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Introduction

Over the last year or so there has been a growing interest in low-cost monitors being manufactured in Korea and distributed Worldwide, primarily by sellers on eBay. These screens have captured the interest of buyers since they are generally high resolution models (27 and 30"), using quality IPS panels as used in popular models from the likes of Dell and Apple, and importantly, are available at very low costs. We talked about these Korean screens a little, back in March 2012 but have not really had chance to look at them in any more detail since. While they have been discussed a lot online and snapped up by many buyers looking for a bargain, there have always been big question marks around their quality and warranty. Shipping these models internationally via eBay has been a little worrying for many people, and with doubts around the after-sales support and returns policy, many people have just been put off.

Some local alternatives have emerged since, helping to offer people other low cost screens but with the safety net of a local distributor and support/warranty structure. In the UK, models like the DGM IPS-2701WPH have emerged to offer a low cost alternative to the mainstream offerings from Dell, HP, Apple, NEC and the likes. While these have no doubt been a lower end display choice, with a more basic set of features and specs, they have still interested many buyers looking for a bargain. Despite the availability of these local alternatives, the Korean models have remained popular.

Now UK-based IT supplier www.pcbuyit.co.uk have started to supply some of the Korean models themselves, backed by a proper warranty and support service as well. So far, models from Achieva Shimian are starting to emerge through PCBuyIT and we have the 30" QH300-IPSMS with us for review at the moment. We will feature reviews of other Korean models as they become available as well. In regards to the warranty, PCBuyIT are including a 3 year UK only collect and return warranty. Full details of the support offered with the QH300 is available here for reference.



Specifications and Features

The following table gives detailed information about the specs of the screen:

Monitor Specifications

Size

30"WS (76.2 cm)

Panel Coating

Heavy Anti-glare (matte)

Aspect Ratio

16:10

Interfaces

1x Dual-link DVI (HDCP), 1x HDMI, 1x D-sub

Resolution

2560 x 1600

Pixel Pitch

0.2505 mm

Design colour

Dark silver colour brushed aluminium appearance bezel and casing. Black stand and base

Response Time

7ms G2G

Ergonomics

Tilt, swivel, 125mm height, rotate

Static Contrast Ratio

1000:1

Dynamic Contrast Ratio

n/a

VESA Compatible

Yes 100mm

Brightness

370

Accessories

DL-DVI cable, Power cord and brick, audio cable

Viewing Angles

178 / 178

Panel Technology

H-IPS

Weight

Not listed

Backlight Technology

WCG-CCFL

Physical Dimensions

(WxHxD with stand)
685 x 516 x 208 mm

Colour Depth

1.07 billion (10-bit)

Refresh Rate

60Hz

Special Features

Audio out connection

Colour Gamut

Wide Gamut
102% NTSC, 98.2% Adobe RGB, 100% sRGB coverage

The Achieva Shimian QH300-IPSMS offers a reasonable set of connectivity options. There are HDMI, Dual-link DVI-D and D-sub (VGA) provided for video interfaces. The DVI connection should be used where possible, but we did find that the VGA connection even supported the full native 2560 x 1600 resolution which was unusual. It's nice to see HDMI provided for users who want to connect other devices, particularly external Blu-ray and DVD players. The digital interfaces are HDCP certified for encrypted content as well. There is also an audio out connection for connecting headphones / external speakers if you wish to take the sound from the HDMI input. There are no integrated stereo speakers on this model so the "audio in" connection can be ignored.

The screen comes packaged with a dual-link DVI and audio cables which is useful although there is no VGA or HDMI cable provided with the screen unfortunately, presumably due to cost saving measures. The screen has an external power supply which is provided as well. There are no further features such as USB ports, card readers of light sensors on this model.

Below is a summary of the features and connections of the screen:

Feature

Yes / No

Feature

Yes / No

Tilt adjust

DVI

Height adjust

HDMI

Swivel adjust

D-sub

Rotate adjust

DisplayPort

VESA compliant

Component

USB Ports

Composite

Card Reader

Audio connection

Ambient Light Sensor

HDCP Support

Touch Screen

MHL Support

Hardware calibration

Integrated Speakers

Uniformity correction

PiP / PbP



Design and Ergonomics



Above: front views of the screen. Click for larger versions

The screen comes in a matte dark silver design with a plastic bezel designed to look like brushed aluminium. The bezel is thin and sleek and measures only 20mm along all sides. The design is sturdy and seems to be of a good build quality, although perhaps a little industrial. There is a single "Shimian" logo in the middle of the lower bezel but no other writing or labels on the screen at all. There is a very small power LED in the very bottom right hand corner which glows blue during normal operation, flashes blue on/off in standby or glows red if the screen is powered off. The back of the screen is enclosed in a black plastic case with air vents to help dissipate heat from the backlight and screen.


Above: front views showing the base of the stand and design. Click for larger versions

The stand has a triangular shaped base as shown above which provides a sturdy support for the large, heavy screen. This is a matte black plastic finish, as is the arm for the stand.


Above: showing VESA and stand connection (left) and base of the stand (right). Click for larger versions

The stand provided is packaged separately and must be connected to the back of the screen by the user. There is a small screw at the bottom of the stand which releases the hydraulic height adjustment, and then 4 small screws to attach it to the VESA mount bracket on the back of the panel as shown above. The arm for the stand is thick and sturdy and holds up the heavy, large screen well. The base of the stand has rubber feet on it to help maintain a stable base on the desk. The screen is VESA compliant as well, but given the heavy weight of the screen (due to its size and CCFL backlighting unit), it might not be as easy to wall or arm mount as smaller screens if that is something you want to consider.


Above: full tilt range shown. Click for larger versions

The screen offers a wide range of ergonomic adjustments. The tilt function offers a good range of adjustment as shown above. It is a smooth movement, but quite stiff to operate. The screen does at least stay pretty sturdy during movements and it is possible to get a comfortable setting for a good variety of viewing positions and angles. On the desk the screen can be a bit wobbly if you knock it. You will also notice that the screen has quite a thick profile due to the CCFL backlight unit being used.


Above: full height adjustment range shown. Click for larger versions

The height adjustments is again smooth, but stiff to operate, especially when trying to lower the height. At a minimum height, the bottom edge of the screen is ~35mm from the level of the desk, and at the maximum height it is ~160mm. This gives a total height adjustment range of 125mm which is useful and should be sufficient for a wide variety of viewing positions and uses.


Above: side to side swivel adjustment shown. Click for larger version

The side to side swivel is again smooth but stiff to use. The base does remain stationary on the desk though which is good. There is also a full rotate function to switch between landscape and portrait modes. That adjustment is actually smooth and easy to use, although its practicality is questionable on a screen this size. Nevertheless it's there if you want to use it and it's good to see a full range of adjustments available from the screen.

A summary of the screens ergonomic adjustments is shown below:

Function

Range

Smoothness

Ease of Use

Tilt

Yes

Smooth

Stiff

Height

125mm

Smooth

Stiff, especially lowering

Swivel

Yes

Smooth

Stiff

Rotate

90

Smooth

Easy

Overall

Good range of adjustments although most are stiff to operate.

