Closer Look at the 19" LCD Monitors Features. Part II

Another bunch of 19-inch LCD panels has been reviewed at X-bit labs. Check out our new roundup for the detailed indepth tests of 10 LCD monitors including the solutions from Samsung, NEC, Acer, BenQ, Sony and Prestigio.

by Oleg Artamonov
11/19/2003 | 11:44 PM

We continue our study of the features of 19” liquid-crystal displays. The methodology of our tests has not changed a jot. We still measure the response time characteristic and use a Pantone ColorVision Spyder calibrator for measuring the brightness and contrast ratio of the tested displays and drawing their color curves. For more information on the testing methodology see our articles called Closer Look at 19” Monitors Features: Pixel Response Time and More! and Closer Look at 15” LCD Monitors Features: Pixel Response Time.

 

Before proceeding to the tests, I would like to say a few words about color rendition. Why does it matter for an LCD at all?

In fact, color rendition is determined by the correlation between the input signal (as shaped by the graphics card, in our case) and the output signal (the brightness of a pixel). This dependence is described by the formula “Output = Input in the power of gamma”. We automatically, without any correction, arrive to this correlation if we use a CRT display since this is a property of the electron gun itself. There is only interfering factor. The gamma equals 2.5 for CRT displays, while the industry standard, sRGB, specifies the gamma to be 2.2. This divergence is easily eliminated by the display electronics. Thus, we can see straight and neat color curves in CRT displays:

Note that these graphs have been taken on a cheap 17” CRT display, Samsung SyncMaster 750s rather than on a professional color-calibrated display. The only noticeable drawback we can see here is that the curves for different colors may go a little higher or lower than the theoretical curve. For example, in the above case, the green curve goes a little above the red and blue ones. It means the screen colors will have a slight greenish tint. This is easily fixed by adjusting the RGB settings of the display or the graphics card – just shift the green color slider a little to the left and the green curve will go down to coincide with the other two. Thus, if you don’t demand anything exceptional from the color rendition of your CRT display, you can just set up the white balance to feel quite happy.

It’s all much more complicated with those liquid crystals. LCDs don’t have an “inborn” power dependence of the pixel’s light-transmission coefficient (it determines the luminosity) on the input signal. So, it is the display electronics that should produce a well-shaped power curve from the non-linear and irregular characteristic of the liquid crystal cell. The result is often disappointing. You can view the color curve graphs for most of the tested displays to see that the ratio of the three basic colors varies along with the level of the input signal. For example, the blue curve may go much higher than the red and green ones in the middle of the range. Then they may all coincide at the end of the range, among the light tones, while the red curve may dominate the dark tones. The visual outcome is quite predictable: the dark tones are a little reddish, the gray color is a little bluish, while white is all right. You can do nothing about such RGB settings. For example, if you lower the level of blue you get a normal gray color (the middle of the range), but blue will also go down along the entire range, making the dark tones more reddish and the white color – yellowish (too much of red and green). These color defects can be easily perceived by the eye, even if you are just viewing your family photos, not expecting any professional quality of the color reproduction.

The only way of solving this problem is the use of a color profile. The color profile can correct the color on separate stretches of the dynamic range independently. The current versions of MS Windows support such profiles, while a number of professional image-processing suites can use them (for example, Adobe Photoshop comes with a special utility for that specific purpose aka Adobe Gamma Loader). So, the problem is reduced to getting the right profile for your display.

The most reliable tool for creating a profile is a color calibrator. Such a device will measure the characteristics of the display with the help of its photo-sensors and will generate a color profile that brings the characteristics to the norm. Unfortunately, even the cheapest calibrators cost over $250; such devices are rare even among people who professionally work with images.

There is a simpler method: to calibrate “by the eye”. There are many utilities; Colorific is one of the most widespread. This program is often included with the display by the manufacturer (for example, Samsung and LG do so). After the installation, the utility asks if you want to have your display calibrated right away. For a precise result, the utility comes with a plate of a definite color – you should compare its color to the color of the screen. Such calibration takes a lot of time and effort and yields poorer results than in case you use a hardware calibrator. Still, it is quite acceptable for a home user.

The third method is the simplest of all. You can use the ready-made profile usually offered on the CD enclosed with the display. The disadvantages of this method are obvious. The profile is prepared for an “average” display of this model and for particular brightness and contrast settings (color rendition may depend on the brightness!). So, this calibration may not be effective in some cases. Nevertheless, if you cannot use the other methods of calibration, I recommend you use ready-made profiles. It is especially important for LCD panels that often have serious color rendition defects.

