You might recall seeing three of HP’s ZR30w 30-inch displays gracing the cover of our September “Dream Machine” issue. Considering our theme for that build was raw, wanton power, picking the ZR30w was an easy decision.
We haven’t been this wowed by a display since we laid eyes on NEC’s LCD3090 WQXi, which we reviewed in our March 2010 issue. But that 30-incher costs nearly twice as much as this one. Both monitors are based on S-IPS panels, as all the best LCD monitors are, and both deliver native resolution of 2560x1600 (a 16:10 aspect ratio). But the ZR30w’s real claim to fame is color resolution of 10 bits per color per pixel (HP defines this as 30 bits per pixel), which enables it to produce 1.07 billion displayable colors. That’s 100 percent of the sRGB color gamut and 99 percent of the Adobe RGB color gamut.
ViewSonic is a big name in display manufacturing, and has announced that they plan to transition their entire line of monitors to LED backlighting by early 2011. The move is being made with an eye towards energy efficiency, as well as consumer demand. "ViewSonic is leading the way towards a greener, more cost efficient future by delivering an array of green LED products for our customers to choose from,” said ViewSonic's Jeff Volpe.
Traditional LCD panels use a CCFL bulb to light the display. Displays that use LED backlights are usually more power efficient and have much better black levels. ViewSonic released their first notable LED monitor, VX2250wm-LED, just a few months ago. Early reactions from customers are good, so we can expect more quality products like this in 2011.
ViewSonic is being careful to appease their partners that are still using CCFL technology. We take this to mean that they will still manufacture panels with CCFL bulbs, but all ViewSonic's branded products will make the change to LED. Do you use an LED backlit monitor? Have you noticed any difference from the more common CCFL variety?
Before you scream, “Who in their right mind would pay $500 for a 23-inch twisted-nematic panel?!” know that this is a 120Hz monitor, and that Asus is putting Nvidia’s 3D Vision kit—a $200 product—inside the box. If you’re excited about 3D gaming and Blu-ray 3D movies (and have the appropriate videocard, playback software, and games), $500 is a compelling value. Oh, and the monitor’s pretty good, too.
Let’s discuss the aspects that temper our enthusiasm first, because this monitor isn’t for folks with critical applications such as photo and video editing. In fact, some of you probably stopped reading at “twisted-nematic.” Asus hasn’t magically avoided all the problems we associate with TN panels—e.g., limited color gamut, backlight leakage, inability to distinguish between the lightest shades of gray and full-on white—but it has done a great job mitigating those problems.
We had high hopes for Samsung’s P2770HD. After all, its 23-inch little brother rose to the top of a sea of crappy TN displays in our December 2009 roundup. With its street price of $400, the P2770HD looked like a strong value for folks with non-critical applications.
We stand by our opinion that twisted-nematic (TN) technology is inferior to in-plane switching (IPS), as well as our recommendation that you shouldn’t rely on a TN-panel monitor for critical applications such as photo and video editing (especially if your livelihood depends on it). On the other hand, TN panels like this one do deliver unarguably faster pixel response rates, which is great for gaming, and lately, they’ve become insanely cheap.
Thanks to Maximum PC’s past advice, I have a new rig with an ATI Radeon HD 5870 graphics card. It has dual DVI, HDMI, and DisplayPort connections. I use my rig for photography and video editing. I have a 24-inch Dell monitor with all of the above ports. Which is the best one to use and why?
Read the Doctor's answer for Preetham after the jump.
We can count on one hand the number of people we know who have bought into Nvidia’s 3D Vision gaming system—those shutter goggles haven’t exactly been selling like hotcakes.
The lackluster response to this 3D-gaming renaissance is no doubt due in part to the 3D Vision kit’s $200 admission price. On top of that, early adopters were also likely put off by the technological limitations of the requisite 120Hz monitors—another $400 wallet-draining investment—which maxed out at just 22 inches and a paltry 1650x1080 resolution.
Acer’s GD235HZ is a second-generation 120Hz panel that sheds those constraints, measuring 23.6 inches and running natively at 1920x1080 pixels.
In a pleasant surprise, the GD235HZ doesn’t cost any more than last year’s 22-inch $400 asking price. To keep the price in check, Acer omitted extras like USB ports and component inputs from this model. And aside from the 120Hz refresh rate, this is a pretty standard TN panel. Color fidelity fared respectably in our tests and contrast (rated at 1000:1) looked better in the darks than the lights. We didn’t notice any color banding defects at various settings, either. But like most LCDs, we could spot a bit of backlight bleed along the edges of the screen, though this was only noticeable with the lights off and a very dark image on the screen. We also thought that text looked a little off, with very light shadowing between characters. Tweaking Windows 7’s ClearType settings helped alleviate this issue.
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.
Three-quarters of the way through our product-testing regimen, we saw HP’s unremarkable 23-inch display headed toward a verdict of 6 or 7. It has a couple of nice features—as well as a couple of odd omissions—but at that point we hadn’t encountered anything that would set it apart from the crowd either way. But then we came to the Extreme Grayscale phase of the DisplayMate benchmark and our eyes just about popped out of their sockets.
This test renders extremes in the grayscale, beginning with boxes of increasingly intense shades of gray displayed on black and then white backgrounds. The w2338h had no problems passing the first half of this test, and it performed as expected when we cycled through shades of blue, red, and magenta. But the monitor proved incapable of differentiating between any of the high-intensity shades of green displayed on a fully saturated green background. What should have been cyan boxes on a cyan background showed up as yellow, and what should have been yellow boxes on a yellow background were rendered green, instead.
Even though it would be great if we all could afford 30" LCD monitors, the state of the economy is no fantasy, and you probably need to make more realistic component choices when shopping for a new monitor. The good news on the display front is that manufacturers haven’t been sitting on their mushrooms smoking hookahs; they’ve been innovating and driving down costs to the point where 23- and 24-inch widescreen LCDs are the new sweet spot.
Before you set out on your next monitor-shopping adventure, however, make sure you have a firm understanding of the most important specifications, features, and quality and performance criteria, lest you fall prey to the industry’s Jabberwocky. Rest assured, we’ll guide you through the thicket. We’ve also dug up a number of specifications that manufacturers have taken to omitting from their published data sheets.
Even the most thorough checklist can’t reveal how a monitor will perform in the real world, so we gathered eight of the top manufacturer’s latest models and put them through a benchmark wringer.