The screen materials  are of a pretty good quality and the design is not bad in my opinion, although perhaps a little industrial in feel. There is a no audible noise from the screen during normal use even if you listen closely. However when using specific test images with a large concentration of text we were able to detect some higher pitch buzzing from the capacitors. This was not evident during normal uses day to day though. With a big CCFL backlight unit being used, the screen does get quite warm during prolonged use, specially from the back and top, and even a little from the front of the panel.

 
Above: interface connections on back of the screen. Click for larger version

The back of the screen provides connections for the power supply (far left) which is provided with the screen. There are then video connections for D-sub (VGA), DL-DVI and HDMI. Audio input is provided although not needed on this model as there are no integrated speakers. The audio output can be used to take audio sent to the screen over the HDMI connection if you want to connect it up to some speakers or headphones. You may notice an MHL connection on the far right but this is not active or used on this model.



OSD Menu


Above: views of OSD operational buttons

The control of the screen and the OSD is possible through a set of 7 buttons located on the back edge of the screen, on the right hand side if you are facing the front. Because of their location, you have to reach behind the screen to use them, and at first it can be a little tricky to figure out which buttons you are using and what they do. After a few uses, you do get used to it, although it's a little tricky sometimes and not very intuitive.

The top round button is the power on/off button. The 'source' button gives you quick access to switch between the input sources. The 'menu' button takes you into the main OSD which we will look at in a moment. The right facing arrow (as viewed in the photo above) gives quick access to switch between the aspect ratio modes available (wide and 4:3).

The left arrow controls the volume if you're sending audio through the screen over HDMI and have something connected to the audio output. The up arrow has no quick launch option, but the down arrow gives you quick access to the brightness and contrast controls as shown above.

Accessing the main menu presents you with the above set of options. The 'bright/cont' section is exactly the same as the quick launch access we talked about above. 'Positioning' and 'image settings' relate to the use of D-sub analogue connections and are greyed out here since we were using DVI to connect the screen.

The 'color settings' section gives you access to 3 colour preset modes (normal, reddish and bluish), and a further user configurable mode with control over the RGB levels. Oddly the screen does come by default in the bluish mode which looks overly cool. We will look at this more in the following sections.

The 'OSD' section lets you control a few things related to the OSD itself.

The language section has a few options and thankfully, despite being a Korean model, the screen came in English out of the box to at least make navigation easy /possible.

The last 'Misc' section has an option to reset the screen settings through the 'initialize' function. There is also control for the aspect ratio options (wide and 4:3 modes available). The DCR option is greyed out and seems to not be available on this screen, despite some specs suggesting it should be.

All in all the OSD was reasonable in its options although there wasn't a massive range of things to alter. There were a couple of preset modes, but none specifically designed for different uses. Navigation was easy enough once you'd gotten the hang of using the buttons tucked away behind the right hand edge of the screen, but that did take some getting used to.

 


Power Consumption

In terms of power consumption the manufacturer doesn't seem to list any specific figures. We carried out our normal tests to establish its power consumption ourselves.

State and Brightness Setting

Manufacturer Spec (W)

Measured Power Usage (W)

Factory Default (75%)

-

125.8

Calibrated (29%)

-

63.4

Maximum Brightness (100%)

-

153.4

Minimum Brightness (0%)

-

61.7

Standby

-

1.0

We tested this ourselves and found that out of the box the screen used a very high 125.8W of power while at its default brightness setting. At the maximum brightness level the screen used 153.4W of power, and at the lowest setting this was measured at 61.7W. Once calibrated we had reached a power consumption of 63.4W which had been once the screen had been set to achieve a luminance of 120 cd/m2. During standby the screen uses 1.0W of power. We have plotted the results of these measurements on the graph below. As you can see, compared to a lot of modern screens the power consumption is very high here. That is due to the use of a CCFL backlight unit which consumes a lot more power than W-LED (and GB-LED) equivalents. It's consumption is comparable to models like the Dell 3008WFP and Hazro HZ30Wie which are also CCFL based 30" models.

 


Panel and Backlighting

Panel Manufacturer

LG.Display

Colour Palette

1.07 billion

Panel Technology

H-IPS

Colour Depth

10-bit

Panel Module

LM300WQ5-SLA1

Colour space

Wide Gamut

Backlighting Type

WCG-CCFL

Colour space coverage (%)

102% NTSC, 98.2% Adobe RGB, 100% sRGB coverage

Panel and Colour Depth

The Achieva Shimian QH300-IPSMS sample we tested utilises an LG.Display LM300WQ5-SLA1 H-IPS panel which is capable of producing 1.07 billion colours. According to the detailed panel spec sheet this is done with a 10-bit colour depth and there is no mention of Frame Rate Control (FRC) being used. It should be noted that Achieva do supply the same screen with different panel revisions being used, although most at the moment will use some version of the Q5 panel.

The panel offers support for 10-bit content. This gives a colour depth support for 1.07 billion colours. However,  you need to take into account whether this is practically useable and whether you're ever going to truly use that colour depth. You need to have a full 10-bit end to end workflow to take advantage of it which is still quite expensive to achieve and rare in the market, certainly for your average user. This includes relevant applications and graphics cards as well, so to many people this 10-bit support might be irrelevant.
 

Panel Coating

The screen coating on the QH300-IPSMS is an old style AG coating from IPS panels. It is an older panel and so the AG coating could be described as being 'heavy' or grainy. Some people find this to be problematic when viewing a lot of light content, particularly white backgrounds of office documents and spreadsheets. Many people though do not find it an issue and it's been used on IPS panels for many years. It should be noted that modern IPS panels have reverted to a lighter, "cleaner" AG coating instead.
 

Backlighting and Colour Gamut

The screen uses a wide colour gamut CCFL (WCG-CCFL) backlight unit which offers a colour space covering 102% of the NTSC reference. Some modern screens have begun to use GB-LED backlighting to offer wide colour spaces (Dell U2713H, U2413 and U3014 for instance), but these older WCG-CCFL units have been widely used. It can offer a colour space equivalent to 98.2% of the Adobe RGB reference and covers 100% of the sRGB reference.
 

PWM Flicker Tests at Various Backlight Brightness Settings

We tested the screen to establish the methods used to control backlight dimming. Our in depth article talks in more details about a common method used for this which is called Pulse Width Modulation (PWM). Previously we have used a camera based method as described in the article to capture results at brightness settings of 100, 50 and 0. We now have a more advanced photosensor +  oscilloscope system which will allow us to measure backlight cycling with more accuracy and ultimately more ease. These tests allow us to establish 1) whether PWM is being used to control the backlight, 2) the frequency at which this operates if used, and 3) whether a flicker may be introduced or potentially noticeable at certain settings. The higher this frequency, the less likely you are to see artefacts and flicker. The duty cycle (the time for which the backlight is on) is also important and the shorter the duty cycle, the more potential there is that you may see flicker. Please remember that not every user would notice a flicker from the backlight but it is something to be wary of. It is also a hard thing to quantify as it is very subjective when talking about whether a user may or may not experience the side effects. We are able to at least measure the frequency of the backlight using this method and tell you whether the duty cycle is sufficiently short at certain settings that it may introduce a flicker to those sensitive to it.

100%                                                                                 50%

Above scale = 1 horizontal grid = 20ms

            0%                                                                             0% (zoomed)

Above scale (left) = 1 horizontal grid = 20ms                                    (right) 1 horizontal grid = 5ms

At a setting of 100 there was a constant voltage applied to the backlight as you might expect. However, as you started to lower the brightness PWM was being used for the dimming straight away. At a setting of 50% the fluctuations in the oscilloscope graph became more obvious and as you reduced the brightness further they became more pronounced as the duty cycle became shorter. PWM was used to dim the backlight all the way down to 0%. From the tests it was possible to work out the PWM frequency which was a pretty low 180Hz. However, being CCFL based, the possible flicker produced may be less noticeable than an LED screen with similar frequency, since the light does not turn on and off as quickly, and shows a smoother brightness output. If users are worried about flicker or particularly susceptible to it, then you need to be aware of the use of PWM here.

Pulse Width Modulation Used

Yes

Cycling Frequency

180 Hz

Possible Flicker at

 

100% Brightness

No

50% Brightness

Yes

0% Brightness

Yes

 


Testing Methodology

An important thing to consider for most users is how a screen will perform out of the box and with some basic manual adjustments. Since most users won't have access to hardware colorimeter tools, it is important to understand how the screen is going to perform in terms of colour accuracy for the average user.

I restored my graphics card to default settings and disabled any previously active ICC profiles and gamma corrections. The screen was tested at default factory settings using the DVI interface, and analysed using an X-rite i1 Pro Spectrophotometer (not to be confused with the new i1 Display Pro colorimeter) combined with LaCie's Blue Eye Pro software suite. An NEC branded and customised X-rite i1 Display 2 colorimeter was also used to verify the black point and contrast ratio since the i1 Pro is less reliable at the darker end.


Targets for these tests are as follows:

  • CIE Diagram - validates the colour space covered by the monitors backlighting in a 2D view, with the black triangle representing the displays gamut, and other reference colour spaces shown for comparison

  • Gamma - we aim for 2.2 which is the default for computer monitors

  • Colour temperature / white point - we aim for 6500k which is the temperature of daylight

  • Luminance - we aim for 120 cd/m2, which is the recommended luminance for LCD monitors in normal lighting conditions

  • Black depth - we aim for as low as possible to maximise shadow detail and to offer us the best contrast ratio

  • Contrast ratio - we aim for as high as possible. Any dynamic contrast ratio controls are turned off here if present

  • dE average / maximum - as low as possible. If DeltaE >3, the color displayed is significantly different from the theoretical one, meaning that the difference will be perceptible to the viewer. If DeltaE <2, LaCie considers the calibration a success; there remains a slight difference, but it is barely undetectable. If DeltaE < 1, the color fidelity is excellent.



Default Performance and Setup

Default settings of the screen were as follows:

Monitor OSD Option

Default Settings

Brightness

75

Contrast

94

Preset Mode

Bluish

RGB

n/a (locked)


Achieva Shimian QH300-IPSMS - Default Factory Settings

 


 

Default Settings
Standard Mode

luminance (cd/m2)

253

Black Point (cd/m2)

0.36

Contrast Ratio

644:1

 

For some reason the screen comes out of the box in the 'bluish' preset mode, although there were other modes available which we will test in a moment. Default setup of the screen felt too bright which is pretty standard for modern screens but can be easily controlled of course via the brightness control. You could immediately spot the use of the wide gamut backlight as well, with colours looking more saturated and vivid than a normal standard gamut screen. Reds and greens in particular looked more vivid and more exaggerated. This is common for wide gamut screens of course. Some people actually prefer the more saturated colours for things like gaming and movies, even if it's at the cost of accuracy. The colour temperature did feel too cool, perhaps not surprising when the screen is set in the bluish mode by default.

 

The CIE diagram on the left of the image confirms that the monitors colour gamut (black triangle) extends considerably beyond the sRGB colour space (orange triangle), especially in green shades. This is representative of the screens wide gamut and 102% NTSC colour space coverage. There was also a fair amount of over-coverage in reds and some in blues too.

 

It should be noted that the QH300-IPSMS offers no emulation for smaller colour spaces and so the screen must always be used in wide gamut mode. As a result, you need to consider whether you want a wide gamut screen and whether you intend to work with wide gamut content. If you do, and therefore need a wide gamut screen then this is of course fine, and the screen quite closely matches the popular Adobe RGB space in fact as the below tests confirm. If you are working simply with "normal" sRGB content then viewing that on a wide gamut screen can lead to oversaturation of colours, and certain shades can look unrealistic or too neon. Reds and greens for example can look very bright and skin tones can look strange. Some users actually like the bright, vivid colours anyway especially in games and movies, but others who are looking for accuracy and who don't want to deal with the complications of a mis-match between their workflow and their screen may instead want to consider a monitor with a standard sRGB gamut. Some rival monitors with wide gamut support offer sRGB emulation modes which can at least offer the user the ability to switch between the two if needed. Because of the drive to keep costs at a minimum, there is no emulation mode provided here.

 

 

 

We have also provided a comparison of the screens native colour space against the wider Adobe RGB reference. You can see that it extends beyond the Adobe RGB reference as well in some shades, particularly reds and some greens, but does fall slightly short in other parts of the green spectrum, giving rise to the 98.2% Adobe RGB coverage detailed in the panel spec sheet.

 

 

Default gamma was recorded at 2.3 average, leaving it a little out with a 3% deviance from the target of 2.2 which wasn't too bad. White point was too cool as we had suspected, being measured at 9174k, and being 41% out from our target of 6500k. Note that we are using a spectrophotometer to make these measurements which is not sensitive to the wide gamut backlight as some colorimeter devices can be. When using a standard gamut colorimeter not designed to work with modern backlighting units like W-LED, WCG-CCFL and GB-LED there can be a typical deviance of 300 - 600k in the white point measurement which is why some sources may refer to a different white point in this test incorrectly.

 

Luminance was recorded at a bright 253 cd/m2 which is too high for prolonged general use. The screen was set at a default 75% brightness in the OSD menu but that is easy to change of course to reach a more comfortable setting. The black depth was 0.36 cd/m2, giving us a fairly mediocre (for an IPS panel) static contrast ratio of 644:1. Colour accuracy was poor in this measurement but this is a result of the monitors native gamut, being much wider than the reference sRGB. DeltaE was recorded at 4.1 average, with maximum of 10.4. Testing the screen with various gradients showed smooth transitions with no sign of any banding thankfully. The usual slight gradation was evident in darker tones as you will see from most monitors.

 

 


Colour Temperatures

 

 

The QH300-IPSMS features a range of colour temperature presets within the OSD 'color settings' menu as shown above. There are options for normal, reddish (warmer), bluish (cooler) and user. The user option allows you to manually control the RGB channels which will be useful for calibration in a moment. We measured the screen with the X-rite i1 Pro spectrophotometer in each of the preset modes to establish their colour temperature / white point out of the box. All other settings were left at factory defaults and no ICC profile was active. The results are recorded below:

 

Preset Mode

Measured Colour temperature

Deviance from 6500k Target

Contrast Ratio

Normal

7962k

22%

711:1

Reddish

6933k

7%

741:1

Bluish

9174k

41%

644:1

User

7008k

8%

687:1

 

We had already seen that the default bluish mode was too cool, being 41% out from our 6500k target. The normal mode was still too cool as well, being measured at 7962k and still being a long way off (22%) from the target. The Reddish mode was actually the closest to the desired white point at 6933k and being only 7% out from the target. So it seemed that this mode wasn't actually a "warmer" mode, where you might expect a colour temperature nearer to 5000k for example, but instead was set up to be quite close to the 6500k white point we were aiming for. In fact a little too cool still. The user mode was very similar to the reddish mode (7008k, 8% out) but could be adjusted manually by changing the RGB levels for calibration. As a side note, contrast ratio was actually better in the other preset modes than we'd seen in the default "bluish" mode which was good. Still not great for an IPS panel, but some improvement at least.

 

 

 

Calibration

 

We used the X-rite i1 Pro spectrophotometer combined with the LaCie Blue Eye Pro software package to achieve these results and reports. An NEC branded and customised X-rite i1 Display 2 was used to validate the black depth and contrast ratios due to lower end limitations of the i1 Pro device.

 

 

Monitor OSD Option

Calibrated Settings

Brightness

29

Contrast

100

Preset mode

User

RGB (Gain)

80, 75, 78


Achieva Shimian QH300-IPSMS - Calibrated Settings

  
 

 

Calibrated Settings, Custom Color mode

luminance (cd/m2)

114

Black Point (cd/m2)

0.16

Contrast Ratio

712:1

 

We first of all reverted to the 'user' preset mode in the OSD menu to allow us access to the individual RGB channels. Adjustments were made during the process to the brightness control, and to the RGB channels as shown in the table above. This allowed us to obtain an optimum hardware starting point and setup before software level changes would be made at the graphics card level. This would help preserve tonal values and limit banding issues. After this we let the software carry out the LUT adjustments and create an ICC profile.

 

 

Average gamma had been corrected to 2.2 according to the initial test, correcting the default 3% deviance we'd found out of the box in the bluish mode. The white point was also corrected to 6591k, leaving only a very small 1% deviance now, but certainly correcting the overly blue image we had observed before. Luminance had also been improved thanks to the adjustment to the brightness control, now being measured at 114 cd/m2. We had set a target in the calibration as normal for 120 cd/m2 but there is a significant drop in the backlight intensity for some reason between a setting of 30% (162 cd/m2) and 29% (113 cd/m2), which we will discuss in the brightness and contrast stability section of this review. As such, we didn't want to set the brightness at 30%, which was too high, as it would cause the software profiling to artificially reduce the luminance and crush the already mediocre contrast ratio. We went with a setting of 29% brightness which resulted in a luminance after calibration which was 114 cd/m2.

 

This gave us a calibrated black depth of 0.16 cd/m2, and a static contrast ratio of 712:1 which was moderate for an IPS panel, but not great by any means. Colour accuracy had also been corrected nicely, with dE average of 0.4 and maximum of 1.8. LaCie would consider colour fidelity to be excellent.

 

Testing the screen with various colour gradients showed mostly very smooth transitions. There was some slight gradation in darker tones and some very slight banding introduced due to the adjustments to the graphics card LUT from the profilation of the screen. Nothing major at all though. You can use our settings and try our calibrated ICC profile if you wish, which are available in our ICC profile database. Keep in mind that results will vary from one screen to another and from one computer / graphics card to another.

 

 

Calibration Performance Comparisons


 

The comparisons made in this section try to give you a better view of how each screen performs, particularly out of the box which is what is going to matter to most consumers. When comparing the default factory settings for each monitor it is important to take into account several measurement areas - gamma, white point and colour accuracy. There's no point having a low dE colour accuracy figure if the gamma curve is way off for instance. A good factory calibration requires all 3 to be well set up. We have deliberately not included luminance in this comparison since this is normally far too high by default on every screen. However, that is very easily controlled through the brightness setting (on most screens) and should not impact the other areas being measured anyway. It is easy enough to obtain a suitable luminance for your working conditions and individual preferences, but a reliable factory setup in gamma, white point and colour accuracy is important and not as easy to change accurately without a calibration tool.

 

From these comparisons we can also compare the calibrated colour accuracy, black depth and contrast ratio. After a calibration the gamma, white point and luminance should all be at their desired targets.

 

Default setup of the QH300-IPSMS was ok in some regards, with gamma at least being close to the 2.2 target (3% deviance). The white point was far too cool though and the default "bluish" mode should be changed straight away at least to the "reddish" mode which is much closer to the 6500k target. This default colour temperature was certainly the worst of the screens compared above, but thankfully it is easy enough to change with a simple switch of the preset mode. The added bonus in doing that as well is that the default contrast ratio improves also. Again, keep in mind this is a wide gamut screen so its appearance and colours will look different to a standard sRGB gamut screen.

 

 

 

The calibrated black depth and contrast ratio of the screen were moderate for an IPS panel really. At 712:1 contrast ratio, it was pretty similar to the Hazro HZ30Wie which uses the same LM300WQ5 panel (different revision, but very similar). That was measured a little lower at 679:1. The QH300-IPSMS also compared quite well with other IPS screens like the Dell S2740L (691:1), Hazro HZ27WC (744:1) and HP ZR2740w v2 (708:1). Some other modern screens surpassed the contrast ratio of the QH300-IPS such as the Dell U2913WM (1011:1) but to be honest a contrast ratio of around 700 - 800:1 is pretty common for this panel technology. The out of the box contrast ratio in the bluish preset mode was a little lower, but the calibrated contrast ratio was not too bad compared to many other IPS based screens. Those needing a higher CR may want to consider other technologies like AMVA as well, which can easily reach >3000:1 in many cases.

 

 


Contrast Stability and Brightness

We wanted to see how much variance there was in the screens contrast as we adjusted the monitor setting for brightness. In theory, brightness and contrast are two independent parameters, and good contrast is a requirement regardless of the brightness adjustment. Unfortunately, such is not always the case in practice. We recorded the screens luminance and black depth at various OSD brightness settings, and calculated the contrast ratio from there. Graphics card settings were left at default with no ICC profile or calibration active. Tests were made using an NEC branded and customised X-rite i1 Display 2 colorimeter. It should be noted that we used the BasICColor calibration software here to record these, and so luminance at default settings may vary a little from the LaCie Blue Eye Pro report.

OSD Brightness

Luminance
(cd/m2)

Black Point (cd/m2)

Contrast Ratio
( x:1)

100

291.29

0.46

633

90

283.17

0.45

629

80

260.17

0.41

635

70

238.52

0.38

628

60

221.68

0.35

633

50

205.60

0.33

623

40

187.33

0.30

624

30

162.05

0.26

623

20

112.95

0.18

628

10

107.17

0.17

630

0

104.28

0.16

652

 

Total Luminance Adjustment Range (cd/m2)

187.01

Brightness OSD setting controls backlight?

Total Black Point Adjustment Range (cd/m2)

0.30

Average Static Contrast Ratio

631:1

PWM Free? 

Recommended OSD setting for 120 cd/m2

29%

The luminance range of the screen was good on the whole. At the maximum brightness setting the screen reached 291.29 cd/m2, which was quite a bit lower than the specified 370 cd/m2, but still more than enough for most users we're sure. At the lower end of the adjustment range you could reach down to 104.28 cd/m2. This should be ok for most users, but perhaps might not be dark enough for some who want to use the screen in low lighting conditions. The total adjustment range of 187.01 cd/m2 was good, but we would have perhaps preferred a lower minimum brightness and a lower maximum brightness overall. As we discussed earlier, the backlight dimming is achieved through the use of PWM and so those prone to any issues with backlight flickering may need to keep this in mind. Being CCFL backlit, it's perhaps not as big an issue as with modern LED backlights.

We have plotted the luminance trend on the graph above. The screen behaves as it should, with a reduction in the backlight intensity controlled by the reduction in the OSD brightness setting. This was not a linear relationship though. As you can see from the graph there seemed to be a sudden drop off in the brightness from a setting of 30% to 29%. This was a bit unfortunate since it means there's no easy way from the monitor settings to actually achieve a luminance of ~120 cd/m2. The 30% setting was measured at 162.05 cd/m2, and the 29% setting dropped down to 114 cd/m2. Not an ideal place in the brightness curve for this odd drop to occur really.

The results shown here were taken in the default bluish preset mode. Average contrast ratio was measured was 631:1 which was pretty mediocre for an IPS panel really. It was stable across the adjustment range with some small deviations at the lower end of the brightness scale. Thankfully this contrast ratio is a bit better in the other preset modes as we've discussed earlier. The purpose of this test really was to confirm the stability of the contrast as you alter the brightness control.

 


Viewing Angles


Above: Viewing angles shown from front and side, and  from above and below. Click for larger image

Viewing angles of the QH300-IPSMS were very good as you would expect from an IPS panel. Horizontally there was very little colour tone shift until wide angles past about 45. A slight darkening of the image occurred horizontally from wider angles as you can see above as the contrast shifted slighting. Contrast shifts were slightly more noticeable in the vertical field where a red-ish hue also appeared, but overall they were very good. The screen offered the wide viewing angles of IPS technology and was free from the very restrictive fields of view of TN Film panels, especially in the vertical plane. It was also free of the off-centre contrast shift you see from VA panels and a lot of the quite obvious gamma and colour tone shift you see from some of the modern AMVA and PVA offerings. All as expected really from a modern IPS panel.


Above: View of an all black screen from the side. Click for larger version

On a black image there was no noticeable white glow which can be problematic on some IPS panels. Instead there was a slight blue / purple tint to the black image, but it was actually not too bad as you can see above. There is no A-TW polarizer on this panel which is rarely used now in the market but was implemented on some older screens to improve the off centre black viewing.



Panel Uniformity

We wanted to test here how uniform the brightness and colour temperature was across the screen, as well as identify any leakage from the backlight in dark lighting conditions. Measurements of the luminance and colour temperature were taken at 35 points across the panel on a pure white background. The measurements for luminance were taken using BasICColor's calibration software package, combined with the NEC customised X-rite i1 Display 2 colorimeter with a central point on the screen calibrated to 120 cd/m2. Measurements for colour temperature (white point) were taken using BasICColor software and the i1 Pro spectrophotometer which can more accurately measure white points of different backlighting technologies. The below uniformity diagram shows the difference, as a percentage, between the measurement recorded at each point on the screen, as compared with the central reference point.

It is worth noting that panel uniformity can vary from one screen to another, and can depend on manufacturing lines, screen transport and other local factors. This is only a guide of the uniformity of the sample screen we have for review.
 


Uniformity of Luminance

The luminance uniformity of the screen was fairly poor unfortunately in the sample we had. The left hand side of the screen was significantly darker than the right hand side. There was a maximum variation of 44.26% which was a lot, from 90 cd/m2 minimum (bottom left) up to 132 cd/m2 (middle right). This may present a problem for colour critical work but isn't really noticeable day to day in casual use. This may also vary by unit of course.
 


Uniformity of White Point / Colour Temperature

The colour temperature uniformity was measured based on a centrally calibrated 6500k point. As you can see, the colour temperature was pretty uniform across the panel with only small deviations across the screen. There was a maximum of 5.76% deviance between any two points on the screen. The top left hand region seemed to be a little cooler than the middle with a 3.72% deviance from the central 6500k. The bottom middle region was a little warmer with a deviance of ~2%, but nothing significant really.



Backlight Leakage


Above: All black screen in a darkened room. Click for larger version

As usual we also tested the screen with an all black image and in a darkened room. A camera was used to capture the result. There was no obvious backlight bleeding at all to the naked eye and the uniformity looked very good, even in a darkened room. The camera captured some slight clouding from the bottom right hand corner, but this was very minimal and not something which you should notice in practice. A pleasing result here.

 


General and Office Applications

The QH300-IPSMS feature a massive 2560 x 1600 resolution which is a little more vertically than the wide range of 2560 x 1440 res 27" screens. The pixel pitch of 0.2505mm is very small as a result, and by comparison a standard 16:10 format 24" model has a pixel pitch of 0.270mm. It is however a little more than the aforementioned 27" models (0.231mm). Some users may find the text a little too small to read comfortably, and I'd advise caution if you are coming from a 19" or 22" screen for instance where the pixel pitch and text are much larger. Personally I think this pixel pitch is about right by modern standards, a little easier on the eye than the 27" models but a little "tighter" than the smaller screens out there. The extra screen size also takes some getting used to over a few days as there really is a lot of room to work with. It's actually noticeably bigger than a 27" model as well. The massive resolution is really good for split screen working, office and general use, giving you a really big screen area to work with. It is a noticeable upgrade from a 24" 1920 x 1200 resolution. For those wanting a high resolution for CAD, design, photo work etc, this is a really good option. The image was very sharp and crisp and text was very clear using the digital DVI connection. This model actually supports the full native resolution over VGA as well which was unusual. Some clarity was lost compared with DVI but it wasn't too bad.

