Dell’s jumbo entry in its Ultrasharp line of monitors, the 3008WFP, performs exactly as the company’s marketing materials promise. This monitor truly “produces darker blacks.” In fact, we think Dell’s underselling the device, because the 3008WFP takes the dark spectrum and covers it with the digital equivalent of a dark sheet. We cranked the device to its maximum brightness and still found ourselves unable to see distinctions at the low end of Display Mate’s grayscales.
It’s easy to be seduced by the sheer size of a 24-inch LCD screen—any display that big just looks like it means business. And there was a time when large LCD panels were almost exclusively high-performance parts. That’s no longer the case. As the 24-inch LCDs reviewed here demonstrate, large screens are just as varied and prone to flaws as their smaller counterparts.
Over the years, 3D displays have periodically surfaced, but none has taken hold. The public just hasn’t had the stomach for them. Cost has been one factor, but also, the stereoscopic imagery used to create a 3D effect tends to cause dizziness and nausea in users after even short periods. Nevertheless, vendors keep plugging away at the concept, hoping to capitalize on the growing number of games and movies produced in 3D.
NEC’s LCD2470WNX doesn’t offer quite as many input options as Gateway’s LCD, but it splits the difference between that monitor and the DoubleSight, with VGA, DVI, and four USB 2.0 ports. Like the other LCDs reviewed here, it provides the full range of ergo options—height, tilt, swivel, and rotate. The OSD, for its part, is fairly simple to navigate and includes the same variety of options whether you’re using the digital or analog interface. What’s more, it doesn’t squawk at you.
DoubleSight is best known for its two-in-one monitor solutions, such as the dual 19-inch display we reviewed in March 2007, but we’ll take a single seamless 24-inch screen over that option any day. The DS-240WB looks all business with a simple but sturdy black frame. Its telescoping neck lets you adjust the screen’s height, plus you can tilt, pivot, and rotate the screen’s orientation. Input options consist of one VGA, one DVI, and one audio input. To access the whole gamut of onscreen display (OSD) options, you’ll need to use VGA. For instance, you can adjust the screen’s individual color channels and even its overall color tone only with the analog interface; DVI limits you to contrast and brightness changes.
Initially we thought Samsung’s 226BW might rise above the pack in the 22-inch category. This LCD boasts 16.7 million colors, suggesting superior 8-bit technology. But when we did side-by-side testing next to the Hanns.G model, we were mightily surprised by the similarities. Sure enough, further inquiry revealed the 226BW to be a 6-bit panel just like all the others. But Samsung says its special Hi-FRC tech surpasses conventional FRC in color reproduction.
An LCD’s spec sheet isn’t likely to mention the use of 6-bit color with frame-rate control; it’s up to you to deduce it. In some cases, you’ll find that the color spec isn’t even mentioned. This in itself can be a clue, but it’s not proof––dig further. If a spec is mentioned, bear in mind this distinction: An 8-bit panel is capable of producing 16.7 million colors; a 6-bit panel produces just 262,144 colors but uses FRC to create approximations of more, up to 16.2 million shades.