It has been two days as I can fully enjoy my new monitor and test it in every way I want it. Monitor is real beauty – it has a silver bezel and very innovative and very modern looking touch-less sensor that replace buttons. There are also two small speakers from two sides (that I didn’t have chance to test yet – and probably will never do as I have two great AltecLansing speakers (ACS-495). Although the bezel is three centimeter wide it seems very small when compared to the size of the screen and silver color makes it almost invisible to the eye. Using only 46W it is exceptionally bright and contrast is excellent.
In February 2002 I had a chance to buy and exchange three times another model of LCD by ViewSonic – VG191b. Unfortunately each time it had several dead pixels and also some bugs like pixels (group of pixels) colored either in red or blue when they are on the black background (like DOS window) and the screen is bright in other places. Monitor was a total disappointment also because it had terrible response time even though it was claimed to be 25ms. Scrolling a page created a shadow of behind the object which was very annoying. Another “feature” was that under 6300 Kelvin (default setting) monitor’s white color was reddish. And it is not a pleasure to watch I might say. On the plus side it had pivot feature and very good stand that I could adjust the way I wanted: make it higher or lower and change the angle any way around. All in all after the final attempt to exchange it I was told that company no longer can get any of these monitors in stock and I should buy something else or get my money back – and how happy right now I am that I did.
When VX900 was released I was skeptical that it is another lousy product by ViewSonic and decided actually to get Samsung 181T, however here in Toronto it appears there is a wait time of some 6 weeks to get this monitor with no guarantee that I will get any even after that time. So a salesman suggested me first to get LG (which I wouldn’t even consider even in a nightmare) but then VX900. VX900 also became very attractive since it was only a few days after the drop in price to $1490 CDN. So I decided to make more research on the web to find any review or some opinion of the owners of this new screen. Unfortunately I found none. Though in a few forums, users were actually amazed by presence of no dead pixels. So I decided to try again with no ability to return if I get less than 8 dead pixels. (Strangely there is a $500 CDN difference in price between VG191b and VX900 – the older VG191 costs much more).
So what are my impressions? Last week I’ve found a bargain on the ATI Radeon 8500 128Mb (retail), which I’ve got for only $279 CDN (average price in Toronto right now is about $389). Now I had a chance to use for the first time my DVI connection so I connected it right away (I didn’t test VGA connector yet and have no plans of doing this in future). The first thing on my agenda was to see if I’ve got any dead pixels and as usually I used two tools: Nokia monitor test and Windows ‘Blank’ screensaver (my favorite). I ran screensaver and found no white pixels – this was a very good sign to me, so I proceeded with running Nokia test and immediately jumped into the colors test that fills in the screen with a single color (white, red, green, blue). In white I didn’t see any black pixels – hurrah! Then red – the same. Green – here I’ve found in the corner (the place where Windows usually has clock in the taskbar) one blue pixel that didn’t turn green – not a problem at all IMHO. Finally blue and there everything was perfect – bravo ViewSonic finally stable high quality LCD monitor production (or shall I say bravo Fujitsu, since they are the real manufacturer of the panel itself). Now let me tell about the colors – they are great! White is white, not reddish or bluish – it is white. And in the main window of the Nokia test I can clearly distinguish the difference between the 3% white and the 100% black background. Color palette is very smooth with no jumps from color to color (if I recall correctly this was not the case with VG191b). Other tests were also what I consider “success” in my opinion.
Now the most important part for many gamers and PC film fanatics – the response time. Both VG191 and VX900 claim to be 25ms “typical”. Probably people at ViewSonic have different meaning for the word “typical” that varies from model to model. VX900 has much better response time than VG191 did. However, the problem is still there – LCD is slower than CRT and will probably stay this way for at least a year or more, but now it is what I will consider for myself is acceptable. When I minimize all windows and on a dark blue desktop I move mouse from one side of the screen to another there is still a “shadow” of the pointer a couple of pixel behind the current position (I move really fast). I have TV tuner (AVerTV Studio) and when I get to CNN news there is news line that runs constantly – there is a reddish color left on the black background after white letter moved to a couple of pixels ahead (I can’t really see it as soon as I get 1meter away from the monitor though). When I scroll pages of sites that have black text on white background – it seems to me the response time is as good as the one on CRT. However, big blue boxes (large dark objects in general) leave a small trace (I scroll really fast to get into this effect). White text on the black background is also OK. There is a small change in color however when there is a yellow (orange) text on the black background – text gets darker, I would say bluish – not a problem there are not that many site designs that use these colors. Unfortunately, I don’t know of any program that will allow testing actual response time, but I’m sure it is easy to create one.
