Nearly all of today’s monitors, HDTVs, smartphones, and other devices with screens use a type of TFT (thin film transistor) LCD panel. For desktop monitors, the three most widely used TFT panel technologies are TN (twisted nematic), PVA (patterned vertical alignment), and IPS (in plane switching). Most consumer monitors use TN technology as it is the least expensive to manufacture and offers fast response times. IPS panels deliver excellent color quality and wide viewing angles but manufacturing costs are high, at least for the professional grade panels (e-IPS panels are relatively inexpensive but can’t match the performance of high-end IPS panels). Somewhere in the middle are PVA panels, which cost a bit more to make than TN panels but not as much as IPS panel. PVA screens, such as the NEC MultiSync EX231Wp , are known for their excellent contrast ratio, dark black levels, and solid color quality, but their viewing angle performance can’t match that of an IPS panel and their pixel response is slower than both TN and IPS panels.
The MultiSync EX231Wp is a 23-inch PVA display that performs as a PVA panel should. It delivers rich colors and inky blacks, and it doesn’t require much power. It offers some handy features but has minor color shifting and weak grayscale issues.
Design and Features
Thin (0.5-inch) matte black bezels frame the 23-inch screen, which has full HD (1,920-by-1,080) capabilities and a 16:9 aspect ratio. Most of the cabinet is only 0.6 inches thick, but there is a mounting panel in the center that adds another inch. The panel is supported by a telescoping mounting arm. The arm gives you 4.3 inches of height adjustability, as well as tilt and swivel maneuverability. Moreover, you can pivot the panel 90 degrees for portrait-mode viewing. As with the NEC MultiSync E201W , the EX231Wp does not support auto-rotation, so you’ll have to use your graphics control panel to change the image orientation.
The rear of the cabinet holds only two video inputs: DVI and DisplayPort. There’s also an upstream USB port that connects to your host PC but only one the downstream USB port, which is located at the top of the monitor cabinet. A side mounted port would be much more convenient for plugging in USB drives and other peripherals.
In the center of the bottom bezel are ambient light and human sensors. You can set the monitor to sense movement, or more accurately the lack of movement, and shift into one of two power saving modes. The light sensor works with an Auto Brightness feature that detects surrounding light and adjusts the picture brightness accordingly. You can also set Auto Brightness to change according to the amount of white being displayed on the screen.
On the right side of the bottom bezel are touch sensitive power, input, and menu buttons and left and right and right arrows keys for navigating the menu structure. Up and down arrow keys are positioned along the right hand bezel along with an ECO button that allows you to change power saving settings. Pressing the menu button brings up onscreen labeling that show you which buttons to use for navigating and selecting menu choices.
Settings include brightness, contrast, ECO (two modes), Auto Brightness, and threshold settings for the ambient and human sensors. There are six picture modes (standard, movie, photo, text, gaming, dynamic) and seven color control settings. Here you can control red, green, and blue saturation levels, set the panel to display the sRGB color space, run in native mode, or run in a simulated DICOM (digital imaging and communications in medicine) mode that helps improve light grayscale performance for viewing medical imagery such as X-Rays, but colors become way too saturated and out of whack in this mode.
The EX231Wp delivers well saturated colors that are comparable to what you get from an ISP display such as the LG IP235V. The panel produces dark black levels that give colors added pop, and screen uniformity is generally good with no noticeable hot spots.
Grayscale performance, while better than most TN panels, is not on par with IPS grayscale accuracy. On the DisplayMate suite of LCD diagnostic tests the EX231Wp had trouble displaying the lightest shades of gray, which accounts for the minor loss of highlight detail in my test photos. Dark grayscale performance was a little better but the two darkest shades of the 64-Step Grayscale test appeared black instead of transitioning from gray to black.
Not surprisingly there was some fading and color shifting when viewed from an angle but not to the point that you can’t identify colors. Instead, colors appear dull and the screen looks a bit washed out. That said, the EX231Wp’s viewing angle performance is still better than most TN panels.
Motion handling is another story altogether, and the panel’s 25-ms (b-w) pixel response is the culprit. While playing a few rounds of Assassin’s Creed II I observed some smearing, especially in darker areas of the game. Chances are this monitor won’t be used for gaming and video anyway.
The EX231Wp used 20 watts of power during my testing, which is good for a 23-inch panel. In comparison, the LG IPS235V used 30 watts. With the ECO 1 setting enabled, power usage didn’t change at all, but on ECO 2 it came in at 14-watts, and the image was still bright enough for a typical office lighting environment. Great energy efficiency and handy power saving features like human and ambient light sensors earn the EX231Wp our GreenTech stamp of approval.
The NEC MultiSync EX231Wp is a good choice for business users that are more concerned with color quality than grayscale and fast motion performance. Its uber-thin bezels make it ideal for use in a multi-monitor setup and its highly ergonomic stand let you adjust the panel for optimal viewing. It doesn’t cost much to run, either. However, a few more USB ports would be welcome, as would an HDMI input. If you require a wider port selection and grayscale accuracy, the NEC MultiSync EA232WMi is a better choice.
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|Native Resolution||1920 x 1080|
|Supported Video Formats||1080p|
|PC Interfaces||Digital (DVI-D), DisplayPort|
|Diagonal Screen Size||23 inches|
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc