Widen Your View

Published Date
01 - May - 2008
| Last Updated
01 - May - 2008
 
Widen Your View



After last year, the onslaught of cheaper and (sometimes) better LCDs continues. We’ve tested 33 of them, ranging from 17 to 24 inches of prime real estate.Take your pick…


After last year’s flat panel fiasco and the fact that nobody was willing to send us CRTs to test, we’d thought things couldn’t get any better and the time of the LCD was now… err… then! If you’re wondering what all the hullabaloo is about, imagine a 19 inch widescreen LCD monitor that costs a mere Rs 14,000. Wouldn’t that be enough to get everybody waiting in turn for LCDs to become more affordable salivating in anticipation? Now flash forward to this year—we’ve got 22-inch widescreen LCDs available for well below 14,000, with 19-inch LCDs now sitting pretty at below the 10,000 rupee mark. That’s what we call depreciation.

If anything, the focus has shifted to the bigger panels. Previously, any LCD larger than 19 inches were rarely in stock, and orders had to be placed. As per your beloved Agent 001’s last report 22-inch panels were well and truly in stock. This focus shift is seen from manufacturers as well. You can always tell when there’s a slight emphasis towards a particular product or category. This year we saw a lot of mediocre build quality in the 19-inch category. Designs were simple, nothing inspiring, ditto with the quality of materials. The 22-inch panels were another matter entirely—and this difference is not just a function of a costlier product.

Just like last year, we could only get a single 24 inch monitor for this test—it seems their time hasn’t come yet.

Another very noticeable change is the rise in popularity of widescreens—especially when one crosses the 19-inch mark. Going widescreen today makes even more sense than it did last year, with most multimedia content including games supporting widescreen resolutions natively.

Sadly, the scene for good panels hasn’t changed much. The bulk of the LCDs out there are still based on colour and contrast deficient TN (Twisted Nematic) panels. Although there were a couple of MVA (Multi-domain Vertical Alignment) panels, and a single S-IPS (Super In-Plane Switching) panel, the prices of these are significantly higher than the regular TN panels. There also exists a large difference between the prices of 24- and 22-inch monitors, making the 22-inch a superb value for money buy. Similarly, buying a 17-inch minnow makes very little sense, unless you absolutely cannot afford to spend more.

In case you’re feeling a little stingy just watch a 17- and 19-inch screen in action side by side—or better still, a 17- and 22-inch. We guarantee that your wallet will open just a little bit more to gobble up one size larger than what you originally intended to splurge on.

22-inch LCDs

The New Entry Level?

      
Dell SP 2208 WFP

Add a little gloss to your life

The worst thing about Dell’s new 22-inch Ultrasharp is the fact that it’s based around a TN LCD panel. We have just one last grouse and then we’re done, and then some of us are going out to see if we can buy one. The silver bezel that some love, and others hate, and the entire fit and finish, exudes quality. The stand is finished in piano black, and adds a striking contrast to all the silver. A 2 megapixel Web camera has been cleverly integrated into what has to be one of the slimmest bezels ever to grace an LCD to date. No ugly bulges, no protrusions, and the SP 2208 WFP looks like it’s seen the inside of a wind tunnel during its design. We do feel Dell goofed up with a glossy LCD panel rather than the matte ones we’re used to seeing for one huge reason—reflection. It’s like looking into a mirror, especially with any sort of light source in the background, and we found this quite annoying during our tests.

Other than this one niggle and fact that a silver bezel isn’t the best idea for any LCD (read glare), the SP 2208 WFP boasted of an intuitive menu system and good, easy to use buttons—very ergonomic. The integrated camera has excellent quality. This one features an HDMI port as well—superb connectivity options.

Considering the fact that a similar discrete webcam could cost as much as Rs 2,500, this monitor is a superb deal at Rs 15,386, and the price alone makes a very strong point to purchase it. And that’s before you even consider that it’s a good performer. We had issues with the Intensity Range Check in DisplayMate where we missed out on a lot of the darker grey squares which were indistinguishable from the black background. In the reverse text tests we had issues with bright green text on a black and grey background—the text just wasn’t visible. Colour intensity was very good for a TN panel, especially the colour green, which is very easy to discern. This monitor also did well in the 256-shade ramp test, where even slight gradations were noticeable—of course it cannot produce the entire intensity gamut like an S-IPS panel, but then we didn’t expect it to.

It does well at games, and the very contrast-sensitive F.E.A.R. looked quite good—deep shadows with good variations in relative lightness and darkness of a screen. In HD movies you will notice its slightly deficient contrast, but it’s nothing out of the ordinary for a TN panel—and we’ve seen much worse.

Aside from a couple of design flaws and the mirror-like panel, there’s nothing wrong with this monitor, and you’ll hardly find a better conglomerate of features and performance at the price. If you’re looking for a monitor within the range of Rs 16,000, you’d have to be daft not to consider the SP2208 WFP as a serious option.

HP L2208w

When matte met flat

If you’re not one for loud statements then you’ll appreciate the laid back, even bland design on this one. A matte finished body extends to the bezel—black is the best colour for an LCD bezel, and if it’s dull enough to refrain from reflecting ambient light so much the better. The stand looks cool with a silver and black colour tone. However the swivel action on the stand is quite hard, and a couple of days of, err, swivelling didn’t loosen things much. The control buttons aren’t backlit or colour indicated, and fiddling with them in dim lighting is a hit and miss affair. The slight indentation in the centre of the stand is quite useful for keeping a few utilitarian knickknacks like pencils, erasers or screwdrivers.

DisplayMate’s Intensity Range Check showed a lot of indiscernible grey squares—this bespeaks a poor contrast ratio. We faced no issues with the 16-shade ramp test, but in the 256-colour ramp test we had issues with the variation in intensity of colours green and grey. The movie tests revealed slightly less colour rendition and contrast in most HD clips (compared to the Dell and Samsung monitors of the same size). In F.E.A.R we had issues with contrast where the enemies in dark khaki uniforms were virtually invisible when in shadowy areas. This is a serious put off for any gamer especially when playing dark, atmospheric games.

All in all at Rs 18,500 the L2208w is a costly proposition, both on your wallet and your visual senses. It’s a great looking monitor that corrects some of the flaws of Dell’s SP 2208 WFP design, but also detracts a lot on the performance front. With the exception of the extreme rarity of you being a diehard HP fan, give this one a miss.

AOC 2217 Pwc

Strictly mediocre stuff, this…

It’s a good looking monitor but the fact that it integrates speakers doesn’t excuse the rather broad bezel. The piano finish is quality. The stand is very big for a monitor that doesn’t have any kind of height adjust, and it managed to fool us that it did have this feature till we used it. Three USB ports add some connectivity options. The contrast ratio isn’t too good as a couple of quick DisplayMate tests revealed. This dismal performance continued in the 16 shade intensity test where we couldn’t discern any difference between two or three of the most intense shades for each colour. Due to its lack of a proper colour rendition, contrast calibrating was a chore. While it performed decently at games like F.E.A.R (no worse than the HP L2208w) it didn’t do as well at movies and we recommend you avoid this panel for any kind of serious multimedia PC.

At Rs 16,000 the AOC 2217Pwc is slightly costly, but it does have a serious competitor in Dell, who manages to outdo it on all fronts, including price. One position is its decent performance in the geometry tests along with its competitive price (compared to the HP) which make it a decent buy for an office monitor.

ViewSonic VX2255WM

White n Bright…

A piano white finish is somewhat a rarity in this colour prejudiced LCD world where black is a defacto standard. The three little birds (ViewSonic’s trademark) stand out in visible relief and detail from all the white, another perk for deviating from black. Speaking about the bezel, it isn’t as narrow as we’d have liked—especially considering the space hogging buttons have been moved to the side. The trim on the lower bezel looks a little out of place and flimsy.

In DisplayMate the contrast was immediately better than the HP and AOC 22-inch offerings, although not as good as the Samsung and the Dell monitors. No serious issues in the colour tests but the rendition of green isn’t good enough. In F.E.A.R we noticed a decent contrast ratio and good particle effects but both Dell and Samsung are better. Oblivion is much more forgiving and the VX2255WM makes a very good showing in games with dimly lit scenes, something where its TN panel bearing compatriots also performed reasonably well on. Movies show good colour but mediocre contrast, especially noticeable in darker scenes and with dim indoor lighting. At Rs 15,500, the VX2255WM is a decent offering—good enough for multimedia, games, and office use. However it doesn’t really excel at any of these applications, and there are better options available.

How We Tested

Features: Besides the theoretical parameters which we mention we awarded points for presence of add-ons like Web cameras, speakers, USB ports, and memory card readers. We awarded points according to the connectivity options available. Aside from this we also looked at certain features like the ability to pivot and swivel, or the presence of portrait mode and height adjustment. We graded the looks of the LCD and the intuitiveness of the menu system and the button layout. We rated the quality of moving parts as well.
 

