Forget swine flu, we have been well and truly bitten, or smitten by the slim bug in nearly every aspect of our lives. We’ve taken the plunge and sweated our way to a cellulite free existence. We’ve thrown out our old idiot boxes and invested hard earned cash on sexy new flat panel displays. We’ve even fallen for Apple’s new slim notebooks and have put away our clunky old laptops in anticipation of acquiring one of these beauties. Sleek cellphones… slim PMPs, what’s next? Slim washing machines and refrigerators? Indeed, a few years down the line, designers may come up with something on those lines. People have also bucked the prevailing recessionary trend by splurging on the super slim LED displays that have just emerged in stores around the country. After all, it’s only by spending more that the economic laws of supply and demand can do their job.
Click here to listen to a podcast on what LCD monitors are and what to look for when buying one
LCD monitors aren’t as hot as LCD and plasma televisions since they’ve been in markets for much longer and most people already own one. However, prices that crashed sometime early last year have continued to fall and today one can buy a 22-inch monitor for under Rs10,000. One of the reasons for these falling prices is the economics related to large-scale production that all manufacturers have cashed in on. Allied technologies have also become cheaper as a result of the burgeoning demand. Larger panels are becoming more prevalent as more and more people want a better viewing experience. Size matters, as any gamer or HTPC user will tell you. Even if all you want to do is surf, there is just no substitute for a larger display area. Gone are the days when a 19-inch display was the de facto standard — these days settle for nothing less than a 22-inch monitor.
LCD Monitor Test for 19-inch, 20-inch and 22-inch (click here)
LCD Monitor Test for 23-inch, 24-inch and 26-inch (click here)
This year we considerably ramped up our test process. Firstly, we used a display calibrator, the DataColor Spyder 3 Elite and each of the monitors was carefully calibrated before testing them. We decided not to test 14, 15, and 17-inch LCDs this year since 19-inch displays have become so affordable. A trend we hope to see continue was the presence of larger panels, namely the 24- and 26-inch categories. Last year we only received one 24-inch display; this year we came across three of them. TN panels abound because of their cheaper price point but there are still a few high-end S-IPS and PVA panels floating around and although we weren’t able to get our hands on all of them, we did have some participation from this category.
26 and 24-inch LCDs –
These two categories represent the top of the pyramid of LCD monitors available today. This size category is also where one would find the high-end PVA and
IPS LCD panels, and in general, the best specifications. It’s also the costliest of the categories in test, and in general a 24-inch display will cost you at least Rs. 15,000, while a high-end monitor could cost upward of Rs. 75,000. One of the most pleasing things about these two size categories is the resolution – a whopping 1920 x 1200 pixels; this is even higher than the 1080p HD resolution that equates to 1920 x 1080 pixels. The bigger viewing area is another plus. Obviously, such a resolution is just what the doctor prescribed for gamers who want all the details at higher resolutions but one also needs a super graphics card to pull off gaming at this resolution in high detail. Image editing professionals also look at higher-end panels in these size categories. Do note since both 24- and 26-inch displays pack the same number of pixels on-screen, the pixel pitch on a 26-inch display is larger and for some the 24-inch may look marginally crisper due to the pixels being grouped closer together, although our eyes could not discern significant difference.
NEC’s MultiSync 2690WUXi sports a smooth satin-like finish and is a relief from the other piano-glossy finished panels. It’s black in colour and the build looks
decidedly industry grade, with very rugged construction of the stand that incorporates a tilt, swivel and a portrait mode — top-notch build quality. For its size, the bezel is incredibly thin and the menu system and buttons very well laid out with a helpful on-screen indication of the menu buttons in case you’re groping in the dark. This display has a host of options for changing colour gamut, saturation, hue and whiteness level; also on board is an option for enabling and disabling HDCP.
NEC’s MultiSync 2490WUXi2 looks identical to the 26-inch version and also sports the same AS-IPS panel. Build quality is exemplary and the swivel and tilt mechanisms work very well – great quality of movable parts. The NEC AccuSync 24WMCX has a decidedly value look to it, and it’s evident this one is built for relatively conservative users – we say relatively because this cheaper display still costs a whopping Rs36,000. It has a brilliant menu system but the lower bezel is annoyingly wide, unlike the other NEC displays.
