In one of our past tests of 20-inch monitors, starting from market trends that prevailed at that time, we suggested that in the near future such displays will become the most popular. A device with a diagonal of 19″ should have passed into the category of purely budget ones, and therefore it makes no sense to consider them for the choice of the highest quality ones.
And apparently, they got a little excited in their predictions. as it turned out, constantly falling in the display device market are able to grow just as fast, and the post-New Year price hike of monitors has made adjustments to our forecasts. Now it has become quite obvious that the 19-inch models are “popular” seriously and for a long time, and the onslaught from the larger diagonals has somewhat weakened. Therefore, today we again turn to the topic of choosing a universal and affordable class 19 display”.
Initially, we wanted to select for testing both wide-format and traditional models, costing up to 250, equipped with a digital DVI input, since, according to our data, there were a sufficient number of those on the market. However, during the collection of equipment, it turned out that the increase in cost caused by local economic factors was much more significant than anticipated, and therefore we had to urgently expand the price range up to 300. As a result, more than two dozen devices from most well-known manufacturers came to our Test Laboratory.
Before proceeding to the testing itself, a few general words about the situation in the segment of 19-inch monitors from a technical point of view. In recent years, such devices have become not only more affordable, but also much more advanced in many ways. First of all, this concerns the control electronics. the display engine chips, which are the heart of each display, have learned to process a much wider range of input signals (including with a frame frequency different from the standard 60 Hz), as well as scale the incoming image in a “non-native” resolution in the direction of both increase and decrease. As a result, the Out of range inscription that appears on the screen when the incorrect display mode is set is already extremely rare. now a warning is issued that the selected resolution is not optimal, but the picture is still displayed, which makes it possible to correct the error.
The LCD panels themselves, which are installed in 19-inch monitors (primarily the TN-type), have also significantly matured. First of all, the contrast ratio for most of them is now on the order of 800: 1 or more. and more recently, even half as much a value seemed to be an achievement. The backlight units, due to the flexible CCF-lamp power supply modulation system, allow obtaining a brightness range from 30 to 250 cd / m², which more than covers the luminance requirements of the screen for a wide variety of tasks. Finally, the matrices are also being improved: with the help of overdrive technology, the response time for the most modern models is 2 ms (GtG). However, such an “acceleration” usually does not go in vain for color rendering quality. the limited capacity of the fast matrix negatively affects the range of colors displayed. Here dithering systems come to the rescue. alternating the display of two different shades with each frame (or coloring the pixels located in the immediate vicinity), it is possible to achieve the perception of the intermediate color by the human eye. Dithering technologies (also called FRC, Frame Rate Control) have recently achieved perfection, and making any claims to the resulting image is becoming increasingly difficult.
Given that the model of using budget 19-inch devices usually does not include work on color correction, typesetting, modeling and other professional tasks that require improved quality of color information transmission, we decided to somewhat simplify our test methodology and put more emphasis on the practical operation of the monitor.
So, after unpacking and assembly, each model was warmed up for 15–20 min, after which brightness measurements were made — the maximum and minimum contrast ratios of the panel. Next, we fixed the position of the adjustments necessary to obtain comfortable working conditions. the brightness of the display at 120 cd / m², the maximum contrast before clipping (loss of detail in bright areas) and without steps on the gradient.
After that, we tried to find the monitor‘s color mode, in which the dependence of the color temperature on the gray scale would be closest to the objective function T = 6500K (see the corresponding graphs, where it is indicated by a dotted line). Say right away, not all displays have such modes at all, and for some models the deviations from the standard in dark areas of the image are so large that without the use of a hardware calibrator, this cannot be fixed by any other method.
Unfortunately, measuring the color temperature for a specific gray color only reveals a balance between warm and cold tones. however, if the deviation is atypical (say, the image is greenish or, conversely, with a pronounced violet tint), the colorimeter may refuse to determine the color temperature. Another point. the chart we built does not say anything about the shape of the tonal curves of the display and their compliance with gamma 2.2. Expert evaluation methods come to the rescue here.
By direct visual comparison with a reference device (a monitor on an S-IPS matrix calibrated with the target function T = 6500K, gamma 2.2, brightness 120 cd / m²), we could establish how well our subjects display test photographs and a monochromatic gradient, and also evaluate viewing angles. As for the dynamics tests, here we used the synthetic test from the TFT Monitor Test program (moving object), as well as the Far Cry game (a rather dark Swamp level).
Corresponding ratings are set on a five-point scale. All measurements were made using a Monaco Optix XR2 colorimeter and Monaco Profiler 4.7.2 software.