Saturday, November 28th 2009

NEC EA231WMi Review

Well, we decided to get the NEC EA231WMi after all. A contributing factor was that my wife wanted a new bedroom tv. So we got both. 🙂

NEC EA231WMi

As flat screens go, it really is brilliant. It seems almost completely insensitive to viewing angle, although when you tilt it up and down you can see the gamma changing very slightly.

This screen is factory calibrated so it gives you pretty much correct sRGB (gamma 2.2) colours right out of the box.

As I mentioned in a previous post, it is also able to actually show 8/24 bits of colour. So it doesn’t show any banding in a test such as this one.

When gaming it is brilliant to have a large wide screen. Crysis never looked so good. With our XFX Radeon 4890 Black Edition I’m able to play with maximum settings @ 1920×1080. The first time I tried it it really made me go wow.

I did consider the Dell U24010 for its 1920×1200 resolution, but in the end it wasn’t worth the extra money (+50%). Also, the Dell is nowhere near as nicely calibrated out of the box. (And I don’t have a calibrator thing.)

The NEC pivots, but I noticed that my pivoting software interferes with Crysis for some reason, so I un-installed it. And after having Googled around for a while, I now realize that it is possible to rotate the screen by hitting Ctrl+Alt+arrow. Edit: I’ve found that to be incorrect. However, I’ve been able to set a keyboard shortcut in the ATI Catalyst Control Center.

It also turns very easily around its foot. The turning mechanism on our old screen was so stiff that you always ended up moving the stand as well as the actual screen.

Here are some photos comparing it to our old screen, an Acer AL1722. The most obvious difference is the colour temperature of the screens. I did each comparison straight on and with the screens at ~45 degree angles.

NEC EA231WMi compared to Acer AL1722

NEC EA231WMi compared to Acer AL1722

Nothing much to complain about with a normal picture.

NEC EA231WMi compared to Acer AL1722

NEC EA231WMi compared to Acer AL1722

Here you can see that the NEC is affected a lot less when viewed from an angle.

NEC EA231WMi compared to Acer AL1722

NEC EA231WMi compared to Acer AL1722

For these shots the exposure was increased to exaggerate the effect slightly. But this is still pretty close to what it looks like in a pitch dark room.

NEC EA231WMi

NEC EA231WMi

These two photos show that the colour temperature is very consistent across the screen. First I thought I could see a slight gradient from left to right, but when I analyzed them in Photoshop I realized I was just imagining it.

Edit: Added a few comments about the comparisons.

Edit 2: Decided to continue with some more thoughts …

As I said above, the gamma varies very slightly with viewing height. But the difference is small enough to be unnoticeable between your left and right eye when the screen is pivoted. (Our old screen was a bit of a pain to use pivoted because the left and right eye got significantly different gamma which resulted in a very weird feeling.)

The screen comes with a nice cover that snaps into place on the back of the foot to keep the cables in place. The snap is a bit weak though so I have stuck ours in place with some blue-tak.

The screen came with automatic brightness adjustment enabled by default. I found this to be rather annoying, since the effect was very noticeable when switching the desk light on or off. It would perhaps have been less annoying if the brightness was adjusted in a smoother fashion. As it is now, the brightness jumps up or down in a series of small yet very noticeable increments.

Instead I usually have the brightness constant at around 40–50%.

It is interesting how quickly you get used to the extreme width of the screen. I thought it would take much longer. Already I feel that going back to 1280×1024 would be pretty tough.

I’m beginning to see the possible benefits of Windows 7’s improved window handling (without actually having tried Windows 7 yet). It would be very nice to be able to easily get two windows side by side. I know it is possible in XP too, but it is quite a tiresome process: Minimize all other windows, then choose the menu option after right-clicking the Task Bar.

I’ll end with a summary: Highly recommended!

23 Responses to this post:

  1. GrantPitel says:

    Thanks for the review. Do you notice any ghosting when playing Crysis? The response times for this monitor are little higher than what is recommended for gaming

  2. David Naylor says:

    No, no ghosting at all. No noticable lag.I have seen comparisons which show that this screen is just as fast as TN panels.The response time that NEC use (14ms) is black-to-white, while most manufacturers "cheat" and only show grey-to-grey response times.