The ASUS VK266H also looks neat, with a smooth black finish and a slim bezel, despite the two-megapixel web camera built into the top bezel. This monitor has good build quality. The menu layout is very good but the control buttons are horrible.
AOC’s 2434Pw rounds off the large monitors. It’s also the cheapest, at Rs14,500, but isn’t any shabbier looking for it. AOC uses a rather unique colour scheme – silver and piano white and quite honestly it’s a refreshing change from the usual black LCDs we come across. In fact, this display is well built and has a very neat tilt mechanism. The only sore point is that the barrel of the stand pokes above the top bezel, and if the display is viewed at eye level the tip of the barrel is visible — not exactly an eyesore but an aesthetic flaw to be sure. It’s resolution is exactly 1920 x 1080, meaning it’s designed to be used mainly for watching movies.
The ASUS VK266H did well in the reverse text tests with only white on yellow and cyan on green being hard to read. The 16-shade ramp test didn’t do well with the colour red, where three blocks, the 9th, 10th, 11th block on the top row looked similar. The contrast ratio tests were also mediocre, and there was a noticeable orange tinge to things when viewed from wide horizontal angles. Vertical viewing angles are impossible due to the TN panel under the hood although we noticed this panel was worse than some of the other TN panels around and a slight change in the vertical viewing angle changes the picture characteristics significantly. The rendition of green was good, while we noticed banding when displaying reds and blues. With its good brightness and contrast this monitor is good for games, but movies will be a problem, if only due to the poor viewing angles.
AOC’s 2434Pw surprised us with its performance – it did far better than we expected and belied its price. Owing to its TN panel, the colour rendition in Display Mate was really poor and the 256-shade ramp test revealed a highly deficient colour gamut. None of this was too evident in the movie test and other than a few glitches everything looked fine. It also has pretty decent viewing angles for a low-end display. NEC’s AccuSync 24WMCX didn’t have as wide a colour gamut as the other two NEC displays and although it did well in the Display Mate tests we weren’t impressed with it because of the price tag. It’s good for movies and games, although the contrast ratio isn’t as good as we’d like for bringing out the finer detail in F.E.A.R; but Crysis looked pretty good.
On to the other two NEC displays, both of which are based on high-end LCD panels. For some reason the MultiSync 2690WUXi seemed not to have as fast a pixel response as the MultiSync 2490WUXi2, but this is not very noticeable. We found the contrast to be slightly inadequate for some scenes in the video clips where we felt some detail was missing from the darker areas of the screen. But to be honest, it’s only MVA and PVA panels that can improve on the performance of these displays, as most IPS panels do not have as good contrast ratios. Both these monitors provided an amazingly rich experience with Crysis and the highlighted detailing on the bodysuit and weapons was something we’ve not seen before. The vividness of colour, contrast and the level of detail provided are pretty amazing and it’s hard not to smile after gaming or watching movies on these monitors. The MultiSync 2690WUXi also has the widest viewing angles and betters its excellent sibling in this regard.
With sterling colour performance that was accurate and very close to an ideal colour gamut, the NEC MultiSync 2690WUXi was the undisputed winner of our Best Performer award. It’s equally suitable for image professionals and multimedia/gaming junkies. It’s also remarkably well built. Its sibling, the MultiSync 2490WUXi2, comes very close to it but loses out because of its slightly worse viewing angles. The only pinch is the price, i.e. Rs90,000. A shade below is the 2490WUXi2 priced at Rs83,000. If you demand the best, shell out big – you’ll cry but once. These NEC panels are also a must for any sort of work that demands high colour accuracy. If you need studio grade colour accuracy in your work and desire a flat panel you have no option but to shell out for an IPS or PVA panel or one of their derivatives. If you’re looking for a large panel on the cheap, and colour accuracy isn’t that important to you, check out the AOC 2434Pw — at Rs14,500 you will not find a comparable display at a better price.
22-inch monitors –
Settle for no less
We received 13 monitors in this category, obviously the most populous one in this test. Although the native resolution for a 22-inch monitor is usually 1680 x 1050 pixels, some of these displays supported 1080p with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels; these are obviously aimed at movie buffs wanting HD content without the ugly black bars on the top and bottom of the picture. Widescreen displays can either support an aspect ratio of 16:10 or 16:9; the former is a better all-purpose resolution while the latter is better for purely HD content. Most 22-inch displays are based on cheaper TN panels and this is why they are so affordable. We were shocked to see a couple of displays priced at well below Rs9,000; something we didn’t think possible. The market is flooded with 22-inch monitors, and there is no dearth of choice, so if you are still holding on to a smaller monitor, whether CRT or LCD, now is the time to spend.
