NEC MultiSync 24WMGX3
Simon Baker, 10 December 2008


 

 

 

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NEC have been a popular manufacturer of LCD screens, strengthening their presence in the mainstream with the release of their 20WGX2 screen a couple of years back. That screen saw arguably the re-birth, of IPS matrices in the market, finally offering some excellent response times for the technology which had always been a drawback in the past. This impressive panel was packaged within a premium grade monitor, with several extra features which were rare at the time. NEC followed this up with several other popular screens including the LCD2490WUXi (not available in the UK, but a very popular H-IPS based screen in the US), and the LCD2690WUXi (a very impressive colour enthusiast screen).

This time, NEC have launched a new screen aimed primarily at multimedia use. You only have to take a look at the screen's listed features and extras to realise they have pulled out all the stops to try and create the ultimate screen in this regard. NEC's website blurb states:

"The third generation in entertainment - the 24" NEC MultiSync LCD24WMGX3, a Full HD 1920x1200 flat screen display designed to take your images and video to the ultimate plateau of amazement. A high end designer desktop monitor with full entertainment features for the prestigous office executive and lifestyle consumer. This widescreen model is ideal for techno-savvy users looking for an enhanced visual experience with video games, streaming video, photo viewing and other applications that require jaw dropping colour and contrast or wide connectivity."

Let's take a look at the spec:

Size

24"WS

Colour Depth

16.7M (8-bit), 72% NTSC colour gamut

Resolution

1920 x 1200

Viewing Angles

178 / 178

Response Time

6ms G2G (16ms ISO)

Panel Technology

AMVA

Contrast Ratio

1000:1 static
2000:1 dynamic

Interfaces

DVI-D (HDCP), 2x HDMI, D-sub, component, composite, S-Video

Brightness

500 cd/m2

Colour

Glossy Black bezel and stand

Special Features

Tilt, height, pivot ergonomic adjustment. Aspect ratio control, motion blur reduction (MP mode), AmbiBright, PiP modes, remote control supplied, integrated speakers, Brightness sensor, 'Through Mode'

 


Above: Front and back view of the screen, click for full size images

The 24WMGX3 comes in an attractive piano black (glossy) finish, with a sleek design and pleasant curves. The bezel is reasonably thin, and the lower part includes integrated stereo speakers which are reasonably well hidden. The glossy black finish looks nice, but is a bit of a magnet to dust and finger prints sadly. The base is a nice curved shape and is nice and sturdy. The back of the screen is a matt black finish as shown above.

The panel itself features an almost half-glossy coating. It wasn't a full glossy OptiClear coating like the NEC 20WGX2 had, but it wasn't the usual 'dull' matt finish that many other monitors have. It was almost half way, picking up a few more reflections from windows and light sources, but also offering a nice sharp image. The coating is listed as antiglare by NEC, but it did feel a bit different from other monitors I thought. Probably just a different type of AR coating than is used by other manufacturers.

The build quality was good, and materials were of a high standard. There was no noticeable noise or buzzing from the unit. Energy wise, the screen uses approximately 110W of power in normal use, and 2W or less in energy saving mode / standby. When the unit is off, it uses 1W or less. The casing gives off minimal heat during continued operation, and the panel itself doesn't omit much heat either.


Above: OSD operational buttons along the lower bezel

The OSD operational buttons are situated on the lower part of the bezel, and are a silver colour. They stand out a little, but nothing too obvious. The power button glows a subtle blue colour when power is on, and blinks blue when in standby. The OSD is navigated by the slightly larger button shown in the above next to the power button. This is actually a 4-axis button, used to scroll through the various menus. Navigation is reasonably easy, but you somtimes find yourself having pressed the wrong direction on the controller if you are not very careful.


Above: OSD menu options summarised

The OSD menu itself is massive! There seems to be options for everything really. There are a series of preset modes ('Dynamic Visial Mode' - DV Mode) including options such as 'text', 'game' and 'movie'. There are hardware level aspect ratio controls, full options for audio, PiP modes and a few other advanced features such as Motion Picture mode (MP mode). I'd recommend reading through the manual (available online) if you want a full overview of the options.

