Flat Panel / LCD monitor comparison shopping

It's 2009-July and I'm shopping for a 24" or larger LCD monitor used mainly for software development, Internet surfing and movie playback. No games and very little photo or movie editing. Here's my current situation, very much worthy of a "Ghetto Mod" title:

Triple display setup

Education

A comprehensive forum thread summary on LCD characteristics is at the anandtech LCD Thread. This has all you'll need to know about LCDs and links to a ton of separate articles about panel types, colors, dead pixels etc. Also has best picks for a variety of uses.

Panels

"While there are many different manufacturers of LCD monitors, the panels themselves are actually only manufactured by a relatively small selection of companies. The three main manufacturers tend to be Samsung, AU Optronics and LG.Display (previously LG.Philips)" -- http://www.tftcentral.co.uk/articles/panel_parts.htm

Read first a summary of panel technologies and an excellent article about the differences among them. Short story: IPS panels are the best. A-TW-IPS is the very best.

TN panels offer the worst color reproduction but are considered the fastest (good for high-action games). However, H-IPS panels, which are much better in terms of color reproduction, can produce a much crisper picture in games, thanks to excellent responsiveness (see the high shutter speed pictures in this review and this review; S-PVA also does comparably well). S-PVA offer deeper blacks and (A)S-IPS is claimed to offer better viewing angles. However, the S-PVA panel used in the EIZO HD2442W shows a "perfect viewing angle".

More information:

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TFT_LCD
  • most in-depth list of panel technologies and characteristics - "Some modern IPS panels are even as responsive as the fastest TN Film panels in real use! [...] S-IPS matrices leave no chance to other LCD technologies in the color-reproduction quality. [...] nearly all LCD monitors for professional work with color are based on S-IPS matrices [...] Black depth was often a problem with S-IPS panels. However, contrast ratios have been improved significantly, and black depth is much better as a result. Whether or not black depth is as good as PVA / MVA panels is debatable, but technologies like Digital Fine Contrast DFC are helping to make blacks better as well in multimedia applications. One area which remains problematic for modern IPS panels is movie playback, again with noise being present, and only accentuated by the heavy application of overdrive technologies."

Check the panel manufacturer and type (an important piece of spec which is almost never mentioned on shopping sites like Newegg):

HDMI vs. DVI

Does it matter if a monitor only has DVI and no HDMI? Not really.

HDMI is electrically compatible with DVI and adapters cause no conversion or signal loss. HDMI supports in addition audio channels and remote control, but these are not typical features you want in a monitor. A monitor with HDMI input will simply pass through audio signal (if you get a $600+ 24" non-TN monitor, you don't want to use some lousy monitor speakers).

Comparison Resources

Requirements

  • 24" (or 23" as a last resort). 27" is too large for desk work.
  • IPS panel
  • matte finish, not glossy screen - see my matte vs. glossy comparison
  • height must be adjustable. Best ergonomics is achieved when the monitor's top bezel is at eye level{{fact}}
  • no buzz sound
  • DVI input

Wide vs. standard gamut

"sRGB" is the default color mode of monitors made up until 2008, and the one supported by Windows XP. The problem is that many good modern monitors are "wide-gamut", which means they will display oversaturated colors, except for applications that support color profiles. At the moment, very few Windows applications have such support (e.g. Photoshop, Firefox 3 but only for images), while most applications, and Windows itself, don't.

I made the mistake of purchasing an otherwise excellent, but wide-gamut monitor, the HP LP2475W which eventually drove me mad enough to return it at a $150 loss.

Note that "standard RGB mode" is not the same as monitors that are standard gamut. My HP LP2475W had a "standard RGB mode", which was useless. In summary,

  • here are the wide gamut buzzwords: "92% NTSC coverage", "133% NTSC" (that's "extremely wide gamut"), "96% coverage of the Adobe RGB color space", "95% Adobe RGB gamut"
  • I want "standard gamut", aka "72% color gamut/coverage"

Tests

Practical gray level test: see if the repeated background gray text is visible in this image. On my Compaq nc6400 laptop screen, it's only visible after tilting it beyond a certain angle.