Dell’s E228WFP is an older monitor that was well ahead of its time. This display is extremely well built with a matte finished black body and sports a very good fit and finish. The stand is excellent and looks super sleek and all mechanical parts seem extremely rugged. The ultra slim bezel adds to its appeal, while the menu system is also intuitive and the buttons very usable. HP’s LE2201w also sports an industrial grade finish and although it’s not as sleek as the E228WFP, most will appreciate the great build quality, although we doubt it’s aesthetics as it has a rather squat, unappealing look.
ASUS’ VK222Hs bezel is narrow enough for it to pass as sleek and the contoured design is neat. The menu system is well laid out, unfortunately it has horrible buttons like its larger sibling. ViewSonic’s VX2233 sports a piano black finish that is the norm these days and this display has a narrow bezel surrounding a high-resolution (1920 x 1080 pixels) screen. The DVI port is extremely close to the barrel of the stand and inserting a DVI cable isn’t easy as the width of the connector means it foils with the stand. On top of this the port is rather recessed – another ergonomic slip up.
Intex had two monitors in this category: the IT-2003W was pretty ordinary looking with decent build quality but somewhat of a quirky stand that doesn’t keep the display 100 per cent stable. Their 2202TVP sports a large, heavy, metal stand and this model comes bundled with a wireless remote control unit. At first we thought it might have television capabilities but there was no connect for a TV cable, although composite and HDMI connects have been provided. The bezel was quite wide on the sides owing to the inbuilt speaker grilles; this makes this monitor look larger than one would expect.
Samsung sent in two displays. The SyncMaster P2250 is an attractive looking monitor with touch controls that are backlit and beautifully made, with good attention to detail — each icon is well backlit and very readable both under fluorescent lighting and in darkness. The on-screen menu is also not in the centre of the monitor but to the right – a fact that we highly appreciated since when testing we need access to the menu systems and our Spyder calibration unit sits on the middle of the screen causing visibility problems — if only more manufacturers gave this option! The 2233RZ was the other Samsung monitor; this one looked really neat with its smart glossy black body and matte screen. The speciality here is this displays’ refresh rate, at 120 hertz it is double that of normal displays. This monitor is intended to be used with 3D glasses and other such gear to enable a realistic 3D gaming experience, and although it’s rather unfair to compare it to other displays in this comparison, we are going to do precisely that.
AOC had the strongest presence in this category with four models, some of which were rather special. The V22 was radically different from anything we’ve seen. Firstly it has a dark blue colour and a wide bezel. The appearance is attractive but in a garish sort of way. Secondly, it was by far the lightest monitor we’ve ever had the distinction of hefting, far lighter than even a 17-inch display. We discovered this was due to the fact that unlike most LCDs that are CCFL backlit, this one had a white LED (WLED) backlight, meaning the display was slimmer and hopefully a better performer. The AOC F22 embodies a novel concept with a bottom bezel that can also be used as a handle to carry the display, albeit upside down. The stand is similar to a photo frame stand and is detachable. The front is piano black while the rear is glossy white and this contrast really sets the display off. The shape of the stand is weird, something even Priapos would be proud of. The AOC 2230Fm has a neat menu system, the on-screen display is clear and well laid out and the controls are via a simple four-way joypad with a huge backlit centre button. The buttons work well and although it looks fancy, navigation is really simple. The display bezel is quite narrow, except for the top portion that widens out. A chrome trim on the lower part of the bezel adds a little flavour to what is a plain-looking display by AOCs standards, judging from others we’ve seen so far. And the best part – this monitor has additional USB ports and a memory card reader integrated into the back, and along with a wireless remote unit one can enjoy movies, music and photos without a PC, a unique feature and one that is sure to find many eager takers.
