by Oleg Artamonov
07/21/2004 | 09:37 AM
Since the last time we tested LCD monitors, new models have appeared in the market, both from well-known and obscure firms like Gigabyte (yes, you certainly know it, but not for its monitor-making skills?) or Macroview.
The manufacturers of matrixes have been perfecting their produce, too, so new models are not just a facelift improvement, but really provide a better image quality. That’s why we thought a new testing session was needed.
This article covers ten LCD monitor models selling under seven different brands (I deliberately say “selling”, because a monitor is not necessarily manufactured by the company whose brand it carries on itself). These are mainly inexpensive models, priced up to $450, with a few exceptions.
If you read my previous reviews on the subject, you should recognize the design. This monitor looks a perfect replica of the Acer AL1713 that I tested earlier (see our article called Closer Look at 17” LCD Monitor Features. Part III for details): a simple plastic case without any decorative elements and round silvery control buttons.
The base allows changing the screen tilt in a very small range. If you wish you can change the base with a VESA-compliant one (to hang the monitor on the wall, for example).
The monitor is equipped with an analog input only, and has an integrated power adapter. That’s quite natural for an inexpensive office model. By the way, there exists a multimedia version of the monitor, the AL1715m, with an audio input and speakers.
The monitor’s menu is without any “special features”, but is quite easy to use – you shouldn’t meet any problems setting this monitor up. The menu offers a selection of three color temperatures: “User” (by its default, this setting produced 5580K white and 7030K gray colors), “Cool” (6290K white and 9040K gray), and “Warm” (5050K white and 6050K gray). I used the “User” mode with its default settings in my tests since it was the closest to the 6500K temperature required by the industry standard sRGB.
By default, the monitor’s brightness is set to 100%, contrast to 80%. To make the screen shine with a luminance of 100nit (1 nit = 1 candela per sq. meter), I dropped the brightness and control settings to 70% and 60%, respectively. Brightness of this monitor is regulated by pulse-width modulation of the backlight lamps at a frequency of about 130Hz.
The color reproduction is good, with practically no stripes in smooth color gradients (let me remind you that I check the quality of output of a gradient that’s changing from black to red, green and blue colors). Auto-adjustment to a one-pixel black-white grid is performed without problems, but the sharpness of text is not perfect – some blur is noticeable.
The color curves are good, save for a small “hump” at the right part of the graph, but it vanished, too, after I reduced the contrast setting in the monitor’s menu.
Notwithstanding the declared response time of 20msec, my measurements say that the Acer AL1715 uses a matrix similar to 25msec ones in characteristics. The full response time is over 35msec at the maximum.
The brightness and contrast ratio of the monitor are somewhat below the specified ones but they are anyway good for a TN+Film matrix: the contrast ratio is above 300:1 in most cases.
So, the AL1715 is a slightly improved version of the earlier-tested AL1713: the matrix is a bit faster and has more contrast. It can play the role of an inexpensive office monitor for text-oriented tasks and nothing more – its rather high response time doesn’t allow it enter the camp of gaming models that are also made on TN+Film matrixes.
Unlike the unpretentious AL1715, this model is realized in an official-looking, yet attractive case. The front panel and the base are made of matt aluminum, and the rear panel of black plastic. Thus, the monitor looks good on the desk, but without any unnecessary exaggeration. From the point of view of functionality, the base has a feature: a carry handle. You can only adjust the screen tilt – there’s no portrait mode or height adjustment. The control buttons are round and shining; they look nice, with one exception: like in the AL1931 model (see our article called Closer Look at 19" LCD Monitors Features. Part II for details), the blue LED in the power-on button is too bright. It is annoyingly distractive even under normal ambient light, not to mention work in the evening or at night. I guess the manufacturers shouldn’t forget that the LED’s primary purpose is that of an indicator, rather than of a flashlight.
The Acer AL1731m has no shortage of connectors – compared to more functionally advanced models it would only lack a TV-tuner.
As you see, there’re analog D-Sub and digital DVI-D inputs, an audio input, an S-Video and composite video inputs. Well, the engineers couldn’t help making one slip: there’s no headphones output here.
The menu is pretty, easy to use, rich in options (especially the sound-relating options like timbre, tone compensation, balance – they even look superfluous with respect to those humble speakers integrated into monitors). Well, the menu would be even better if they assigned the Exit menu item to the Auto button, which is otherwise inactive when in the menu – it works like this in the above-described Acer AL1715, for example.
The menu offers four color temperature settings: “User” (by default, it produces 6500K white and 9510K gray), “Cool” (9890K white and 17,630K gray), “Natural” (6330K and 8100K) and “Warm” (4570K and 5610K).
The viewing angles are good as TN matrixes go: the horizontal angles are so wide as to cause no discomfort at work, and the vertical angles display a certain irregularity in the distribution of brightness. By default, the monitor’s brightness setting stands on 100%, contrast setting on 50%. By setting them to 20% brightness and 24% contrast, I made the screen shine with a luminance of 100nit.
The Acer AL1731m reproduces smooth color gradients excellently but there were problems with auto-adjustment for the analog signal – the image flickers slightly when a fine black-white grid is being outputted. However, this is a specific reaction of the monitor to this particular picture. I couldn’t notice any flicker at ordinary work, and you won’t have any flicker using the digital interface at all.
The setup of the Acer AL1731m’s color reproduction is good enough, although blue and green colors are too intensive.
The measured response time didn’t coincide with the specification, but for the better: the manufacturer mentions 20msec, while my measurements gave out 13msec. The pixel rise time was 26msec at the maximum, which is a typical result for 16msec TN+Film matrixes. Sometimes I have an impression that the manufacturers write certain averaged parameters into the technical characteristics, basing on several monitor models, while in practice these monitors have quite different matrixes. Acer is not the only firm I know to issue the same specifications for monitor models that are strikingly different in their capabilities.
Unfortunately, the contrast ratio is no good – it reached only to 200:1, which is twice below the manufacturer’s claim (note that these numbers are exactly the same as we had with the previous model, while the two evidently have different matrixes).
Thus, the Acer AL1731m has a nice and rather original appearance (due to the use of aluminum) and a fast matrix with good color reproduction and viewing angles as well as an abundance of video inputs. The only considerable deficiency of this monitor is the relatively low contrast ratio, not exceeding 200:1, while many other modern monitors on fast matrixes, like the Samsung SyncMaster 172X that I reviewed in my previous article, have a nearly twice better contrast ratio, without compromising the other parameters. In spite of that, the AL1731m will make a good gaming as well as a cheap multi-purpose monitor.
The Acer AL1751W is a representative of the new class of widescreen monitors. In fact, it only lacks a remote control and a TV-tuner to be called an LCD TV-set (there is an IR-receiver port on the front panel and a TV-tuner bay at the rear panel, but they are covered with plastic gags). The manufacturer declares a good contrast ratio for this model: 600:1.
So, the Acer AL1751W is a widescreen multimedia LCD monitor with a screen ratio of 16:10 in contrast to the traditional 4:3 size. Its multimedia capabilities are realized as two integrated speakers. From a distance, these speakers seem to occupy all of the case’s side pieces, but in fact they have a modest size of several centimeters, while the “acoustic grid” is only a decorative element (it is obvious even in the snapshot). Of course, the quality of this sound cannot match even the simplest standalone speaker systems.
The dark-gray front panel is framed into a silver plastic bezel (yes, that’s plastic, not aluminum as in the Acer AL1731m); the rear panel is black. The base is silvery, too, and it only allows changing the tilt of the screen, but in a wide range. Well, you cannot push the screen backwards by more than 25..30 degrees without an additional fastening – it may just topple over. Overall, this color scheme resembles the Samsung SyncMaster 173MP (see our article called New LCD Monitors from Samsung: Roundup of Five New Models), but the Samsung designer team painted the rear panel black – thanks to that the screen of the 173MP seems larger visually than it is in reality. If necessary, you may use a VESA-compatible corbel instead of the standard base – removing the rectangular cover with a carry handle that occupies its place.
In its inputs the AL1751W is analogous to the above-described AL1731m: analog and digital inputs, S-Video and composite inputs and two audio inputs (one 3.5mm mini-jack for connection to the computer’s audio card; the other consists of RCA connectors for attaching external sound sources; the first input is enabled when the monitors displays a picture from the computer, the second input works when S-Video or the composite input is enabled). The AL1751W uses an external power adapter.