Operating SystemWindows XP Professional
CPUCore 2 Duo E6700 (2.66 GHz)
MotherboardGigabyte DQ6 (P965)
RAMKingston HyperX 512x2 DDR2 800 MHz
Graphics CardNVIDIA GeForce 8800GTX
Hard DriveSeagate 7200.9 250GB SATA


 

Benchmark Tests What we looked for
DisplayMate Video EditionGeometry TestsPoint Shape and visibility, Pixel sharpness, Line resolution, shape integrity. This basically tests the ability of a monitor to work with shapes like cones, spheres, cubes, and even 2D shapes. Useful for professional users. Professionals will want to look here.
 Contrast and greyscale TestsChecks the ability to produce subtle variations in intensity of a single shade, and the ability to display purest blacks, and whitest whites.
 Colour TestsTests the colour rendition ability of an LCD. Uses a number of tests like colour purity tests, reverse text tests, shade intensity and colour ramp tests for the same. Animation, image editing and rendering professionals look at these values.
Movie TestsPixel persistence, colour and contrastA mean value is taken for all these parameters, pixel persistence is a measure of response time, while colour and contrast are necessary parameters for a proper movie experience
 Overall experienceHere we look at the type of panel, whether it reflects a lot of light, the bezel colour and its interference with the image onscreen, and the aspect ratio—which also affects the overall experience.
Game TestsF.E.A.RVery dark and atmospheric game, with a lot of weapon, environment and special effects including bullet time and particle effects that are still the best in the business, very good to test contrast ratios of monitors as it trips most of them up with its ability to produce lifelike shadows, and their interaction with light sources which is very realistic. A good benchmark for gamers to base decisions on.
 OblivionUnbelievably detailed environments, with some great foilage and overall texturing. Also showcases transparency effects very well, and has some of the best colours seen in any game. Usually trips up monitors with texture detailing on floors, sand and other environment shaders, and even bloom and transparency effects. Gamers look here and decide.
Viewable AngleText and MovieHere we look at the ability to view the monitor from angles other than straight on, this reveals how much distortion of the image and and its colours will occur if you happen to be sitting at an angle. Important for those people looking at an HTPC monitor, simply because with a number of people watching, say, a movie, it becomes impossible for each person to be directly in front of the monitor.


ViewSonic Va2216W

Decent for movies


The cheaper brother of the VX2255WM, the Va2216W is simple looking and a bit lighter. The stand is simple as well, and although small does a good job keeping this rather large beast well and truly grounded. With a rated contrast ratio that is less than is costlier sibling we figure ViewSonic ought to have dropped in a cheaper panel into this one. As expected whatever the VX2255WM does, this one does with a little less aplomb. Its contrast ratio isn’t too bad, but will be a little deficient in games like F.E.A.R, and our DisplayMate tests showed a slight issue with colour rendition of the green in the 256 intensity ramp test. The blues and reds were good enough though. One nicety is the very decent performance in movies, and it’s very close to its costlier sibling here, and makes a good choice for multimedia aficionados—unless you’re really discerning. At Rs 13,500 the Va2216W makes a strong case for itself in the value market, except that the SP 2208 WFP is a lot more monitor for a slightly higher price.

Samsung SyncMaster 2253LW

Pricey performer

A very narrow bezel, great build quality, a sleek stand, and a Bordeaux-like slick piano black finish mean this monitor looks timelessly hot. The transparent fibre bezel on the bottom catches the power on/off buttons blue LED light and it looks as if the bezel itself is illuminated—neat! Don’t go by the Dynamic Contrast Ratio of 8000:1 mentioned on the top bezel. We figure the actual static ratio is more like 800:1 which is very good by the way. The menu system is uncluttered and very intuitive; the controlling buttons are easy to use. This monitor features a matte panel (thank you God!), a blessing after the SP 2208 WFP. In DisplayMate it outshone the Dell in the Intensity Range Check where it displayed even more grey cards. The performance in all other DisplayMate tests was very good, although the Dell seemed to be as good in the 256 shade ramp test. Colour rendition is good if not as vivid as the Dell’s colours, but this is a great panel for movie watching and our HD clips looked amazing, with ample contrast. In Oblivion, the outdoors look resplendently alive with detailing and texturing, great HDR and contrast once again. Even the gloomy interiors of F.E.A.R were no issue for this monitor, except for a couple of dark spots where the contrast seems to be a touch deficient.

With good performance across the board, and a great matte panel accompanied by some fine build quality and designer looks, the 2253LW is a great LCD all round. A price of Rs 17,500 is lower than the inferior HP monitor, but more expensive than any other monitor in this size category. It is the best monitor of the 22-inch lot, albeit by a small margin. You decide if the premium is worth the performance.

19-inch Monitors

One size too small?