The AG coating is not to everyone's taste, and this model features the older style "heavy", grainy AG coating. It's not the light coating used on some modern IPS screens (Dell U3014 for instance in the 30" sector), but it has been used for a long time and many people are still perfectly happy with it. It can look a bit grainy and dirty on white backgrounds in particular, so we'd advise caution if you're worried about it or coming from a lighter coated or glossy screen. It should be noted that most other 30" models in the market, with the exception of a couple of new screens like the U3014, use the same heavy AG coating as well (Dell U3011, Hazro models, HP ZR30W etc).

The wide viewing angles provided by the IPS panel technology on both horizontal and vertical planes, helps minimize on-screen colour shift when viewed from different angles. The default setup of the screen was ok in terms of gamma, but white point was far too cool and the screen was too bright. Thankfully both are easy enough to correct as we discussed in our earlier sections. One thing you cannot change though is the colour space of the screen. It is wide gamut by its nature because of the WCG-CCFL backlight unit, and there are no emulation modes to simulate standard colour spaces here. As a result, you are always stuck with using the wide gamut mode, and so you need to think about whether that is something you want or need. Some people prefer it to standard gamut screen for the more vivid colours, especially in multimedia uses. But for office and Windows uses it may prove problematic and lead to oversaturated colours which are undesirable for some.

Out of the box the luminance was too high and so you will want to turn this down a fair amount to obtain a setting comfortable to you in your lighting conditions. A setting of around 29% brightness should give you a luminance of just under 120 cd/m2 out of the box. The brightness control affords you a good range of adjustments as well, allowing you to go up to ~291 cd/m2 and down as low as ~104 cd/m2. Those wanting to use the screen in low light conditions should find the adjustment range adequate in most cases although not as low as we've seen from some screens. Another thing to note while we are talking about the brightness control is that the screen does use Pulse-Width modulation (PWM) to control backlight dimming at a frequency of 180Hz. Those who suffer from eye fatigue or headaches associated with flickering backlights need to keep this in mind although it's not as problematic on CCFL backlights as on modern LED systems. You may also want to keep in mind that the power consumption is quite high on this model because of the CCFL backlight, especially if you were thinking of multiple screens for an office. There is some feint high pitch buzzing from the screen in certain conditions, mainly when specifically looking for it using test images with a large amount of text at once. In normal day to day uses, we didn't notice any issue.

The screen offers no extras unfortunately such as USB ports or card readers which can be useful in office environments. There was however a good range of ergonomic adjustments available which were a little stiff, but smooth to use. The screen even offers a rotation function which is probably impractical at this size really. The VESA mounting support may also be useful to some people although keep in mind the screen is heavy and thick.

 
Above: photo of text at 2560 x 1600 (top) and 1920 x 1200 (bottom)

The screen is designed to run at its native resolution of 2560 x 1600 and at a 60Hz recommended refresh rate. However, if you want you are able to run the screen outside of this resolution. We tested the screen at a lower 1920 x 1200 resolution to see how the screen handles the interpolation of the resolution, while maintaining the same aspect ratio of 16:10. At native resolution the text was very sharp as you can see from the top photograph. When you switch to a lower resolution the text is larger of course and the clarity is lost quite noticeably. Use the native resolution wherever possible.

 


Responsiveness and Gaming

The QH300-IPSMS is rated by Achieva as having a 6ms G2G response time which implies the use of overdrive / response time compensation (RTC) technology, used to boost pixel transitions across grey to grey changes. There is no user control over the overdrive impulse within the OSD menu and so we are reliant once again on their factory setup. The part being used is the LG.Display LM300WQ5-SLA1 H-IPS panel. Have a read about response time in our specs section if you need additional information about this measurement.

We will first test the screen using our thorough response time testing method. This uses an oscilloscope and photosensor to measure the pixel response times across a series of 20 different transitions, in the full range from 0 (black) to 255 (white). This will give us a realistic view of how the monitor performs in real life, as opposed to being reliant only on a manufacturers spec. We can work out the response times for changing between many different shades, calculate the maximum, minimum and average grey to grey (G2G) response times, and provide an evaluation of any overshoot present on the monitor.

We use an ETC M526 oscilloscope for these measurements along with a custom photosensor device. Have a read of our response time measurement article for a full explanation of the testing methodology and reported data.

On the whole the pixel transitions were reasonably fast. The average G2G response time was measured at 8.7ms which was a little slower than the specified 6ms G2G from the manufacturer, but still decent enough. Some black to grey changes (0-100, 0-150) were a little slower at ~10 - 11ms. There was only minimal difference between the average G2G rise time (changes from dark to light shades) and the average G2G fall time (changes from light to dark shades). The changes to white (x-255) and to black (x-0) seemed to be the fastest, ranging down to 5.6ms in the best cases.

As we begin to measure more screens with the oscilloscope system we can begin to plot them on a graph like the above for easy comparison. This shows you the lowest, average and highest G2G response time measurement for each screen. As you can see, the Achieva performed quite similarly to the new Dell range overall, just a little bit slower. On the plus side though....

If we evaluate the Response Time Compensation (RTC) overshoot then the results are pleasing and there is pretty much no overshoot evident on the screen. The overdrive impulse is modest enough that it does not push the pixel transitions too far, and so there are no major issues like we saw on the Dell screens mentioned above. A good result here.


Transition: 100 - 200 - 100
(scale = 20ms)

The above oscillogram is a classic example of what we saw. This is from the transition from 100 - 200 - 100 as an example. The rise and fall times are quite similar here and there is no sign of any overshoot in either case.

 

Display Comparisons

The screen was also tested using the chase test in PixPerAn for the following display comparisons. As a reminder, a series of pictures are taken on the highest shutter speed and compared, with the best case example shown on the left, and worst case example on the right. This should only be used as a rough guide to comparative responsiveness but is handy for a comparison between different screens and technologies as well as a means to compare those screens we tested before the introduction of our oscilloscope method.



30" 6ms G2G LG.Display H-IPS

In practice the Achieva QH300-IPSMS showed fairly low levels of motion blur although some was detectable to the naked eye and picked up in these tests. There was nothing severe and no obvious ghosting which was good. There was no overshoot detectable either, and we've already confirmed with our oscilloscope system that this screen is free from such issues thankfully.

 


30" 6ms G2G LG.Display H-IPS


30" 6ms G2G LG.Display H-IPS



30" 6ms G2G LG.Display AH-IPS


30" 7ms G2G LG.Display H-IPS

We can compare the QH300-IPSMS then against some other 30" models we have tested. The Hazro HZ30Wie is perhaps its closest competitor in terms of design, features and target audience. It is also using the same LG.Display LM300WQ5 IPS panel, albeit a slightly different revision. In practice both screens seemed to perform very similarly, with the Achieva having perhaps a slightly less pronounced motion blur. The new Dell U3014 model, also IPS based, showed low levels of blur in these PixPerAn tests as well, but we know from our more advanced oscilloscope tests that there is some quite severe overshoot on that model across certain transitions, which can prove pretty problematic for gaming, and even in some day to day uses. The older Dell U3011 was better as it showed no severe overshoot issues, but again had similar levels of pixel response times and blur to the other 3 models here.