The control buttons are small and circular and located at the top of the monitor, on a small ledge of its rear panel. That’s not a very convenient solution, since you have to grope for the buttons without seeing the buttons themselves or any explanatory labels. The pretty and user-friendly control menu is the same as the AL1731m has, with the same minor drawback – they might have used the Auto button to perform the Exit function.
The menu offers to the user a selection of four color temperature settings: “Cool” (6660K white and 8570K gray colors), “Natural” (5400K white and 6630K gray), “Warm” (4530K white and 5640K gray), and “User” (by default, it corresponds to 5900K white and 8480K gray colors). Thus, the “Natural” setting turns to be the closest to 6500K temperature as required by the sRGB standard.
By default, the brightness and contrast controls are set to 100% and 50%, respectively. Like other video playback oriented models, the AL1751W is very bright, and to reach 100nit screen brightness I dropped the brightness setting to zero and the contrast one to 8%. It means that this model won’t suit people who like to work in a dimly-lit room, although you can decrease the screen brightness further by adjusting the graphics card’s settings.
The response time of the AL1751W exactly matched its specification, and the pixel rise and fall times equaled each other. Well, this is a typical thing with PVA matrixes: the following graph, showing the dependence of the response time on the pixel’s initial and final states, confirms that we deal with that type of the matrix.
Of course, this very high response time results in a strong ghosting effect in dynamic games and movies, but on the other hand PVA matrixes provide significantly wider viewing angles than their faster TN+Film mates – that’s not unimportant at movies playback. The PVA technology also allows for a good deep black color, i.e. a good contrast ratio. Alas, the AL1751W is not the one to show the potential advantage of PVA: its contrast ratio only reached 300:1 – that’s twice below the manufacturer’s claims.
I think there’s only one sensible use for the Acer AL1751W – watching movies. However, there’s a disadvantage here, too. The low contrast ratio makes the monitor display dark-gray instead of black under scarce external lighting (and you usually watch movies in the evening, rather than by day, don’t you?). For any other use, the Acer AL1751W has more deficiencies: the slow MVA matrix is unsuitable for dynamic games and its high screen brightness makes it practically unfit for text-processing tasks.
The FP731 is another variation of the inexpensive LCD monitor concept, second in this review. The monitor’s case is made simply, without any extravaganza: the front panel is silvery plastic, the rear panel and the base are black, but there’s also a version fully made of white plastic. The monitor is rather compact, although thick due to the integrated power adapter. The base only allows adjusting the tilt of the screen.
The FP731 comes equipped with one analog input only.
The control buttons are lined up below the screen and provide quick access to brightness and contrast settings. Other settings are accessible through the screen menu, which is cute-looking and easy-to-use with its BenQ’s standard multicolored icons on a dark-blue background.
The menu offers four color temperature settings: “sRGB” (the measured temperatures of white and gray were 6700K and 8400K with this setting), “Reddish” (5480K white and 6670K gray), “Bluish” (7810K white and 10,770K gray) and “User Preset” (by default, this setting produced 5850K white and 9340K gray colors).
The monitor’s settings of brightness and contrast were set to 80% and 50%, respectively, by default. And if you were to try to raise the contrast control above this point, the screen takes a slight, but quite noticeable pinkish hue on. To reach 100nit screen brightness, I set the brightness control to 35%, leaving the contrast one intact.
The color reproduction capabilities of the FP731 are rather average – there’s no talking about working with colors on that one. The viewing angles are subject to blame, too. White color becomes yellowish on a horizontal deflection of more than 45%; when viewed from below, the onscreen image becomes dark; when viewed from above, it gets inverted. Of course, these annoying effects are common for TN+Film matrixes, but they usually show up only at much bigger angles with newer monitor models.
The quality of color reproduction is acceptable, and even quite good for the class of monitors that the FP731 belongs to. I can only complain about a too-intensive blue color and undulations of the color curves –they are above the theoretical gamma curve somewhere, but below it elsewhere.
With a specified response time of 25msec, the monitor did much better in practice, notching up 18msec. However, the pixel rise time grows to 33msec on black-to-gray transitions, as is normal for inexpensive 25msec matrixes (the Acer AL1715 got the same numbers, for example).
The contrast ratio is good, up to 400:1. Of course, this is still below the manufacturer’s claims, but a very nice result for a monitor with a TN+Film matrix, especially one belonging to the low end of the price range.