I perform hardware calibration for every display in my tests, since it is necessary for measuring the screen brightness. Thus, after the tests, I have a color profile for the tested display on my hands. From this roundup on, I will offer the color profiles made with the help of the hardware calibrator for you to use. Note that they are all made under the default display settings.

Strictly speaking, the big divergence from the power relation in color rendition is not the only problem of LCD panels. Lately, fast 16ms matrixes became popular among 17” models, like the NEC LCD1760NX. The substantial drawback of such matrixes is their 18-bit color encoding. That is, every primary color is only represented by 6bit (it takes values from 0 to 63) instead of 8bit (0…255), as usual. As you know, the transitions between the colors of a color gradient are too sharp even during 8-bit encoding and on a good display. So, the four-times-worse color representation is simply depressing – smooth gradients have stripes or graininess, depending on the method used for regaining the missing tones. Unfortunately, this is a hardware flaw, which cannot be amended by any calibration.

But then, enough of preliminaries, let’s get to business.

Acer AL1911

The design of this display resembles that of some models from Hitachi. I am not sure who is the creator of the design, but the fact is certain. The distinguishing features of the Acer are the cute silver buttons and the integrated speakers. The display has only one input – D-Sub.

The base allows you to change the tilt of the screen as well as to turn it by 45 degrees in both directions. The portrait mode and height adjustment are not available, but this is not a big deal. The base is quite compact, and the screen is not too high up. And I doubt you would ever need to raise the big 19” screen.

The menu is pretty, colorful and easy to use. The color temperature can be set to one of the four values: User (manual adjustment), 6500K (the measurements showed that the real color temperature in this mode is 5810K for white color and 7350K for 50% gray), 7500K (the measured temperature of white is 6570K, while gray is 9420K) and 9300K (7930K white and 9820K gray). As you see, the temperature of the gray color is noticeably higher than it should be. It means that the white balance being optimal, gray will have a hint of blue. I performed the tests using the 6500K setting. After calibration, the color temperatures of white and gray were 6420K and 6960K, respectively.

By default, the brightness setting was at 100%, the contrast – at 50%. This is my first reference point. The second reference point is a screen brightness of 100nit (1 nit = 1 candela per square meter). To reach it, I had to drop the brightness control to 40% and the contrast to 33%. The measurements also showed that the display’s brightness is managed by pulse-width modulation of the backlight lamp with a frequency of 150Hz.

The viewing angles are good, but not perfect. If you look at the screen at a big angle, the image becomes dark and the colors become yellowish. Still, the effect is not too heavy to make you feel uncomfortable.

At default settings, the color rendition is stable, although the measurements proved my suppositions expressed above: the blue color is considerably higher in the middle part of the range than it should be.

At 100nit screen brightness, things become worse. The red color characteristic is “wavy”, while the blue color has a “hump” in the middle of the range. At the same time, the display represents the entire dynamic range well enough. It doesn’t fail on light tones at the default screen brightness or on dark tones at the minimal acceptable screen brightness (save for red, maybe).

The response time coincided with the specification: 15ms pixel rise time and 11ms pixel fall time. However, at 100nit screen brightness, the pixel rise time suddenly grows by 10ms.

Pixel rise time

Pixel fall time

The maximum brightness of the display falls a little short of the specified 300nit mark. The contrast ratio is considerably lower than 700:1 claimed in the specs. The level of black is not very high, but is far from perfect. It’s rather average compared to other displays.

Overall, the Acer AL1911 is a good model with a small (for a 19” display) response time, nice color rendition and unobtrusive design. This display will be a good choice for both home and office use.

The color profile for the Acer AL1911 display: al1911.icm.

Acer AL1931

Well, it’s hard to pass by this one. It is one of the most beautiful displays I have ever seen. The appearance of this LCD is up to the highest mark: slim metal base, compact and thin silver-colored case, shiny metal buttons. Following the latest fashion trends, the power LED (it’s built into the power-on button) is blue rather than the ordinary green. It looks winsome sitting against the silver of the case. There is one problem, though. The LED is too bright and might be uncomfortable if you work in a dim room.

The base only allows adjusting the screen’s tilt. For mounting the display on the wall, you can replace the base with a standard, VESA-compatible one.

The next thing of a surprise about the display is the heap of cables coming with it. And there are all corresponding ports in the display’s back panel to plug all those cables into. So, we have DVI and D-Sub connectors, an audio input for the integrated speakers, S-Video and composite inputs. Besides the cables for all those connectors, we found three 220V power cords in the package. For some reason, the display has no headphones jack.

