ViewSonic VX2245WM
Simon Baker, 16 April 2007

 

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The Viewsonic VX2245WM is not your average 22"WS monitor. It is part of Viewsonics revolutionary "iDock" range, and features a smart integration of multimedia features along with a sleak compatibility with Apple's very popular iPod Mp3 player. The screen is based on a TN Film panel, and offers fairly standard specs for the current 22" market:

Size

22"WS

Colour Depth

6-bit +FRC

Resolution

1680 x 1050

Viewing Angles

170 / 160

Response Time

5ms

Panel Technology

TN Film

Contrast Ratio

700:1

Interfaces

DVI-D, VGA

Brightness

280 cd/m2

Colour

Black with some silver sections on base

Special Features

iPod dock, USB (A type) x4, USB (B type) x1, audio out, 2-in-1 audio in, headphone jack, 8-in-1 card reader, integrated speakers and sub-woofer. Tilt adjustment

 


Above: Rear view of the screen along with power, audio-In, DVI and VGA connections. Click for larger images

The monitor came packaged with probably the largest number of extras and cables that I've ever seen! There were small boxes within the main box containing various power packs for the base of the screen (more on this later), DVI, VGA, audio and USB cables. I set the screen up on the desk, but this was one of those screens where you really needed to take a look at the quick install guide. The connections on the upper section of the monitor were basic enough, with DVI and VGA being available, and the normal kettle lead connection used for power. The screen features an integrated power supply, so no need for external bricks here. There was also an audio-in connection, used to link the speakers in the front of the screen to the audio sections in the base.

 
Above: Base of the VX2245WM showing iPod dock
Below: USB ports on the front of the base (left) and 8-in-1 card reader (right)

The base of the stand is pretty self contained as well, having it's own power supply, and the ability to function even when the screen is not switched on. I had to hook the audio-In connection up to the output from my PC's sound card, connect the audio-out to the upper section of the screen, and then connect the USB cable to the PC to allow USB functionality from the various ports scattered across the base. The screen featured an extra A-type USB interface on the back of the base, along with 3 on the front, and a handy 8-in-1 card reader on the right hand side. I tested the card reader with my SD memory card from my camera and found it functioned quickly and without any issues.


Above: Rear section of the base showing power, USB and audio connections (left). All cables connected up along with cable tie (right)

The base also features an integrated sub-woofer, along with a seperate volume control on the front for this. In the middle at the front of the base, there was also a headphone jack and built in microphone suitable for IP telephony or basic recording. The back of the screen featured the usual cable tie which did a good enough job of keeping the mass of cables hidden out of the way although was perhaps did feel a little flimsy.

The screen is pretty much all a gloosy "piano black" colour, with a thin silver trim around the sides and top of the monitor and a silver section making up the stand and base. The plastics look attractive and are well put together. Dust and fingerprints can be a bit of a pain on gloosy finish bezels though, and so bare this in mind if you have children! (note: the screen itself uses AR coating, and is not a glossy finish).


Above: OSD selection buttons shown along with power light in standby (orange) and when operational (blue)

The OSD selection buttons were a little hard to use, being somewhat set back behind the speaker section. They are a little tricky to press, and I felt the OSD was maybe over complicated and hard to navigate. There were the usual options for brightness, contrast and colour (with various colour temperature presets available), and the volume of the speakers can be controlled via the sound options. I felt it was a shame there was no external volume control switch, perhaps on the edge of the monitor, since navigating to the setting in the OSD was inpractical in normal use really. You'll have to make do with controlling the volume via the PC and software. The speakers were adequate but somewhat tinny, but the sub-woofer in the base did help boost the quality compared with other built in monitor speakers.

There were a couple of short cuts however when using the other 3 menu buttons, allowing quick access to switch interface (DVI and VGA), adjust contrast and brightness, and select one of the 'OptiColor' preset profiles. There were OptiColor settings for text, cinema, game, portrait, scenery and vivid.

The screen features a rather limited tilt function, and is lacking any other movement really. A height adjustment would have been useful, and while not vital, a pivot or rotation function might have been a nice touch.