Although the BenQ FP731 is an inexpensive model (it was selling for about $380 at the time of my writing this), it boasts good technical parameters. Its responsiveness even exceeded that of many 25msec models, and the contrast ratio was high enough. This monitor would do well as an inexpensive office model for text-work. However, you should first ensure its relatively narrow viewing angles suit you if you’re about to purchase this device for home or professional use.
Also belonging to the bottom of the market with its price of less than $400, the BenQ FP757 differs strikingly from the FP737 in the exterior, and for the better! The case of white plastic has smooth side insertions of violet color; part of the front panel below the screen is covered with a silvery decorative piece with silvery control buttons and a big violet-color power-on button with a blue highlighting LED. Subconsciously you wait for the side insertions to flare up violet on the monitor’s turning-on, but this never happens… The base only allows changing the screen tilt.
This design may not suit to everyone’s taste, though. The variety of color strips the device of that graveness feel – it would look out of place on a work table. Moreover, the designers didn’t make the side insertions and the power-on button of the same color, which results in a certain dissonance. I think the button would better be silvery. As it is, the button is a prominent figure on the front panel, but its color doesn’t exactly match the color of the side insertions.
My special thanks go to the designers for the moderate brightness of the blue LED that’s highlighting the power-on button. Unlike the one in the Acer AL1731m, this LED is not disturbing at all.
Like the previous BenQ model, the FP757 has only one, analog, input. The power unit is integrated into the case, making the case somewhat bulky, but it is not visible due to the good design and smooth outline of the device. The snapshot is deceptive – it seems like the silvery panel conceals speakers, but the monitor has not multimedia capabilities whatever and the panel in fact serves only aesthetic purposes.
The screen menu is nice-looking and user-friendly; quick access is provided to brightness and contrast settings. The only minor drawback of the control system arises as you find that the buttons are sunken into the case and are rather hard to press.
When selecting the color temperature, the “Bluish” menu item sets the real temperatures into 7800K for white and 10,640K for gray colors. Similarly, “Reddish” results in 5480K white and 6220K gray, and “sRGB” in 5950K white and 7040K gray (I used this setting during my tests). There’s also a “User preset” item that sets the temperatures to 6440K white and 8540K gray by default.
To reach a screen brightness of 100nit, I dropped the brightness control to 30% and the contrast control to 45% (by default, they are set to 90% and 50%, respectively).
In comparison to the FP731, the BenQ FP757 can boast a much better color reproduction as well as viewing angles. I can’t say this monitor can suit a professional in the field of photography, but colors look more natural on it than on the above-described model, and I couldn’t discern any artifacts in smooth color gradients. On a deflection of the eyesight sideways, the screen becomes yellowish, but slightly so. Such defects as darkening of the screen (on a look from below) and inversion (on a look from above) on a vertical deflection are present, but you don’t notice them much at work.
The color curves have improved their shape, have become smoother, and have approached the ideal very close!
The FP757’s response time on black-to-white transitions at the maximum brightness and contrast coincides with the specification (16msec). On black-to-gray transitions, however, it improved but slightly compared to 25msec matrixes and, particularly, to the above-described FP731. Well, I already reported on this effect – those 16 milliseconds are in fact only useful when the pixel is switched from pure black to pure white color (by “pure white” I mean the open state of any sub-pixel, i.e. when it lets all the light to pass through; obviously, the transition from black to pure green or blue or red will also equal 12msec – but only one sub-pixel will make the transition, rather than all three).
The monitor’s contrast ratio varied around 300:1, and that’s a normal parameter for a TN+Film matrix, especially installed in an inexpensive model.
The BenQ FP757 is overall a nice monitor. It will make a good office or home/gaming monitor alike. In the first case, however, you should consider its not-very-serious appearance. With the price gap of only $20 between this model and the BenQ FP731, the FP757 obviously has an advantage. Still, you should keep it in mind that the FP757 is an inexpensive model on a fast matrix, so if you need a high-quality device for work with photographs, for example, you may want to consider more serious models.
Iiyama, a well-known manufacturer of high-quality but rather expensive monitors, has recently tried to expand its influence down into the lowlands of the market. First, they introduced the ProLite series of LCD monitors that mostly belong to the middle-range price category, and now they unroll products under the “e-Yama” brand. The name of Iiyama Corporation can now only be found on the sticker at the monitor’s back panel. The front panel doesn’t have it – Iiyama probably doesn’t want its name to be associated with cheap produce (the average retail price of the 17JN1-S is only $430 at the time of writing this, while the junior model of the ProLite series, the E430S, costs $60 more).