There is also an integrated brightness sensor situated beneath the input/select OSD button. When this feature is enabled, the sensor detects the ambient lighting conditions of your room, and adjusts the brightness of the screen accordingly. This should offer you more comfortable settings for prolonged use, and will dynamically control the brightness as your room lighting varies. You can set the sensitivity of the sensor at three levels. The range of OSD options was very impressive, and pretty much had everything you could possibly want! The operational buttons also provided quick access to MP mode / PiP, DV Mode and Input selection.


Above: Rear view showing VGA and DVI interfaces (left), and multimedia interfaces on the side of the screen (right)
Click for larger versions

The underside of the screen houses the connections for DVI (HDCP supported), VGA and power, along with a couple of audio connectors. The back of the stand houses a handy cable tie to keep those tucked out of the way.

The screen looks nice and tidy from the side as well, and on the left hand edge there are a whole range of extra interface options. These include  2x HDMI, component, composite and an optical audio output. It was handy that these were on the edge as they are easier to access for connecting external devices, and they are inset enough that cables and connectors would be hidden behind the screen still. I suppose the only missing interface here was DisplayPort, which some modern screens are offering.


Above: Side views of the screen including several interface connections shown (left). Click for larger version


Above: Side views showing range of tilt and slant. Click for larger version

The 24WMGX3 offers a range of ergonomic adjustments as well, including tilt (Front 10 / Back 25), swivel (Right-Left 45) and height  (60mm) adjustments. The whole tilt and height adjustment was on a hinge fitting as shown above, and so it was a little tricky sometimes to get the desired levels of both I thought. The movement was quite stiff to adjust the height using this hinge, and you had to be quite forceful, and have a good grip of the stand, if you wanted to vary the tilt. The swivel function was nice and smooth, as the base was built on a mini turn-table.


Above: packaged remote control

The screen comes packaged with:

  • Audio cable

  • D-sub > D-sub analogue cable

  • DVI-D > DVI-D cable

  • Power cord, no need for external power pack as it is built into the screen

  • HDMI > HDMI cable

  • Setup manual and CD-Rom

  • Rear plastic casing cover for the screen (see pictures)

The screen comes packaged with a nice remote control. The buttons are a decent size, and there's plenty of access to interfaces, aspect ratio modes, DV modes etc. It's a good controller, and should be handy. It requires 2x AAA batteries.

Overall there was no denying the fact that NEC have pulled out all the stops to include every possible option, feature, accessory and connection they could think of. The range of these was very impressive, and if they are as useful in practice as the information suggests they should be, this could be an excellent all round multimedia screen. Let's get on with the tests.

 


Colour Accuracy, Black Depth and Contrast

The NEC MultiSync 24WMGX3 utilises an 8-bit AMVA panel, capable of producing a true 16.77 million colours. The screen uses standard CCFL backlighting and so it's colour gamut covers 72% of the NTSC colour space, a moderate figure compared with many modern W-CCFL and LED backlit screens with extended gamuts.

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 set it to its standard profile. The 24WMGX3 was tested at default factory settings out of the box using the LaCie Blue Eye Pro and their accompanying software suite.

Default settings of the screen were as follows:

Monitor OSD Option

Default Setting

Brightness

100

Contrast

50

RGB

n/a

DV Mode

STD-1

RGB Mode

Native


NEC 24WMGX3 - Default Factory Settings



 

Default Settings

luminance (cd/m2)

503

Black Point (cd/m2)

0.64

Contrast Ratio

786:1

The default settings of the screen were not unlike many other modern screens in the market, and the brightness of the screen was eye-watering! I don't know why manufacturers feel the need to ship a screen with brightness turned up to 100%, or why they think anyone would want to use it at such a high luminance?! The manufacturers quoted spec lists the maximum brightness of the screen at 500 cd/m2, and the 24WMGX3 doesn't disappoint in this regard! The brightness setting in the OSD was set at 100%, and this yeilded a luminance at 503 cd/m2, being  319% of the desired 120 cd/m2 for LCD screens in normal lighting conditions. This is going to need to be one of the first things you change when you plug in the screen, and I would recommend a setting of around 10 - 20% as a start. This excessive brightness resulted in a black depth of 0.64 cd/m2, and therefore a static contrast ratio of 786:1. This was some way off the manufacturers specification of 1000:1.