AOC 913FW

Standing tall…

With the most unique stand of all, the 913FW looks lore like an LCD TV than a monitor. We were surprised to see how firm this sits on a desk with just a little nub like protrusion for a stand—great design by AOC. Even the front bezel looks slick, with a contoured facia. The menu system is good, although the navigating buttons are a little confusing. Our DisplayMate tests showed very good performance in the geometry tests and decent performance in the contrast and brightness tests. The colour tests were rather uneventful other than a slight discrepancy in the rendition of green and red in the 16 shade ramp test. Overall a satisfactory performance for a TN panel based LCD. We were surprised to see the contrast ratio being the main deterrent in our movie tests, especially noticeable with darker screens and areas where light and dark areas interact, like a scene with leaves dappled in sunlight moving in and out of bright spots of sunlight due to the breeze. It performed decently in our gaming tests, although as usual F.E.A.R was a little too much for a TN panel, and we felt the contrast deficient by a decent margin. The colour and effects looked good.

For a price of Rs 9,600 the 913FW is a great looking monitor that will fetch more than a single glance. A great price, a decent performer with a look that demands a desk upgrade. What’s not to like?–nothing unless you’re a discerning gamer or a serious movie junkie.

AOC 917VW

Plain Jane

The 917VW is one of those fairly inconspicuous looking products that is never going to get a lot of attention. It features a well laid out menu and good build quality with great finish of materials. In our DisplayMate tests we found performance to lag behind its identically-priced sibling the 913FW, a weird showing, especially since we figured both LCDs used the same panels. We missed out on quite a few grey cards in our Intensity Check test, and the contrast ratio generally felt a little deficient. What was a noticeable problem was the reverse text tests, especially with the colours yellow and green. Performance in the colour intensity tests was acceptable, but not commendable. F.E.A.R showed a noticeable lack of contrast, as did the darkest dungeons of Oblivion. Our movie tests fared a little better with decent colour, although the contrast issue still rears its head. At the same price (Rs 9,600) as its sibling, we suggest you go for the better-looking and performing 913FW, unless it’s too loud for your office environment, in which case the 917VW will
fit the bill.

ASUS PG191

Bassy stand…eh?

We reviewed the same monitor last year. It features a stand heavy enough to knock Godzilla silly, which cunningly incorporates a 10 watt RMS speaker unit with a subwoofer that delivers good sound, the best we’ve heard from inbuilt LCD speakers. To say this panel is well built is an understatement, although it’s not a widescreen. The soft touch buttons are as annoying as they are nifty—the problem is that they don’t work as they should. We missed a lot of touches—irritating!

The dated TN panel in this monitor shows up a few issues with contrast in DisplayMate. After that we had a few more issues with geometry which were rectified with judicious use of the calibration tool. In terms of colour performance it’s a mixed bag with accurate rendition of primary colours at the expense of some issues in the 16 shade intensity test. F.E.A.R and Oblivion sport great detail and the effects and colour look really good on this monitor, and unless you’re in one of those shadowy areas the lack of contrast won’t be very noticeable. The lack of widescreen will annoy you when watching HD content, but the quality itself was satisfactory. With a good webcamera adding value to an already good offering the only possible goof up could be the price. Rs 26,990 is too much to pay for a 19 inch, monitor. Heck…its too much to pay for a 22-inch monitor. Enough said…

Dell 1908FP

Great stand meets mediocre screen

Its great build, combination of colours, excellent stand and height adjust, and the fact that it has a portrait mode are all facts that simply grab you by the throat and force you to accept this as a serious contender for your cash, if you happen to be shopping for a non-widescreen 19-inch LCD. DisplayMate showcases some issues with contrast first and colours later. This monitor has issues with the shade intensity tests, a testament to a mediocre TN panel behind the scenes. F.E.A.R had a good time thrashing this panel, although we must say the colours were rather good in the game, but the contrast (or lack of it!) will annoy you throughout. As with the PG191 movie watching isn’t recommended on a non-widescreen. There was also a slight issue with pixel response time as our movie tests revealed. At a price of Rs 14,000, the 1908FP offers a great number of features not seen on monitors this cheap. If only its performance was really great we’d have recommended it with our eyes closed. For now, it makes sense as a solution for an office or Internet PC.

HP L1950

More of the flexible stand

The L1950 is a hunk of a monitor with a colossal stand that allows you to pivot and swivel and even orient it flat, face up. It’s got supreme build quality and a matte finish looks elegant, but to many the stand looks like a foldable plastic Eiffel Tower. Once calibrated on DisplayMate we noticed some good performance in the geometry and contrast tests. With a good showing of the primary and secondary colours the L1950 even did reasonably well in the shade ramp tests making it suitable for professional users (image editing, rendering etc). The flexibility of the stand means it can even be used by office goers for presentations of all sorts—decent viewing angles also help here. F.E.A.R was close to its atmospheric best with baddies visible even in the depth of shadow, and the exteriors of Oblivion spring to vivid life. A good panel, suitable for all possible uses, the only bitter pill will be the price—Rs 17,500 which we feel is a couple of thousand more than an ideal price.