The monitor is realized in a simple case, typical for many other models of this price range (you could see an exception above – the BenQ FP757 with a rather unusual design for its price). The front panel is painted dark-silver; the rear panel and the base are made of dark-gray plastic. Four control buttons, a power-on LED and a power-on button are placed in a row below the screen. As you see, there’re no memorable features in this monitor, no that seriousness of the exclusive Iiyama style like in the ProLite series and other, more expensive models.
The monitor is equipped with an analog input only, and there’s no connector: the cable is fixed and you won’t have an opportunity to change it easily. The power adapter is integrated into the case.
The control menu is rather humble, but user-friendly. You can quick-access the auto-adjustment feature, the brightness and contrast settings.
There are four color temperature settings for you to choose from: “5400K” (when selected, this setting produces 5210K white and 7080K gray colors), “6500K” (5840K and 9160K), “9300K” (8140K white and 17,150K gray), and “User” (by default, it produces 5400K white and 8600K gray colors). Note the wide swing of the white and gray temperatures, especially for the “9300K” setting – they differ in more than two times!
By default, the monitor’s brightness setting is set to 80%, contrast to 100%. To reach 100nit screen brightness, I selected 75% brightness and 60% contrast. The brightness of this monitor is regulated by modulation of the backlight lamps at a frequency of about 120Hz.
I can’t say anything more about the image quality than about the monitor’s own appearance: it’s normal and that’s all. I couldn’t find any visual artifacts – auto-adjustment worked fine, the color gradients had a neat look, and there was no noise in the picture. However, the overall color reproduction quality quite fits into the definition of a standard office monitor, and nothing more.
The hardware check of the color reproduction quality revealed one deficiency: the monitor doesn’t distinguish between some white tones (“doesn’t distinguish” means it produces all color tones of a certain range as one and the same color – in this case, as white).
This problem is usually solved by reducing the contrast (as you know, high contrast kills light tones, but low contrast does the same with dark tones). This recipe didn’t help here, though. The problem persisted even at the settings that produce 100nit screen brightness.
The response time didn’t please me, either. Despite the 25msec promised by the specification, it nearly hit 40msec. Well, the enormously high pixel fall time mostly accounts for that, so it’s not quite as bad as it seems and the ghosting effect is not too evident: the pixel rise time is 27msec, which is an acceptable value. Of course, the pixel rise time grows up on black-to-gray transitions, but it doesn’t exceed much the responsiveness of other monitors with true 25msec matrixes, like the above-described Acer AL1715.
The contrast ratio remained at an average level, about 250:1. This is twice below the specification, but many monitors are inconsistent with their own specs. Then, although the declared maximum brightness is 300nit (well, I don’t quite understand what a typical inexpensive office monitor needs so much brightness for…), the real brightness is just above 200nit.
In fact, the e-Yama 17JN1-S joined the ranks of clone-like inexpensive monitors, mostly intended for office use. There’s not much sense in taking such a device home, as a rule. It is not enough good for watching photographs, not enough fast for playing games, not enough contrastive for movies… At the same time, as an inexpensive office monitor for text-processing, the e-Yama 17JN1-S can find its niche in the market, although it has no memorable features that would single it out of the crowd of other monitors of this category.
The monitor has an original and rather bulky silver-colored case. The bezel is made of transparent plastic, on which the names of the control buttons are written – they are highlighted with blue when you touch a button.
This solution is beautiful in dark, but it has two drawbacks: you have to press a button twice to get into the menu (the first press only turns the highlighting on), and the buttons are located quite far from the monitor’s edge so you have to grope for the necessary button blindly. It would be easier for the user if the buttons were placed on the right edge of the case, and the Menu button outputted the menu and enabled highlighting at one time.
The developers of the G-Max GD-1701DL didn’t allow to be carried away with bright highlighting – I have complained about some monitors that their extra-bright LEDs are just distracting, especially if you’re working in a dark room. Then, the highlighting of the G-Max GD-1701DL automatically turns off after a press of a control button and there remains only one low-brightness green LED that signals that the device is on.
