Widescreen displays are becoming pretty commonplace in the PC monitor market, and rightly so considering the increasing abundance of widescreen video content and modern games that support this mode.
Viewsonic is targeting the ‘budget’ market with the VX2260wm, though you wouldn’t think so after a glance at the specifications. It’s a full HD 1080p display, which means it’ll offer a maximum resolution of 1920 x 1080 in a Windows environment. It also has a 5ms typical response time, 1,000:1 contrast ratio (20,000:1 dynamic, allegedly) and sports a complete range of connectivity options that includes standard VGA, DVI and an HDMI port.
It’s nicely designed as well. A thin bezel around the screen means that it appears slimline and compact and, while the stand smacks of ‘cheap black plastic’ a little and only offers a tilt mechanism, it coordinates nicely with the screen to offer a tidy and portable solution.
There’s no doubting that this is a display aimed at the modern multimedia user but our first impressions were that it wasn’t as big as we were expecting. This is for two reasons: first it’s actually a 21.5-inch screen (not 22-inch) and second it adopts the increasingly common 16:9 aspect ratio, which does make it a bit smaller, though wider than you might expect.
We can see this having mixed benefits for the consumer. Obviously it’s intended to be able to show off 1080p video content in its full glory and will handle any similarly scaled video content and games that can benefit.
But using the screen in its native resolution can make text rather difficult to read at the default size on web pages and documents, unless you have 20:20 vision, which does mean you’ll probably spend time zooming up to a comfortable level. It can easily handle two applications side by side though – a Word document and web page for example – and we can see a definite benefit in being able to work comfortably that way.
Image quality can be tweaked with a range of controls that, due to being tucked right underneath the front panel, will need to be operated blind. Luckily there aren’t many of them and the display menu is organised well enough to offer you control over contrast, brightness and colour adjustment, along with manual adjustment over dynamic contrast, sharpness and fine-tuning. Not all of these will be available, depending on how you connect the monitor to a computer and whether or not you enable any of the automatic options, such as sRGB colour balance.
We were rather disappointed not to see any environment modes here. Being able to switch between presets for Movie / Gaming / Windows / Custom and such would be a definite benefit and is a missed opportunity considering the target market for this sort of device. As it is you’ll probably end up fiddling with the settings quite a bit to establish an optimum picture.
Speaking of which, we had mixed feelings of the overall performance of the VX2260. On the plus side its picture is extremely sharp (as you’d expect at this resolution) with effective contrast, accurate colours and little or no bleed from the backlight. The viewing angle is reasonable but far from the best we’ve seen; you’re unlikely to get past about 30 degrees before contrast and colour is affected. We also noticed that while colours are accurate enough, they don’t appear particularly vibrant, which did cause us to worry about its capabilities as a gaming screen.
We gave the VX2260 a workout with some 1080p video samples to begin with and were pretty impressed with the results. Most content that didn’t require particularly vibrant colour representation looked extremely good and, in the case of your typical movie or TV show, this will be the majority.
It handles lower resolution video well and, when you consider that you’ll be sitting a few feet back at least to enjoy a good film, you’re unlikely to notice the typical artefacts that plague standard definition content at higher resolutions. We were particularly impressed with the black levels on offer and this is probably one of the biggest strengths of the screen, which really comes into its own when watching contrast-centric video, particularly through the DVI or HDMI connection.
When it comes to gaming we weren’t quite as satisfied and the colour issues highlighted earlier did become more apparent. If you have a rig that’s capable of handling 1920 x 1080 resolution with a decent number of graphics settings maxed out you’re unlikely to notice as much, since you’ll be wowed by the amount of detail on-screen.
Most modern titles will require a particularly capable machine to reach these levels, though, and if you dial down the detail to cope with the maximum resolution you may be a little underwhelmed by the results. On the other hand, the fast response time means that fast-motion action is handled well and the aforementioned contrast performance certainly adds to the atmosphere of darker, brooding titles in which striking colour isn’t as much of an issue.
Despite our grievances with some areas of the VX2260′s performance, it’s important to remember that it’s very well priced for a 1080p display and it would be rather unrealistic to expect perfect performance at this price point. In this light it’s a capable display and, if you’re looking for a true widescreen and full HD experience without breaking the bank, it’s one of the best around.
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