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22 inch LCD monitors: The second coming!
by Vincent Alzieu
Published on April 24, 2007

22 inch: The second coming
We published, last December with the first batch of monitors of this size. There was an Acer, Asus, Belinea, HP, Fujitsu-Siemens and Samsung 225BW. There have been no major technological breakthroughs since this first test, but we do have a new winner. This is something we could have hoped for if you read the last article. We remind you that there was a pre-calibrated Acer AL2216W, but with a response time of 5ms. There was also a much faster Asus announced at 2ms and for games, it was undeniably better. For colors, however, it was a catastrophe. These observations made us hope for the arrival of a 22 inch 2 ms pre-calibrated monitor - and here it is.

This monitor, which is pretty much stamped "BeHardware.com approved", is amongst the new competitors below:

OK, you may have noticed that there is only one "2ms" and we kind of killed the suspense. So, instead of just going through another screen test let's also take the opportunity today to ask manufacturers a few questions, which read our articles here or on Hardware.fr, the French and original version of this website. Bear with us and let's get our mileage out of this article!

A letter to manufacturers: What's always missing in monitors:

For colors and reaction time, improvements have been appreciable and useful. However, are current monitors perfect? No. Are we entitled to more improvements? Yes.

As fast as they have become, LCD monitors are still limited by a frequency of 60 Hz. As technology is now different, there is no longer the question of comfort due to the twinkling effect. However, at such a frequency it means that we are restricted to 60 images per second. This is OK for games, but why shouldn't we try to use the potential of graphic cards? Increasing in frequency would increase fluidity, comfort, and reaction time. 100Hz technology is coming for TVs. We've tried it and it really is an improvement in games thanks to a reduction in afterglow. This 100 Hz, however, is "artificial", because the processor interpolates one image intercalated between two images received at a frequency of 50Hz. The interpolation only really works with successive and relatively similar images and when not the case, the result is pretty much a failure. Having such a function is a good thing in itself, but we hope someday to see a real 100 Hz with LCD monitors.

We remind you that we tested monitors supporting 75 Hz and apparently none really supported this frequency. There were two possibilities. Either they claimed to support 75 Hz, but we noted that they were at 60. Or they really were at 75Hz with 5 consecutive images, however, every so often a frame was skipped and this actually reduced the frequency to 60 Hz.

If we come back to the basics, and what we have been writing for years, there are three principle characteristics of importance: color, reaction time (improvements have been measurable in these two areas) and dead pixels. For this last point, however, manufacturers have been in stand-by and maybe now is the time to make some commitments to us, the consumers. We do have to admit though, that this is a problem that comes back to us less and less from readers. If, at a time, there wasn't a week without dozens of letters coming from furious users, today less and less people are complaining. There seems to be a better mastery of the technology and the quality of panels is growing. A pre-calibrated panel is a panel that has been tested and, we can reasonably believe, without apparent defects.
This improvement also concerns the edges of screens. There was a time when all LCD monitors had bright halos on the sides and now the products we test are exempt from this problem.

The tests
We run tests for reaction time in games, delay of display, and video rendering (SD, HD 720p, HD 1080p). We also evaluate ergonomics, viewing angles, the quality of upscaling, the panel's brightness homogeneity…

For color fidelity we use the LaCie Blue Eye Pro colorimeter, based on the Gretag tool and coupled with the new LaCie software suite. More evolved than the previous version, this helps us to compare a monitor’s display quality (color spectrum and DeltaE) in standard settings and after calibration. Results are sometimes surprising as it’s often best to take the time to manually adjust colors (or at least contrast, brightness and color temperature).
The results of our study of 18 patches makes it possible to create a table visually resituating the variation of colors compared to an ideal grey scale.

For game tests, after developing a response time measuring procedure last year with a probe and an oscilloscope, we eventually came to the conclusion that the measurements weren’t representative of what we actually saw on the screen. We then developed a new test procedure based on pictures of images on the monitor. The software used is Pixel Persistence Analyzer (or PixPerAn for regular users). Pictures showing these ghosting effects are captured with a Canon 350D at a shutter speed of 1/1000 s. We take 50 pictures in burst mode for each test to precisely measure the progression of afterglow between images. We haven't given up on the games, HD and DVD video, web surfing, etc.

Finally, we measure the delay to display images compared to CRT monitors.

The test computer is self-assembled, has an AMD Athlon 64 3500+ processor and NVIDIA GeForce 7900 GTX card.

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