On a more positive note, the default gamma was pretty decent, being recorded here at 2.1, and only marginly out (3%) from the desired level of 2.2; this being the default for computer monitors and for the Windows operating system and sRGB colour space. Colour temperature was also pretty good with a reading of 6384k being very close to the 6500k target (the temperature of daylight). These results at factory settings were pleasing at least, and so if you at least lower the brightness control, you should have a reasonably starting point for some calibration.

The CIE diagram on the left hand side confirms that the screen uses standard CCFL backlighting, and so it's gamut covers about 72% of the NTSC colour space, and is very close to the reference sRGB colour space shown by the black triangle. The gamut offered here is low by todays standards really, where W-CCFL and LED backlighting commonly offer anywhere from 92 to 125% of the NTSC colour space commonly. However, I will not penalise the 24WMGX3 for offering a more 'traditional' gamut, since it is not all about numbers and specs here! There are pros and cons to a wide gamut display, and it is largely dependent on what type of content you are using and what type of colour result you are looking for. There are a mixture of opinions on the wide gamut debate, but all you need to know about with this display is that it is a standard gamut screen. I would thoroughly recommend a read of this article over at X-bit Labs, which covers the pros and cons well.

 

Testing with the colorimeter revealed the graph on the right hand side above, showing DeltaE (dE 94) values across 16 shades. As a reminder, the lower these bars down the Y-axis, the better, in terms of colour accuracy. For reference, LaCie describe the DeltaE readings as:

  • 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.

At default settings, the NEC 24WMGX3 left something to be desired really. Results were adequate overall, with a dE average of 3.5. This did however reach up to a maximum of 11.2 in blue tones. A degree of calibration is needed here to get the most from the screens AMVA panel. The screen did at least feel even and colours were rich. The factory settings did mean brightness was very high as we have already mentioned, which resulted in overly bright and penetrating colours. Because the screen was using standard gamut backlighting, there were no oversaturated 'neon' greens or reds which can be a problem on wide gamut displays.

 


NEC 24WMGX3 - Default Settings (sRGB DV Mode)


 

Default Settings

luminance (cd/m2)

469

Black Point (cd/m2)

0.65

Contrast Ratio

722:1

The screen does offer a wide range of presets and settings, and so I wanted to see if results were improved by simply switching between some of these. I left everything as it was at factory settings, but swapped the DV Mode from "STD-1" to "sRGB". I was hoping this preset profile for the sRGB colour space offered better colour accuracy, and hoped it would be an improvement over the average dE of 3.6 we measured above. Thankfully, results did improve somewhat, with blue tones being much better now, and bringing the max dE down to 6.4 (grey shades) and average dE down to a respectable 2.6. LaCie would classify this as having some difference, but also some degree of accuracy. Not perfect, but getting better.

Gamma remained pretty good at 2.1, but colour temperature was negatively impacted, now at 6044k (7% deviation). Luminance remained far too high, but was dropped down a little bit to 469 cd/m2. If you lowered the brightness manually some more, this preset might offer you a better starting point if hardware calibration tools are not available to you. I don't have time to check every single one of these preset modes, but you may find some offer more comfortable settings than the factory options if nothing else.

 


NEC 24WMGX3 - Calibrated Settings

Monitor OSD Option

Adjusted Setting

Brightness

20

Contrast

50

RGB

96, 94, 93.3

Colour Mode '2' (6500k)

Allows RGB access

 

Calibrated Settings

luminance (cd/m2)

122

Black Point (cd/m2)

0.19

Contrast Ratio

642:1

I calibrated the screen using the LaCie Blue Eye Pro software package and hardware colorimeter. During the process, the OSD settings were adjusted, forming a small part of the overall calibration proceedings. Brightness was adjusted down to a value of 20, contrast was left at 50, and RGB values were changed to 96, 94 and 93.3 respectively. I had to first switch to the Colour mode of '2', which allowed me access to the individual RGB controls. Once altered, these formed a 'User' RGB mode in the OSD. The calibration process then automatically makes adjustments at a graphics card Look Up Table (LUT) level, before creating and activating an ICC profile. There is no hardware level LUT correction with the 24WMGX3, which some premium colour critical screens in this sector do offer. Immediately to the naked eye you could feel the difference, with the main obvious adjustment being the far more comfortable and sensible luminance setting. Colours also looked more even to the naked eye.

Gamma was corrected perfectly to 2.2 now, and colour temperature was <1% out at 6479k. Luminance was now recorded at 122 cd/m2, very close to the desired value and certainly far more comfortable in practice. This resulted in a black depth of 0.19 cd/m2, a very respectable figure and only just behind some of the most popular 24" models in the market. The static contrast ratio was 642:1, still a long way off the specified 1000:1.

The main improvement here was that colour accuracy was much better. Average dE was now only 0.6, again a respectable result and comparable to some of its peers. We will compare colour accuracy between models in the next section, but the calibration gave us some pleasing results in this regard. Maximum dE was only 1.4 now as well, so if you can use a hardware colorimeter, it is well worth it to get the most out of this screen. If you don't have access to one, you can at least use our settings as listed above, and combined with our ICC profile (created using the LaCie Blue Eye Pro in this process), you can hopefully get some improved results on your set up as well.

Testing the screen with colour gradients showed smooth transitions across the range, including in dark tones. There was some slight gradation in the darker areas, but certainly no obvious banding or anything. Subjectively, it was impossible to detect only the first 4 shades of grey on the scale from 0 - 255 (255 being pure white). I followed the useful tests here, where the first square I could distinguish was number 5. There was also no noticeable dithering mechanisms from the screen.

 

If I plot a comparison of the NEC's default and calibrated dE average against some of the leading competitors, I get the above graph. As you can see, default dE was actually quite good compared with some of the other models, offering better default accuracy overall than models like the Dell 2408WFP, Hazro HZ24W and HP LP2475W. The best 24" model here at default settings was the Samsung SM245B, an excellent result considering that model is TN Film based! Calibrated dE average was pretty standard really, being a little behind models like the HP LP2475W and Dell 2408WFP, but a bit better than the Hazro HZ24W (an IPS based screen) and the Samsung SM245B.

Calibrated black depth was pretty good as well, being better than the IPS based Hazro models, better than the S-PVA Samsung SM245T, but a little worse than the Samsung SM245B (again, amazing for a TN Film panel) and the HP LP245W (very impressive for IPS).

 


Contrast Stability

I 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 the case in practice. We recorded the screens luminance and black depth at various OSD brightness settings, and calculated the contrast ratio from there. All other monitor and graphics card settings were left at default. It should be noted that we used the BasICColor calibration software here to record these, and so luminance at default settings varies a little from the LaCie Blue Eye Pro report.

OSD Brightness

Luminance
(cd/m2)

Black Point (cd/m2)

Contrast Ratio ( x:1)

100

497

0.65

765

90

457

0.60

762

80

417

0.54

773

70

376

0.49

767

60

334

0.44

760

50

288

0.38

759

40

256

0.33

775

30

212

0.27

787

20

170

0.22

772

10

129

0.17

760

0

94

0.12

780

As you can see from the above results, the control of the screens luminance via the OSD menu was very good. The default 100% OSD setting gave a luminance value of around 497 cd/m2 as we have discussed already which was pretty much spot on to the maximum specified value by the manufacturer of 500. As you lower the brightness control in the menu, the voltage sent to the CCFL backlighting is reduced, and therefore the backlight intensity is reduced as well. The luminance ranges down to 94 cd/m2 when brightness is set to 0%. Even if proper calibration is not possible, you can get a comfortable luminance of the screen at around 10% brightness setting, which is re-assuring.

While brightness is reduced, the black depth improves quite considerably as well, reaching a very impressive 0.12 cd/m2 at 0% brightness. This is very respectable, and could probably be expected given the AMVA panel technology being used. During these brightness changes, the contrast remains pretty static and within the range of 759:1 to 787:1. Very good performance in this regard, showing that with proper backlight adjustments you can achieve not only comfortable settings for every day use, but retain a decent contrast and black point throughout the range. The contrast ratio was a little disappointing given the specified value is 1000:1, and it seems in practice you can only get around 790:1 at best.

