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19” LCD monitor survey: 4, 8 ms, TN, IPS, VA…
by Vincent Alzieu
Published on June 9, 2005

ViewSonic VX924
Samsung and ViewSonic are in competition to release the first 4 ms monitor. To benefit from the amount of interest this product announcement has stirred up, ViewSonic sent English and French magazines a pre-series version before its Korean rival. This kind of behaviour is common, the press (and us especially for monitors) being fond of exclusivity.


This time we were unfortuneate as the model they sent us was defective. ViewSonic missed this first release, and they acknowledged it after our test showed there were problems with unfluid movements, especially noticeable with lateral movement. All hope wasn’t lost, however. The problem was reported to upper management and then to the research lab, which updated the monitor’s firmware with two corrective patches. The updated VX924 isn’t disappointing; the unpleasant finishing touches on the body, and the colorimetric and flow issues have all disappeared.

Ergonomics
We weren’t really excited about the first prototype. Monitor pieces didn’t fit perfectly and produced nerve grating sounds when we pressed on them. The finishing touches didn’t correspond to a $499 product, and this was quite surprising as they already have experience with the same design. This body is also found on the previous VX910 and VX912.

As we expected, ViewSonic made some changes and sent us a better product. Pieces were all in place and don’t move when a button is pushed. This is good but also normal!

The monitor’s design is appealing, but ergonomically it is less so. The screen looks very pleasant compared to the Samsung 930BF, which is too dark and unattractive. The VX924 is a lot nicer. The two monitors share a couple of disadvantages, which shouldn’t be seen on high end products. They aren’t vertically adjustable and controls aren’t clearly identified. We could also have expected, even if not everybody needs it, a USB hub, pivot mode, video input or tuner. In the end, the ergonomics correspond to an entry level product. We pay good money to have the latest panel, and we hope that other manufacturers will soon use the same components so that prices will drop!

Color quality
The VX924 pre-series failed almost every test including this one. Factory adjustments were completely wrong. The ViewSonic France representative who was present during the tests had a strong reaction when she saw these results. Again we feared the worse with the new model, but ViewSonic made some real efforts. Now this is even the main advantage of this monitor compared to the Samsung 930BF as colors are quite accurate (graphic designers can forget about it however), vivid and sparkling. They beautifully enhance movies (from a certain distance, we will get back to this point later) and games. Compared to the Samsung, which is also quite difficult to adjust, the ViewSonic clearly wins in this domain.

How to interpret the graph

On the left is the color spectrum. It’s the monitor’s colorimetric range compared to the sRGB range (usually used for digital cameras). It doesn’t correspond to accuracy, but to the range of reproducible colors.

For accuracy, you have to refer to the graph on the right, the DeltaE. This is a measure between the color requested and the one actually displayed on the monitor. The result obtained is also counter-balanced for human color sensitivity. With 1 < Delta E < 2 colors are accurate. With Delta E < 1, the result is perfect.

Initially

The colorimeter confirms most of our first impressions: the most vivid colors are particularly well reproduced, the darker ones are not. Here the Delta E goes sky high.



A couple of manual corrections

We significantly improved color quality by reducing contrast and especially brightness. The good thing is that the standard 6500 K color is accurately defined. It wasn’t necessary to intervene on RGB channels to get a balanced image.


After calibration

Obviously, using a colorimeter strongly improves results. The black becomes really black. Initially it was at 2 cd/m² (!!!), and then at 1,5 cd/m² after manual calibration. It’s now 0,37 cd/m². This washed out result before calibration isn’t really disturbing for game play and you have better vision in darker areas. Be especially careful, though, when editing colors in pictures as the final result on another monitor or paper may be too dark.

Viewing angles
TN monitor lateral viewing angles have considerably improved.


Pictures are taken from a 50° angle. As is usually the case with TN monitors; the inferior viewing angle turns to black way before the manufacturer’s figure. But compared to the Samsung 930BF, it is less « worse ». 160° in the monitor’s specifications is, however, a little exaggerated…

Now honestly, how can the horizontal viewing angle (the picture in upper right corner) and the vertical (the two images below it) be seen as equal? It’s clearly not so. So either there is a serious problem in the definition of this value or else it’s an unacceptable policy by manufacturers in giving any value they want. The problem isn’t new and we have been aware of it for five years now at behardware.com. It’s still infuriating to see such values and that consumers can do nothing about it.

