by Oleg Artamonov
10/17/2009 | 09:42 AM
Some time ago I tested a pair of Nvidia GeForce 3D Vision stereoscopic glasses together with a compatible Samsung SyncMaster 2233RZ monitor and they proved to add a whole new dimension to gaming. By building images for the right and left eyes separately, the 3D Vision delivers a true 3D image in games, movies and even photographs (of course, specially prepared ones). This is not some kind of emulation. This is indeed true 3D that is produced in the same way as we perceive the three dimensions of the real world around us.
As I wrote in that review, one of the key advantages of the 3D Vision technology is its compatibility with monitors from any manufacturer provided that the monitor supports a refresh rate of 120Hz and has a good enough response time. I also wrote that other brands would soon present some competition to Samsung. A few months have passed and I can offer you the test results of a new 120Hz monitor from ViewSonic. The model is called FuHzion VX2268wm and it is already available in shops.
Apart from its high refresh rate, the monitor is no different from other home-oriented models in its parameters. It is based on a TN matrix with response time compensation. The screen is 22 inches large and has a native resolution of 1680x1050 pixels. The monitor has got both analog and digital inputs.
Use the following link for a description of our testing methodology and the equipment we use as well as for a brief explanation of what the specified and tested parameters of LCD monitors mean: X-bit Labs Presents: LCD Monitors Testing Methodology In Depth. If you feel overwhelmed with the numbers and terms this article abounds in, check out an appropriate section of the mentioned article for explanation.
You can also check out the Monitors section of our site if this review doesn’t cover the model you are interested in.
The monitor has a black glossy case and a rather elegant appearance:
Going around the case and splitting the stand in two halves, the silvery band adds a nice touch to this design. The VX2268wm would look much duller without it.
What I don’t like in this design is that the stand is too tall like in many other ViewSonic monitors. Ergonomics requires that your eyes be at the same level with the top edge of the screen (in this case you are looking down on the screen and your eyes are half-covered with your lids, which prevents your eyes from drying out and straining). If the screen is large and the stand is tall, you can only achieve this by sitting in a chair of an appropriate height, which is not always possible or convenient.
In the center of the front panel, right below the manufacturer’s name, there is a blue LED indicator of power. Fortunately, it is not very bright and not disturbing at work.
The monitor’s stand, like in most other modern home-oriented models, only allows to adjust the tilt of the screen. The adjustment range is rather small. However, you can take the stand off and replace it with a standard VESA mount to fasten the monitor to a wall or desk.
As opposed to the Samsung SyncMaster 2233RZ, the ViewSonic has both analog and digital inputs. It must be connected via dual-link DVI interface in order to work at a refresh rate of 120Hz. An appropriate cable is included into the box. If you want to replace it, take note that you need a DL-DVI rather than a single-link DVI cable for this monitor.
To the left of the video inputs there is an audio connector: the VX2268wm comes with integrated speakers. Like other speakers of this kind, these are small and low-quality devices only suitable for Windows messages. A standalone speaker system is going to be much more appropriate for games.
The power adapter is integrated into the case.
The monitor’s controls are centered on the bottom edge of the front panel. They are not visible from the front but can be easily found by touch, being small, protruding and round. Unfortunately, their labels are pressed out in the black plastic and barely readable. You have to remember the function of each button by heart (by the way, the Menu and Choice buttons are labeled as “1” and “2” as is typical of ViewSonic’s monitors). There are only four buttons (plus a separately placed Power button), though, so this shouldn’t be a big problem.
The onscreen menu is ViewSonic’s standard one. Its interface has not changed for ages. The selection of settings is normal. You can see the same in most other home monitors. The only special option is that you can switch between different response time compensation modes.
Quick access (by pressing a single button, without entering the main menu) is provided to the Contrast, Brightness and Volume settings.
The monitor offers a dynamic contrast mode, but you can only turn it on from deep within the main menu. As dynamic contrast only makes sense for movies and is rather bad for office applications, it is always preferable to have the option of turning it on and off quickly. The lack of such an option makes dynamic contrast less useful.
Take note of the Response Time item here. It allows choosing an operation mode of the response time compensation technology. I will discuss the available modes and their effect on the monitor’s responsiveness shortly.
If you often work in nonnative (other than 1680x1050) resolutions, you may want to uncheck the Resolution Notice item. Then you will never see the notice with a recommendation to change video mode.
The rest of the settings are standard enough: color temperature modes, menu position and timeout, image adjustment for analog connection, etc.
I tested the monitor’s response time in two modes: at a refresh rate of 60Hz and 120Hz.
When the monitor works at a refresh rate of 60Hz, you can choose from three response time compensation modes: Standard, Advanced and Ultrafast. Let’s check them out one by one.
The Standard mode turns RTC off altogether, transforming the VX2268wm into an ordinary, not-very-fast 5ms monitor. As you may already know from our reviews, these 5 milliseconds are measured for a black-white-black transition. If the average of all halftone-to-halftone transitions is calculated, you will get a less pretty number of 15.4 milliseconds (GtG).
The monitor speeds up as soon as you switch it into the Advanced mode: the response time average is reduced to 3.0 milliseconds (GtG), the slowest transition taking hardly more than 5 milliseconds.
The average level of accompanying image artifacts is 5.5%, which is rather good.
The average pixel relaxation time (the time a pixel takes to fall back to the desired level after an RTC miss) is 13.7 milliseconds, which is normal. So, if you are going to use the FuHzion VX2268wm for games without stereo glasses at 60Hz, you won’t be disappointed. The monitor is fast and the visual artifacts provoked by RTC are inconspicuous.
The Ultrafast mode lowers the response time average to 2.2 milliseconds (GtG). But what is the price of this reduction?
Alas, the RTC error average grows up to 19.2%.
The average pixel relaxation time is now as high as 28.2 milliseconds. That’s more than enough for RTC-provoked artifacts to be perfectly visible: they show up in moving objects as light edges and rainbow patterns.
Thus, at a refresh rate of 60Hz the Advanced mode is the most optimal. The monitor is both fast and accurate then. The Standard mode makes the LCD matrix slow whereas the Ultrafast mode is not as much faster than Advanced as to make up for the greatly increased level of visual artifacts.
When you switch the monitor to 120Hz, the RTC mode menu becomes unavailable. Why? If the response time or RTC errors increase above a certain level, the image in stereo mode will double (the monitor won’t be quick enough to switch between the left-eye and right-eye frames during the time when both lenses of the glasses are opaque). Therefore the monitor is set up for one and the most optimal mode. You’ll see right now what mode it is.
The response time average is 2.9 milliseconds (GtG) which is similar to the 60Hz Advanced mode.
The level of artifacts is much lower: it is now a mere 3.1% as compared with 5% in the Advanced mode.
And it is even better in terms of the time the RTC-related artifacts linger on the screen: this period is reduced from 13.7 to 5.2 milliseconds. By the way, it was the same thing with the Samsung SyncMaster 2233RZ: its RTC error level lowered when the monitor was switched from 60 to 120Hz, too.
Compared with the 2233RZ, the ViewSonic has a somewhat better response time and a lower level of visual artifacts. Both things are hugely important for the stereo mode to work correctly because they determine if the image is going to double or not.
By the way, I recommend setting the refresh rate of 120Hz without any stereo mode, too, and even if your graphics card cannot yield 120 frames per second because the monitor will deliver an excellent speed and a minimum level of artifacts then.
The monitor has 100% Brightness and 70% Contrast by default. I achieved a 100nit white by selecting 50% Brightness and 55% Contrast.
The monitor’s brightness is average as today’s monitors go, being slightly lower than 300 nits. The same goes for the contrast ratio which is about 700:1. In the dynamic contrast mode my calibrator could not measure the level of black, reporting zeroes.