30" 6ms G2G LG.Display H-IPS


27" 6ms G2G LG.Display AH-IPS


27" 8ms G2G LG.Display AH-IPS


29" 8ms G2G LG.Display AH-IPS

We have also provided a comparison of the QH300-IPSMS above against 3 other recent Dell screens we have tested which also use IPS panel technology. The Dell U2713H was very similar to the U3014 we have already looked at, having low levels of motion blur similar to the QH300-IPSMS, but some massive overshoot problems. The U2713HM and U2913WM were much better, being a little faster and free from any such overshoot artefacts.



30" 6ms G2G LG.Display H-IPS


27" 12ms G2G LG.Display H-IPS


27" 5ms G2G Samsung PLS (Trace Free = 40)


27" 12ms G2G Samsung PLS (Response Time = Advanced)

We can also compare the QH300-IPSMS against a few of the other popular 27" 2560 x 1440 resolution models available. The HP ZR2740w showed slower pixel response times with a more pronounced blurring to the moving image. This is also reflected in the quoted 12ms G2G response time spec in fact. The Asus PB278Q had showed very low levels of blur at the optimum Trace Free setting of 40 and so was a little faster than the QH300-IPSMS here with its Samsung PLS panel. The ViewSonic VP2770-LED was quite similar to the QH300-IPSMS in practice when at its optimum response time setting of 'advanced'.

 


30" 6ms G2G LG.Display H-IPS


27" 2ms G2G Chi Mei Innolux TN Film +144Hz (Trace Free = 60)


24" 2ms G2G AU Optronics TN Film + 120Hz (AMA = On)


27" 1ms G2G Chi Mei Innolux TN Film + 120Hz (Over Drive = 0)


22" 3ms G2G Samsung TN Film + 120Hz

We've also included a comparison above against four very fast 120Hz+ compatible screens we have tested. In all cases these other screens are using TN Film panels and are aimed primarily at gamers. Firstly there is a comparison against the Asus VG278HE with its 144Hz refresh rate. This showed very fast pixel response times and smooth movement thanks to its increased refresh rate. You are able to reduce the motion blur even more through the use of the LightBoost strobed backlight which we talked about in depth in our article about Motion Blur Reduction Backlights.

Then there is a comparison against the BenQ XL2420T. This showed very low levels of motion blur, but some dark overshoot was introduced as a side-effect. The Iiyama G2773HS was very responsive and even has a quoted 1ms G2G response time. This showed very low levels of blur and had minimal issue with overshoot. The Samsung SM2233RZ performed very well in these tests and showed very low levels of motion blur also. When 120Hz mode was enabled the overdrive artefacts evident in 60Hz mode were almost completely eliminated, which is something we have seen with the BenQ XL2420T as well.

While these pixel response tests show the QH300-IPSMS to have reasonably fast transitions and fairly low levels of motion blur, there is something else going on as well here which can't be picked out by the camera. All of these other TN Film models are running at 120Hz (or higher) refresh rates, which allows for improved 120fps+ frame rates and the support of 3D stereoscopic content as well. This can really help improve smoothness and the overall gaming experience so these screens still have the edge when it comes to fast gaming.


The responsiveness of the QH300-IPSMS was pretty good overall and we were pleased enough with the results we obtained. We had measured a pretty low average G2G response time of 8.7ms which was good, and thankfully there was pretty much no overshoot across any of the transitions. In practice it didn't feel quite as fast as some popular, slightly smaller models we'd tested like the U2713HM for instance. It should still be perfectly adequate for most gaming, but those wanting to play fast FPS or competitive games may want to consider some of the more gamer orientated 120Hz+ compatible displays out there. Even better still would be models equipped with LightBoost systems for optimum motion blur elimination.

On another note many gamers like to use exaggerated settings to make colours look brighter and more vivid. Wide gamut screens can serve this purpose well as they natively produces more saturated colours. This might not be strictly accurate but a lot of people prefer this more vivid and cartoony appearance and so it's useful that the option is available from the QH300-IPSMS. The only issue is that there is no sRGB emulation function and so you are stuck with wide gamut all the time.



Additional Gaming Features
 

Aspect Ratio Control - The screen offers only two options for aspect ratio control. There is a "wide" setting, which will always stretch the image to fill the 16:10 aspect screen, and a 4:3 mode which forces a 4:3 aspect regardless of the input resolution. These options are a little limited and there's no way to maintain a 16:9, 5:4 or 1:1 pixel mapping via the hardware. This probably isn't an issue for PC gaming where the graphics card is likely to be able to handle the aspect ratio control anyway. However for external devices, games consoles and Blu-ray players for instance, it may be an issue, especially with 16:9 being such a common and popular format nowadays.

Preset Modes -
There are no specific preset modes designed for individual uses like gaming.

 


Lag

We have written an in depth article about input lag and the various measurement techniques which are used to evaluate this aspect of a display. It's important to first of all understand the different methods available and also what this lag means to you as an end-user.

Input Lag vs. Display Lag vs. Signal Processing

To avoid confusion with different terminology we will refer to this section of our reviews as just "lag" from now on, as there are a few different aspects to consider, and different interpretations of the term "input lag". We will consider the following points here as much as possible. The overall "display lag" is the first, that being the delay between the image being shown on the TFT display and that being shown on a CRT. This is what many people will know as input lag and originally was the measure made to explain why the image is a little behind when using a CRT. The older stopwatch based methods were the common way to measure this in the past, but through advanced studies have been shown to be quite inaccurate. As a result, more advanced tools like SMTT provide a method to measure that delay between a TFT and CRT while removing the inaccuracies of older stopwatch methods.

In reality that lag / delay is caused by a combination of two things - the signal processing delay caused by the TFT electronics / scaler, and the response time of the pixels themselves. Most "input lag" measurements over the years have always been based on the overall display lag (signal processing + response time) and indeed the SMTT tool is based on this visual difference between a CRT and TFT and so measures the overall display lag. In practice the signal processing is the element which gives the feel of lag to the user, and the response time of course can impact blurring, and overall image quality in moving scenes. As people become more aware of lag as a possible issue, we are of course keen to try and understand the split between the two as much as possible to give a complete picture.

The signal processing element within that is quite hard to identify without extremely high end equipment and very complicated methods. In fact the studies by Thomas Thiemann which really kicked this whole thing off were based on equipment worth >100,1000 Euro, requiring extremely high bandwidths and very complicated methods to trigger the correct behaviour and accurately measure the signal processing on its own. Other techniques which are being used since are not conducted by Thomas (he is a freelance writer) or based on this equipment or technique, and may also be subject to other errors or inaccuracies based on our conversations with him since. It's very hard as a result to produce a technique which will measure just the signal processing on its own unfortunately. Many measurement techniques are also not explained and so it is important to try and get a picture from various sources if possible to make an informed judgement about a display overall.

For our tests we will continue to use the SMTT tool to measure the overall "display lag". From there we can use our oscilloscope system to measure the response time across a wide range of grey to grey (G2G) transitions as recorded in our response time tests. Since SMTT will not include the full response time within its measurements, after speaking with Thomas further about the situation we will subtract half of the average G2G response time from the total display lag. This should allow us to give a good estimation of how much of the overall lag is attributable to the signal processing element on its own.