  3. Trix says:

    Well, if this is good for gaming, I might pick one up. Btw, Aero snap is nice in Windows 7 😉

  4. Trix says:

    I should also ask, anywhere you recommend getting this monitor? Newegg's LCD policy kind of sucks 🙁

  5. David Naylor says:

    As far as I can tell, it definitely is good for gaming. See this thread on hardforum:http://www.hardforum.com/showthread.php?t=1436160(You can probably fast forward to page 12 or so to get some useful info.)I live in Sweden so I don't know where to buy in the US. Here we have very good legislation – anything bought over the internet can be returned in 14 days. That means that if I got any dead pixels I could just say "no, this is not what I wanted" and send it back, regardless of NEC's/the store's pixel policy.

  6. Oliver says:

    Wow! I have to say, "David did the best review that I never saw about lcd monitor before.", especially those photo shots.Here I have a question.My eye is very sensitive to bright screen, especially when work longer hrs, mostly reading and programming. Do you think it is a good screen for me? I can't take Samsung P2770H, the background is way too bright for me. 🙁 thanks

  7. David Naylor says:

    Well, I don't know anything about the Samsung but you can easily adjust the brightness of the NEC down to very low levels if you want to. Low enough to feel dark in a pitch dark room.I now have ours set to 33%, which feels just right independent of other lighting.

  8. John Nielsen says:

    Nice review. I really enjoyed it.

    I found these two reviews as well. Might be useful:
    http://www.flatpanelshd.com/review.php?subaction=showfull&id=1265977876
    http://www.tftcentral.co.uk/reviews/nec_ea231wmi.htm

  9. David Naylor says:

    Thanks for the links, even if I think I’ve already read them both. They may be useful for other readers.

  10. Tudor says:

    Hey, can you tell us what is the NTSC percentage on this monitor?

    For example, the ViewSonic VP2365wb has a Colour Gamut of 82% NTSC.

    And I want one of these 2 monitors but can’t find the NEC’s gamut anywhere to compare.

  11. David Naylor says:

    Don’t take my word for it, but I believe the NEC and the Viewsonic use the same panel. So they should be identical.

  12. Oliver Hu says:

    thanks for the preivous answer.
    Here I have one more question.

    I got a HP laptop with hdmi output.
    Could I get a adaptor to connect from my hdmi to NEC EA231WMi DisplayPort and pass all the vedio and sound pto NEC EA231WMi?
    If yes, does it comes with a output jack so I can hook in my speaker.

  13. David Naylor says:

    Sorry, don’t know. I know nothing about this DisplayPort stuff …

  14. John Williams says:

    Thanks for this nicely put together review. I’ve read quite a few on this monitor, as I always do when making a purchase but yours is the one that has convinced me to go for it.
    All the reviews have been positive but yours manages to concisely tell me what I want to know and the pictures are great.
    Thanks for taking the time, John Williams

  15. David Naylor says:

    Thanks for the kind comment!

  16. Mansoor says:

    David,

    This is the first time I have come across your blog. I juts placed an order for two of these bad boys.. to run my my dual hd5870 cards.. with Christmas I am told it will be delivered on 30th December (Thursday).

    I can not wait to try these… what do you think of a set up where I use three of these??

  17. David Naylor says:

    Sounds good Mansoor! But don’t you think it might get a little *too* wide with three? lol =)

  18. Mansoor says:

    yeah to be honest that is one of the reasons why i have stopped at 2 for now as i have not seen these monitors first hand so will fit it on my desk and see how it looks.

    I can juts imagine playing starcraft 2 😀

    M

  19. Alexander says:

    Hey,

    thanks for a great review. I’ve read like a DOZEN of reviews and got more actual info from this small one. Thanks again. I want it fir browsing, GAMING, docs and stuff, but I HATE HATE TN! So I was torn between this and DELL2311, now thanks to you I’m gonna pick this one up. (Which I wanted in the first place, but was horrified by the response time opinions…)

    Actually i might get 232Wmi, hope it will be as fast as this one…

  20. David Naylor says:

    Alexander: Glad to hear it helped you! I don’t know anything about the 232, does it have the same specs?

    Either way, I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.

  21. Alexander says:

    Yes, it says same 14ms Black to Black response… the only thing is it has a LED back light… But maybe I’ll get this “old” model, it is twice cheaper and well it can’t be really any worse than the newer one.

    The other question is,,, have you tried any RTS games, like Starcraft II? (Demo is out BTW. ;)) does it play well what do you think?

  22. David Naylor says:

    Can’t say that I’ve played SC2, but I do play a lot of LoL and that works great. I would have thought FPS were the most demanding in form of quick response times though.

  23. Alexander says:

    Yes, certainly FPS seems the most demanding. I just want to play SC2 hahaha.

    Well, I still can’t decide, but soon I have to…

    Eizo Foris 23 looks interesting too… but it is VA panel…