Thanks to the base, the position of the screen can be set in a wide range – you can end up facing the rear panel. There’s no portrait mode available, however, and the monitor’s base must be replaced with a VESA corbel for wall-mounting.
A version of this monitor, the GD-1701DLU model, features a USB hub integrated into the base.
The monitor is equipped with an analog and a digital input. It uses an external power adapter, notwithstanding its rather big dimensions. Well, sometimes it is even handier than an integrated adapter.
The menu is both ugly and awkward (well, these two factors usually go hand in hand); you can quick-access the auto-adjustment feature.
By default, the brightness control is set to 50%, the contrast control to 70%. 100nit screen brightness is achieved by choosing 20% brightness and 42% contrast. There are three color temperature settings in the menu: “9300” (in reality, it gives you 8110K white and 12,080K gray colors), “6500K” (6640K white and 8620K gray), “User” (by default, the temperatures with this setting are 8990K white and 14,110K gray).
The auto-adjustment works fine on connection by the analog input. The matrix is good at reproducing colors, but barely visible stripes are anyway discernable on smooth color gradients. The viewing angles are average as TN matrixes go – the vertical viewing area is narrow, and the top of the screen becomes dark when viewed from below.
The color curves are all right – the monitor conscientiously reproduces all the colors.
The response time is somewhat worse than the declared 16msec, but is overall typical for modern fast TN+Film matrixes. The maximum pixel rise time on black-to-gray transitions was only 25msec, so the total response time of the G-Max GD-1701DL never exceeds 30msec.
The contrast ratio is good, too. The level of black never goes above 0.66nit – very nice for a fast matrix – and the contrast ratio thus nearly hits 400:1.
So, the G-Max GD-1701DL is a good choice, especially as a home monitor. On the one hand, I have no reprimands concerning the image quality: color reproduction and contrast ratio and responsiveness are all good for that type of the matrix. Add also the nice eye-catching exterior. The device looks especially fascinating in darkness with its beautiful and unusual highlighting of the labels on the control buttons. However, I want to draw your attention once again to the fact that monitors on TN+Film matrixes are first of all suitable for games, while for work with photographs, vector graphics and text you may want to consider models with IPS and MVA/PVA matrixes first.
I already reviewed this model a few months ago (see our article called Closer Look at 17" LCD Monitors Features. Part III for details) and to a manufacturer’s reaction: they replied that monitors produced in 2004 had much better characteristics due to a new advanced matrix. So I couldn’t help but test this monitor once again. Note that the monitor I tested was not a special sample from the manufacturer, but one taken directly from the retail net – such monitors have been selling since the beginning of this year. According to the label at the monitor’s back, it was made in January 2004, while the previous model I tested was dated end of 2003.
The appearance of the H750S has nothing very remarkable about itself: a simple and large white-color case (with silver edging around the control buttons) stands on a massive base that only allows adjusting the screen tilt. The two oval elements at the bottom of the front panel are decorative covers over integrated speakers: the manufacturer preferred this solution to the ordinary perforation. Like the earlier-reviewed sample, this one lacks robustness: when you press the edge of the case, there appear dark stains on the matrix.
The monitor has an analog input as well as an audio input and a headphones output. The power unit is integrated into the case, but the dimensions of the base as well as of the monitor itself are big enough, so the thickness of the case is quite explicable.
In many multimedia monitors, the “+” and “-“ buttons provide access to the volume setting, sacrificing the access to brightness and contrast controls. The developers from Hansol chose another way – they added two more buttons, “Mute” and “Vol”, to the four traditional ones. This is convenient for the user: all the frequently adjusted settings of the monitor can now be accessed with one touch of a button.
Well, enough of the design impressions, since the monitor doesn’t differ externally from the H750S sample that I reviewed earlier; let’s get directly to the tests.
By choosing 65% brightness and 75% contrast, I achieved a screen brightness of 100nit. By default, the brightness and contrast settings are both set to 80%. The user-defined color temperature setting by default provides 7110K white and 8720K gray colors. The “6500K” setting gives you the following temperatures: 6980K white and 8530K gray. “9300” means 7510K white and 9280L gray. Gray color on this monitor has a slight tincture of green.
The color curves are very neat – better than in the sample I tested earlier.