The results were plotted on the above graph, showing the contrast stability of the screen. You can adjust the brightness setting to anywhere within the 0 - 100% range without really impacting contrast ratio. As you reduce the brightness setting, luminance is adjusted nicely, and black depth improves as one would hope.

I wanted to briefly mention the built in 'CR Optimizer' (Contrast Ratio Optimizer) function which is supposed to operate the dynamic contrast control. This option is only available in certain DV modes, but didn't actually seem to do anything. I tried it with several different conditions, and followed the manual, but it didn't seem to do anything. Odd...

 


Viewing Angles



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

Viewing angles of the 24WMGX3 were very good, offering wide field of view in all directions. As you would probably expect from VA panel technology, there was none of the obvious colour or contrast shift that you see from TN Film displays, and thankfully nothing which was distracting in normal use. There was some sign of the off-centre contrast shift you see from VA matrices, but being a new  generation of AMVA panel, it was better than I had seen it on some older PVA based screens for example. There was a slight pink tint if you looked from an extreme angle above, and some contrast shift if you looked  from the far sides. Nothing which is going to be a problem in normal use, and viewing angles were wide enough to allow you to position the screen at various angles for various uses.

 


Panel Uniformity

Measurements of the screens luminance were taken at 35 points across the panel on a pure white background. The measurements were taken using BasICColor's calibration software package, combined with the LaCie Blue Eye Pro colorimeter. The above uniformity diagram shows the difference, as a percentage, between the luminance recorded at each point on the screen, as compared with the reference point of a calibrated 120 cd/m2. This is the desired level of luminance for an LCD screen in normal lighting conditions, and  the below shows the variance in the luminance across the screen compared with this 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.

The uniformity of the screen was pretty standard really, not excellent, but nothing drastically bad. The top half of the screen was within 5% either way of the reference 120 cd/m2 point, but luminance did dip to around 104 - 108 cd/m2 along the bottom section of the screen. The lowest luminance recorded was in the lower left hand corner, where it reached as low as 96 cd/m2.


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

As usual, I tested the screen in a darkened room, showing an all black background. The above image was captured by my camera. There was no noticeable light leakage from any of the edges or corners, and black uniformity was very good.

 


Office and Windows Use

The 24WMGX3 might be aimed at multimedia use, but I'm sure most people would also want to use it for normal office / Windows use, and all kinds of other use for day to day desktop monitors. Starting with the obvious things, the 24" screen size gives you plenty of screen to work with. The 1920 x 1200 resolution gives you a large resolution for applications, and is suitable for some nice side by side split screen office work. You can comfortably have two Word documents side by side on a resolution this size.

The 0.270mm pixel pitch is a nice intermediate level I find (personally), between the slightly small 0.258mm of 20"WS and the slightly too big 0.282mm of 22"WS models. I tested the screen in clone mode which showed that the DVI interface was a little sharper and clearer than the D-sub VGA connection. It should also be noted that OSD settings need adjusting for each interface, which at least allows you to set the screen up differently for each connected device.

You will definitely need to calibrate the screen to get it at a comfortable level for office use, since the default luminance of the screen is massively high at around 500 cd/m2. You will at least want to adjust the brightness setting down to around 10%, to get a decent luminance for a screen like this in normal lighting conditions. The screen does feature a DV Mode for 'Text' which doesn't really lower the luminance any more than our calibrated settings, but is supposed to change the colour temperature to 5000k. This has the effect basically of making the screen go quite yellowy, so not sure if this is worthwhile in practice as a DV mode. For those doing photo work there is a preset DV mode for 'photo' which is supposed to give sharpness to black and white colours, best suited for natural images and still images (according to the manual). In practice it didn't really look any different to our calibrated profile. These settings may be handy to some users, perhaps more so when calibration options are limited, but to me, they didn't really offer much.