Intex IT1904W

Well built!

This one is making a second round over to our labs after last year. With an excellent stand, good build quality and a nice finish the aesthetics are well covered. The menu system is strictly so-so, as are the buttons which feel tacky. We first saw issues with contrast under DisplayMate, where this monitor missed out on a lot of grey cards in the Intensity Range Check. Some issues with line and point shape tests in the geometry gamut of tests mean that professional users steer clear of this one. In games there’s a noticeable lack in contrast, particularly in F.E.A.R which is merciless with most mediocre LCDs. With mediocre performance in the movie tests the IT1904W certainly isn’t a bad performer, its just that there are too many individual little flaws to really recommend it, even at a sterling price of Rs 9,500.

LG W1952 TQ-PF

Fancy, but performance-free

A good looking monitor with a very slim bezel and compact stand the W1952 TQ stands out because of its simplicity of design. It performs below par in the contrast ratio tests, and does a little better at the colour tests in DisplayMate. With barely acceptable performance in F.E.A.R and in the movie tests particularly in the contrast and colour department, this monitor isn’t the best choice for multimedia aficionados. At Rs 12,000 it’s a little too costly for the performance it offers…look elsewhere

LG W1942 T

Simply functional

The second monitor from LG in this category, and definitely as good looking. It’s built well too, and the menu system and buttons are very easy to work with. In DisplayMate we noticed some issues with contrast but it wasn’t as bad as its sibling. In the colour tests we noticed some issues with rendition of red, but this isn’t very noticeable in everyday use. It performed decidedly better in our gaming and movie tests—although we did notice some issues with contrast, especially in F.E.A.R and its shadowy environs. Priced at Rs 9,400 it’s cheaper than its sibling, and better performing. Its one of those inexpensive purchases that you can’t go wrong with, especially if you’re building any sort of home PC.

NEC MultiSync 1990 SX

A pricey welcome to S-IPS land

This LCD sports the only S-IPS panel we received and the industry grade build quality makes no bones about its focus audience. The matte black finish looks very boring on this monitor and the humongous stand doesn’t help. The stand is adjustable for height and pivots to portrait mode as well. The ultra slim bezel looks great. Calibrating this monitor proved easy, and aside from a couple of missing grey cards we could see them all. Colour rendition was excellent as is to be expected, and this monitor performed flawlessly in the reverse text tests as well. When it comes to games like F.E.A.R this monitor excels at reproducing colour and contrast, no issues, except for a little pixel response lag courtesy the slower response time specification. It’s pretty decent for watching movies, but at Rs 42,000 you could buy a 32-inch TV for the same. It really shines for discerning professionals, but despite the astronomical performance we still feel it’s overpriced by a good bit.

NEC MultiSync 1970NXP
Bulky Beast

Based around an MVA panel the 1970NXP is another bulky looking monitor like its costlier sibling. In DisplayMate whatever its sibling did it did with a little less performance. There was very little discernable performance gap in the contrast and geometry tests where both monitors excel, but in the colour tests we could make out a difference between the two which is where its costlier brother really earns its stripes. In games like F.E.A.R you’ll be able to play with all the detail available even in the darkest areas of the screen, and it outshines its excellent sibling. It also sports excellent viewing angles, the types TN panel based monitors can only dream about. At Rs 28,900 the 1970NXP is excellent but sadly grossly overpriced. We reckon NEC needs to seriously look at its pricing of these brilliant monitors in India—and as a result we cannot recommend the 1970NXP for anyone, including professionals for whom there are better choices as you will see.

Samsung 943NXW
Touch me!

Touch controls look so ooh!–a pity they don’t work the same way, and we found a brilliant design, menu layout and fit and finish let down by quirky touch controls. In DisplayMate this panel proved to be a letdown of sorts after their excellent 2253LW—it misses out on a lot of the contrast, particularly with dark shades and intensely bright shades i.e. both opposite ends of the intensity spectrum. In movies we liked the fact that it’s widescreen, but the issue with contrast once again rears its ugly head. While gaming, we noticed shadows appearing as blotches at times—another contrast ratio issue. Priced at Rs 12,500, we feel it’s a bit too expensive for the performance. The only real thing this monitor has going for it is aesthetics.

