures of the levels of gray is over 1000K, and not only dark-gray but also pure white deflects much from the name of the mode.

The response time average is 13.1 milliseconds GtG with the rise on dark tones to tens of milliseconds we are familiar with by MVA matrixes of recent past. As a result, the VP2330wb proves to have a rather mediocre speed. It is two times slower than the above-discussed 244T and 245T from Samsung and by a third slower than the Dell 2407WFP.

The contrast ratio isn’t record-breaking, yet good anyway. It is over 300:1 in two of the test modes. The maximum brightness is even above the specified value.

So, the VP2330wb looks like an average product with few drawbacks and without any exceptional traits. To name its drawbacks, the USB hub is placed rather inconveniently at the back, the labels on the control buttons are almost unreadable, the gamma compensation is set up sloppily, and the matrix is rather slow. Although I can’t say it’s a bad monitor, I also cannot give you a list of its advantages because it is not superior to its opponents in any of its parameters.

Conclusion

Summing up this test session I’d like to single out the winners and losers as usual.

There is in fact only one clear loser today. It is the LG Flatron L245WP. This monitor might have got a better word from me if it were not for one serious defect. Its regulation of brightness proved to be virtually unusable. When you choose a brightness value other than the factory setting, you lose either dark or light halftones. This monitor proved rather inconvenient at work and also had a low contrast ratio as its lamps worked at their full capacity all the time.

I had expected to see the Acer AL2416Ws among the losers, but this monitor proved to have good parameters despite all its limitations. On the other hand, it costs just a little cheaper than the more serious models that have digital input and more functional stands, so I wouldn’t recommend it to you.

The Apple Cinema HD, Samsung 244T and Dell 2407WFP have done well in my tests. Each of them is going to find its customer and make a good buy. These monitors have their drawbacks, of course, but they are not as terrible as to outweigh their indisputable advantages.

The Samsung SyncMaster 245B is the first 24” monitor with a TN matrix to have been tested in our labs. Although its setup quality is rather high, I advise you to think again if the narrow viewing angles won’t be a problem for you when you buy a large monitor with a TN matrix. You should keep it mind that the specified 160 degrees are arrived at under rather specific conditions. In practice, it takes a much smaller deflection of your head to see a strong distortion o the image.

The Samsung SyncMaster 245T, on the contrary, leaves no place for doubt. It is a good modern monitor with all the necessary inputs. It is a convenient work tool featuring a new technology for the reduction of blurring in dynamic images.

And finally, the ViewSonic VP2330wb left no impression on me, positive or otherwise. It is an average product with average parameters and without critical defects. There is nothing exceptional about it.