Monitor NEC 1970GX – fashion for reflection
Do you like mirrors? Large, as big as a wall in size, and as small as a box of matches. In the household they server the only purpose - to reflect you and show how you look from the size, so it's hard to say if you like them or not - you simply use them, and that's it. But these days there has come a new fashion for mirror surfaces where mirrors are out of place, e.g. on the monitor screen. Of course, as a designer solution the monitor of Glare-reflection matrix looks great because it gleams with its deep blackness like a new Mercedes or BMW that has just moved out of the car saloon. But there is the opinion that from the functional viewpoint such a monitor is not always convenient because while you work you see not only the image the computer is trying to show you but also a ghost of your own reflection looming in the background. Many believe that Glare matrixes are a tribute to fashion to the detriment of functionality, but let's sort out in this fact in detail and examine the NEC 1970GX monitor.
This monitor offers quite good technical performance, which makes it as a gamer-oriented monitor. The super fast response of the matrix, good ratio of contrast and brightness testify that, but there are some issues with corners, of which we'll be talking a bit later in a special section to deal with the image quality.
|NEC 1970GX Monitor Specifications|
|Matrix model||Samsung LTM190EX-L01 (TN+Film)|
|Visible area||376.3x301.1 mm|
|Declared response time||8 ms (2+6)|
|Viewing angle (horizontal/vertical)||150°/140° (170/155) depending on the contrast|
|Maximum resolution||1280x1024 @ 75 Hz|
|Recommended resolution||1280x1024 @ 60 Hz|
|Horizontal scan rate||31.5–81.1 kHz|
|Vertical scan rate||56–75 Hz|
|Number of colors||16.7 mln|
|USB Hub||1 x4 USB 2. 0|
|Connection interface||D-Sub, DVI|
|Dimensions, including the base support (width x height x depth)||412x386x220 mm|
Unlike many competitor solutions, the monitor is shipped not in a grey and faceless box but in a colorful package on which the monitor itself is depicted with some of its technical characteristics. The box is not very big in size and not so heavy since the monitor is not equipped with heavy parts like a metal support. All is within the norm.
Inside the box, we found a standard package bundle comprising a few cables, documentation and a drivers CD. It should be noted that drivers for TFT monitors have long been a matter of formality since any modern operating system easily detects the maximum resolution of the matrix and allows enabling just that, with the default scanning ratio being always enough for normal functionality. The only useful thing what can be detected on such disks is files with color profiles which make life easier when debugging the color rendition. Well, we have diverted far in our reasoning.
The cables which are part of the package bundle are not of any technical novelty because they look absolutely standard. Inside the box, we were able to find a power cable for the Euro mains socket, cables to plug in a USB-hub and a D-Sub cable. Note that a cable for plugging in the monitor via the DVI-connector is missing, although on the monitor a connector for that is there. This points to the manufacturer's desire to save, since the cable adds about 10-15$ to the price of the monitor depending on its quality, but such a desire can't be regarded reasonable because most users will have to buy that cable separately. On the other hand, it is possible that the cable is missing only in our package bundle since the monitor was brought to the lab already unpacked and they must have forgot to put the cable inside.
By the exterior, NEC 1970GX fully meets the new stylistics of monitors by NEC. The narrow silvery frame around the screen has the same size from all the four sides, which looks pretty stylish especially that it has no button or an indicator. Sometimes it seems that if the NEC logo and model info were removed from the upper plane, it would look even better. The control buttons are positioned over the bottom edge of the frame and as if protrude outside the limits. At first glance, it seems that there are no buttons at all because, unlike the silvery frame, they offer black color of the support and almost lose against its background.
The monitor support offers almost complete set of degrees of freedom, except the turn of the screen for the portrait mode. The base of the support has a bearing that allows smoothly turning the monitor horizontally in either side, the foot of the support allows changing the monitor height relative to the table, as well as the vertical slope of the screen. The latter is adjustable within -10 to +30 degrees relative to the straight angle from the desktop. All the movements of the screen on the support are easy but well fixed. As an interim conclusion, we can assess the functionality of the monitor as deserving a very high mark.
From the left side of the monitor, there are USB outputs to plug in additional devices. Any USB device can be plugged in to these connectors provided the monitor is connected to the USB port of the connector. The monitor design from the side looks stylish enough, and there aren't any explicit deviations from this concept.
From the rear side, NEC 1970GX looks as stylish and neat as from all the other sides. Unlike the front side, the rear panel of the monitor has a black support and black buttons. The support is fasted to the monitor with standard four screws which are used to fasten the monitor on the wall. That is, having unscrewed the support, you can fix the monitor on the wall. Also, on the rear panel there is a hole for a rope-wire with a latch that protects the monitor against stealth at events and expos. On the foot of the support, there is a lid under which you can hide the wires stretching from the monitor. The cables are connected to the monitor with connectors whose outputs are parallel to the screen. This method of plugging in looks nice because you have to turn the monitor over to join the connectors.