The response time is only 21msec – a little better than the specified 24msec. Well, the previous sample had a response time of 23msec, so this divergence is rather small and fits into the measurement error range (besides the sensor’s fault, the response time may depend on the room temperature, for example).
The contrast ratio has grown considerably – it doubled in some modes. Last time, the low contrast ratio was listed by me among the main disadvantages of the H750S, but now it is at a good level, varying from 300:1 to 400:1, while the manufacturer announces a modest value of 350:1.
Thus, my tests suggest that the Hansol H750S manufactured in 2004 does have another, noticeably better matrix. The revised H750S can compete with other monitors of that price category on equal terms (as of the time of writing this, its average retail price was a little over $400). For example, in contrast to the above-described e-Yama model, it is simply winning due to a higher image quality at a lower price. Overall, the Hansol H750S can serve as an inexpensive home model as well as an office monitor for text-processing.
This monitor also belongs to the category of the inexpensive. Its retail price is roughly that of the above-described BenQ FP731. A closer inspection gave me a surprise: the LG Flatron 787LE is nearly an exact replica of the e-Yama 17JN-1S (see above), with the only exception of the control buttons. The cases of the two monitors are not just similar – they are absolutely identical! They have the same dimensions and the bases, and the 787LE also has a fixed video cable.
The explanation is actually simple – Iiyama wanted to expand its LCD monitor series down to the bottom of the market and just bought them from LG, slightly changing the exterior. They took the simplest models, by the way.
On second thought, there may be another explanation. Both companies may be buying their monitors from a third-party maker, considering it unrewarding to develop such a cheap model from ground up. This supposition is somewhat confirmed by the screen menu of the LG Flatron 787LE – it deviates from the standard menu of LG monitors.
Unlike the e-Yama 17JN1-S, the LG Flatron 787LE offers three color temperature settings instead of four: “User Color” (by default it produces 5460K white and 8010K gray colors); “6500K” (6060K and 8600K), and “9300K” (8170K and 13110K). To get to a screen brightness of 100nit, I dropped the brightness control to 40% and the contrast one to 75%. By default, they are both set to 100% - a typical thing with LG monitors.
The employed matrix has rather narrow viewing angles: the image becomes yellowish on a horizontal deflection by 25-30% and, like with all TN matrixes, darkish when viewed from below.
The auto-adjustment feature works fine; I had no gripes about the image sharpness. I also noticed no artifacts in smooth color gradients, although certain colors don’t look naturally in color photographs. Thus, the color reproduction of the LG Flatron 787LE can be characterized as “rather good”, but nothing more – well, that’s expectable from a device of that class. In other words, this monitor produces no visual artifacts in the displayed image, but anyway it is not a good choice for professional work with colors.
The color curves are well-shaped, only the level of blue is too high. Well, we could have guessed it by the big difference between the color temperatures of white and gray. The 787LE is free from the defect of the e-Yama 17JN1-S model, which didn’t differentiate between some light tones. At any settings, the 787LE fully reproduces the necessary color range.
The responsiveness of the 787LE resembles that of the 17JN1-S, only the maximum is shifted to the right in the graph:
The contrast ratio and brightness exceeded the parameters of the 17JN1-S, although LG specifies more modest values than Iiyama. Moreover, the maximum brightness is even higher than promised by the manufacturer:
Overall, the Flatron 787LE is nearly an exact copy of the above-described e-Yama 17JN1-S, but has a better contrast ratio. Then, the monitor from LG is much cheaper than the Iiyama model, and that’s important for their price category: price is the only advantage of these monitors over more serious products. In other words, I don’t recommend you to purchase the e-Yama 17JN1-S if you can have an LG Flatron 787LE instead.
This monitor has a cool-looking black case, the main disadvantage of which is the very wide bezel around the screen, and a high base that only allows changing the screen tilt, in a very small range. The case thickness, on the contrary, is small due to the use of an external power adapter.
The FilmView MV790 only has an analog input.
Three control buttons are placed on the right edge of the case, next to the power-on button. The menu is compact, easy to use; among non-standard settings I can mention an option of disabling dithering (the monitor uses an 18-bit matrix, so without dithering it would only display about 262 thousand colors). Alas, but the color reproduction is poor here – you see stripes in color gradients and the brightness of the gradient doesn’t change monotonously from black to any of the basic colors – the next stripe may be darker than the previous one. Of course, the image quality only degenerates when you disable dithering: the stripes become wider and the non-monotony of brightness increases.