The menu is beautiful, too, but not too easy to use. You can scroll through the main menu in one direction only, in a circle. To activate some menu items (“Auto Adjust”, “Memory Recall”) you have to press the Menu button (which is somehow dubbed “Up” in the menu itself) along with the “>” button, although the menu hints suggest something else. Sound settings are quite flexible: timbre, stereo-balance, tone compensation… On the other hand, this looks a bit excessive for the simple integrated speakers that are only suitable for reproducing the standard Windows sounds and for applications like ICQ.

The display offers four color temperatures to your taste: “Cool” (our measurements gave 7090K on white and 9700K on gray for this mode), “Natural” (5580K and 6600K for white and gray, respectively), “Warm” (5150K and 5900K) and “User” (this is for manual adjustment; by default, the sliders stand on 50%, which corresponds to 5960K on white and 7700K on gray, respectively). I performed the tests using the “Natural” setting; the color temperature was 6760K on white and 7410K on gray after calibration.

The default brightness was 100%, the contrast – 50%. To make the screen shine with 100nit brightness, I dropped both settings to 28%. Note also that the display is not very good at reproducing light tones when the default contrast setting is used; to reach the best representation of the entire range I would advise you to set the contrast below 45%.

My visual impressions from the matrix were very good: the viewing angles are nearly perfect and the response time seems quite small (especially according to the standards of relatively slow 19” matrixes).

The color curves cannot boast the same neatness as those of the previous model. Blue and green are too high in the middle of the range. Blue becomes normal to the end, but red is high and green is quite domineering. The result is obvious: the light part of the grayscale has a noticeable tincture of green.

The red color is rendered ideally at 100nit brightness, while green and blue have “humps”, which don’t coincide, to the bargain. It means some of the gray tones are slightly bluish, while others – a bit greenish.

Notwithstanding the good visual impression, the measured response time was about 10ms higher than specified by the manufacturer. Curiously enough, the brightness and contrast settings affected the response time unpredictably: pixel rise and pixel fall times would alternately have the biggest share in the total. At default settings, they were equal.

Pixel rise time

Pixel fall time

This model demonstrated worse contrast ratio than its predecessor, although the manufacturer promised this parameter to be the same by both displays. In reality, the level of black hit the 1nit mark, which is far from the ideal.

Although the AL1931 passed the tests less successfully than the other Acer, this is a solution of the same superb quality. It features a gorgeous design and abundance of connectors: if you want an LCD with video inputs, consider this model as an option.

The color profile for the Acer AL1931 display: al1931.icm.

BenQ FP991

BenQ Group used to go under the name of Acer Communications & Multimedia Group. Last year, Acer Group was announced an independent company.

The exterior of the FP911 doesn’t have any memorable features. It has a simple compact case with a silver front panel, large square control buttons in the lower right corner, and a relatively massive base. You can do what you wish with the screen – tilt it, rotate it, turn it upside down.

There are analog D-Sub and digital DVI-D connectors; you switch between them with a gentle press of the Exit button.

The settings menu is attractive and user-friendly. I would say that it is one of the best I have ever seen. The settings of brightness, contrast and auto-adjustment are assigned quick buttons (the latter of them is labeled “i” for some mysterious reason). I can’t say that the settings are excessive, but everything necessary seems to be included.

The Color page offers you four color temperatures: User Preset (manual adjustment), sRGB (by default, corresponds to 6360K on white and 8580K on gray), Reddish (5630K and 7130K) and Bluish (8890K and 12040K). You may guess from the difference between the color temperatures of white and 50% gray that the color curves won’t be perfect. Gray has some blue in itself, which increases its temperature noticeably.

I carried out the tests using the sRGB setting; the color temperature became 6400K on white and 7080K on gray after calibration.

The viewing angles are good, but never perfect. If you look at the screen at an angle of 60 or more degrees, the white color becomes a bit yellowish. This effect is negligible, though, never causing any discomfort at work.

By default, the brightness setting stands on 90% and the contrast on 50%. I’d like to note that these two settings very slightly influence the real screen brightness. To achieve a screen brightness of 100nit, I had to set both sliders to zero.

As I have guessed, the color curves reveal imperfections in the display’s color rendition. Red is down in the middle of the range, while blue is too high. Such defects can only be corrected by color profiles: if you try to reduce the level of blue in the display’s settings menu, the bluish tint will disappear in the middle of the range, but light and dark tones will become reddish.

At low brightness, the situation is overall the same, with blue striking as too high in the middle of the range and red - in the dark tones.

At default settings, the response time conformed to the specified 25ms. At reduced brightness and contrast, we had a considerably higher pixel rise time, the full time being as high as 38ms. This effect is common among the other displays we test today.