As regards the connector, there are as many as six, plus one power switch to activate the power supply unit. The photo shows only the connectors for plugging in the signaling part which are located on the left side of the monitor, and to the right there is a standard connector for plugging in a power cable and a connector for feeding power to additional devices. As can be seen, on the lower surface of the monitor there are two standard connectors DVI-D and D-Sub for plugging in to the computer, as well as a connector for plugging in a USB hub to the computer and two USB connectors to plug in devices. There are four USB connectors on the monitor altogether: two below and two on the side. Note the DVI-D connector. Since a DVI wire is missing in the bundle, you would have to buy it elsewhere separately, and in so doing it is important not to buy a cable with the analogous part, i.e. a DVI-I cable, since its additional four feet in the connector will not allow connecting to the jack on the monitor.
The monitor control using a navigation menu is done albeit easily, is not quite intuitive. For example, without entering the menu you can adjust the brightness and contrast with a mini-joystick, and in so doing the upward and downward movements of joystick affect the contrast, with the leftward and rightward movements affecting the brightness parameter. For some reason, after changing the indication of the screen menu from brightness to contrast you always find yourself willing to tune just the contrast by moving the joystick to the left and right rather than pressing the up and down arrow keys. As regards the screen menu, navigation in it is easier and more intuitive from the first glance, plus it offers almost all the necessary monitor features. Moreover, the screen menu itself deserves a special praise for its distinct and high-quality look - perhaps it is one of the nicest screen menus among all the TFT monitors. It allows adjusting the brightness and contrast, automatically fitting the image to the screen size, doing the same manually, tuning the color palette, setting the timer for powering off the monitor, choosing the display language, moving the menu to any corner of the screen, disabling the popup screen with resolution data automatically, viewing the monitor info, as well as choosing the brightness and contrast modes among the three preset ones. By the way, you should switch off the reminder first thing since it starts popping up every 5 minutes with a message of "non-optimum resolution", if the monitor is not set to 1280x1024 resolution. We'll be talking about the image quality later, but now are moving to examining the interior of the monitor.
As always, we start examining the interior with the matrix. Of course, NEC does not produce TFT-panels itself, so it is quite natural that on the base of the NEC 1970GX there is a matrix made by Samsung marked as LTM190EX-L01. Unfortunately, we were unable to find the precise specifications on the matrix of L01 index, but were able to find out something about LTM190EX. Judging by the marking on the manufacturer's website, these matrices offer 700:1 contrast with 300 cd/ì2 brightness and 75\65\75\75 relation of corners, that is, 140 vertically and 150 horizontally. Of course, the parameters of matrices change depending on the model index (in our case - L01), so it is a bit too early to say that the manufacturer indicated wrong data in the table of specifications, however, it should be noted that judging by many criteria, a 8 ms matrix based on the TN-Film technology should offer the above angles. We'll dwell on the viewing angles while reviewing the image quality, but now we go on examining the matrix's technical specifications. As can be seen, the monitor brightness of 400 cd/m2 do not match the 300 cd/m2 declared for a whole line of Samsung matrixes as per the specifications. Just here it is believable that the 400 cd/m2 for the monitor are closer to reality than the 300 cd/m2 mentioned in the specifications since the TFT panel offers a reflective coating which is of greater light-carrying capacity, but unfortunately we were unable to find the parameter. According to all the norms for TFT matrices, 8 ms should be enough for any tasks including active computer games, however, not all is straightforward about that. If we look closely at the table of specifications, we can see that 8 ms is made up of two parameters - quenching and firing times for the pixel from the black status to the white. So the time taken for switching on the pixel amounts to merely 2 ms, but 6 ms for switching it off. In fact, all these parameters are specified for the extreme values, that is, from black to white or from black to white, which is extremely a rare occasion in real operation. In reality, most frequent are transitions from one color gradation to another, but these gradations do not always differ much. With these transitions, the response time changes and departs from the absolute values specified by the manufacturer and departs so strongly that there is no reason to talk about approximate similarity of these parameters, but that certainly affects the image, which is hidden by manufacturers. That is why the only indicator of real operation of the monitor is the assessment of image quality "to the eye". In so doing, the "eye" should be trained with other monitors and be able to tell fast and slow, bright and dim apart.
The assemblage quality of the monitor inside is as good as outside. The boards of PSU and CPU are separated, and the cables connecting them are shielded, protecting the image against interference. Both boards are fastened with bolts on the monitor frame and covered with metal casings also protecting sensitive electronic components against external exposure. The casings are fastened with a huge number of screws, so it is not so easy to remove them - NEC has always stood out with superb assemblage quality.
On the PSU board, there are enough components which allows talking about the normal quality. Anyway, if we compare PSU boards with the younger brother NEC 1770NX, there is an evident superiority with the latter, because compare to that, in NEC 1970GX the size of the board has gone down essentially and the PCB hasn't got any not soldered components. On the PSU board, there is also a connector for plugging in additional devices, a fuse and power switch. The four lamps for backlighting the matrices are fed by two transformers which increase voltage which are positioned on the same board with the PSU. In NEC 1970GX, the screen brightness is adjusted by the method of frequency modulation, that is, as the brightness drops, the backlight lamps start glittering, which is hardly noticeable to the eye of a normal human being because the glittering runs as a frequency much higher than 200 Hz.
