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NEC MultiSync EX231W review

Verdict

A super-slim monitor packed with power-saving business potential, but it's not cheap

Review Date: 11 Jan 2011

Reviewed By: Sasha Muller

Price when reviewed: £216 (£259 inc VAT)

Overall Rating
5 stars out of 6

Features & Design
6 stars out of 6

Value for Money
4 stars out of 6

Image Quality
4 stars out of 6

PCPRO Recommended

Most business monitors skimp on consumer-focused fripperies and alluring good looks, but NEC’s MultiSync EX231W is the exception to the rule. As part of NEC’s new Office Cool range, the EX231W is super-slim, but boasts business-friendly features too.

Fusing a svelte figure with a fully adjustable-stand, it’s hard not to be impressed by the EX231W. Shedding all that bulk does come at a price – a discreet external power supply trails from the rear – but NEC has the basics covered. DVI and DisplayPort inputs are present, and the slim, cylindrical stand rises up and down by 150mm, swivels left, right and twists into portrait mode.

Despite its slender physique, the stand does a good job of keeping the EX231W set firmly in place and the combination of a 16mm-thick bezel and a standard VESA mount makes the EX231W suitable for ambitious multi-monitor setups.

There are some disappointments in the specifications, however. The EX231W makes do with an 8-bit TN panel, with edge LED backlighting, rather than the IPS-based panel found in ViewSonic’s professional display, the VP2365wb. Some prospective buyers may also bemoan the transition to a 16:9 ratio panel: NEC’s latest follows the trend and opts for a Full HD 1,920 x 1,080 pixel resolution.

NEC MultiSync EX231W - front

Regardless, few rivals boast the same clutch of power-saving features as this monitor. It has an ambient light sensor - capable of automatically adjusting brightness to suit the office lighting - as well as on-screen content, and a motion sensor next to it that detects when you walk away from the monitor, automatically switching into standby mode. Walking off to make a cup of tea was enough to send the monitor to sleep, while turning off half the lights in PC Pro’s labs saw the NEC’s brightness slowly reduce to a more comfortable level. Absolute power consumption wasn’t quite as low as some panels, though, with the NEC drawing 21 watts from the wall at a measured brightness of 120cd/m2.

Managing the NEC’s features couldn’t be easier. The on-screen display is clearly laid out, and the touch-sensitive strips along the NEC’s bezel require the lightest of touches. The variety of menu options is comprehensive, and it’s possible to set up the EX231W’s range of power-saving features, and then engage a basic mode that only reveals a minimum of menu options to users.

Delta E

Delta E is a figure that represents the difference between the desired colour and the colour displayed onscreen. Below 1.0 is indistinguishable to the human eye; an experienced viewer may notice differences around 3-4. We measure Delta E with a colorimeter before and after calibration.

At its default settings, the EX231W’s colour reproduction was a little cold, but switching to its sRGB preset improved matters considerably. Colours lost their cold tint and regained a warmer, more neutral tone, and our range of test photographs were reproduced far more satisfactorily. Greyscale gradients transitioned smoothly from black to a crisp white, and text was well-defined and easy on the eye. The TN panel’s viewing angles were less impressive: even subtle movements in our chair elicited noticeable shifts in colour and contrast - a trait exacerbated when using the panel in portrait orientation.

Testing with our X-Rite colorimeter gave the EX231W a clean bill of health, however. A colour temperature of 6,158k and a gamma of 2.1 isn’t far from ideal, while an average Delta E of just 2.4 proves that the NEC’s colour reproduction is accurate enough for most tasks.

NEC’s MultiSync EX231W lags behind the IPS-based displays like ViewSonic’s VP2365wb when it comes to image quality but, outside of colour-critical applications, its lower power-consumption and range of power-saving features tick all the right boxes. With slick looks combined with a solid, practical range of features, there’s no doubt that the NEC is a serious business contender.

Author: Sasha Muller

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