NEC’s 90GX2 19-inch LCD has held a place on our Best of the Best list since June 2006, thanks to its fine performance and stunning glossy screen, so we were anxious to check out the latest model NEC is aiming at gamers, the 20WMGX2. It too features the patented OptiClear screen technology, which stands in stark contrast to the anti-glare/reflective surfaces on most LCD screens, including the three others here. The difference is truly dramatic, and made more so by the 20WMGX2’s brightness rating of 470 nits (units of luminance), while the others here are rated at 300 nits. Colors look more vivid, contrast seems heightened, and images pop with a dazzling intensity. (Note, however, that this mirrorlike screen can suffer glare issues in brightly lit environments, such as an office.)
The price of this pretty boy also stands in stark contrast to the others here, but the extra dough does buy you a number of amenities: a full complement of audio/video inputs, four USB 2.0 ports, a built-in TV tuner, picture-in-picture functionality, and a full-featured remote, plus HDCP support. NEC also throws in a built-in speaker, but this one is even more of an argument against the practice than ViewSonic’s version. Its sound was pathetically underpowered even with the volume turned all the way up (both on the speaker and within the PC’s control panel). There’s simply no way this speaker could provide a suitable accompaniment to your TV or movie viewing, to say nothing of its abilities with your music.
The screen tilts back and forth and swivels on a circular base but does not change height. The OSD offers all the usual choices, in addition to various content presets.
Sadly, despite its gamut of goodies, the 20WMGX2’s performance is seriously lacking. Several shades of dark gray were indistinguishable from black, even with the brightness at 100 percent (and mind you, this screen is already uncommonly bright!). Grayscale ramps, which should progress in a smooth, gradual manner, were riddled with bumps, kinks, and banding. And color-tracking discrepancies were visible in scales of 32 or more steps. These issues plagued the screen’s performance in our real-world tests. In high-res digital photos and illustrations, banding, contouring, and the presence of different hues disrupted what should have been subtle shade changes. In DVDs the effect was even more noticeable, with shade transitions appearing blocky and pixilated. And in HD, the panel’s poor grayscale abilities were all the more evident. Who even cares if it can play games without ghosting?
We would have loved for a bigger, more feature-packed version of the glorious, glossy 90GX2 to steal our hearts. Instead, this LCD has left us bitter and cynical.
Bright as all get-out and loaded with extras.
Expensive; majorly flawed
NEC Multisync 20WMGX2
1680 x 1050
VGA, DVI, 4 S-video, Composite, Component, RCA, Stereo, TV