Above: iPod connected to the iDock in the base of the VX2245WM

One of the main features of the VX2245WM display is of course the integrated iPod dock. This comes with a set of plastic plates to offer compatibility with a range of iPod models. These are like those you get with an official iPod dock, but are custom made for the Viewsonic and silver in colour. The iDock can function when the PC is on, and charges the iPod using the USB connection. You can then play music and videos from the iPod via iTunes, with sound playing through the monitor speakers and sub-woofer. If the PC is turned off, there is obviously no power to the USB hub, and so the iPod dock acts as a connection to play music via the sub-woofer. Since the base of the VX2245WM has its own power supply, you can turn this on as an iPod music player without needing to switch your PC on. A nice feature, although this may limit the target audience of this particular model to only those customers who also have an iPod of some sort.


Above: Apple iPod integration (left) and built in sub-woofer (right)

I was certainly impressed with the wealth of connectivity options, and the extra additions of a card reader and built in speakers were a very nice touch. The screen felt well built and sturdy and the glossy finish was attractive. Overall I really liked the appearance and add-ons of this monitor.

 


Colour Quality and Accuracy

The Viewsonic VX2245WM utilises an 6-bit +FRC TN Film panel, capable of producing a 16.2 million colour palette. The standard CCFL backlighting used offers a gamut covering 72% of the NTSC colour space. 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 VX2245WM 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 100 brightness, 70 contrast, and 50 for each of the RGB values


Viewsonic VX2245WM - Default Settings

 

Default Settings

Brightness (cd/m2)

238

Black Point (cd/m2)

0.40

Contrast Ratio

595:1

Testing the screen out of the box, the VX2245WM was poor at default settings, with excessive luminance (238 cd/m2) and poorly adjusted gamma (1.7).

The graph on the right shows the DeltaE values for colours tested by the LaCie Blue Eye Pro. 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.

DeltaE was 5.1 on average, certainly not accurate enough for any colour work. In practice the screen felt far too bright (default monitor brightness in the OSD was 100%) and the colours felt washed out as a result. This screen clearly needed some degree of calibration before use, even if just basic manual adjustments to make the display feel more comfortable to use. Black point was 0.4 cd/m2 which wasn't too bad, especially considering this is a TN Film panel, and the resultant 595:1 contrast ratio was pretty decent.
 


Viewsonic VX2245WM -
Spyder2Express Calibrated


 

Spyder2Express Calibrated

Brightness (cd/m2)

248

Black Point (cd/m2)

0.37

Contrast Ratio

670:1

As an additional test with this screen, I had already tested the calibration process and results when using the Spyder2Express colorimeter from ColorVision. This is a more affordable and widely used calibration tool and so it is worthwhile describing the results in this review, to give an indication of what you can expect from the VX2245WM with even low cost calibration.

After calibration with the Spyder the screen showed a more even colour variation, and quite a decent improvement in colour reproduction over all. DeltaE was reduced on average from 5.1 to 2.3 and colours displayed were now only slightly different from those requested. LaCie would consider this calibration a success. Gamma was adjusted well from 1.7 to 2.3 and colour temperature was tweaked a little from 6357k to 6412k, now only being 1% away from the desired 6500k. Brightness remained too high, and was actually increased a little to 248 cd/m2. We were not asked to change anything in the monitor OSD, and so for this model, the brightness setting remained at 100%. Black depth was improved a little from 0.4 to 0.37 cd/m2 and contrast ratio was therefore improved to 670:1 (almost reaching the advertised 700:1 contrast ratio). Overall, colours looked much nicer to the eye, and were more vibrant and even. The Spyder2Express performed quite admirably with the VX2245WM, and helped improve colour accuracy and make the colour reproduction more even across the range. It wasn't perfect, but I felt the Spyder made a good job and considering the process was all automatic, I was quite impressed.
 


