Iiyama ProLite E380S review
A remarkably good monitor for the money, with technical performance on a par with many more expensive displays.
Review Date: 20 Aug 2003
Reviewed By: David Fearon
Price when reviewed: (£222 inc VAT); Delivery £4 (£5 inc VAT)
From one extreme (see above) to the other, the ProLite is Iiyama's latest 15in panel, coming in at just £189. Not surprisingly for the price, its most important specification - the resolution - is a modest 1,024 x 768, but on paper its 23ms response time outstrips the £925 ViewSonic. Its brightness and contrast figures, at 380cd/m2 and 450:1 respectively, are pretty impressive too.
The price does, however, mean that certain niceties have been sacrificed. There's no height adjustment, for example, although the screen does tilt from vertical right the way back to the horizontal, at which point it falls over.
There's just a single analog D-SUB video input too, although the analog signal quality of almost any current graphics card is enough to make a 1,024 x 768 resolution and 60Hz vertical refresh rate almost DVI-crisp. The only analog artefacts are a slight softening of high-contrast edges and a small amount of shimmer in DisplayMate's pixel-tracking test, which shows a fine-grained pixel dot pattern, although you'd be unlikely to encounter this in everyday applications.
Moving images, which are pretty much the last technological stumbling block for LCDs, weren't quite up to scratch. There was a little more smearing than the 23ms response time would indicate, and the mouse cursor had a tendency to fade too. Although DVD was watchable, playback was less than ideal.
But these are minor complaints about what's otherwise a superb technical performer. The colour fade linearity is good, although low-intensity greys go a little cool due to reds fading slightly too fast. More importantly, the viewing angles are perfectly acceptable, and the effect when moving off-centre is a subtle change of hue rather than a total colour inversion or the Windows Desktop disappearing. Contrast is similarly excellent, with none of the flattening of image highlights that budget panels usually display.
It's not all about cost cutting either. The ProLite's audio capability is an unexpected bonus, with 1.5W stereo speakers either side of the OSD keys. These offer good enough sound for general Windows alerts, but nothing more, although a headphone socket offers the potential for better-quality audio.
There's also an interesting feature in the form of the OPQ (optimum picture quality) key, a carryover from Iiyama's CRT monitors. Pressing it lets you choose from four modes: Picture, Text, Eco1 and Eco2. As the name suggests, they're not much more than four brightness presets, with Picture being the brightest and Eco2 the least vibrant, but saving backlight power. The OSD implementation is excellent too, with menus fading in and out in an ineffably sexy way. The picture setup options, meanwhile, extend to colour temperature (including sRGB) and even two gamma correction modes. There's also a five-level sharpness control, although it doesn't have a discernible effect.
Aside from its screen size and native resolution, there's almost nothing to criticise about the ProLite E380S. It's not a realistic proposition as a main display, but it takes some beating as a second screen for your inbox or an ultra-compact server display. It doesn't offer quite the range of controls and advanced colour handling of the Eizo FlexScan L367 (see issue102, p127), but its price is more than enough for it to become our A List 15in TFT.
Author: David Fearon
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