Having just recently taken over the monitor beat at Maximum PC, I've been as wide-eyed at this year's CES as a 23-year-old journalist at the Sirens of Treasure Island pirate show. CES, and specifically the display beat, is a constant bombardment of technological achievement: New displays! Bigger displays! Differently connected displays! Displays mashed together! Tiny displays attached to big displays! Pretty displays!
Thank god I don't have televisions as a beat, else I might have gone nuts staring at screen after pretty screen this year. But there were still plenty of advancements that I can (and can't!) talk about for good ol' computer displays, including some monitors that will simply make you drool. Lord knows I did. Sorry, Dell; I'll pay for the towel.
I blogged about this at the show, but here we go again: Alienware's Curve Display was nothing short of impressive, given that the 2880x960 monitor was but a mere prototype of things to come. Other news sites have covered this parenthesis-shaped monitor to death, noting that black, vertical bars separate the screen's four rear-projected images. I gathered this was a result of the monitor still being a prototype, and this was confirmed by none other than NEC. Yes, NEC's making a curve display too -- the CRVD-LMD. It has the same specs as the Alienware, given that both companies are partnering with the same manufacturer, Ostendo Technologies.
So yes, NEC and Alienware both have curve displays a'coming. And both are looking to launch in the second half of 2008 -- here's hoping that, by then, both companies will have reconsidered said monitor's lack of HDCP. Sorry, HD-movie enthusiasts.
On a side note, NEC also hinted that they'll be trying to push developers to make content to natively fit such a large screen. As it stands, non-native images can stretch across the large, panoramic screen -- which looks cool from an 'I'm surrounded" perspective, but not quite as grand if you're looking for a super high-quality picture.
In addition to its CRVD-LMD panoramic display, NEC was also showing off its new line of Accusync monitors. The 19", 22", and 24" monitors come as the fourth iteration of the Accusync series. All I really got from NEC is that they're allegedly more cost-effective to produce than previous models, and they feature nifty downfiring speakers. There's also a new built-in "echo mode," which reduces the brightness of the monitor by thirty percent when you hit the accompanying hotkey. Power consumption goes down by twenty percent as well. Take that, uh, non-energy-conscious monitors.
NEC's also looking to expand out its MultiSync line for gamers -- expect to see a sub-$500, 24" CX version of the MultiSync line around an April-May timeframe. You'll also see 19" and 22" versions, but these will lack a downfiring speaker.
Viewsonic showed off a number of new monitors at its fancy product showcase. Two representatives never did manage to nail down exactly how many new displays Viewsonic was planning on launching, but it's somewhere in the range of seven to nine. Long trade-show, we know.
The new monitors in the VP, or professional series are the 19-inch VP950b, 21.6-unch VP2250wb, and 26-inch VP2650wb. The latter two dabble in the 1080p resolution range, with native resolutions of 1680x1050 and 1920x1200 respectively. All monitors make use of Viewsonic's proprietary OptiColor technology: the VP950b hits 98%, while the latter two monitors achieve an eye-catching 106%. All the new VP-series monitors support HDCP. Shown below, the VP2650wb:
Viewsonic's improvements to its VX line of monitors include the 19" VX1962wm and the 22" VX2262wm. For the most part, we're talking about stylistic advancements. There's a new base, as well as a highly reflective screen that gives a powered-down monitor a mirror quality to it, as opposed to the standard matte finish found on Viewsonic's other monitors. Both monitors have a native resolution of 1680x1050 -- yes, that's right. Near-native 1080p content on a 19" monitor. Invisible, down-facing speakers round out the deal, and Viewsonic's bringing that quasi-3D SRS WOW technology into the mix to deliver as close to surround sound as a simple monitor will ever get. Shown below, the VX1962wm:
Rounding out the mix is perhaps NEC's coolest upcoming product, the VLED221wm LED-LCD display. Retailing for around $800, the 22" display offers an absurd 118% color gamut as a result of its LED-based backlight. It also consumes less power, but really, that's the least thing you'll be concerned about once you see this little guy in action. Keep in mind that this is all CES-talk, and completely independent of what might happen once we get this guy into the Lab for some hardcore testing. Still, the monitor looked s-h-a-r-p; it was rather obvious to me that something new was going on behind-the-scenes, as the picture looked that much more vivid when I glanced at the VLED221wm, then glanced at its neighboring monitors.
The monitor will come in a resolution of 1680x1050, and the usual mix of integrated speakers and analog/digital inputs. Here's a picture of it, which hardly does the LED display any justice. Look for this to hit stores in February.