Viewsonic VX2245WM -
LaCie Calibrated

 

 

LaCie Blue Eye Pro Calibrated

Brightness (cd/m2)

120

Black Point (cd/m2)

0.26

Contrast Ratio

462:1

Calibrating the screen with the LaCie Blue Eye Pro however showed some impressive results. Colour accuracy was improved to very impressive levels using the LaCie tool. Even though the VX2245WM is based on a TN Film panel, colour accuracy was excellent, with a DeltaE average of 0.7. Gamma, colour temperature and luminance were all pretty much spot on and black depth was now improved as well from 0.37 to 0.26 cd/m2. Again, the LaCie Blue Eye Pro showed the quality of calibration possible with a high end colorimeter and I was impressed with the colour reproduction qualities of the VX2245WM screen. In practice the screen felt comfortable and colours looked even and vibrant. I think you will need some form of calibration to make the most of this screen, but this can be said for a lot of modern displays really. Overall, the Viewsonic VX2245WM was decent in colour accuracy.

Testing the screen with colour gradients showed impressive results with no obvious banding visable at all. Again, a good showing from TN Film.



Viewing Angles



Above: (top) Viewing angles shown from front and sides
(bottom)  from above and from below

Being TN Film based, one could expect characteristic restrictive viewing angles from the screen. While this was the case, for a TN panel, this was pretty good. Horizontal viewing angles were decent enough, with minimal colour shift, but noticeable contrast shift as you reached about 50 away from a central view. Vertical viewing angles were pretty poor, as is common with TN Film panels, but again the VX2245WM was better than a lot of other TN based screens I have tested in the past. Vertical viewing angles do mean that there is some noticeable contrast shift as you move even slightly up or down from a central view, but this was not really distracting in practice, especially when you have arranged the tilt of the screen to suit. Observing the screen from below showed the characteristic TN Film viewing angle issue, with the image being almost black after a certain point. Unlikely to be a problem in pratice, but an obvious indication of TN Film technology.

 


Panel Uniformity


Above: Panel uniformity test, click for larger image

I was pretty happy with the uniformity of the VX2245WM's backlighting in practice, with no obvious leakage detectable in normal use. Even watching movies in low light conditions, where black borders top and bottom can often bring out any uniformity problems, were not a problem. In a completely dark room, you could see some minor leakage from the top and bottom of the screen as shown in the above image. However, this was very hard to see in normal lighting conditions. No real problems with the uniformity or backlighting here.

 


Office and Windows Use

The 22" screen size felt comfortable and well suited to a home office I would say. It is a nice step up from 20" screens which I always find a little small after using the larger 24" models. However, the change in size from 24" to 22" was not so bad, and although the resolution was lower, there were no obvious issues with clarity or the larger pixel pitch. While a 20"WS model has a 'tight' pixel pitch of 0.258mm, a 22"WS model is higher at 0.282mm. This means text is a little larger, and some might say a little easier on the eye. The text in Microsoft Office applications was sharp and clear, and I felt the size of the screen was nice for this type of application. The screen is large enough to offer split screen support for side by side working,  but doesn't quite offer that horizontal resolution that a 24" model can.

One thing to bare in mind is that this screen comes with a default factory setting of 100% brightness, and so you will need to change that before you use the screen for office work. Calibrating the screen to a comfortable 120 cd/m2 was far more favourable with the VX2245WM. If you don't have access to colorimeter tools, I'd recommend dropping the brightness setting in the OSD to around 30% as a start.

The screen features both DVI and VGA connections, and while VGA was pretty decent, the DVI image did look a little sharper. As long as you have DVI on your graphics card, there is no reason not to use it really, especially considering the screen came packaged with the necessary cables. There is a preset profile mode available through the 'OptiColor' menu for "text", but in practice this was actually a little brighter than my calibrated "standard" settings and so wasn't really necessary in my case. However, without calibration and where some users might prefer a brighter "standard" setting, the "text" preset might well be handy for office work.

The built in speakers are more than adequate for those general office sounds and the occasional mp3 or video clip.

 


Responsiveness and Gaming

Testing the screen using PixPerAn software, and using  my digital camera on the fastest shutter speed, I captured an indication of the VX2245WM's performance in fast moving images. As a reminder, this is not a definitive guide to response time or how a screen might behave in all situations and for all people. It is merely intended as a comparative way of showing the responsiveness of a display using the same test bed for each screen. As a reminder, the above images show best case (left) and worst case (right) images taken from a large selection of camera shots.

