You know that old one "Beauty is in the eye of the
beholder"? It's the perfect description of my mental state before I decided to
"let it go" and start adventure with the LCD monitors. My good 5 year old trusty
"NEC-Mitsubishi DiamondPro 740SB CRT" was the most beautiful monitor on the
world for me and even tiny consideration of changing it was interpreted in my
mind as one big scandal. But... tempted I was. Soon, beauty started to fade and
there was a new girl in the town. I tried to resist, but force was so strong
with this one. I decided to venture ahead, apart from the fact that my inner
thought was whispering that this would be probably the biggest mistake in my
life. How wrong I was!
Now, you, my dear audience, may start to wonder
what temptation is that and what temptation can fade 5 year old beauty with just
one click of the "order now" mouse button. Well, here it is....NEC LCD20WGX2 20"
widescreen LCD monitor.
Widescreen gaming is really expanding these day
and we may expect more and more titles with the support for the native 16:10
aspect ratios. Also, many of you out there are planning the transition from CRT
technology and some of you are probably still unsure what is the next logical
step. This is the reason why I think that this review is important and what I'm
trying to do here is the compile the review which is done by and for, you the
user. I will not try to push you so that you immediately splash your money and
buy this monitor NOW. It wouldn't be fair. This review is the guideline what you
may expect from this monitor. For me, the monitor is vital part of the PC and I
was always picky when choosing one. I knew people who are spending huge amount
of money for the new & shiny graphics cards, just in order to gain few fps ...
but still they are using the same old 17" CRT monitor and they are simply
unaware that picture quality is just shocking.
They are simply unable to come to their senses and
realise that no card is good for the bad monitor. At the end of the day, it's
something you constantly look at, and it has to be damn beautiful.
Many people were concerned (and with every right)
about the screen size, especially when they switch from the 17" or 19" CRT
monitors versions. I think that 20" widescreen LCD will be roughly the same
height as a 19" CRT vertically. Horizontally you will notice a big difference. I
came from the 17" CRT ground and I'm very, very pleased with the screen size
improvement. It's simply not comparable (in good sense). One user on the OcUK
forums even measured the transition from 19" CRT to 20" LCD. Conclusion was that
there is approx 16% more viewing area, it's 18% wider, and the only thing is
that it's about 2% shorter, which is nothing special. But maybe something which
is more important to you is that "widescreen" appearance of the monitor is more
appealing to the eye as the field of view is much more preferable with this
monitor format. It's somehow more natural to the eye then 4:3 box. I was always
fan of the widescreen format. It's more "movie like" and you are somewhat more
involved in the scene and I don't mind the wide screen desktop also (it's should
be cool hopefully). The viewable screen size is 43.5cm by 27.3cm.
I was bit sceptical about this monitor, as no
single "confirmed" spec of this monitor was available ... but I've always been
impulsive about the new technologies. If the spec are nearly as good in practice
as on the paper, I would be more than happy. Personally, I think that look of
the monitor is fantastic; precise, uncluttered and uncomplicated. On paper,
contrast ratios are very good along with the response times. It has specially
coated, glossy screen which should provide the rich contrasts and particularly
high quality colour presentation. With Advanced DVM you can choose between four
display modes optimised for text, gaming, playing videos or photos, and at the
same there is support for the whooping 1600:1 contrast ratio. At the end, there
is also support for NaviSet (monitor configuration via software). As I'm
currently using NaviSet with my CRT, must admit that it's handy tool - I'm not
big fan of configuring monitor via OSD anyway.
Set Up and Configuration
Monitor was connected to the 7800GTX via DVI port with stock configuration
- brightness 100%
- contrast 50%
- Advanced DVM: off
- Profile: normal (others are: text, photo, video, gaming)
- Sharpness: 16.6%
- Colour profile: native (sRGB/custom is supported also)
- Expansion: not used
I like the feature that I can switch quickly between the profiles by pushing the
button "DV MODE" on the monitor (on the bottom).