Candidates

Acer H233H

  • - TN panel

Acer P243WAid Black-Silver 24" 2ms(GTG) HDMI Widescreen LCD Monitor with HDCP Support

  • - TN TFT panel means poor color reproduction and bad viewing angles

ASUS MK241H Black 24" 2ms HDMI Widescreen LCD Monitor with 1.3M Pixel Webcam

  • - 2ms refresh - games run flawlessly, but it's a TN panel

ASUS VW246H

  • - TN panel

Belinea 2485 S1W (No. 112401)

  • - no longer available on Froogle, Amazon, Nextag, Pricegrabber
  • 24"WS AU Optronics P-MVA panel
  • - inputs: 1 DVI-D, 1 D-sub; no HDMI
  • + good ergonomics but large ventilation slots attract dust and insects
  • + silent

BenQ FP241VW

BenQ FP241WZ

BenQ G2400WD Black 24" 5ms, 2ms(GTG) HDMI

  • no height adjustment

Dell 2407WFP

  • + panel: 24"WS Samsung S-PVA (LTM240M2) or AU Optronics AMVA (M240UW01)
  • + 72% color gamut
  • inputs: DVI-D, VGA/D-Sub, component video - RCA x 3, composite video input - RCA, S-video input; no HDMI
  • + HDCP support
  • released 2006-Nov (judging by first review on Dell's site)
  • need to sift through various bad reviews

Dell 2407WFP-HC

  • - 92% NTSC gamut (i.e wide gamut)
  • no HDMI

Dell 2408WFP

  • - wide gamut monitor causing colors to be blown out in sRGB mode, especially reds and greens

Dell 2707WFP

Dell 2709W

alt text

  • HDMI
  • S-PVA panel
  • matte
  • no pivot/portrait mode
  • D-Sub (VGA) connector
  • no S-Video connector
  • card reader
  • "only the Composite/Component connections are available as a source" for PiP (no HDMI, DVI-D or DisplayPort)
  • "Even without other sources of noise, the monitor cannot be heard"
  • ...but one forum user reports a buzz sound
  • "Even at 0 percent brightness, the brightness value is 145 cd/m², which is still too high for normal usage in dark rooms and for the achievement of most required calibration settings" - irrelevant, as you can compensate from the graphic card's settings
  • needs a color profile to get a '++' rating for color quality
  • "Overall, the black image is extremely saturated thanks to the black value of 0,1 cd/m². This result is absolutely convincing."
  • input lag: 3fps
  • "Although conventional DVDs appear somewhat coarsely grained, which is also the case for video playback, at a certain distance from the screen, this is certainly tolerable but still noticeable. The background may be the pixel structure of the 27-inch model, which displays the weaknesses of non-HD material mercilessly."

Dell S2409W

  • - TN panel

Eizo ColorEdge CE240W

Eizo HD2442W-TS

PRAD.de rating: very good

  • S-PVA panel
  • + NOT wide gamut
  • "option to deactivate the power status LED if it proves distracting when in use"
  • "the operational noise is hardly audible or completely inaudible and will not become apparent in a negative manner even to very sensitive ears"
  • HDMI but no DisplayPort connector
  • dual USB uplink connections amount to an integrated KVM
  • perfect viewing angle
  • no backlight bleeding, perfect illumination at the edges of the screen; 1399:1 contrast
  • "purely perfect image playback and film enjoyment"
  • "In synthetic tests, where just 2 colors are used, a corona effect can be seen. In practice in games or video use, however, this can no longer be seen."
  • 2.5fps input lag
  • PiP can take HDMI input
  • - $1,600+

Eizo S2410W-K

Eizo S2431WH-GY

  • 2007; no longer available on Froogle, Amazon, Nextag

Eizo SX2761W-BK

  • only two DVI connectors; no HDMI
  • 27"
  • $1700 via Froogle

HP Pavilion w2408 Black/Silver 24" Widescreen LCD Monitor

  • - "The noise made by the backlight inverter, which can be heard at a distance of 10 to 15 cm from the monitor, could disturb sensitive ears and is not ideal."; buzz sound confirmed
  • - glossy

HP Pavilion 2338h

  • - TN display

HP L2445w

  • - TN panel and 92% NTSC coverage (i.e wide gamut)

