IPS panel; relatively fast response time; supreme performance; ergonomic stand.
Crazy expensive; no DisplayPort; lacks dual-link HDCP support.
We saw how splendid an IPS monitor can be when we reviewed Dell’s
24-inch UltraSharp U2410
in January. “Sometimes you have to pay to play,” we concluded. Moments after reaching that summit, we observed NEC’s 30-inch LCD3090 WQXi IPS panel looming before us. Fully aware that we could buy three U2410s and a Radeon HD 5870 to drive them for about the same amount of cash ($2,200, to be exact), we began our ascent.
The LCD3090 has a native resolution of 2560x1600 (a 16:10 aspect ratio), which is typical of 30-inch displays. This one is an eight-bit panel with programmable 12-bit lookup tables. It delivers 102 percent of the NTSC color space and 97.8 percent of the Adobe RGB color space. Inputs are limited to dual-link DVI-D with an odd HDCP on/off feature, and DVI-I. Why would you need to turn off HDCP? We’re not really sure.
There’s no media card reader or integrated USB hub; more importantly, there’s no DisplayPort support, either. But the stand tilts, swivels, and pivots; and if you still can’t find a comfortable position, you can mount it on an optional articulated arm using its standard VESA mount.
The oxygen is mighty thin at this altitude, but that’s not why this monitor left us as giddy as a teenage Sherpa taking a first sip of Rakshi. The LCD3090 is, quite simply, gorgeous. We were surprised to discover that the monitor arrived with its brightness level at 100 percent, but this gave us an opportunity to check out the controls. You press one button to bring up the onscreen display and manipulate two toggle buttons to navigate the menus (a third button resets the display to its factory defaults). The buttons are difficult to see in a darkened room, but when you press the menu button, a text overlay pops up on the screen next to them. This renders the onscreen display very easy to use.
While evaluating the display using DisplayMate Multimedia with Test Photos Edition ( www.displaymate.com ), we detected the tiniest amount of backlight leakage at the top of the display in the dark-screen test, but only after we completely darkened the room. Other than that, the monitor delivered excellent color uniformity and purity.
Most of us would never consider spending such a sum on a monitor without justifying it as a business expense, but this screen’s performance with games is every bit as intoxicating as it is with design and media-editing applications, thanks to a 6ms gray-to-gray pixel response time. And you haven’t played Left 4 Dead until you’ve experienced it at the native resolution of a monitor this large. We switched to the single-player campaign for an hour or so, just so we could study the zombies in all their eviscerated glory.
That brings us to the only issue with the monitor: It can’t support HDCP at 2560x1600 resolution, only at 1920x1080. This can be fixed by installing SlySoft’s AnyDVD HD (after buying the app, natch), which will circumvent the HDCP protection. Of course, this panel is aimed at pros who push pixels all day in CAD/CAM and graphics apps, but that inability is the one thing keeping the monitor from a Kick-Ass Award. If you can look past this limitation and you need panel real estate with an eye toward color-critical work, the LCD3090 WQXi is truly glorious to behold.