Pixel rise time

Pixel fall time

This LCD was close to the Acer AL1911 in brightness and contrast ratio measurements. It is natural, since they have exactly the same specified parameters. The brightness of white fell just a little short of 250nit, while the brightness of black was average. It grew a little, to 1nit, at maximum settings only, however, you will hardly ever use the display with these settings.

According to the test results, the BenQ FP991 is much similar to the AL1911 from Acer, showing good, but not exceptional results. The FP991 boasts a few good advantages, though: the digital input and the base that allows the portrait mode.

The color profile for the BenQ FP991 display: fp991.icm.

NEC MultiSync LCD1860NX

You can guess the manufacturer of this display at once by its “angular” style. It has the common problem of all black-colored LCDs from NEC – the captions on the buttons are practically unreadable. The base allows you to change the height and tilt of the screen as well as rotate it around the vertical axis. To perform the first two actions you will have to apply some physical strength (especially for the tilting), while the rotation is performed with ease: I even had to hold the screen in place to push a button. The portrait mode is unavailable, unfortunately.

The display has two inputs – D-Sub and DVI; you switch between them by pressing a button on the front panel.

The menu follows the standard NEC style, so I won’t describe it in detail, since we have already discussed it in our previous articles on the subject. There are six settings for the color temperature: 9300K (when measured, it turned to be 8040K on white and 8140K on gray), 8200K (7310K and 7470K), 7500K (6610K and 6830K), sRGB (in theory, this should mean 6500K; in practice, it is 5840K on white and 5760K on gray), 5000K (4540K and 4530K) and Native (this is the default setting, meaning 6080K on white and 6020K on gray). You may notice that the LCD1860NX has a smaller white and gray color temperatures dispersion compared to other displays. The difference doesn’t go beyond the measurement error in some cases. This may mean only one thing – the color rendition of the display has been carefully set up. Well, this is typical of displays from NEC.

I carried out my tests using the Native setting as it was the closest to the required 6500K. After calibration, the color temperature for white was 6560K, for gray – 6660K.

By default, we have the brightness set to 100%, the contrast to 50%. To reach a screen brightness of 100nit, I dropped the brightness to 70%, and the contrast to 45%. Note that the brightness is controlled by the power modulation of the backlight lamp with a frequency of 150Hz. The modulation is evident even at the maximum brightness. The reason for that is not clear – further reduction of the modulation depth would give the manufacturer an opportunity to increase the maximum brightness higher up without any effort.

The graphs drawn with the help of the calibrator show that the color curves don’t coincide with the theoretical one, but the slumps and peaks for all three color components fall onto the same brightness stretches. Thus, all gradations of gray will look as they should do, without the bluishness in the middle of the range, typical of many displays.

The situation remains practically the same when we reduce the screen brightness:

Although the specified response time is 30ms, the display can do it in less than 25ms almost throughout the entire range. Only when the contrast is reduced, the pixel rise time grows to 20ms.

Pixel rise time

Pixel fall time

The brightness of the display is below average – only 185nit. Most modern models have a brightness of 220…250nit. The level of black is good, although not excellent. Anyway, you should not worry that you will see dark-gray instead of pure black on this display.

As you see, the major distinguishing feature of the LCD1860NX is very precise color setup. This display actually needs no color profile. Other parameters are at an average level. This model may suit those of you who need a low-cost display with good color rendition.

The color profile for the NEC MultiSync LCD1860NX display: 1860nx.icm.

Prestigio P190T

It is the first time a Prestigio display participates in my tests. This model is distinctive for its integrated TV-tuner. It is implemented as a detachable card installed into the base. The display may come without the tuner – there would be a plastic bracket instead. Thus, the manufacturer offers two models with different functionality. Besides the antenna input, the tuner has a composite and an S-Video input.

The design of the case is pleasing to the eye, but the mounting quality could have been better. The control buttons have a shiny coating, and this metallization reveals the rough edges of those buttons. The power LED is shifted far to the right in its window. There are seams in the case where the molded parts fit together. Of course, this cannot seriously damage the display’s operational capabilities, but the first impression is still not so positive, I should say.

The screen stands on a massive, although short, base that only allows changing the tilt of the screen. TV, video and audio connectors are all placed at the rear side of the base, while the D-Sub (there is only an analog input available) and power connectors are located on the display itself.

The menu is both ugly and inconvenient to use as each setting hides in its separate submenu. For example, the R, G and B settings for manual adjustment of the color temperature are three different menu pages. Of course, it’s not hard to switch between them, but the visual perception suffers. It somehow resembles the situation with the offhand case design. Quick buttons are assigned to volume control, auto-adjustment and to switching between the inputs. The display comes with an infrared remote control for the TV-tuner.

