ViewSonic’s VLED221wm 22-inch LCD is the first LED-backlit display to grace our Lab, and we were anxious to put the technology to the test. LCD monitors typically sport cold cathode fluorescent backlighting, which can be less than uniform, and because it’s always on in the background, it can impair a screen’s ability to produce a true black. With LEDs, the screen is backlit with a grid of lights that can be turned on and off as needed. Sure enough, the 1680x1050 VLED221wm was capable of a black that exceeded that of any other LCD we’ve tested—but the result was actually overkill.
Even after we cranked the brightness to the max, we were unable to elicit an acceptable separation of values at the dark end of the spectrum in our DisplayMate tests. This lack of separation resulted in a noticeable loss of detail in games and movies.
The VLED221wm also notably boasts a 118 percent color gamut—based on NTSE broadcast standards—whereas LCDs have traditionally achieved a 72 percent color gamut, and more recently 92 percent. The expanded color gamut allows the VLED221wm to display extraordinarily saturated colors; the word “vibrant” doesn’t do justice to the eye-punishing reds, greens, and blues this monitor spits out. In our tests, it made photos appear unnatural and game graphics looked over-processed; however, we appreciated the added vibrancy in movies.
By default, the monitor comes with its Dynamic Contrast feature on, which adjusts the backlighting on the screen according to the content being displayed to achieve the darkest black and brightest white whenever possible. But the implementation here is pretty poor—during our movie test, the light faded in and out during different scenes. Fortunately, the feature can be disabled, although we had to dig through the manual to find out how—hold the monitor’s up-arrow button for a few seconds.
Given its spendy price point compared to fellow 22-inch monitors, ViewSonic’s VLED221wm just isn’t a wise choice. The concept of “true black” is a strong selling point, but not when it results in perceptible quality loss.
Carrying a Torch
It does have an 118% color gamut. And the blacks are indeed very black.