The monitor is the window into the soul of your computer. As such, it's rather nice to have that soul reflected with vibrant images, high colour accuracy and maximum comfort. We use a variety of tools to help ascertain the quality of a monitor, as well as spend plenty of hands-on time to evaluate its usability.
The user experience
We analyse any major differences the monitor may have from the contending flock, whether physical, feature or user interface-wise. In particular, we pay attention to what panel technology is being used, the ergonomics of the stand, the connections offered, ease of use of buttons (in a well-lit and dark room), ease of use of the on-screen display and anything that makes the monitor stand above its price bracket feature-wise.
|Processor||AMD Phenom II X4 955 @ 3.2GHz|
|Motherboard||Asus M4A79T Deluxe|
|RAM||2x 2048MB Corsair Dominator XMS3 DDR3-1600C9|
|GPU||AMD Radeon HD 5870|
|HDD||Western Digital RE3 500GB|
|Optical drive||Asus DRW-22B1ST|
|Operating system||Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit|
We calibrate all our monitors using an X-Rite i1Display 2, starting with Eye One Match 3 and then shifting to HCFR for fine tweaking if required. Occasionally, when the screen technology used doesn't work well with the i1Display, we switch to a Spyder 3. Both pre- and post-calibration, the screen is measured and the results recorded in HCFR. Depending on the capabilities of the monitor, we may only be able to adjust greys to produce a more accurate curve.
We then put the monitor through the Lagom.nl LCD tests, noting any it may fail.
Next up is input lag. Setting up the test screen in clone mode with a Samsung SyncMaster 975p, over 100 photos are taken using a Canon 40D with a shutter speed of 1/320, while a software stopwatch runs constantly. If input lag is observed, it is recorded.
If a monitor has an HDMI port, we run HQV 1.0 tests, along with judder tests using Mission Impossible III scenes 11 and 14. We also check for 24p and YUV capability, all via a PlayStation 3.
Viewing angles are then photographed using a Canon 40D in spot metering mode, with only shutter time adjusted to get a good idea of how the colours shift as the view changes.
Next, light bleed is tested by displaying a completely black screen in a dark room, followed by power consumption testing, using a Jaycar mains digital power meter. The monitor is measured in off and sleep modes, as well as displaying an image with contrast, brightness and RGB values set to maximum.
Finally, we look into the warranty of the monitor, along with its dead pixel policy — arguably one of the most important details.
Editors' Choice Award
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