The Viewsonic VX2245WM felt very similar in these tests to the Samsung SM205BW I had tested before. There was obvious blurring of the moving car in the flag test, and a second "ghost" image was detectable to the eye, and clearly on camera. It was perhaps a little faster than the Samsung, and at 5ms, the screen is probably suitable for many gaming needs. Being that the screen is TN Film based, and is only listed at 5ms, with no "G2G" quoted figure, I would suggest that this panel does not feature much in the way of RTC / overdrive technology. Viewsonic list the screen as having ClearMotiv response time (ClearMotiv is Viewsonic's naming scheme for overdrive normally), but the panel seems to behave like a more traditional, non-overdriven display in practice.

This assumption seems to be supported further when comparing the VX2245WM with the NEC 20WGX2 and LG L1960TQ. The NEC is regarded as one of the fastest screens in the market at the moment and certainly offers superior performance when compared with the Viewsonic model. The LG L1960TQ uses a 4ms G2G overdriven TN Film panel and was noticeably faster in practice than the Viewsonic.

Testing the screen in some games showed a similar pattern. The screen felt slower than other models I have tested, but probably more than adequate for most average gamers still. Texture blur was noticeable, and movement didn't feel quite as smooth. The monitor lacked any hardware aspect ratio control, and so there were no options to maintain a 5:4 or 4:3 ratio, or run with 1:1 pixel mapping. That obviously creates a problem for some people when playing games which do not support widescreen format.


Above: Input lag test, click for larger image

Hooking the VX2245WM in clone mode with my CRT test screen allowed me to measure the input lag associated with the Viewsonic display. The test features a stop watch function running simultaneously on both screens, and by taking a series of photographs at the fastest shutter speed, one is able to compare the time on the stopwatch on both displays. Input lag is an inherant problem with LCD screens, but can vary from one model to another. This problem is rarely detectable in real use, and only serious gamers tend to see any adverse affects from it. I saw no problems with the VX2245WM in practice, and the stopwatch test showed an input lag of typically only 10 - 20ms.

 


Movies and Video

Movie and video playback was actually pretty decent on the VX2245WM. The extra screen size of the 22"WS model offered a nice upgrade from 20" models and helped add some immersion to the experience. With the black depth of the monitor being pretty good at 0.26 cd/m2, the darker scenes were quite well rendered. However, the vertical viewing angles did let the screen down somewhat and you had to be really careful with your line of sight if you wanted to avoid distracting contrast shifts. This was particularly problematic in darker scenes, with a slight change in vertical position leading to the image being almost completely blacked out. The VX2245WM was pretty much a typical TN Film panel in terms of movie playback, with viewing angles being the main drawback of the technology. Movie noise was noticeable to a degree, but again this is a characteristic trait of TN Film, and not really an issue from a comfortable viewing distance anyway. I did feel the large screen size and WS format were nice however, and certainly a good step up from a 5:4 aspect display.

 


Conclusion

I was pleasantly suprised by the Viewsonic VX2245WM. This was the first 22" model I have had a good chance to test and use for an extended period of time, and I found the size to be comfortable and useful for every day tasks. There was no real issue with text size or clarity which was pleasing since this is something which can put buyers off the larger screens, which remain at the resolution of their smaller counter-parts. The features and options from the VX2245WM were fantastic, and while I was a little disappointed to see no height adjustment; the iPod dock, card reader, speakers and the wealth of interface options was very impressive. This really felt like a good convergence of several different gadgets and technological devices and considering the model is pretty well priced, offered an attractive change to the usual limited options of some of its rivals.

The screen performed well in pratice, with decent colour reproduction and clean and crisp office use. Responsiveness was average by todays standards but adequate for most users and casual gamers. Viewsonic have done a good job with this model and the features really make this a decent buy, especially for anyone who is looking for an all-in-one home or office display solution.

 

 

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