Samsung 953BW
Simple goodness

It’s not unusual to find a cheaper priced product that proves to be a better performer overall, so do perk up at this point. The 953BW shares the same tasteful design of the 2253LW. Running DisplayMate first we noticed better performance than its costlier sibling, and a contrast ratio that seemed anywhere between five and ten per cent better. DisplayMate decrees that this panel has issues with green on a grey and black background in the reverse text tests. Movie watching is fun on this monitor as was gaming, with a decent contrast ratio the overall experience while playing F.E.A.R was acceptable if not exemplary. At Rs 10,000 this 953BW is cheaper than most of its 19-inch brethren and makes a good choice for anyone building a multimedia PC. Its looks will ensure it’s at home on a corporate desktop as well.

ViewSonic VA1912W
Old and going strong

This is another monitor from last years’ lot, and its age shows. Its very simple looking, archaic even, and hardly anything about the build quality will inspire or appeal. A few minutes into DisplayMate’s tests revealed some geometry issues in the line and point shape and visibility tests. Next up, the contrast ratio was something that we felt could improve a good bit. It ran through the colour gamut tests without serious incident, but not without a couple of incidents in the 16 shade ramp test and the colour purity tests. For gaming this monitor is a mixed bag—it has decent colours, although not as good as the Samsung 953 BW, and while the contrast ratio is also inferior to the 953BW it’s not totally unacceptable. This scenario is identical for movies. At Rs 9,650, it is cheap, but not as cheap as the identical performing LG W1942T, though you could pay four hundred rupees more for something much better (the Samsung 953BW).

ViewSonic VX1940W
When new isn’t good

This is a newer monitor, but doesn’t feel as solid in build as its older sibling. It has that built-to-a-budget feel and look to it. Neck deep in DisplayMate’s geometry tests we had some issues with the point and line tests, and later with the contrast tests where, try as we might, we couldn’t spot much of the grey cards in a black background in the Intensity Range Check tests. In the colour tests, we ran into some problems with the 16 and 64 shade tests, where the monitor kept missing out on certain intensities especially at the brighter-end of things. Gaming isn’t the experience we wanted it to be, not that this was unexpected, considering the performance in DisplayMate. Movies also show a contrast issue, although the colours aren’t too bad. At
Rs 10,650 the VX1940W isn’t the cheapest monitor around, nor is it the best performing. The fact that the cheaper Samsung 953BW outshines it in nearly every test is reason enough to stay away from it.

20 inch LCD monitors
Middlemen

BenQ T201WA

Plain Jane, but a good pane

The T201WA has a nicely curved front bezel that immediately looks Jurassic because of its width. Finished in silver, the largish buttons in a neat row work well, but look and feel tacky. The large stand with curved sides is square and appears squat, whether its okay looking or downright ugly is up to you to decide. First up DisplayMate ran into issues during calibration, where the Intensity Range Check lost a lot of grey cards. While adjusting brightness helped reveal more, the background was no longer black. Next up, the colour tests revealed slight tonal imbalance, which we must say plagued nearly all the TN panel-based LCDs, regardless of whether we’ve individually mentioned this or not. F.E.A.R saw some contrast issues, and a couple of issues of discolouration with certain darker hues like purple shadows, but overall nothing out of the ordinary. Both the games were sufficiently detailed and showed good overall effects. Our movie tests fared slightly better, and aside from a slight issue with insufficient contrast there were no other complaints. For Rs 10,500 the T201WA is cheap enough for a good home PC, or a multimedia and gaming PC, as long as you’re not too discerning about quality. Its good build and typically industrial bulky looks will stand tall in the corporate environment as well.

Dell SP 2008 WFP
Features, looks and value—a rare combination

Looking exactly like its ‘larger by two inches’ brother, the SP 2008 WFP is a handsome monitor, and aside from the lack of an HDMI port has the same connectivity, build, and features. Sadly it’s once again a glossy TN panel, albeit an excellent one. DisplayMate had minor issues with contrast on this panel. In fact we missed on a number of darker cards in the Intensity Check. Geometry tests were completed without any compliant, and even the reverse text tests went well. There were some issues with colour, but they weren’t major, and mostly centred around its ability to produce certain intensities of green. The reds and blues were spot on. It did well in the gaming and movie tests proving its mettle as a serious multimedia option. The price of Rs 12,700 makes the SP 2008 WFP excellent value for money and a terrific deal for any kind of audience. We’d just like a couple of quirks worked out—something both 20- and 22-inch siblings share.
 