But the video signal processing board has essentially gone up in size compared to NEC 1770NX although the chip on it has remained almost the same. That is because the number of smaller components has gone up due to a USB hub on the circuit. And in general, NEC decided to reinforce the inking of the central chip, which means the image quality may be indeed higher. The matrix is connected to the chip over the LVDS standard without any filters or chip adapters. That is not quite correct, but at 1280x1024 which the matrix supports by default the lack of separate chips is unlikely to affect the quality.
The central chip installed in NEC MultiSync LCD 1970GX is based on the Genesis gm5221-LF chip made by Genesis-microchip and was manufactured in 2004. This chip is much more advanced as compared to the M-Star MST9131 chip classical for 17" and 19" monitors because it has an integrated X86 microcontroller. The Genesis gm5221-LF chip also offers the following features:
- Improved image scaling.
- Integrated 8-bit triple channel ADC/PLL.
- Integrated 165MHz DVI 1.0 processor.
- Integrated LVDS port for handling the matrix.
- On-screen menu control.
- All the clock speeds are generated by a generator inside the chip.
- Extended color temperature control.
It's just due to the above chip that NEC 1970GX offers so high-quality on-screen menu and other formerly described features. But the interior composition doesn't really matter without real-life tests, to which are now moving on to.
Like most 19” monitors, NEC 1970GX has a set of standard bugs. The cause of their emergence is prosaic enough - in the attempt to reduce the cost and time of matrix response, manufacturers often sacrifice the viewing angles and brightness-to-contrast ratio. In the case with NEC 1970GX, brightness and contrast didn't suffer much, but the viewing angles did. We can talk as much as we like about the change of viewing angles depending on brightness, the truth is this - it is seen even to the naked eye that the viewing angles are not enough for three or four persons by the table. Two can come closer to each other and watch the rich colors and correct color transitions. Actually, things are not really bad with horizontal viewing angles. Even upon a lateral look, the picture of the screen remains visible and is perceived absolutely normal, only turns dark slightly and changes the color. But in vertical viewing angles, all is not that pleasant. Looking at the monitor from below you see that the picture becomes almost black, while looking from above we see that the image turns pale significantly and becomes much brighter than set by the brightness parameters. That is about all with issues found in NEC 1970GX. That is, the monitor is aimed at home use by people who don't really care about the color rendition and viewing angles but find the response time and brightness with contrast more important. By the way, a note on the response time. In NEC 1970GX, all is fine with that, but frankly we didn't see any noticeable difference between 8 ms and 16 ms matrices. In displaying fast movements, there is anyway some sort of soapy image, but that is rather a personal opinion of the author based on conjecture. There is a fact to mention - 8 ms response time for 19" panels was seen as almost unattainable high, so not every 17" monitor could boast parameters like that.
Now it is high time we talked about reflecting matrices. In fact, your reflection in the wonderful deep black mirror is seen only on those moments when the monitor is switched off or displays a very dark picture. During operation at the Windows interface or while watching bright and colorful photos, you are unlikely to see your own reflection since the brightness and contrast are more than enough to make up for the reflective capability of the matrix. That is, if it seemed to you that you see not only the image on the screen but your favorite face as well, just add some brightness and your reflection will be only a possession of the mirrors. Things are much worse with dark pictures, so it is impossible to suppress your reflection by the brightness. In this case, all the brightly lit objects behind your back will impart explicit outlines on the deep black color of your monitor which will be very difficult to get rid of, or to be more precise, impossible. But not all is that bad because the picture behind your back and the image on the monitor have different points for focusing the vision, so if you don't change your glance to ghostly mirages, the picture will be visible enough and you will probably be not distracted. At the same time, this may prove useful since it betrays any motion behind your back and thus lets you instantly switch off the film you were watching at the workplace and switch on Word or Excel with endless number of letters and figures. That is, the "glare" matrix is not really that bad, and for the aesthetic design of the workplace or stylish dwelling is a really indispensable thing.
As can be seen from all the above, NEC MultySync 1970GX is a superb representative of monitors for the home or office where the response time of the matrix and the exterior design are more important. The perfect functionality of the support combined with the intuitive on-screen menu will make using the monitor an enjoyable experience for every user. The 8 ms response time for a 19" monitor to date is one of the best, so the gaming purpose of NEC 1970GX is more than justified. That is especially valuable because the color rendition and viewing angles in NEC MultySync 1970GX are pretty middling. As we stated earlier, the reflective Glare matrix does not spoil the image when the picture is bright, so its negative effect on the quality is not straightforward. However, playing Doom 3 in a brightly lit room may be a difficult task since the screen of the matrix may start glaring with objects behind you. In simple terms, NEC MultySync 1970GX is a perfect 19" gaming monitor with a Glare matrix, so weigh all the pros and cons of its glittering features when purchasing. Good luck with your choice.