 

Lag Classification


To help in this section we will also introduce a broader classification system for these results to help categorise each screen as one of the following levels:

  • Class 1) Less than 16ms / 1 frame lag - should be fine for gamers, even at high levels

  • Class 2) A lag of 16 - 32ms / One to two frames - moderate lag but should be fine for many gamers. Caution advised for serious gaming and FPS

  • Class 3) A lag of more than 32ms / more than 2 frames - Some noticeable lag in daily usage, not suitable for high end gaming

For the full reviews of the models compared here and the dates they were written (and when screens were approximately released to the market), please see our full reviews index.

(Measurements in ms)

Standard Mode

Total Display Lag (SMTT 2)

28.0

Pixel Response Time Element

4.35

Estimated Signal Processing Lag

23.65

Lag Classification

2

 Class 2


We have provided a comparison above against other models we have tested to give an indication between screens. Those shown with blue bars represent the total "display lag" as at the time of review we did not have access to an oscilloscope system to measure the response time element and provide an estimation of the signal processing. The screens tested more recently are split into two measurements which are based on our overall display lag tests (using SMTT) and half the average G2G response time, as measured by the oscilloscope. The response time is split from the overall display lag and shown on the graph as the green bar. From there, the signal processing (red bar) can be provided as a good estimation.

The Achieva QH300-IPSMS showed an average total display lag of 28.0ms during the initial tests. This lag was not too severe, but a bit higher than we had seen from some other recent screens, and represented a little over 1.5 frames of lag. We measured half the average G2G response time as 4.35ms and so we can estimate that the signal processing is approximately 23.65ms in this mode, basically 1.5 frames worth. This is probably too high for high level gaming but should be ok for casual gamers and non FPS type games in many cases.
 

For more information about the SMTT 2.0 tool, or to purchase a copy please visit:

http://smtt.thomasthiemann.com/index_en.html

 


Movies and Video

The following summarises the screens performance in video applications:

  • 30" screen size makes it a reasonable option for an all-in-one multimedia screen, but being quite a bit smaller than most modern LCD TV's of course. As far as desktop monitors go it is at the very large end.

  • 16:10 aspect ratio is less well suited to videos than a 16:9 format screen, leaving larger borders on DVD's and wide screen content at the top and bottom.

  • 2560 x 1600 resolution can support full 1080 HD resolution content easily

  • The native screen resolution means that some source inputs (especially external devices) will need to be scaled to fill the screen as many will be standard 1080 HD resolution (1920 x 1080).

  • Digital interfaces support HDCP for any encrypted and protected content

  • As well as DVI there are also VGA and HDMI  available which may be useful for connecting external devices. HDMI is particularly useful given it is so widely used. No DisplayPort though which is quite common now.

  • Cables provided in the box for DL-DVI, but not HDMI or VGA.

  • AG coating does not cause issues with reflections which glossy coatings can but is of the "heavy", grainy type. Probably no issue for movies or videos though.

  • Wide brightness range adjustment possible from the display, including high maximum luminance of ~291 cd/m2 and a reasonable minimum luminance of ~104 cd/m2. This should afford you very good control for different lighting conditions although if you are watching movies in a very dark environment, the lower level adjustment might not be optimal.

  • Black depth and contrast ratio are moderate for an IPS panel at 712:1 after calibration. Shadow detail in darker scenes should not be lost in most cases unless you are watching a lot of dark content.

  • Dynamic contrast ratio not available on this model.

  • No specific preset modes available for movies or video.

  • Wide colour gamut available from the backlighting system, so those who prefer brighter and more vivid colours for movies and videos can take advantage of the native gamut mode and benefit. sRGB emulation is not available however so you are stuck if you prefer standard gamut appearance.

  • Good pixel responsiveness which should be able to handle fast moving scenes in movies without issue. No overshoot issues either which is pleasing.

  • Wide viewing angles thanks to IPS panel technology meaning several people could view the screen at once comfortable and from a whole host of different angles.

  • Good range of ergonomic adjustments available from the stand. Should be easy to obtain a comfortable position for multiple users or if you want to sit further away from the screen for movie viewing.

  • No noticeable backlight leakage, and none from the edges which is good. This type of leakage may prove an issue when watching movies where black borders are present but it is not a problem here.

  • No integrated stereo speakers on this model but there are audio connections to output the sound if using HDMI.

  • Limited range of hardware aspect ratio options with only 'full' and '4:3' available. May present problems with some external devices possibly especially if they output 16:9 aspect ratio like many do.

  • Picture in picture (PiP) and Picture By Picture (PbP) are not available.

  • For PAL sources, we have tested the screen and confirmed it will support the full native resolution of 2560 x 1600 at 50Hz refresh rate.
     


Conclusion

The QH300-IPSMS was quite an interesting screen to test as these Korean models have been popular for quite a few months due to their low costs. We were expecting a very no-frills display, but we were quite pleased by some of the options, specs and performance actually. While the design is quite big and industrial, the build quality was actually pretty good and it was pleasing to see a good range of ergonomic adjustments from the stand and a decent enough set of connections provided. Normally these are two areas which are cut back when cost is a driver, but we were happy that Achieva hadn't scrimped too much on these important areas.

Performance wise the default setup needed some tweaking due to its overly cool appearance and bright screen. Those were both pretty easy to correct, even with the somewhat limited OSD control. The wide gamut backlight provided bright, colourful, vivid images which many people will like, especially for multimedia uses. However, the lack of an sRGB emulation mode for standard gamut content may be difficult for some people. You need to be aware that this is always a wide gamut screen and to keep costs low, they have not provided a standard gamut emulation as you might find on some higher end models. Contrast ratio was a little weak out of the box but improved a bit in the other preset modes and after calibration, and was actually on par with many other IPS panels we've tested. The grainy old style AG coating may put off some people but again that has been used for many years and many people are perfectly happy with their screens. Response times were good with low levels of blur and thankfully freedom from any overshoot problems. The lag was a little high for serious high end gaming, but this isn't really a gamer-orientated screen and still offers some good all-round performance to handle some more casual gaming without issue.

Perhaps of most interest here of course is the price. At a RRP of ~800 GBP it is quite a bit cheaper than other competing models like the Dell U3014 (918) and certainly much less than high-end professional grade screens like the NEC PA301W (1404). It makes it an interesting option if you want a large 30" model with a high resolution and good all-round IPS panel. Now that they are available from a proper UK supplier, with a warranty and after-sales support, there is a lot more comfort if you do want to buy a lower cost screen such as this.
 

Pros

Cons

Low cost option in 30" sector, now with proper warranty and support options

No sRGB emulation mode so always operating as a wide gamut screen

Good pixel response times with no overshoot problems

Lag a little too high for serious gaming

Decent ergonomic and connectivity options

Mediocre contrast ratio and black depth

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