The menu contains three color temperature settings: User (6280K on white and 7480K on gray), Mode1 (7550K and 10250K – note the divergence between the temperatures of white and gray colors!) and Mode2 (6280K and 7490K). I performed my tests using the User setting and default positions of the RGB sliders.

By default, the brightness control of the display stood at 50%, the contrast at 80%. To achieve a screen brightness of 100nit, I only had to reduce them by 10% each – to 40% and 70%, respectively.

The viewing angles are good, while the response time is visually higher than that of the above-described displays. Still, it is acceptable.

The color curves do not impress, to put it mildly. The Prestigio was the only display in this roundup to fail on light tones. At its default settings, the display couldn’t represent about 15% of the dynamic range. Otherwise, the display has a too-high level of blue – we could have guessed it from the huge difference between the temperatures of white and gray.

It is all the same at 100nit screen brightness. The light tones are still represented poorly, while the blue color dominates over green and red.

The measurements of the response time confirmed what my eyes had told me. This display takes about 30..33ms (depending on the brightness and contrast settings) to turn a pixel on and off. It’s slower compared to most other LCDs.

Pixel rise time

Pixel fall time

The measurements of the screen brightness and contrast ratio, on the contrary, yielded satisfying results. The brightness of white fell just a little short of the specified 250nit, while the brightness of black “danced” around 0.5nit, depending on the current settings. It’s good enough.

The Prestigio P190T is a strange display. On the one hand, its TV-tuner puts it among the expensive models. On the other hand, we have not very high quality design and mounting and average or worse specified parameters. So, if you need an LCD display with a TV-tuner for really small money, this display may suit you. If TV-tuners are not important for you, you should better be looking for alternatives.

The color profile for the Prestigio P190T display: p190t.icm.

Samsung SyncMaster 191N

We have already introduced this model to you in the previous roundup and it performed well enough in the tests. This specimen is interesting for the new design of the base. I was just curious to know whether Samsung merely re-designed the base or made any other changes to the electronics, too.

The new base looks elegant and allows tilting and rotating the screen (by 170 degrees in both directions). It’s impossible to adjust the height or to turn the screen into the portrait mode.

The case remained the same. It is small, with the design borrowed from the 192 series, but with an integrated power supply unit. The case is unified with the 191T model. There are LEDs that indicate the selected input (D-Sub or DVI), but they are not used in the 191N, since this display has only an analog input.

The screen menu is pretty standard for any Samsung display. Quick buttons are assigned for brightness, auto-adjustment, and the Magic Bright mode, which is introduced in all new displays from Samsung. By pressing the “+” button, the user gains access to the brightness control, while the “-“ button leads you to the Magic Bright menu with its four options: User Adjusted, Text, Internet and Entertain. The user-defined brightness and contrast controls are not available in the latter three modes; if you try to use them, you exit the Magic Bright mode. In fact, we just have three presets for brightness and contrast compiled by the manufacturer. It would be even more convenient, if we were allowed to set up each of the modes independently for different situations (for example, for working in the daytime or in the evening or for watching movies) and switch between them by pressing a single button.

Our measurements showed that the Text mode corresponds to 100nit screen brightness, Internet – to 130nit, Entertain – to 180nit. Well, the presets seem to be adequate enough; many users may find the Magic Bright option useful. By the way, the Magic Bright function is the first serious deviation of the electronics of the SyncMaster 191N compared to the model with the same model name we discussed in the previous roundup.

By default, we have the brightness control at 80%, and the contrast at 50%. A screen brightness of 100nit is achieved by setting the brightness to 35% and the contrast to 47%. The brightness is controlled by modulation of the power of the backlight lamps with a frequency of about 320Hz. This is another difference from the previously-tested 191N, which had a modulation frequency of 520Hz.

The menu offers three color temperatures: User Defined (5870K for white and 7340K for gray), Reddish (5890K and 6640K) and Bluish (5890K and 8370K). This divergence promises nothing good…

And really, the color curves have a noticeably worse shape than the ones of the previous specimen, although they are still acceptable. The blue color is too high in the second half of the range, while red is down in two thirds of it. That’s why we have the big difference between the color temperatures: in the middle of the range, where the gray temperature is measured, we have too much of blue and too little of red.