Samsung 2053BW

Bordeaux’s baby boy

A matte panel, a monitor with a body that can only be described as hot—the kind of hot that brings cold shivers of anticipation. Add to this exemplary build quality and you’ve got the 2053BW. DisplayMate was rather kind to this monitor and aside from the usual contrast issues (although not severe) the geometry tests were a breeze. The 2053BW handles colours well, it’s just not able to produce many more than its 6-bit TN panel’s theoretical limit. Gaming is good on this monitor, and aside from the lack of contrast in some of the darkest areas of F.E.A.R it did well accurately reproducing all special effects, particle effects and explosions. The world of Tamriel comes to vivid life in Oblivion. With a good showing in the movie test as well, this monitor makes a good buy, except that its priced a little stiffly—Rs 14,500 is a little too much with the SP 2008 WFP breathing down its neck with identical performance at a lower price. The 22-inch panels are also similarly priced, and two inches of real estate more for the same amount is a steal as well.

Samsung 2043 NXW

A touchy case

This is 2053BW’s smaller brother in terms of price, but retaining the build quality and looks, and adding a touch control system that is quirky at times. A quick initial run of DisplayMate revealed issues beyond what its sibling had. We didn’t get the full colour gamut, with noticeable flaws, and the contrast test was just above what we’d consider acceptable. It has the same quality at geometry though. In gaming, the issue of contrast will be noticeable, although not quite so in movies, where for some reason we couldn’t find much to gripe about. At Rs 12,500, it’s cheaper than its sibling, but a let down in most other ways. We’d recommend shelling out Rs 2,000 more and crying once, instead of pinching your pockets and crying later.

17-inch LCD Monitors
Minnows


Acer X173W
Featherweight pushover

Its light, with mediocre yet acceptable build quality. The lack of DVI is an annoyance as are the eyesore buttons—large and ugly, the lower bezel pouts at you like a puffy lip. DisplayMate was its unkind self, and the little Acer huffs to keep up with the contrast and colour tests. It does manage to pass, though by a hairsbreadth. In games, the lack of an adequate contrast is noticeable. At Rs 8,500 the X173W is a good entry level monitor, suitable for a home PC and Internet use. Don’t expect too much from this 17-inch, though.

Dell 1708FP
A better stand we never did see

As the title says for a 17-inch monitor this one has a superlative stand that allows swivel, pivot and height adjustment, as well as portrait mode. Build quality is excellent too. It does have its fair share of problems, courtesy yet another TN panel, where a poor contrast ratio was seen in DisplayMate first, and F.E.A.R later. The fact that it’s not a widescreen doesn’t make it any better, and the contrast ratio doesn’t help either. We were somewhat mollified by the price (Rs 11,500) which makes it a slightly better option than the Acer X173W, since it outperforms it by
10 per cent.

HP L1710
A tad too expensive

The L1710 looks  identical to the L2208W except it’s not a widescreen monitor. It has decent performance in DisplayMate, although the colour and contrast issues still remain. We did notice some serious discrepancies in the colour tests—particularly the 16-shade ramp test. In games and movies it performed sub-par—a pity, because we expected more, especially
for Rs 9,593.

Intex 1707 WBLK
Dances with wind

The L1707 is a good looking monitor featuring a glossy panel. Unfortunately, it took three minutes under our ceiling fan for us to realise this monitor actually shakes with a little breeze—courtesy a flimsy plastic stand, unlike its 19-inch sibling, which had a full metal stand. Performance was nothing worth writing home about, but we noticed no real issues except the usual niggles with contrast and colour which plagued us throughout DisplayMate and occasionally during our game and movie tests. At Rs 8,500 it’s similarly priced to the X173W from Acer, so we recommend you give this one a wide berth.

LG L177 WSB-PF
Value-oriented all-rounder

A neat-looking LCD with solid build quality. This was one of the only monitors to who DisplayMate was really kind throughout the tests, although we did notice issues with contrast and some minor issues with point shape and visibility in the geometry tests. While gaming, this monitor performs decently, except when a good contrast ratio is called for. This was one of the only 17-inch monitors on which Oblivion looked glorious. If you’re looking for an all rounder in this size category you’ve just found it—at just Rs 8,500.

NEC 1770NX-BK
The weakest link

Sporting the same kind of build quality that we saw on the larger 19-inch NEC monitors, the 1770NX immediately ran into issues with contrast in DisplayMate—nearly half of our grey cards were indistinguishable from black. In the colour tests, for some weird reason, the 16-shade intensity ramp had serious issues with the four brightest intensities in the colour green, and with the three brightest intensities in the colours red and blue where the shades looked the same—a shame for this monitor. In games the contrast ratio was noticeable although the colour issue was only apparent with games. At Rs 18,900 nobody is going to lose any sleep over whether to purchase this monitor or not, so we’ll leave it at that.