The 24WMGX3 features an Intelligent Visual Mode (IV Mode) accessible through the OSD menu. This feature allows you to select the brightness of the screen in accordance with how the monitor is used, in order to reduce eye fatigue. Junior mode is recommended for when you are using the screen for long periods of time, or where there are large changes in the brightness, such as with animations. Middle mode suppresses glare and makes the screen sharp, and Senior mode suppresses glare when the overall screen is bright. It's only available in certain DV modes, and didn't seem to change much from what I could tell. It's an option there I suppose, but you might not see much difference from using it.

The screen also features Brightness sensor which is built in just below the 'Input/Select' OSD button. There are 4 options within the OSD for this sensor, with 'off', 'weak', 'standard' and 'strong' available. This sensor detects your ambient lighting conditions and adjusts the backlight control accordingly. I tried it for a bit and it seemed to do a good job. Might well be handy for prolonged office use or where lighting conditions vary. I liked this as an extra feature, and it's not something you see commonly to be honest.

 


Responsiveness and Gaming

The NEC 24WMGX3 was tested using the chase test in PixPerAn, a good bit of software for trying to quantify differences in real terms responsiveness between monitors. As a reminder, a series of pictures are taken on the highest shutter speed and compared. The images below show the best case example on the left hand side, and the worst case example on the right hand side. This should only be used as a rough guide to comparative responsiveness but is handy as a way of keeping a constant test of each screen.


6ms G2G AU Optronics AMVA


6ms G2G Samsung S-PVA


6ms G2G LG.Display H-IPS


6ms G2G Samsung S-PVA


5ms Samsung TN Film

The 24WMGX3 uses an AMVA panel from AU Optronics. The panel is rated with a 16ms response time at the ISO black > white > black transition, but also offers a 6ms response time across grey to grey transitions. This is an indication that the panel is using response time compensation (RTC) technology to boost the pixel response times. While the figure is competitive with the majority of the leading 24" models on paper, you cannot always rely on the quoted response times to give a true reflection of the screens actual performance.

As you can see from the above images, the 24WMGX3 was actually a little slower in practice than some of the other models we have tested. I would liken it to the Dell 2408WFP and Samsung SM245B in its 'feel', and you could notice an obvious blur of the moving car even with the naked eye. The more I watched, the more I could tell the movement was not as smooth and sharp as some of the other 24" models we have tested, and you could also detect a noticeable (but faint) ghost image behind the car. The screen didn't feel as fast as models such as the HP LP2475W or Samsung SM245T. It was however free from any obvious RTC artefacts which can sometimes result in light, or occasionally dark, haloes and trails behind moving objects. You can see these in the left hand images of the LP2475W for instance above, but the NEC at least didn't suffer from anything obvious.


6ms G2G LG.Display AS-IPS


6ms G2G AU Optronics AMVA

For reference I have also provided the results here of the NEC 20WGX2 which still remains one of the fastest panels in the market today, and still regularly used in our reviews as a reference point for response time. Unfortunately NEC have not quite managed to recreate the magic they did when they released the 20WGX2, perhaps the swap to an AMVA panel from IPS is an issue in this regard.

The screen offers hardware aspect ratio control, with options for 'full' (this stretches the image to fill the screen completely if necessary), 'aspect', 'real' (1:1 pixel mapping) and '2x zoom'. These will be useful for anyone connecting external devices (PS3, X-box etc), and of course for any games you might want to play on your PC at non-native resolutions.

 


Motion Picture Mode

Similar to some other models in the market, the NEC 24WMGX3 offers a technology designed to help reduce percieved motion blur and improve images in fast moving scenes like movies and games. We have tested something similar already in the Samsung SM245T, where their Motion Picture Acceleration technoplogy worked in a very similar way. NEC have called theirs 'Motion Picture Mode' and this feature is accessibly via the OSD, or directly through the 'MP Mode' button on the front of the screen. There are four settings for this feature, with off, and then levels 1 to 3.

The technology operates by using a scanning backlight, which sweeps down the screen from top to bottom, turning off each CCFL backlight tube in order. As you increase the mode from 1 to 3, the intensity of the backlight scanning increases, and the manual recommends you increase this level for faster moving content. The technology is designed to reduce motion blur of moving images by cleaning the human eye of retained images. This technology was designed to help overcome some of the ongoing problems with LCD hold-type displays where perceived motion blur and retention of images by the retina will always be a problem.

 

In practice, as you enable this feature the brightness of the screen dips slightly, and a noticeable flicker is introduced to the image. The flicker becomes less obvious if you move up to level 3, since the intensity of the MP mode is at its highest there. You can still detect it though. You would obviously never want to use this for static images, but when viewing moving content, the flicker becomes less apparent. While you can't spot this with the naked eye, if you view the screen through a digital camera, you can spot the backlight scanning from top to bottom, and a series of 6 CCFL tubes behind the panel being turned off and on again in sequence. The video captured above should hopefully show this, where I filmed a plain grey background with MP mode on level 3. It was actually very hard to spot any real difference between levels 1 - 3 in practice, or using this method to be honest, other than the flicker being slightly less noticeable on static images when you went up to level 3. There is probably more to this technology than this, but these were my observations while using the screen and running some tests. If I manage to get hold of any whitepapers or further information, I'll be sure to write something up!

I wanted to see if enabling this function had any real affect on the motion blur in our control PixPerAn tests. Enabling MP mode gave mixed results really. On the one hand, the moving car did become more defined, and the picture was a little sharper. Some of the blur had gone. However, on the other hand, the trailing ghost image behind the car became more obvious to the naked eye. I have captured the best case image of both above, which gives you an idea of the difference between MP mode off, and on at level 3. I didn't really feel that in these tests the MP mode offered much, other than a flicker to the screen, a more obvious ghost trail, and slightly sharper moving car.

Whether you want to use this feature or not, I don't know. It's going to depend on your personal use and preference for the technology. On the one hand, it can help sharpen up moving images, but it does have an odd negative affect on the trailing ghost images which is detectable, even to the naked eye. It's there as an option, but I feel like the technology is perhaps a little too young to be very valuable.

 


Input Lag

As usual I tested the screen in clone mode with a CRT to determine the level of input lag. This is something which can put off some gamers and is a delay between graphics card and monitor output. By hooking up a CRT you can show that  the LCD lags behind somewhat, which can affect users in some situations where they rely on the screen image being as fast as their inputs (e.g. fast FPS shooting games). Often, input lag is very low and probably wouldn't represent too much of a problem in real terms.

As you can see from the above results, the average input lag of the 24WMGX3 was a pretty respectible number compared with the lot of the competition. It had far less input lag than some other VA based screens including the Dell 2408WFP A00 (64.1ms), Samsung SM245T (52.5ms) and Viewsonic VX2435WM (36.3ms). It was also faster than the IPS based HP LP2475W (25ms) and Hazro HZ24W (32.7ms). Overall, a good result here. The input lag ranged between 0 and 30ms in our tests, but was commonly nearer the 20ms mark. On average overall, it was 15.6ms.

NEC have introduced something we haven't seen from a monitor before, and something which is sure to please those concerned with input lag when playing games. The 24WMGX3 offers a 'Through Mode' option which is available in the OSD menu. The official manual states that "this mode shortens the delay time of the picture signals within the monitor", and that you should "use this mode when you are concerned about the synchronization between he picture and audio". This option limits the picture processing function of the monitor, which should in theory reduce the input lag. In enabling this function, you do lose some options such as colour control and PiP, and it may sometimes affect smoothness and colour tones according to the manual.

Testing the screen again in our input lag tests showed an improvement from an average of 15.6ms to 8.8ms. The input lag was much more commonly around 10ms with Through Mode enabled, whereas without it was more commonly 20ms behind the CRT. The maximum input lag figure measured was also improved from 30ms to 20ms. This is a welcomed feature I think, especially when you're looking for a good gaming screen.