The same goes for 100nit screen brightness:

The response time measurements produced very good results, though. Even subjectively, the display seems to be fast (although I can’t say it is the fastest; for example, the Acer AL1911 made a better impression). The measurements prove the point: the full response time is always below the specified value of 25ms. Talking about subjective impressions, I would like to mention the viewing angles. They are nearly perfect: the image is visible even if your line of sight is parallel to the screen. At the same time, there was a serious defect. I couldn’t get a crisp image with either auto-adjustment or manual tweaking. The image remained “fuzzy” in spite of my efforts. This may the problem of the particular display with a particular graphics card (I used a Matrox Millennium in the testbed), but you should better be careful when shopping and check the image sharpness more carefully.

Pixel rise time

Pixel fall time

The brightness and contrast ratio parameters are good (0,16nit at 100nit brightness looks really nice, though). All values are a little worse than those of the previously tested SyncMaster 191N. Anyway, these results are among the best of all the displays we test today.

Summing it up, I can definitely say that the display hasn’t just changed the base: its electronic stuffing is different, too. And this told negatively on the parameters – the color rendition grew worse, the picture looks a little more “fuzzy”… On the other hand, thanks to the good black color, low response time and low pricing, this display still remains a good choice in the budget sector.

The color profile for the Samsung SyncMaster 191N display: sm191n.icm.

Samsung SyncMaster 192B

The SyncMaster 192B is a new model from Samsung featuring the new design, known to the users from some models of the 152 and 172 series. I have already mentioned many times that this design is very successful. The folding base allows you to change the height and tilt of the screen. You can fold it altogether to hang the display on the wall. The connectors sit in the base to avoid the usual mess of cables on the desk. If you want to use the display in the portrait mode, you fold the base and fasten a standard VESA-compatible base to its holes. The SyncMaster 192B only has an analog D-Sub connector.

The menu is Samsung’s standard one. Just like with the above-described 191N, we have the Magic Bright mode with three options of the screen brightness – you switch between them using the “-“ button. The “+” button disables Magic Bright to give you access to the manual brightness controls.

The auto-adjustment works properly, and the image is really crisp. The viewing angles are pretty wide; the response time is small, at least subjectively.

By default, the brightness control is set to 80%, the contrast to 50%. Setting the controls to 50% and 40% (brightness and contrast, respectively) we get the desired 100nit screen brightness. Thus, the display offers a wide range of brightness adjustment.

There are three color temperature options – we saw them by previous Samsung models: Reddish (5490K for white and 6840K for gray), Bluish (6540K and 8240K) and user-defined (by default, corresponds to 5740K and 7290K). Again, we see a disappointing gap between the temperatures of white and gray colors.

The tonality of the screen colors is visually shifted to blue-green. The measurements prove it: red is low, while blue and green are too high.

At 100nit screen brightness, we have basically the same picture: red is low along the entire range, green is reproduced close to the ideal, blue is a little higher than necessary in the middle of the range.

The response time of the display depends on the contrast (unlike the previous model). The lower is the screen brightness, the higher becomes the response time. It grows from 26ms at maximum settings to 36ms at 100nit screen brightness. Anyway, the display is visually fast and comfortable to work and watch movies on.

Pixel rise time

Pixel fall time

Brightness measurements gave out excellent results. The level of black is the lowest among the tested displays, about 0.3nit at default settings. On the other hand, the brightness of white is low at the same settings. Anyway, the display did better than most of the competitors in the brightness tests.

Overall, the SyncMaster 192B is a good buy with its proper design and low level of black. Its disadvantage is the inclination towards blue-green tones, which is cured by color calibration.

The color profile for the Samsung SyncMaster 192B display: sm192b.icm.

Samsung SyncMaster 192T

This is an exact copy of the previous model, 192B, with one addition: a digital DVI-D input denoted as “T” in the model name. You can switch between the inputs by pressing the “Exit/Source” button.

The functional differences between the SyncMaster 192T and 192B end here and I won’t repeat the things which have already been said. Let’s get straight to the tests. The color temperature was 6080K for white and 7860K for gray with the user-defined setting, 5850K and 7350K with the Reddish and 6870K and 8920K with the Bluish setting.

The default brightness and contrast are set at 80% and 50%, respectively. Setting them to 56% and 40%, we have a screen brightness of 100nit. A slight undulation of backlighting is perceptible at a dark-gray background: the lower corners of the screen are a little brighter than the rest of it. Still, this is not catastrophic and causes no viewing discomfort.

The color curves are nearly the same as we had by 192B: red is low, blue is high. Without calibration, gray color has a tincture of blue-green.

The same holds true for 100nit screen brightness:

I have to confess that after I saw the results of the first test, I thought the 192B and 192T models used identical matrixes. The measurements of the response time broke this theory, though. The SyncMaster 192T has higher response time than the previous model. Although the difference can hardly be noticed by the human eye, the numbers are implacable: the response time varies from 38ms to 48ms depending on the contrast setting. The reason for the 192T to be visually similar to the 192B is probably due to its matrix being fast enough performing transitions between shades of gray. The speed of these transitions mostly determines the visual impression.