In stereo mode the monitor’s brightness is set at maximum automatically while all user settings are blocked. This is due to the fact that the monitor’s brightness is controlled by means of backlight modulation at a frequency of 330Hz. If you set it below 100%, the flickering of the backlight lamps would add up to the switching of the stereo glasses, producing highly undesirable effects.
The average uniformity of white brightness is 5.7% with a maximum deflection of 13.7%. For black, the average and maximum are 7.4% and 16.6%, respectively. The pictures above (built basing on the measurement results) show that there are no contrasting spots in the screen. There are darker corners on white and brighter top and bottom of the screen on black.
The monitor has a standard color gamut which is similar to the sRGB color space.
At the default settings the gamma curves for red and green are close to the theoretical curve for gamma 2.2, but the blue curve is sagging.
But when the Contrast setting is reduced, the curves smooth out and get closer to each other as well as to the theoretical curve (painted black in the diagram).
The ViewSonic VX2268wm offers five preset color temperature modes. The sRGB and 6500 modes are the most accurate ones. The temperature dispersion among the different grays is rather small, although green is slightly excessive. These modes differ from each other in that the 6500 mode makes all user settings available whereas the sRGB mode blocks the Contrast setting.
When I adjusted the monitor manually (in the User mode), I set Contrast at 50 and chose R=91, G=87 and B=100. You can see the result of my manipulations above: it is quite close to ideal.
As you can see from the table, the difference between the different grays is no bigger than 300K in the 6500 mode and with the manual setup. This is an excellent result for a home/gaming monitor.
ViewSonic has come up with a worthy competitor for the Samsung SyncMaster 2233RZ which has been the single option for users who wanted to play true 3D games. In comparison with the 2233RZ, the ViewSonic FuHzion VX2268wm features a higher image quality in terms of color accuracy and response time. The latter parameter is especially important for 3D monitors because it determines how much and in what scenes the doubling of the image in stereo mode is going to be conspicuous. With the 2233RZ you can sometimes see unwanted contours in dark objects on a light background (e.g. in buildings against the sky). These artifacts can still be noticed on the VX2268wm but have become weaker. They were not a big problem even on the Samsung monitor, so they are even less of a problem on the ViewSonic.
I did not describe my impressions about wearing stereo glasses although I did check the monitor out in several games. My impressions just do not differ from those described earlier. The image is truly three-dimensional and looks very realistic. There are no serious problems with support of games (if the game uses DirectX). Since my first test of the stereo glasses, the option of viewing stereo photos has been added. You can make such photos with any digital camera and with minimum effort. You can also save stereoscopic screenshots of games. Overall, Nvidia GeForce 3D Vision technology remains preferable for home use over alternative technologies in such aspects as image quality, game support, availability of monitors and projectors from different brands. Its perspectives are highlighted by the fact that Samsung, Panasonic and Sony have already announced their presence on the home 3D market. All of them use active shutter stereo glasses like the GeForce 3D Vision. In the next year we are going to see TV-sets, projectors, players, notebooks and game consoles with stereo mode support. And considering that Sony plays a big role in the movie industry, we can hope for 3D movies targeted at such equipment to appear soon, too.
Returning to the comparison with the Samsung SyncMaster 2233RZ, I should say that I view these models as equals. Although the FuHzion VX2268wm is somewhat better in setup quality, the 2233RZ has better ergonomics: a lower case, a steadier stand, MagicBright modes (for changing the brightness of the screen quickly), a handier way of turning dynamic contrast on and off, etc. It is hard to choose between the SyncMaster 2233RZ and FuHzion VX2268wm if both cost the same money as each is interesting and good in terms of technology.
If you are not interested in the stereo mode, but want a good and fast gaming monitor, you should still consider 120Hz models. My tests have proved it once again that this refresh rate helps combine a very high speed of the matrix with a very low level of RTC artifacts.