The last of the AOC foursome was the 2236Vw, a well built monitor with a really shaky stand, the first gripe we had with this brand. The front bezel is piano black and the rim of the bezel is wide. Due to this, some reflections of the on-screen image can be seen on the rim of the bezel and while not too distracting, it is noticeable. The last display we looked at was the NEC 2190UXp and this display is based on a high-end S-PVA panel. It sports the same industry grade build as the other NEC designs and has an identical stand mechanism. The bezel is the same size as the 24- and 26-inch panels but looks wider owing to the smaller size of the display. This panel had a 4:3 aspect ratio with a resolution of 1600 x 1200 pixels.
Dell’s E228WFP that impressed us two years ago no longer stands out when compared to the latest crop of displays. In our tests it didn’t handle Crysis well and the colours look washed out with poorer HDR performance. In the Display Mate intensity tests the contrast was not good. It’s good enough for movies but the reds and blues are a bit dull. On a positive note, the brightness level in movies is good, excellent for detailing, and the pixel response is good enough for a satisfactory movie experience.
Samsung’s SyncMaster P2250 did well in the grey scale intensity check; in the colour spectrum test the rendition of all the primary colours was good although the ability with blue and green didn’t seem as broad – this was surprising, since most monitors do well with green – the most discernable colour. In the 16-shade intensity test the two highest intensities are pretty close to blending with the others – not good. It did fairly well in the games, particularly Crysis, but the performance with videos was pretty mediocre.
ViewSonic’s VX2233WM didn’t impress us with poor performance in the shade ramp tests and very mediocre performance in the video tests and Crysis. In F.E.A.R., the shadows were not realistic at all, and we could spot anomalies. There was also a lot of noise in the darker regions of the screen.
The ASUS VK222H did decently in the colour spectrum test with good rendition of green, but with banding in the transitions from yellow to red and dark blue to light blue. In the grey squares intensity check it didn’t do as well as the bigger ASUS VK266H, a poorer measured contrast ratio being the culprit. It’s viewing angles are quite poor – a pity for movie junkies. The Intex 2203W performed poorly in the F.E.A.R test with poor quality shadows, but it wasn’t as bad as the Intex 2202TVP that had rusty brown patches in the deepest part of the shadows in F.E.A.R – evidently the contrast ratio is not good enough for gaming. Interestingly, this game did not display any other glaring flaws in Crysis or other parts of F.E.A.R., but the colours and contrast were not as vivid as we’d like. It’s a poor choice for movies as well, so give this one a wide berth.
NEC’s 2190UXp does very well in Display Mate in the colour gamut test but there was banding noticeable in the blue segment, especially the transition from blue to cyan. It has an excellent contrast ratio, the benefits of which were most noticeable in movies and Crysis, both of which look vivid with startlingly realistic colours. Only the 2690WUXi and 2490WUXi2 did better.
AOC’s 2230Fm was the best performer of the company’s 22-inch offerings. We loved the way Crysis looked, especially for a TN panel – detailed environments and good colour and brightness levels. The sun flare and HDR effects were also excellent, with good detailing on weapons that is not always visible on the lower quality TN panels. We also used the display for playing videos and photos sans a computer – but quality is poor, and although the display itself is good the in-built engine for multimedia playback isn’t and it’s also picky about the formats used.
The AOC V22 was a surprising let down in Display Mate; we expected more from this WLED panel in terms of colour, but this was not to be. It’s fairly good for movies, with good detailing and contrast and does well in games. The AOC F22 also did well in our game tests and outperforms the AOC 2230Fm in F.E.A.R. across all tests except contrast, which is important for enjoying this game. Crysis is enjoyable and the viewing angles, while not as good as non-TN panels, are fair.
The AOC 2236Vw was the last of the quartet tested and is a decent monitor with good contrast and colours. Although its performance in Display Mate left something to be desired, especially with the 256-shade ramp test, on the whole it made up for this with the gaming and movie tests.
HP’s LE2201w has good viewing angles for a TN panel based display, but little else, its performance in the gaming tests was mediocre at best.
AOCs 2230Fm was the pick of the lot when it comes to sheer value for money.
It’s got a few additional features, but other than that is a superb display at a good price. Sure you can get better S-PVA panels but then you’d need to spend at least five times more. For Rs14,000 it’s our Best Buy in the 22-inch category. If you desire pure quality and you must have a 22-inch display (no bigger), then NEC’s 2190UXp will satisfy – an S-PVA panel and some excellent scores throughout the slew of tests thrown at it, but it’s not cheap and will make you poorer by a good Rs75,000. If you desire something really cheap, look at AOC’s 2236Vw, a good all-round performer at an astoundingly low price of Rs8,700.