Monitor is able to pan & scan (scale) the picture for the resolutions of
1280x1024 and under (NEC's "Expansion Mode"). Excellent for the people who have
to run the games in lower resolutions. Actually even BIOS screen and Windows
start-up screen were expanded. Options available are 'Full' (fills screen and
stretches image if necessary outside of it's native aspect ratio), 'Aspect'
(Keeps the aspect ratio but fills as much of the screen as possible) and 'Off'
(displays the image at it's real resolution, e.g. at 1280 x 1024 with borders at
I Have to say that navigation and OSD are
excellent. That small rounded button is actually a "little joystick", used as
the navigation tool. Options are logical and not complex, so the complete set-up
and configuration is a breeze. I also installed the monitor driver and "NaviSet"
software from the supplied CD. NaviSet is the tool which is integrated into the
graphics card's display properties and allows you to modify the monitor settings
from the desktop in same fashion like using the OSD. Rather handy, I would say.
Side View of TFT
Visual appearance of the monitor is just stunning
and build quality is really good (it's rather heavy). I personally liked the
silver frame and black casing combination. Design is so simple and effective. I
don't like the monitors which are "cluttered" with the things you would probably
never use (like speakers). It's simple and effective design, just as I like:
It has more depth then other LCD monitors around
but it's not alarming. It's even less pronounced live (than in the picture). To
start with, there are absolutely no dead pixels, backlight or colour bleeding
problems ... just perfect. With the stock set-up, monitor brightness was quite
intense (100%), so had to tune the things down a little bit. When the Windows
desktop appeared and I opened the web browser with the blank white page, the
shear brightness of this monitor literally hurt my CRT eyes (in positive way). I
tuned down the brightness to 60% and started investigation. Firstly, have to
stress that colours are so vivid and the picture is so properly contrasted and
balanced. This was way above my expectations. Not sure if the glossy TFT
OptiClear film, new AS-IPS panel or combination of both are responsible, but
results are really surprising. Also, have to say that because of the glossy
(mirror) finish of the panel you will see the ambient reflections on the screen,
but honestly it's not noticeable nor drastic or annoying. I really think that
this type of TFT film is improving the colours and display contrast drastically
and it's so damn good looking.
I'm using the black background on my desktop
(always like it that way). When comparing the black levels against the CRT
displaying the same background, the NEC leads by huge margin. Even on my old CRT
black was not so "black" and there was always slight brightness involved when
black background was in place. Quite impressed. It looks so good that it's
comparable and even better than what you can have with the best CRT screens
Black screen showing black levels
The monitor doesn't have height adjustment. Is
this really necessary, what do you think? At the end of the day adjustable
height chair will do! Seriously, I can't comment on this one as it's the
generally matter of personal taste. As soon as I placed the monitor on the desk,
it was just in-line with my eyes and on the appropriate height. No complains.
However, screen tilt & swivel is supported. The base may seems solid. but it's
actually standing on the "swivelling" platform. And ... oh yes, control buttons
on the bottom and blue illuminated "power on" light are so damn pretty. Very
nice outfit! Take a look:
Gaming and Responsiveness
Do you like to play games? Can this monitor
improve the gaming immersion? What can you, my dear gamers, expect from this
monitor? Lots of questions, indeed. As I'm also the gamer in the heart, maybe I
could help you here. Let's see....
I noticed no tearing, ghosting, latency or
blurring whatsoever. It's probably directly influenced by the panel's fast
response time. I tried FEAR, HL2, Far Cry ... everything was smooth and a
pleasure to play. I have to admit that widescreen field of view is amazing.
Again, colour reproduction was perfect. When I opened the AOE3 menu screen, the
level of details, contrast and colour richness were simply astonishing. Half
Life 2 in 1680x1050 with HDR and 16:10 aspect ratio was real joy to play.
Also, Call Of Duty 2 experience was superb. It's almost impossible to give you
the real "look" of those games with all brightness and contrast goodness, thanks
to this monitor. I was so impressed, that I tried several times to record the
screen pictures via my digital camera by using different ambient light,
different technique and angles ... but no luck. A camera simply can't record
such experience. Seeing is believing ...
Call Of Duty
Age Of Empires
You may or not know about the famous "I NEED MORE
Socks" cartoon from the PixPerAn LCD testing application. Generally, PixPerAn is
excellent LCD afterglow and ghosting effects testing and identification tool.