Pixel rise time

Pixel fall time

The measurements of the brightness and contrast ratio produced numbers typical of Samsung displays. Still, at default settings, this model was a little worse than the previous one.

This display confused me somewhat. I had expected it to be identical to the 192B, except the digital input, but the response time measurements proved that I had been wrong. Nevertheless, the subjective impressions from both displays are close enough. So, the advantages of this model are its good design, low level of black and digital input. The disadvantage is the inclination of the color reproduction towards blue and green tones.

The color profile for the Samsung SyncMaster 192T display: sm192t.icm.

Samsung SyncMaster 192V

Notwithstanding the “192” in its name, the display has a design similar to the 191 rather than to the “folding” 192 series.

The power unit is integrated, just like in 191N and 191T models. The display is thicker than that of the models with external PSUs. You can also notice a new design trend: the control buttons are placed in the lower edge of the display instead of the front panel. There is a small inconvenience though, as the power button sits right in the middle, which means that you can accidentally push it when navigating through the menu.

The appearance of the base has changed completely. It is small, elegant and short. It doesn’t allow setting the display in the portrait mode. You can only change the tilt of the screen as well as turn it to the left or right by 170 degrees. If this is not good for you, you can substitute the base for any VESA-compatible one.

We have a standard menu from Samsung here, too. The default color temperature is 6060K for white and 8020K for gray (it is the User Adjusted setting, with all three color sliders set at 50%). The Reddish option provides 5880K and 7260K temperatures, while the Bluish item gives out 6080K for white and 9200K for 50% gray. We see again the common defect: the temperatures of white and gray differ too much.

By default, the brightness control is set to 80%, the contrast to 50%. To achieve 100nit screen brightness, I set both controls to 20%. By the way, the brightness is managed by the power modulation of the backlight lamp with a frequency of 1kHz.

The display has excellent viewing angles; the image is perfectly seen even if your line of sight is parallel to the screen. The response time is, subjectively, slower than that by other Samsung models. Mark this if you like to play dynamic games.

The color rendition is the same as we had by other Samsung models: red is low, blue is high. That’s why there is this great difference between the color temperatures of white and gray.

The situation remains the same at 100nit screen brightness:

The measurements of the response time produced 30ms, although I had expected something worse. But as I have already mentioned, the response time is formally measured on transitions from black to white, while the subjective impression largely depends on the speed of pixel switching between shades of gray, which can be performed much faster.

Pixel rise time

Pixel fall time

The objective data were against this model in our measurements of the brightness and contrast ratio. The contrast ratio lied in a range of 200-300:1, although we were promised to have 500:1. For some strange reason, the highest level of black – over 1nit – falls to the default rather than to the maximum settings. However, when the screen brightness was reduced, the level of black went down, too. At 100nit screen brightness, this display can compete with many other models in the level of black.

I would position SyncMaster 192V as a good office LCD. It is low-cost and boasts elegant design, while its drawbacks like slow response and high level of black at default settings are not crucial for office work. This model will probably oust the older SyncMaster 191N series from this market niche. For the home users, I would recommend other models like Samsung 192B or displays from other manufacturers because the disadvantages of the 192V may become substantial in dynamic games and similar applications.

The color profile for Samsung SyncMaster 192V display: sm192v.icm.

Sony Multiscan SDM-P82

The angular appearance of this model resembles LCDs from NEC rather than the traditionally sleek features of Sony displays from other series. The case is massive, with an integrated power supply unit. Unlike other Sony displays, this guy owes its massiveness to the thickness of the case rather than to the wide framing. The base is solid-looking and quite pretty with its aluminum disc foot, but its functionality is limited: it only allows adjusting the tilt of the screen. However, the designers made sure that a standard VESA-compatible base can be also fastened to it, if desired.

The display is equipped with three inputs: one DVI-D and two D-Sub. You switch between them by pressing a button.

The menu is Sony’s standard interface. I saw nearly the same menu in previously tested displays from both S and X series. You can choose between two color temperatures or adjust them manually. The gamma is chosen from three possible values. Surprisingly, the color temperature is set to 9300K by default, although the image doesn’t have the characteristic bluish tint. Our measurements proved this. The real color temperature is 6540K for white and 7060K for gray. When you choose the 6500K option in the menu, the real color temperature goes down to 5770K for white and 5890K for gray.

