ViewSonic did improve the performance of the N3251W in some areas, but others were worse than with the N3260W. During setup, we were able to use the color-temperature adjustment to bring it closer to the standard from its too-blue Warm setting (see the Geek box), but unfortunately, the controls were not fine enough to get it very close, especially in darker areas. This was apparent watching the Memoirs of a Geisha DVD, for example, when young Chiyo climbs over the rooftops; the moonlit tiles appeared a bit greenish, and while her pale skin looked suitably neutral in the bright moonlight, it became greener as she passed into the shadows.
The depth of black in the night sky was similar to that of the N3260W, which is to say, relatively bright. The shadows did look somewhat noisier, however. When the small dog comes out to bark at Chiyo after her clog falls from the roof, for example, the misty light became bit blocky and discolored. We also saw some signs of false contouring in the shots of sky, which appeared as stark gradations instead of a smooth fade from dark to light. On the flipside, the N3251W's image when seen from off-angle didn't wash out as much as many LCDs', including that of the 60W.
Moving to brighter material, the image improved as we expected. We checked out the Blu-ray of Hitch from the Samsung BD-P1000 for our high-def test, for example, and the shot of New York City during the intro looked beautifully detailed, with seemingly every window in the hundreds of buildings visible. In other words, the ViewSonic N3251W resolved all the detail we'd expect from a display of its resolution. We did notice subtle signs of edge enhancement, however, along the edge of text in the pop-up menu, for example.
We also checked out the N32510W's No Scale aspect-ratio mode, and indeed, it perfectly resolved the 720p resolution pattern from our HD-signal generator via HDMI. Of course, on this 1,366x768 native-resolution display, the 1,280x720 image was surrounded by black bars on all sides, so we doubt many viewers will want to take advantage of this mode. As with most 1,366x768 displays, this set is much happier with 720p sources; 1080i material appeared noticeably softer via HDMI, so we recommend you set your HD gear to 720p.
With standard-def sources via S-Video and component-video, the N3251W turned in a mediocre performance, smoothing jagged edges well and engaging 2:3 pull-down detection relatively quickly, but also doing nothing to clean up noisy sources. While component-video was sharp enough, we also noticed some softness via S-Video; the ViewSonic could not resolve every line of horizontal resolution from an S-Video DVD source.
Overall, the ViewSonic N3251W's image quality is merely good, as is that of its ViewSonic stablemate, but they both outclass many similarly priced budget LCDs available today. Its paucity of analog inputs probably won't be a problem for most users, and to get better picture quality with dark scenes, you'll likely need to pay significantly more.
|Before color temp (20/80)||7,606/8,042K||Poor|
|After color temp||7,007/6,121K||Poor|
|Before grayscale variation||+/− 1287K||Poor|
|After grayscale variation||+/− 550K||Poor|
|Color of red (x/y)||0.640/0.339||Good|
|Color of green||0.274/0.611||Average|
|Color of blue||0.145/0.075||Average|
|Black-level retention||All patterns stable||Good|
|2:3 pull-down, 24fps||Yes||Good|
|Defeatable edge enhancement||No||Poor|