With my camera tuned at fastest shutter speed, I tried to identify the ghosting
effect on this monitor. Take a look:
Impressive. In fact, it's in-line with the fastest
TN 2 ms panels around according to BeHardware (like 2ms ViewSonic VX922). This
is definitely confirming my theory from the review and from the gaming sessions
that this is one exceptionally fast panel. Unfortunately, I couldn't take
afterglow pictures with the camera as it was almost impossible to properly
capture the fast moving text on the black/white background. Hopefully, afterglow
is on the acceptable (or surprising) level too.
Here is one interesting question, spotted in the
Q:"In HL2 say, when you strafe left and right in front of some scenery you
don't see any loss of definition in textures in front of you? Keep your eye
fixed on a certain part of the scenery as you strafe and track it with your eyes
to see if the texture loses definition."
Interesting question ! I have relatively fast
computer. I'm getting 9260 3DMARK05 / 5250 3DMARK06 with heavily overclocked
7800GTX & Athlon X2 3800 & 2GB OZC 4000EB Platinum RAM. In Far Cry & HL2 I have
(constant) high number of FPS even @ 1680 x 1050/4X AA/Max Quality ... so game
play is very smooth.
Just in case, I decreased the quality levels, AA, AF, as the maximum possible
FPS is preferable, so that I can push the monitor to the limits. What I did for
you is tried to spin/jump/move/strafe around like a mad man (until my head
hurts). In HL2 my victim for testing was one big stone and in Far Cry one really
nice tree. After I started to feel dizzy I decided it's time to stop the testing
and give you my opinion:
- While focusing on those single objects and strafing there was noticeable loss
of texture sharpness. It's not drastic at all and without your hint I doubt that
I will notice this normally (while focusing on global scenery). Also, this is
more visible when you are REALLY close to the object. When you are looking from
a moderate distance, it's definitely almost unnoticeable. Somehow, it may sound
strange, I liked this effect?! It's like slight motion blur (if I can phrase it
like that). I didn't notice any geometry loss, tearing or trailing of the
textures. Also, such motion blur is happening (and it's noticeable) only during
strafing. On the global (gaming) picture, I have to say that this is not
something which is irritating, distracting or making discomfort.
I have just finished the session in DOOM 3 in full
wide screen 1680x1050 glory. Don't know the FPS, but is was smooth as a silk. It
was ridiculously good! I can't get enough of this monitor! Also, I tried again
the ritual in DOOM 3 as suggested above. This time, strafe "motion blur" was
even less noticeable. When I say "motion blur" it's not something like framing
the fast movement with low speed camera shutter (and leaving the motion trail).
It's just like that texture is little bit out of the focus. It's much less here
maybe because the DOOM3 is dark game and textures are less pronounced, not sure.
Oh yes, here are some screen shoots from the DOOM3 session. Gaming experience in
DOOM3 was really superb. Monitor is rendering the dark scenes with great effect:
Doom 3 pictures
Some users noticed some slight
banding of colours in some games like FEAR for example, most noticeable on
transitions from light to dark or visa versa. This seems to be fixed by simply
switching to the standard monitor profile + Advanced DVM, and the banding is
I tried several titles for now, including DivX/DVD
and ... again perfect. I tried dark and very bright scenes and they looked
great. Dark scenes are surprisingly good, even better than on my home theatre
Sony Bravia 32" LCD TV. There was no visible "greyness" in the dark scenes.
Also, bright scenes were very vivid and colour reproduction was very good. It
seems that sRGB is producing much more realistic colours. Didn't have time to
test several movie titles, but I immediately noticed that dark scenes are very
good. I tested the screen with Kung Fu Hustle, which is an excellent test for
the monitor response times, as it's packed with the fast action sequences. The
NEC digested everything without a single hitch. Didn't notice any blurring or
Dark scene in movie playback
Kung fu Hustle
Video Noise. A Drawback?
Some people may be disappointed with the video
playback, as pixel pitch is present and glossy screen is problematic when there
is intensive ambient light. I tried several titles and it was great (colour
reproduction especially). Of course, such "effects" are noticeable mostly when
you are very close to the screen. I prefer my movies in the dark or semi dark
room and from the moderate distance. Maybe this is the reason why my video
experience was OK. Actually, picture quality was overall better than on my home
cinema 32" LCD TV. At the end, have you ever tried to watch your large screen
LCD TV from the close proximity ? It's quite bad, honestly.