You can quick-access only the auto-adjustment option. The display performs auto-adjustment each time you change the operational mode, though. There is a very handy “ECO” button, which decreases the backlight lamp brightness by a half (manual adjustment of the brightness is then disabled).

By default, the brightness is set to 50%, the contrast – to 70%. The backlight lamp brightness is adjusted independently (by modulation of the power of the lamp with a frequency of 125Hz) and stands on 100% by default. From my previous review you know that the brightness of Sony displays is better controlled with the backlight lamps to reduce the response time and the black level. Thus, I achieved 100nit screen brightness by settings the controls to: 97% contrast, 50% brightness and 15% backlighting. We need this much of contrast to achieve the necessary brightness of white. As you know, it is the contrast setting that determines the brightness of the white color.

This LCD has excellent color rendering capabilities. All three color curves nearly coincide with the theoretical one for gamma 2.2; there are no waves or dominance of any specific color.

At 100nit screen brightness, the light tones are rendered much worse. This is not a defect of the display, though, but rather the result of my setting the contrast too high. In fact, these settings are a compromise between the quality of color rendition and the level of black.

Notwithstanding the high specified response time (50ms!), the display is good enough at representing text scrolling or movement of windows around the Desktop. According to the measurements results, the response time is smaller than specified in every operational mode, but it is still quite high. Anyway, my visual impressions were so positive that I had hoped for even better results. Overall, I should acknowledge that the display is good enough, in spite of the “threatening” specs.

Pixel rise time

Pixel fall time

The contrast ratio is poor. Only by setting a minimal brightness of the backlight lamps, I could achieve a good level of black. This is the compromise I have mentioned above: you can reduce the contrast retaining the same white brightness by increasing the backlight brightness, but the level of black grows simultaneously. At default settings, the level of black is over 1nit. If you increase the brightness and contrast further, black becomes gray and its brightness grows to 16nit.

I have formed a positive opinion about this model: good response time (subjectively, at least), nice design and excellent color rendition. On the other hand, the poor contrast ratio spoils the picture a little bit. You can only reach a really good level of black by greatly reducing the brightness of the backlight lamp, and this also makes you sacrifice some of the good color rendition.

The color profile for the Sony Multiscan SDM-P82 display: sdm-p82.icm.

Conclusion

To wind up the roundup, I will summarize the results shown by the displays in the tests now.

The models from Acer and its ex-subdivision, BenQ, performed really well. All three considered displays combine good functionality, very good image quality, while the Acer AL1931 also boasts an excellent design idea. Considering the low price of these models, they can be a good choice for both home and office use.

NEC upholds its glorious traditions with its LCD1860NX. This display offers precise color rendition, just like the older LCD1850E model we discussed in the previous article. Compared to the LCD1850E, the LCD1860NX has better response time, so this display will suit for both: work and games or watching movies. Its only drawback, although a slight one, is the low maximum brightness.

The Prestigio P190T draws our attention with its integrated TV-tuner and very low price. Regrettably, the technical characteristics as well as the design quality were sacrificed for the sake of low price. I can only recommend this model for users with an extremely small budget.

The Samsung SyncMaster 191N was a bit of a disappointment. It has changed for the worse compared with the same model we reviewed in the previous article. Still, even with its drawbacks, this display has nice characteristics, so that together with a pretty low price this solution makes a good “budget” option.

The new SyncMaster 192 series from Samsung didn’t boast anything new, but the 192B and 192T models may become a good home solution thanks to their convenient “folding” design and good technical characteristics. The 192V, with its modest price, is well suited for work.

The professional model from Sony was good in every respect, save for the contrast ratio. The level of black is too high. Considering the high pricing of the Sony displays, this is a substantial defect. But you may have a different opinion, so I will not force mine :).

You may have noticed that I give no definite recommendations on what exactly model you should buy, although some readers have asked for that. There are just no definitely poor or definitely excellent displays. For example, among 17” models, I could point out the Samsung 172B for its excellent viewing angles, good design and average price. But I see no clear leader among 18” and 19” models. Most displays have pretty much similar parameters, so I just offer you the numbers, trying to reveal their drawbacks and advantages (if any). If you need good color rendition, but the price of displays with S-IPS matrixes is too high for you, you may want to purchase a NEC MultiScan LCD1860NX. If you are satisfied with the color rendition of the Samsung models, and pay much attention to the compact and handy case design, the SyncMaster 192B and 192T may suit you well. Thus, considering the lack of definite leaders, the choice of the particular model largely depends on you personal preferences. My preferences naturally differ from yours. That’s why I avoid making final verdicts and only hope the results of the tests will help you narrow the scope of the models to view them all later “in the flesh” at the store and make your final decision.