Let’s jump to games. I’m an avid Quake 3 Arena fan – the game that I bought almost immediately it appeared in my local electronics store in December 99 and is the only game I played for three years now on a regular basis. Hence, for me it is very important to me to have this game playable. Let me say that my system was not able to get Q3A work very well in the highest quality settings @ 1280x1024x32 only around 20-30fps (I have slow Celeron 1.15Ghz – am I the only one who is waiting for the Hammer?) . So I switched to 1024x768x32 all other settings to the max. Now I could play without lags (interestingly the demo that goes with Q3A was playing VERY WELL even @ 1280x1024, however when I was trying to play there was some kind a delay in response to my movements). I like CTF especially CTF4 (“Space”). So I logged in on the server and jumped to the “campers place” where I can have a full view and move my mouse in every direction I like and see what happens. The result was much better than what I’ve got with VG191 – the “ghosting effect” was very small. Now I jumped back to the lower level and started the deathmatch; here I’ve found that monitor is actually can’t keep up with the fight, everything is Ok, but it looks like some frames are dropped even though I can clearly see that my Radeon is producing stable 50-60fps. I don’t know what causes this but it is not very pleasant. Also most objects look blurred during the movement. But now when I played today for three hours I got used to all this “defects” and was back in good shape to kill all lamerz around.
Recently I’ve got RTCW so I played it a bit today as well. Here I wasn’t able to find a single problem – gameplay is the same as on CRT, other than now I was able to see many details that were indistinguishable before.
I’ve found something happening to the image on the monitor that I wasn’t able to explain to this moment, but most probably it is not a monitor problem. In cases like watching fast moving TV scenes with PowerVCR II 3.0, fast scrolling pages with IE, playing Quake there was like a tearing of the image on the screen into two (or more) parts the effect similar to what you get when you fast forward you VHS tape, but only on the level of 1 line. So image above and below does not match exactly one another, there is an error of a few pixels between parts (below is a bit to the left and above a bit to the right). However, this never happened when watching fast scenes on DVD, TV with AVerTV software and RTCW. Hence I conclude that it is something with ATI drivers that I can’t figure out yet; or may be it is DVI (though it is unlikely).
Now the final two points that may be interesting to some. 95% of the time I’m near my PC I’m not playing but writing a program code or reading something. Hence text reproduction is very important. You will not believe how great all these fonts look like, I’m using WinXP ClearType feature that I customized on the MS support site and hence all fonts are as smooth as they only can be – finally I can read eBooks with pleasure.
Interpolation. I’ve tried using both 1024x768 and 800x600 in both modes text result is very good and interpolation works great; however not as great as I’ve seen in some Samsung monitors. In games (Q3A, RTCW) you don’t see any effects of switching to 1024x768. Everything is clean and clear, so I may use it (and I sure will) instead of native resolution.
Some notes that may be interesting to some:
1. Monitor gets really warm around the screen and bezel is worm as well (don’t remember this in VG191 or any other LCD I’ve used before).
2. Even though it is in specs it does not support 85Hz (I connected to VGA when originally was changing monitor from CRT to LCD).
In the end I want to say that I’m very satisfied with this purchase and would recommend it to anyone who wants to get a good big size LCD for very low price and doesn’t play games 50% of their time. Bravo ViewSonic now I’m again respecting this company.
P.S. Sorry for any English mistakes that I may have committed.
Thanks for the review, very nice and thorough. I assume if you are an avid Q3 gamer, then you are familiar with tweaking the settings of your video card. I find it very strange that a Radeon8500 gives only 30fps at 1280x1024x32. You should be getting near/above 100fps? Have you check to see if you have AA or any of the like enabled? My old 64MB GF2 GTS can push out ~60fps at that resolution on a PIII 866.
Yes, I like Quake however never spent too much time with drivers, usually was using some driver tweaker and used "profile" for Q3A. Now I have those Catalist drivers, which were released almost immediately after I got a new card, these drivers are very strange, when I set them in Quality mode performance increases but in Performance goes down considerably (same happens in DirectX). I use Asus P2B-F mainboard with Celeron 1Ghz 128kb cache overclocked to 1149Mhz (115Mhz FSB). I actually expeceted to get better performance when I got a card but even this improvement is good considering that just 1 month ago I was playing with Radeon LE 32Mb DDR with P3 450. Though if I find some "reading" on how to correctly set drivers, I will sure read it and set it up better.