Samsung 732NW
We’d like to imagine a lot more

A compact and cute monitor, the 732NW is built well. It’s a mediocre performer as DisplayMate revealed in the colour and contrast tests, although to its credence the geometry tests were cleared without incident or hiccup. In F.E.A.R, it got the usual criticism we’ve levelled against most panels—a poor contrast ratio, and lower brightness. At Rs 8,850 it’s a little expensive to recommend.

ViewSonic VA1716W

For crying out loud!

ViewSonic’s 17-inch offering has a plasticy body, devoid of any of the fancy glossy materials we’re used to seeing. We ran into problems at every step of our test—the first stop being DisplayMate, where the poor contrast became apparent. Also the geometry tests, normally a breeze for most LCDs were a pain here, we had issues with line and point resolution.

Then came the colour tests and (sigh) by this time we nearly gave up—the performance in the shade ramp tests was terrible particualrly with the 256 shade ramp, where this monitor is not capable of many variations in intensity of the same colour.

Needless to say it’s not very suitable at gaming and movies too. Neither is the text rendition as clear as other monitors. Performance doesn’t come cheap, a known analogy, but its corollary is also true—what you don’t pay for, you don’t get.
Needs Suggestions We Say Price Range
A basic LCD monitor for an Internet/home PC LG L177 WSB-PF Decent colours and contrast, a good entry level monitor Rs 8,500
A high-end LCD for gaming and full 1080p HD content LG L246Wp Based on an 8-bit P-MVA panel, this 1920x1200 pixel resolution sporting panel is just what the doctor ordered. With connects galore and a sterling build quality, a stand that lets you swivel in and out of portrait mode, and even adjust the height, this is a steal Rs 28,000
High-end multimedia and gaming on the cheap Dell SP 2208 WFP With an integrated 2.0 megapixel webcamera, HDMI port and a great panel with stunning contrast and colours this monitor is a steal at the price it commands Rs 15,386
A non glossy panel, something that offers a good dose of performance and is well priced Samsung 2253LW    This monitor even outperforms the Dell, and is better for a matte panel that cuts down on reflection. Very good for gaming and movies, the price is a on the high side Rs 17,500
A professional grade monitor with spot on colour and geometry rendition NEC MultiSync 1990 SX An 8 bit S-IPS panel doing duty inside just says it all, excellent colour rendition, perfect for image editing professionals. Very costly, keep fingers crossed for a price drop Rs 42,000
A decent 19-inch monitor for home usage, with some multimedia performance Samsung 953 BW / Dell 1908 FP Both these monitors are different beasts. The Dell is a regular panel while the Samsung is a widescreen. They’re both excellent for the price though Rs 9,899—10,000


24-inch LCD Monitor
Coming soon…to an affordable price near you


LG 246Wp
A colossus of expletives

When we saw this giant screen we knew we had something special. It’s heavy, has a huge stand and allows the screen to swivel for a portrait mode. Portrait mode is never more apparent than on a huge widescreen—where the screen size is larger than an A3 sheet of paper.

The thickness of the outer casing and the amount of heat dissipated by the panel told us that this was either an MVA or a PVA panel.

In fact, this is a P-MVA panel. Calibrating it wasn’t easy, since keeping yourself at eye-level with such a large screen is nearly impossible.

In DisplayMate, we saw strong contrast, and a lot of grey cards were visible with a really black background—a good showing for contrast for this panel. In the colour tests we saw an accurate rendition of red and blue with only a slight issue in the 256 shade ramp test for the colour green.

In our movies test we got to experience the full glory of 1080p, and this monitor handled colour and contrast very well. Only in F.E.A.R did we see a little issue with contrast, but this was only in one or two areas. Oblivion looks gorgeous at 1920 x 1200 pixels, and you’ll be as mesmerised as we were. With a price tag of Rs 28,000 this monitor may seem expensive, but that’s before you consider the quality of the panel inside, and the extra functionality that the stand gives you. It makes for a terrific gaming or multimedia monitor—just make sure your graphics card can handle the large resolutions you want.

Closing Thoughts
Though newer models are being introduced around twice a year, there’s hardly any difference in terms of quality—larger screens are getting cheaper, but they’re hardly getting better.

Sure, features like HDMI and other connectivity and orientation options  have become cheaper, but the biggest factor—quality—essentially remains the sole dominion of costlier panels. So while the common user has a plethora of ever-changing options the discerning buyer is stuck at a crossroad—does he go cheap or does he pay significantly more for something that is noticeably better?

This is a question which manufacturers should be made to answer

Contact Sheet                                    LCD Monitors

Michael BrowneMichael Browne