HP LP2465

PRAD.de rating: very good

  • - no HDCP
  • two DVI-I inputs; no HDMI
  • + "HP specifies the response time as 13 ms for black/white shifts, and 6 ms for grey-to-grey shifts"
  • + 6ms G2G, 24"WS Samsung S-PVA (LTM240M2)
  • - 2006; kinda discontinued by HP - various search results pages are dead. Specs.
  • + S-PVA panel with better contrast than S-IPS panels
  • + silent
  • + very good DVD playback
  • + used in corporate office deployments
  • availability:
    • BestBuy, CentralComputers, CompUSA, Costco, Etech4Sale, Frys, OfficeDepot, OfficeMax, Staples, SalesStores.com: no

HP LP2475w

RECOMMENDED: NO

I ended up buying this monitor and was surprised to see that, after manually lowering the brightness to 0%, the reds were so oversaturated that they literally hurt my retina. This was confirmed by another user review at cnet and more users at Newegg (after I bought it!).

Here is a thread on calibrating the HP LP2475w. Note that what calibration does is to tell you the correct values for the monitor's RGB settings{{fact}}, which then the software programs in the monitor via DDC/CI. However, you can program those yourself via the graphics card.

I've tried tweaking the RGB values using HP's Display Assistant software, and the settings from my graphics card. There simply was no way to get the red down to an acceptable level. It's not a problem of brightness - with brightness set to 0, either the RED is still too bright, or after tweaking the RGB gains and black levels, it's acceptable but the resulting overall colors are way off (green or blue tints).

UPDATE After about two weeks of using this HP LP2475w LCD panel, I started to notice that the left side has cooler color than the right side. This defect was confirmed on the HP forums

  • best quality reviews on NewEgg from discriminating folks (as opposed to the gamer crowd reviewing the ASUS MK241H)
  • matte
  • height adjustment from 5.1cm to 15.9cm; portrait mode; swivel and tilt
  • "To put it simply: all imaginable connectors are included and this is no exaggeration."; DisplayPort connection
  • SPDIF output from HDMI input
  • "When in use, the monitor is absolutely silent. Regardless of what brightness settings are selected, the HP LP2475w functions noiselessly."
  • "The Control sub-menu allows the user to [...] deactivate the LED"
  • PiP and PoP can only display analog sources; can't have the two DVIs side-by-side
  • "Even though the contrast values are not as good as those provided by modern S-PVA panels, the HP LP2475w still convinces completely when it comes to image quality"
  • "The minimum brightness is achieved at a setting of 0 and is 104 cd/m²"
  • best responsiveness among TFTcentral displays
  • "very faint corona effect in synthetic tests [...] only faintly visible in some synthetic tests and is not visible at all in normal usage, so it is not distracting"
  • 2fps input lag; juddering not noticeable for video playback
  • "The low black value and the perfect grey gradient resolution also allow even dark scenes to appear in great detail"
  • "While brightness is reduced, the black depth improves quite nicely as well, reaching a very impressive 0.13 cd/m² at 0% brightness. This is very respectable for an IPS matrix, and the best black depth we have recorded on such technology so far in our reviews."; "Very good black depth mean[s] detail in darker scenes is not lost. Very good in this regard for an IPS matrix"
  • HDCP not listed in specs but apparently included, according to TFTCentral and PRAD reviews

HP DreamColor LP2480zx

  • - 133% NTSC (i.e wide gamut)
  • - $2000+

HP w2558hc

Hyundai W241D

  • not available in the US
  • corona effects when moving windows on desktop, even with RTC off

LaCie 324

  • - 92% NTSC gamut

LaCie 526

  • - 95% Adobe RGB gamut

LaCie 724

  • - "Extremely wide gamut: 125% NTSC and 123% Adobe RGB"

Lenovo ThinkVision L2440X

  • - TN panel, even if the best of them

LG

TN panels:

LG L245WP

  • 24"WS AU Optronics P-MVA (M240UW01 V0)