By default, the brightness control is set to 80% and the contrast control to 50%. To get to 100nit screen brightness, I set them to 37% and 50%, respectively. The menu offers a selection of four color temperature settings: “9300K” (with this setting enabled, you get 6450K white and 11,840K gray colors), “6500” (6350K and 9370K), “5400” (5630K white and 8090K gray – the screen takes a slight pinkish shade on in this mode) and “User” (this is a user-defined setting, which is empty by itself. When you turn it on, the temperature is first set to the mode you have selected before it. In other words, you can change the temperature, but your value will be reset after you switch to any of the factory presets).
The auto-adjustment feature works fine on a one-pixel grid, but some noise is visible in the top part of the screen on a light-gray background at the maximum brightness. I didn’t succeed in removing this noise either with automatic or manual adjustment.
The viewing angles are good for a TN matrix, but the image is still dark when viewed from below. On a big deflection sideways, the image becomes slightly yellowish.
The color curves can be considered normal, with two remarks: the level of blue is too high and the darkest tones are not reproduced well.
My measurements of the monitor’s responsiveness indicated that it had a typical 25msec matrix inside. The full black-to-white-to-black transition takes 24msec, and the graph looks typical for this type of the matrix, without that sudden bend down to 10..12msec when the difference between the pixel’s initial and final states is big, like with 16msec matrixes.
The contrast ratio was deviating from 400:1 to 600:1 and more. This is very good for a TN+Film matrix, and resembles somewhat the results of PVA matrixes, which overall have a better contrast.
So, we’ve got a relatively good inexpensive monitor with a neat, although bulky, case, excellent contrast ratio, reasonable responsiveness and… very bad color reproduction. This monitor offers you the option of disabling dithering, and this opportunity only suggests that the realization of dithering is poor. Dithering doesn’t practically affect the quality of display of smooth color gradients and the number of reproduced colors. Thus, this monitor will suit for work with text (moreover, its low price makes it a good choice exactly for that application, compared to other models of the same price category), but it is a bad choice for work with photographs or any other color graphics. There’s another defect, too. The displayed image is a little noisy, but this defect is of less importance compared to the bad color reproduction.
We had mostly low-end and mainstream models in this article with an expected outcome – there’re no exceptional products among the reviewed samples.
The models from Acer were a bit disappointing. The AL1715 proved to be an improved AL1713, i.e. a rather good office monitor, but the AL1713m with a beautiful aluminum case couldn’t show its best – its contrast ratio is lower than that of a majority of competitors. However, this is mostly noticeable in full dark, and, considering the use of so bright LEDs, the manufacturer doesn’t intend these monitors for working in dark. The widescreen AL1751W is a good representative of its class, but its main problem is in the limitedness of this very class: in fact, it is only good for watching movies. Its matrix is too slow for games and too bright and low-contrast for work (it’s a common truth that MVA matrixes provide a good contrast ratio, but it is not always so in reality).
Also among inexpensive models, the products from BenQ deserve some attention, especially the FP747 model, which combines a low price with good characteristics and original design, remarkable against the common uniformity of low-end models. On the other hand, this very design may repel customers who prefer a more serious style.
Gigabyte didn’t spoil the show with its G-Max GD-1701DL model, which is a good home monitor with a nice appearance – I mean the control buttons in the first place – and acceptable parameters.
Hansol really improved the characteristics of their monitor, using a newer matrix. Thus, the older model performs well enough against new competitor products. If you’re planning to buy a H750S, take a note of its production date (well, I guess you’re unlikely to meet a sample made half a year ago, but anyway).
The LG Flatron 787LE looks appealing enough, but mostly due to its very low price. Throwing in $15-20 more, you can purchase a function-rich and pretty model, even from the same LG. IN such circumstances, the market fate of the e-Yama 17JN1-S seems downright poor. This monitor is a twin brother of the 787LE, but had worse results in the tests and costs more, exceeding the price of the models from BenQ, Gigabyte and others.
The FilmView MV790 from Macroview spoiled the impression with its nasty color reproduction: you are offered an option to disable dithering in this model, but this only means that the implementation of dithering is bad. Anyway, the MV790 may serve well in applications that don’t need precise color reproduction (for example, for work with text), especially considering its low price.