We thought only consumer associations could do something, and we alerted the two most active ones, which are responsible for all problems connected to flat monitors, dead pixels, etc. They politely refused to handle the problem, and one explained that one of their team already dealt with the subject. Ok. One of them even mistakenly left “sent them the typical refusal letter” on thier reply to us. So, I guess we can only insist in our articles on the lack of rigour on the part of manufacturers as we have today.



By “Still good” we mean the angle up until which colors are still accurate. The “Still satisfactory” is the limit beyond which colors are completely wrong. As long as we remain within this angle shades are similar, beyond it they are not.

Interpolation
No improvements in this area despite the double corrective patch. It’s sharp with standard resolution and blurred with any other.

Video games
We conducted a lot of tests with the monitor in clone mode and compared it to the:

  • VX924 1rst version, the prototype we kept.
  • The Samsung SyncMaster 930B, a Samsung TN 4 ms previously tested
  • The BenQ FP91V+ we asked BenQ to send us this monitor again for this test.

    For the first test, the VX924 prototype against the VX924 with the two patches. The winner was the VX924 new version! The first had movement flow issues (as we said in the first article) and it’s obvious as soon as a game is started. We also quickly spotted color corrections, which make them more natural and nicer with the new monitor.

    Compared to the Samsung 4 ms the result is less obvious. Samsung wins but not by much. After a couple of minutes if we pay attention to this aspect only, not to the game, we see that the Samsung monitor is slightly faster for all color changes. Afterglow is slightly less perceptible. It hasn’t disappeared, though, and CRT fans will continue to see it with the SyncMaster 930BF even if it is low. We actually preferred playing with the VX924. First of all, the ViewSonic monitor is nicer, not the most important aspect but it matters. Colors are also much more vivid. The Samsung’s seem dull (we already saw that during the comparison with the BenQ monitor).

    We also compared it to the BenQ (and we thank the manufacturer for this second loan). Here was a surprise (or actually it was what we thought might happen) the VX924 and the FP91V+ display exactly the same results. The two images are vivid, colourful and pleasant. Afterglow was identical, in our opinion. There is no particular progress between the AU Optronics 6 and 4 ms panel and, in fact, it’s something that we saw before. We felt that the Taiwanese manufacturer’s 16, 12 and 8 ms panels had similar afterglow despite different response times. AU Optronics confirmed our doubts during the CeBit, that panels were strictly identical except for a different overdrive application. There are slight algorithm variations, so slight that machines measuring response times (and we feel that they are no longer up to date) are fooled. When playing or watching movies, it doesn’t make a difference.

    Here we are probably facing the same situation. The 6ms panel is different from the previous generation, but this 4ms seems to be similar with one or a couple of Overdrive adjustments to win a couple of milliseconds and change characteristics. It doesn’t make any difference in practice.

    It is nevertheless a victory because of the applied mirroring effect. This is very popular in Asia according to manufacturers (Sony, Neovo, Nec, BenQ...) but we don’t really like it. We don’t see the interest of seeing ourselves as soon as our character walks into a dark room. They invariably respond that this filter reinforces colors. But as we see with the VX924 the filter isn’t necessary as colors are sparkling and the mirror effect present on the BenQ isn’t seen on the ViewSonic monitor.

    Films : DVD, HD
    We won’t be too hard on this monitor here. There was some progress compared to the VX924 pre-series as colors are much more accurate. The twinkling effect is still present and viewing angles are narrow. TN monitors might be useful for occasional video viewing but not to watch an entire movie. At least this is our opinion.

    Verdict
    This second attempt is a success. It isn’t the fastest (Samsung is slightly ahead), but the VX924 largely makes up for it with much nicer colors.

    The latest ViewSonic panel is quite expensive. Here for once we know that the displayed price is directly due to the component as the previous and much cheaper VX910 and VX912 uses the same bezel and are covered by the same warranty. The VX910 is often sold for under $350 , and the VX912 is occasionally found for similar prices.

    This price gap is too high so let’s hope that manufacturers will quickly release other 4ms panel monitors to give Viewsonic some incentive to lower their prices.




    Take a look at this manufacture’s dead pixel policy by clicking here!

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