20-inch monitors – between rock bottom and a larger screen
20-inch displays are the big boys of yesteryear. Before the coming of the 22-inch monitor there was a time when the 20-inch wide screen monitor ruled supreme. As kings of the LCD monitor domain these displays had a resolution of 1680 x 1050 pixels, which was way higher than widescreen 19-inch monitors that could manage only 1440 x 900 pixels. 22-inch monitors have the same resolution as the 20-inch displays but offer a bigger screen. These have found a wide fan base with gamers and movie aficionados. Most 22-inch monitors sport very cheap TN panels and these monitors have been the catalysts of the price crash, but a few of the smaller, less popular 20-inch displays are still available.
Dell’s ST2010 is a neat looking monitor that has a narrow piano-black finished bezel; the rear is piano white and gently rounded, giving it a very Apple-like look. Build quality is good, but the stand is very mediocre. Acer’s P205H has a glossy LCD panel and is neat looking with a piano black finish and a decent looking bezel. It’s also pretty slim though not anywhere as slim as a WLED display. AOC’s 2036Sa is another neat looker with a reasonably slim bezel. The stand is oval shaped with a simplistic look but well finished in glossy black; its tilt mechanism is stiff. Intex’ IT-2002W is a well-built LCD with a steadier stand than the 22-inch Intex 2202TVP; build quality is good, though the surface finish is a simplistic smooth black. Weirdly, all these 20-inch displays supported the ultra widescreen 16:9 viewing format and their resolution was identical at 1600 x 900 pixels apiece.
Intex’ IT-2002W has good brightness levels and a decent enough contrast to make movies a fun experience, but we’d like a wider colour gamut; this is also one of the reasons why Display Mate wasn’t kind to this panel, with some mediocre scores. Dell’s ST2010 was the best 20-inch display when it came to gaming – good colour, a decent contrast ratio that allowed good detailing under Crysis. The only test where it lagged behind was the 256-shade ramp where we found the higher intensities and extreme lower intensities tended to blend noticeably. Both Acer’s P205H and AOC’s 2036Sa had issues in the reverse text tests, where white on a yellow background and cyan on a green background were nearly impossible to read. A couple of other colour combinations are also barely discernable. The P205H did well in the gaming tests, especially Crysis where good weapon and suit details were visible. Its viewing angles are also pretty good for a TN panel and it did well in the movie tests.
As for the 2036Sa from AOC, it wasn’t too hot. Firstly, the reds seem compressed in some videos with visible noise. In the 16-shade intensity ramp the pinks, greys and greens have a problem at the highest intensities where the two highest intensity colours seem to merge – this problem is visible with all the other colours as well though it’s not as severe. Colour breadth for red and blue was not as wide as we’d like. As a result, we didn’t like the experience when playing Crysis on this display.
Acer’s P205H emerges as our Best Buy – it’s a good all-round performer at a sweet price. Rs7,500 is a good price point and until a year ago you would only get you a 19-inch CRT monitor. In fact, with the exception of the Dell ST2010 (Rs. 8,900) all the other monitors were pretty affordable. The Dell might be worth a look if you want something for gaming, but to be honest, if you could spend a bit more and pick up a 22-inch display, you’d also have a lot more variety.
19-inch monitors – Fresh minnows
These monitors represent, for us, the minimum size bracket you should look at. Some people protest saying they only want to surf and will never need a bigger screen – a common statement and also one that is most often proven wrong. There’s nothing like “enough” when it comes to screen size. Since the only way to interface with your PC is by what you see on-screen, ultimately no paltry 15-inch display will satisfy for very long. Even if you’re not a gamer or a movie junkie eventually every PC user craves for more viewable real estate and today’s websites are also rich enough with multimedia content to advocate a larger display.
