NEC MultiSync LCD2690WUXi review

Price when reviewed

Despite the lion’s share of the large-format widescreen market settling on 24in screens, things never stand still for long, and like Acer NEC ups the ante with a 25.5in display.

As far as native resolution is concerned, it isn’t ultra-high end, sporting 1,920 x 1,200 pixels – the same as most 24in panels and no match for the 2,560 x 1,600 of the Dell UltraSharp 3007WFP. But that combination of resolution and screen dimensions does mean you get a display of around 88dpi, an eye-friendly value that lets you work without squinting, assuming you’re sitting a standard distance away from the screen. But the sheer width of a 25.5in display brings its own problems; at a normal viewing distance of a couple of feet, you need to move your head to switch your attention from one side of the screen to the other. As a result, some people may well find the 2690 unusable for long periods.

Sheer size aside, some novel features stand out. First is the Ambilight system, which attempts to compensate for changing ambient light conditions via a sensor in the bezel. It can compensate in a sunny office, but is no match for consistent lighting conditions if you’re doing serious work. More useful is the adjustable gamma, set via the supplied GammaComp utility over the DDC channel of your graphics card. It uses a 12-bit internal lookup table to avoid the low-resolution stepping effects that graphics-driver gamma adjustments can produce. On a more mundane level, the OSD is among the best we’ve seen, with legends appearing onscreen next to the bezel-mounted buttons. Round the back, you’ll find analog D-SUB, DVI-I and DVI-D connectors. The monitor is HD ready and accepts HDCP digital input on either of the DVI connectors.

Technical performance is excellent. The contrast ratio may be rated at only 800:1, but the deep (adjustable) black level and superb linearity make the 2690 great for photo editing. Despite the price, though, it isn’t a very wide-gamut unit, so extended colour spaces aren’t covered. The issue of response times has pretty much been solved these days, and the 2690 performs as well as you’d expect at this price when it comes to video, with no smearing or ghosting. And when it comes to video, the black-level adjustment works wonders for artificially boosting contrast to get a punchier – albeit less accurate – display. It’s far more effective than a standard TFT contrast control.

The only problem is the price: the NEC costs over £300 more than the 26in Acer above and is a similar amount above our A-Listed 24in TFT, BenQ’s FP241W, which offers the same native resolution and more inputs for £509. Essentially, this monitor is stuck between two stools. It’s big enough for a public display, where the quality would be wasted, and conversely it’s high enough quality for most professional workstations, but too big to be practical. For certain niche apps, it may have appeal but, for most, a 24in panel is a better-value proposition.

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