Office / Windows
Working in Windows desktop was a real pleasure. I
really liked the widescreen desktop "expansion" from the old 4:3 format. Text
was clear and crisp (even without Cleartype) and colour reproduction was really
fantastic. Also, when you place bright white objects against the black
background no visible shadowing or colour bleeding are visible. Colour intensive
screens and with loads of details are rendered perfectly. I really wanted to
visit all my favourite web sites again and enjoy them in full glory on this
monitor, as colours are so vivid and real that it's simply amazing.
Q: "How is the balance between blacks/whites and
colours? Are the blacks and whites dominating, or is the picture balance kept?
IPS screens are famous for picture balance, and this is very important to people
who work with graphics."
My answer: Good question. The excellent thing about this monitor is it's "tweak
ability". It really can adapt to any demand. As mentioned in the review, first
thing that shocked my old CRT eyes, as soon as I opened the desktop, is the the
pure colour and contrast bliss. It's such a breath of fresh air. For the people
who work with graphics, Advanced DVM + Photo profile is the solution. It's
perfect, neutral, colour balance and colour depth is still there. Nothing stands
out of the crowd. Photo profile is tweaking the contrast in such way, that I
never ever witnessed such dramatic colour depth. Some people may try just Photo
profile (without Advanced DVM) but with reduced brightness. Of course. Black
levels were simply astonishing in this mode. I'm tempted to try this mode in
other applications (gaming/video) with tweaked contrast & brightness levels. Who
knows, maybe the results will be surprising. When I say "tweak ability", you
really can experiment with these monitor a lot. For example, you can combine the
"Advanced DVM" + all monitor profiles (standard/gaming/video/photo) +
contrast/brightness + sharpness.
I have only one picture to show for the desktop
You will notice the blue luminance around the
fonts. It's just the camera glow, nothing to worry about. But notice the
contrast, black levels and fonts "smoothness". It's almost CRT-ish like.
Interestingly enough, when I decrease the monitor sharpness to 6.2% or 8.3% ...
I'm telling you (and this is no joke) it looks just like CRT. This may work in a
way to reduce the texture sharpness especially in the games, so it may be useful
for the people who are not the fans of the LCD army knife sharpness (especially
I used Adobe Photoshop in order to produce the
proper black->white gradient and tested the colour gradients on the screen.
Ideally the gradients should show smooth transitions, but some monitors show
obvious stepping. Take a look:
You may notice the noise in the pictures and maybe
some yellowish colours around. It's just my camera in combination with the
glossy screen. Nothing to worry about. In reality, colours are uniformed, bright
and everything is smooth. Panel uniformity is simply fantastic.
Above: The image of the innards of a computer is
replicated in the bottom-left corner and the top-right corner. In the
bottom-left corner, you can clearly make out the CPU heat sink fan and other
components. On some screens In the top-right field, you completely lose the
detail in the CPU heat sink fan and other components. The image in the top-right
corner should be identical in brightness and contrast to the image in the
bottom-left. On some screens the colour hues will actually change as well. Some
screens are extremely inconsistent. Colours and black levels change as you move
your head around and depending on where they are on the monitor. However, on the
NEC the images show as they should and the screen shows fantastic uniformity
Advanced DVM (1600:1) is intriguing. You can
simply turn on/off this feature from the monitor options and combine it with any
profile available (text/photo/video/gaming). When it's on you will immediately
notice a nice improvement in the contrast levels and colour fidelity. It looks
almost 3D. However, brightness is slightly lost (but you can always increase it
manually). After further testing it seems that Advanced DVM is mostly suitable
(and noticeable) during the dark or very rich and colourful scenes. When I
opened the F.E.A.R web site it really looked almost 3D-ish, because of the
improved contrast level and black "darkness". Also, I noticed that in Advanced
DVM mode, the monitor is somewhat automatically adjusting the contrast levels
according to the screen content, especially when you have a huge area on the
screen in black/white or in major colours. Sounds a bit strange, but from my
initial experience it's always there when it's needed and it's not distracting.
For Gaming, I was using Advanced DVM + GAMING
profile and for the Video Advanced DVM + VIDEO profile. Now, without the
Advanced DVM, the screen is much brighter but it's loosing that "fine" contrast
detail. Saying that, final picture quality is very customisable and I suppose it
can suit to everyone's taste. The Video & Gaming profiles are very similar ...
however Gaming will give you little bit more brightness and colour richness.
Q: "Can someone please explain more to me about
advanced DMV. I do not understand how a button can change the contrast ration
from 700:1 to 1600:1. Is this some sort of software trick built into the
monitor? Does the actual contrast ratio change, or is your eye tricked into
thinking it is better somehow? I just do not get it."
My Answer: I was puzzled also. I discovered that "Advanced DVM technology" is
also capable of automatic brightness adaptation of the content in real time
(according to NEC). This is definitely confirming my theory from the review that
"in Advanced DVM mode, the monitor is somewhat automatically adjusting the
contrast levels according to the screen content. I agree, it's definitely
confusing without the proper specification of this technology.
In practice, results are really good ... as already advised in the review. For
example, when there is explicitly dark scene in the game, Advanced DVM will
automatically slightly adjust the screen brightness so that you don't loose
those "fine" details in the dark, which is essentially important for gaming. At
the same time, contrast is improved and brightness is still at an excellent
level. Yes, 1600:1 it's just flick on the switch and there you have it Now, I
personally think that this is the maximum "obtainable" rate and it's closely
related to the way how monitor is dynamically adapting to the screen content. As
it seems, many people are confused about the Advanced DVM. Now, it's really
almost impossible to explain this, until you see it live. However, as I'm
utterly stubborn I decided to arm with the camera again and try to illustrate
what I'm saying. Take a look (upper pictures are with Advanced DVM off):
Gaming with DVM off (top screen
shot) and on (bottom screen shot)
As you may notice, with Advanced DVM scene is even
more dramatic, colours are more real & balanced, black is even more black and
contrast is improved. Also, brightness is neutral and it's somehow more pleasant
to the eye. What is maybe most important is that you are not loosing those fine
details from the dark scene. Everything is there as it should be, but picture is
much more improved.
Viewing angles are very good, here, a picture is
probably worth a thousand words:
Vertical Viewing Angles
Long Term Testing
So far so good. Monitor is running 24x7 for almost
7 days. I didn't turn it off at all. Even when the computer was idle and non
attended, intensive screen saver was in place so that monitor was always busy.
For now, still no single trace of either backlight or colour bleeding, dead
pixels or any other deformation. It's still exactly the same as in the "lights
off" pictures in my review. Picture improved slightly, but not for huge margin.
Glossy Screen. Is it too
The glossy screen is maybe problematic when there
is a presence of bright ambient light in front of the screen ... but again it's
just matter of personal taste. I don't find it very distracting personally. As
this is a subjective matter, maybe this doesn't deserve the global minus. At the
end of the day, it's improving the smoothness of the screen, as well as colour &
contrast balance. As a general guideline, I would not recommend serious "dark"
gaming or "dark" movie playback VERY close to this monitor and in the very
bright ambient light (in front of the screen). As gaming/video immersion factor
is much higher in dark or semi-dark environments, I think that the glossy screen
shouldn't represent a problem for most of you out there.
It seems that US version of this monitor is HDCP
enabled. However, Europe/UK version is not HDCP enabled, according to the
response from Melanie (NEC UK). It seems that HDCP is not supported on their
desktop range. What seems to me is that they are trying to separate then men
from the boys, in other words LCD TV from the LCD desktop monitor. Obviously,
sales policy between US and Europe is different.
Can I put the strengths of this monitor in one
easy to read spec ? Sure, I can:
- Rich, natural, vibrant colours representation and deep blacks
- Crazy brightness (by luminosity spec), but controllable
- Excellent contrast (also thankfully to the OptiClear TFT film)
- Exceptional gaming performance (for 20" WS panel)
- Excellent viewing angles
- Advanced DVM is doing the job
- Great design
- Tweak ability
- Happy marriage between the IPS panel "historic" advantages (picture
balance/colours/viewing angles especially) and incredibly fast response times.
- 0 backlight & colour bleed
- Honestly priced
This review is kindly provided by
Stankovic, please feel free to email if you have any questions.. Full size
pictures are all available
here as well.