LG L246WP

  • - 24"WS AU Optronics P-MVA (M240UW01 V0) - MVA panels have horizontal color shift
  • comparison with the L245WP - no difference
  • + 72% color gamut
  • "Ergonomic Design: Tilt, Swivel, Height Adjustment, Pivot"
  • inputs: HDMI (HDCP compliant), VGA, component. No DVI but ships with DVI2HDMI cable
  • PIP, POP, PBP
  • Response Time: 8ms G2G
  • good in games, can turn off the power LED (18 5-star Newegg reviews)
  • - "Has annoying power saving feature which cannot be turned off" (Newegg); no fix for power saving issue
  • - shiny base (pictures at the end)

LG W2420P

LG W2452T-TF Black 24" 2ms(GTG) Widescreen LCD Monitor

  • stand adjustment: tilt only (can be easily seen in the picture)

Mitsubishi 56P-QF60LCU

  • holy cow 3840 x 2160, 56"

NEC ASLCD24WMCX-BK Black 24"

  • - no height adjustment (easily seen in the pictures)
  • - can see the monitor refresh line (Newegg reviewer)

NEC EA241WM

  • - TN panel

NEC LCD2690WUXi

  • wide-gamut monitor, with oversaturated colors for any Windows application that doesn't support color management (most of them)
  • inputs: DVI-I, DVI-D, D-sub; no HDMI

NEC MultiSync LCD2470WNX

NEC MultiSync LCD2490WUXi ★

  • + best panel out there: A-TW-IPS. NEC is one of the very few using this panel. LaCie also uses it.
  • + #1 recommendation for most 24" categories in the Anandtech LCD thread
  • "many buyers have chosen the 2490WUXi because it is only standard gamut, selecting it over newer models such as the HP LP2475W for this very reason"
  • summary of rave reviews
  • large height adjustment (15cm); tilt, rotate
  • "The unit is very quiet, although there is a very faint buzz if you press your ear up to the sides, but certainly nothing you can really hear in day to day use or from anywhere further away."
  • - DVI-I, DVI-D, VGA (D-Sub); no HDMI, no DisplayPort
  • + HDCP
  • average 30-40ms input lag
  • + A-TW polarizer reduces white glow in areas viewed from an angle, such as the corners of a large 24" screen viewed from close range
  • hardforum review thread
  • manufacturer page
  • + at etech4sale
  • - NEC's dead pixel policy will only exchange a monitor if it has more than 4 dead pixels

NEC MultiSync LCD2490WUXi2 ★

NEC MultiSync 24WMGX³

  • "The distance from the lower edge of the frame to the table surface is 9 cm in the highest setting and 3 cm in the lowest."
  • may be glossy
  • not available in the US yet
  • "a little behind the 2490WUXi in terms of pixel responsiveness"

Samsung SyncMaster T240HD (aka SAMSUNG ToC T240HD Rose-Black)

  • screen does not pivot - CNET
  • "Included stand tilts up not down (what's the sense in that?) - this causes "double vision" text in monitor mode when elevated"
  • 6 cons
    • Movies played on Blu-Ray player look artificial, all dark colors go to black and whites are overblown. Way Too much Contrast! Changing to movie mode only produces a washed out artificial look.
    • Monitor base only tilts up not down. No wall mount.
    • 4 Off-Center viewing is the worse in its class. Moving up or down only a few degrees causes a dramatic shift in brightness and color making it impossible to use monitor for even basic video editing.
  • "The most annoying thing about this monitor is the reflection of the border. The plastic border is raised about 1/4 inch above the LCD surface at a 90 degree angle. This combined with with the glossy black surface gives you a nice annoying doubling/reflection around the edges when viewed up close."

Samsung 244T

Samsung SyncMaster 43 series (2443BW*)

  • TN panel

Samsung SyncMaster 245T

  • buzz sound reported by one reviewer on 3 monitors, confirmed by the PRAD review: "However, if you listen at the back of the monitor in quiet surroundings, a permanent buzzing can be heard at about 30 cm distance from the monitor."
  • + 1 x D-Sub analog, 1 x DVD-D digital, 1 x HDMI digital, 1 x Video,1 x Component-Video, 1 x S-Video
  • + matte
  • + tilt, height adjustment, pivot
  • can collect dust

Samsung SyncMaster 245BW Black 24" Widescreen LCD Monitor

Samsung 275T

  • no HDMI
  • "good" (not "very good") rating from PRAD

Samsung 305T

  • S-PVA panel

Viewsonic VX2433wm

  • - TN panel
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