 


Movies and Video

The following summarises the NEC  24WMGX3's performance in video applications:

  • 24" screen size suitable for multimedia use, even from fair distances. Almost the same size as smaller end LCD TV's

  • Widescreen format good for modern widescreen format content

  • 1920 x 1200 resolution is enough to properly show 1080p (1920 x 1080 resolution) content without scaling

  • AMVA panel technology offers nice wide viewing angles, allowing use from varying positions and without the restrictions of TN Film

  • Black depth once calibrated is very good, and will ensure detail in darker scenes is not lost

  • Good panel uniformity and no backlight leakage which can be distracting when watching video, especially where borders are present

  • Decent panel responsiveness ensures no ghosting and minimal blurring in fast moving scenes. Added MP mode might also help reduce perceived blur in some very fast paced content, but is really down to personal taste

  • HDCP supported for latest protected content including Blu-Ray movies

  • Noise is fairly noticeable due to the screen size and resolution, and particularly apparent with low definition content. Sitting a sensible distance away alleviates the issue

  • Wide range of interface options for connecting external devices. These include 2x HDMI, S-video and Component. Easily accessible ports located on the side of the screen
     

I also want to talk about a few additional points for video playback, which are not general points that we normally discuss. Since this screen is very much aimed at the multimedia market, I wanted to try and cover this section in more detail:

  • Each interface can have its own settings in terms of the OSD menu, and so you can easily set different options for different external devices. This includes altering DV mode presets

  • Good range of DV mode presets including 'Movie' mode for boosting tone production of dark scenes. The dynamic contrast control (CR Optimizer) didn't seem to do anything though for some reason!

  • The screen features built in speakers which are of fairly decent quality, and there are even a fair few options within the OSD to control treble, bass, and enable/disable the surround sound function. If you turn the volume up too high though, it leads to some resonation of the monitor casing and parts

  • There is also a headphone jack at the front if you need it.

  • There are PiP modes which allow you to display multiple inputs on the screen at once. Might be handy to some users. You can change the size and position of the PiP windowss as well

  • The screen features overscan settings which can help ensure images from some external devices are displayed properly on the screen. This is done by cutting off the edges of the screen to hide noise.

  • There are a series of options for AV aspect ratio which can help ensure differing sources and resolutions are displayed properly. These include 4:3 and 16:9 formats.

  • There is a 'noise reduction' feature which reduces the noise in the picture when using the Video 1 and Video 2 inputs.

  • There is a 'Film mode' option which plays back pictures with original signals of 24 fps, in interlaced formats (480i, 1080i), in high image quality

  • The screen comes packaged with a nice remote control. The buttons are a decent size, and there's plenty of access to interface, aspect ratio modes, DV modes etc. It's a good controller, and should be handy.

I didn't have chance to test all of these options thoroughly I'm afraid, but they are there to hopefully make things easier if you are using the screen a lot for external devices. There's certainly a massive range of options and features which highlight the importance NEC have placed on using this screen genuinely as a combined desktop display and multimedia screen.

 


Conclusion

NEC have pulled out all the stops here to make the ultimate multimedia screen, and they have come pretty close compared with the competition. There's certainly a massive range of options, features, extra modes, ergonomic adjustments and interfaces. There's about everything you could need, and I was particularly impressed by a few nice extra things like the remote control, ambient light sensor and through mode. These were all very welcome additions to the 24" market, and not something you see commonly at all. Here's hoping more manufacturers follow suit! There were a range of other features with more 'questionable' use, but at least they have included them for those who might find them of benefit.

Performance wise, ignoring the massively overly bright default settings, the screen performed pretty well in terms of colour accuracy, black depth and contrast. Calibration produces some very pleasing results as one would hope, and this is probably expected from an AMVA panel. Combine this with the wide viewing angles, decent input lag and respectable responsiveness, and you have a very good all round screen here! I'm sure some people will gripe that it's not IPS, or that they wanted a wide gamut screen, but if that's the case, maybe the HP LP2475W would be a better choice for you. If you want a multimedia screen, with a very impressive range of options and features, this would make an excellent choice.

Pros

Cons

Massive range of features, options and extras

Stiff and tricky ergonomic adjustments

Excellent colour accuracy and black depth once calibrated, and pretty decent even at default settings

A few features such as DCR seemingly do very little

Low input lag and decent responsiveness. Added MP Mode might improve gaming for some users as well

Not quite as fast as some other competing models in pixel responsiveness

 

 

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