Of the six 19-inch monitors we tested three had weird resolutions of 1366 x 768 pixels – this resolution is more used on 26- and 32-inch LCD TVs. This also allows these monitors to natively support 720p (1280 x 720 pixels) content. These were two models from AOC and the Samsung SyncMaster D190. The ViewSonic VA1928wm was the only monitor to support a 16:10 aspect ratio and a resolution of 1440 x 900 pixels. The other two NEC displays had resolutions of 1280 x 1024 pixels and were clearly aimed at business, medical and industry segments with their high-end panels, superb build quality and fully functional (rotate, pivot, portrait mode), stands. All the high-end panel-based NEC displays have two DVI ports – one DVI-D (digital) and one DVI-I (analogue and digital). These, and the MultiSync 1990FXp were the only exceptions with a single DVI-D port. The 1990FXp has the same menu system as the 24- and 26-inch NECs but the up/down selection buttons are on the bottom bezel along with the right/left buttons.This creates confusion when using the menus, for while all the controls have legends onscreen that indicate their usage, the button layout is not intuitive, unlike the excellent menu layout on the larger NEC displays and the 1990SX. The reason for not having the up/down buttons on the vertical portion of the bezel is apparent when one considers the slimness of the bezel – the thinnest in the entire test.
The Samsung D190 has a nifty photo-frame type stand though it’s not very stable.ViewSonic’s VA1928wm is the simpleton amongst the 19-inch displays – it has a decent plain black finish but there’s nothing really attractive about it. The AOC 831s looks neat with a nice piano black design and a lower bezel that droops towards the middle.
The NEC 1990SX has very wide viewing angles owing to the S-IPS panel used. Slight backlight bleeding was noticed at all four corners although unevenly; for
example, it was really noticeable at the bottom right corner while at the top left corner wass barely noticeable. This monitor has great brightness levels. It didn’t do as well in the gaming tests, and Crysis’ colours didn’t look as crisp and lovely as on the other S-IPS panels. It’s very good for viewing movies, but we didn’t like the aspect ratio; this is the reason we deducted extra points in the movie test. The same goes for the NEC 1990FXp – a good panel with an amazing contrast ratio that brought the shadows in F.E.A.R to life and made playing the game a fun experience.
The AOC F19 did very well with Crysis, with some good environment detail and the colours looked really crisp. F.E.A.R. wasn’t as good because of its problems with reproducing accurate shadows – it doesn’t do as well with lower intensity shades. The Samsung D190 has a good contrast ratio, but the resolution of 1360 x 768 is not perfect for every type of application. The simple ViewSonic VA1928wm did quite well. Post calibration, this was one of the few displays that actually seemed to have cooler looking colours, most of the other monitors seemed to look a little warmer after calibration. It’s got a decent colour gamut for a TN panel, with a good rendition of green. For movies, we were surprised that it was quite good and displayed good colour and very decent contrast. There was a problem with backlight bleeding though at the top and the right side. F.E.A.R. looked good and with good contrast. Crysis had good colours.
The ViewSonic VA1928wm impressed us till we saw the price – at Rs. 8,200 it’s pretty close to many 22-inch monitors. AOC’s F19 steals its thunder though; a price of just Rs. 6,500 and performance that was marginally better than the VA1928wm. The F19 wins our Best Buy and we heartily recommend this monitor for anyone looking at something for movies. If you want something to game on, then the ViewSonic VA1928WM makes more sense with its 16:10 aspect ratio. For someone looking for professional monitors where colour accuracy is of utmost importance, NEC’s duo of the 1990SX and the 1990FXp fit the bill, but are pricey.
HOW WE TESTED
We divided the monitors received into categories on the basis of their screen size. On the features front, we logged all the physical specifications of the LCDs including details on the panel, the weight and dimensions and connectivity. We also rated the build quality, menu system and bezel thickness of each panel.
Our test system consisted of an Intel Core 2 Duo E6700 CPU (2.66 GHz), 4 GB DDR2 800 MHz RAM and a ZOTAC GeForce GTX 295 graphics card. We used the Spyder 3 Elite to calibrate each display and also give us the real contrast ratio and luminance figures. For luminance we kept the brightness at 100% for all displays. For calibration and testing the contrast ratio, both the contrast and brightness level were set at 50%. Post calibration we ran Display Mate to judge the contrast ratio for ourselves via the grey scale intensity test; this consists of checking visibility of grey squares of varying intensity on a black background.
Display Mate’s colour test suite allowed us to check for colour gamut and shade intensity rendition for each display. In the colour spectrum test we look for the wideness of the colour gamut where the primary colours are separated by the secondary colours and the entire spectrum is presented on-screen. Colours should smoothly merge into others without vertical lines called “banding”. When testing for purity of the primary colours and individual shades we use the 16-shade ramp test and the 256-ramp test. 16 and 256 bands (respectively) are presented for each of the primary and secondary colours one colour at a time and these bands vary equally in intensity moving from highest intensities to lowest intensities. We check for uniformity of change in intensity and adequate separation between each band – this tells us that the monitor is able to display variable intensities of a particular shade well. Generally, IPS and PVA panels that are natively 8-bit are better performing than 6-bit TN panels that use dithering to make up for additional colour intensities that they cannot otherwise produce.
Our movie test consisted of a set of four HD 1080p clips encoded in WMV format. A mix of natural scenery, fast action scenes and underwater photography, these video clips allow an objective look at the colour rendition, contrast and brightness level of a display. We used F.E.A.R and Crysis for our game tests. Both these games are studies in opposites — Crysis with its realistic scenery, bright outdoors and lighting depicting an island paradise while F.E.A.R with its cramped, dimly lit corridors and slow motion action scenes. Using these two games, detail, contrast, brightness, colour rendition and viewing angles are a snap to assess.
LG M237WA – Split personality?
The LG M237WA was unique from the start. First of all it was the only 23-inch display in test. Secondly, it’s a TV and a monitor rolled into one. It’s a good looking
display, with a thick plastic body that does make it look unnecessarily bulky. The exteriors are well finished with piano black. The power LED is attractive – blue inside a translucent glass that gives a slightly diffused effect. This display has a nice full featured remote control and although a couple of others also had remote units, none had support for a TV cable. That’s right – plug in your cable TV wire and you’re good to go.
It also has two HDMI ports, composite, component, D-Sub and DVI connects, making it quite an all rounder. The resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels is also right for an entertainment monitor – this is a cheaper alternative to LCD TVs if you have a gaming console such as the X-Box 360 or the PS3. In terms of performance, the results are mixed. The rendition of red was poor with quite a bit of banding. Green rendition is decent, although there was a lot of banding in the blues in the colour spectrum test. The viewing angles were also an issue, as was the contrast in video clips. It has marginally better horizontal viewing angles than the ASUS 26-inch, but that’s not saying much. It does a fair job with games, but really, overall performance is not its forte – features and connectivity are. Priced at Rs. 17,990, the M237WA is a TN panel based LCD monitor cum TV that should find a pretty wide audience other than the most discerning fraternity, that is.
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iPhone gets a N900 challenge
The new Nokia N900 has finally been unveiled and it looks the most likely challenger so far to Apple’s iPhone. In terms of hardware, it matches, even betters, the iPhone in every segment, other than the thickness due to the physical Qwerty keyboard which stands at 18mm, compared with iPhone’s 12.3mm. The height and width of the N900, though, are less than Apple’s flagship device: 110.9x59.8mm to 115.5x62.1mm. The screen size remains the same at 3.5 inches, but the N900’s resistive touch screen offers a much better resolution of 800x480 pixels.
Genius, Inspan Infotech join hands for India market
Genius, the maker of computer peripherals and components, has entered into a partnership with Inspan Infotech to launch a series of new products in India. One of the products it has launched is the Genius iLook 300 VGA webcam that can deliver a full stream of 320x240 pixels and 640x480 pixels videos. It is fully compatible with Yahoo Messenger, MSN Messenger, Skype or AOL Instant Messenger. The device comes with the convenience of a universal clip base for different gadgets and can stand by itself as well. The Auto Zoom function detects the face and centres it for better movement convenience, while the high-quality VGA sensor reduces image-static noise. This feature-filled webcam can be yours for Rs799.
Nvidia’s Tegra Processor takes on Intel’s Moorestown
Amid the hype about Intel’s processor platform for mobile Internet devices (MIDs) called Moorestown, Nvidia has unveiled its response—the Tegra Processor. It has unveiled 12 high-definition (HD) capable MIDs powered by the Tegra chip, which are capable of delivering a desktop-like browsing experience complete with Flash. It has powerful graphics support with animation acceleration, flash video support and the capability to play back video at full 1,080 pixels. It is also optimized for lower power usage and may give as much as five times the battery life we see today in netbooks. It is capable of playing music for 25 days on a single charge and 10 hours of full HD 1,080 pixels video playback.
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