Samsung didn't have a bevy of new monitors to show us, but there were some interesting features amongst the three models we took a look at. First up was the company's SyncMaster 220TN monitor: for all intents, it's a thin monitor with a build-in camera and microphone. The 22-inch display is currently available at retailers, should you have an overwhelming need to buy one for all of your friends and voice-chat the night away. Or something.
I really liked what Samsung did with its SyncMaster 2263DX monitor. While the monitor itself connects via USB -- likely making it unusable as a gaming monitor of any sort -- said display comes with a smaller, attachable 7" screen. Samsung's betting that many people who hit up dual-monitor environments don't actually make use of the entire second monitor's visible space. In short, you slap your IM client on it and call it a day.
Well, you can now throw up your RSS feeds, Google Finance page, or instant messages on this supplementary display, then spin the whole lot to any side of the 2263DX. Multitaskers, rejoice.
Look! It's like a little hat for your primary display!
Samsung also peacocked prototype units of its new T-series displays. They frowned on cameras, so no pictures, but what we can tell you is that the 26-inch monitors we saw feature little bits of color towards the bottom of the screen -- red, green, or blue. The monitors will come with a built-in HD tuner, as well as inputs for HDMI and DVI connections. Look for these 1920x1200-resoution monitors to hit in the first half of 2008.
Oh, Dell. We wish we could tell you about the awesome things Dell showed us beyond its CES offerings, but the company has sworn everyone to secrecy under the threat of knee-breakings and sharp, pointy sticks to eyeballs. It's serious stuff. So yes. Just know that Dell has some awesome products in the pipeline.
If it makes you feel better, Dell's flagship CES product was actually on this List o' Secrecy last year. But the curtain's finally been brushed back from the Dell 22" Crystal display, and wow, does it look awesome. I'm talking about the picture and the presentation. As you'll note from the accompanying pictures, the Dell Crystal display is a screen built into a see-through bezel. You get four speakers, elegantly connected via precision black wiring, with the whole shebang resting on top of a tripod-like stand made of chrome-plated zinc alloy. Yum.
The screen itself rocks a 1680x1050 resolution at a 98-percent color gamut. A single cable trails out the back, split into four separate connectors on the connect-to-your-PC end. The video connector is DVI-only, although the Crystal comes with an HDMI-DVI adaptor right in the box. This monitor was really meant for single-PC use, which might very well be its Achilles Heel in a market that's shifting to multi-function displays.
The buttons on the front of the monitor are entirely touch-sensitive, by the way. And the monitor comes with a built-in, 2-megapixel webcam. Sound familiar? Yes, this is the PC's answer to those pretty Mac displays everyone's always fooh-foohing over. But in this case, I think we have a winner on our hands. We're going to get this monitor in for testing ASAP, but I dare say that it might be worth clearing out desk space for even if the picture quality isn't at the tippy-top. It's just that impressive-looking, and truly an inspiring move in the normally stale world of display styles. At least, for $1,200 retail, it better be!
Note said touch-sensitive buttons in the lower-right of the Crystal's front.
What it saves on cable management, the Crystal might very well lose for those who want a monitor that can accept more than just a single input!
Dell's also launching its new UltraSharp 3008WFP display. This 30" beast comes in a 2560x1600 resolution and 117-percent color gamut, making for a rather stylish, vivid look. It also comes with nearly every connector under the sun: vga, DVI (with HDCP), DisplayPort, S-Video, Composite, Component, and HDMI. Yes, you read that right: DisplayPort. It's a big step for Dell to incorporate this emerging DVI/VGA replacement into its monitor line, especially for a product as dramatic as a 30-inch panel. Still, we were impressed with what we saw, but again, it's likely that the Crystal announcement will nevertheless overshadow this little... er... big guy.
HP didn't have much to show in its line of computer monitors, which is understandable, given the company's current focus on connecting every product it makes to the home entertainment space. And that's not sarcasm -- I was quite impressed with HP's extender-based offerings on both the television and storage sides.
But back to the monitors. The new HP w2207H and w2408H monitors are, as the naming system suggests, 22-inch and 24-inch monitors. The former runs on a 1680x1050 resolution, while the latter cranks it up to 1920x1200. Both monitors are including HDMI inputs (and cables!), which is pretty much the biggest improvement to speak of. The front bezels have also been updated to reflect the general stylish black glossy shine of HP's other offerings, but that's about it. HDMI. Thumbs up. Shown below, the w2408H: