CCFL Versus LED: Is There A Downside To Going Green?

Quality Tests: Viewsonic VG2428wm And Final Analysis

Trying hard to keep even with Samsung’s P2350, the CCFL-based VG2428wm defaults to Retina Blister Mode at 305.2 cd/m2 (0.3 cd/m2 minimum). This derives from a 100 brightness and 70 contrast. Even though the monitor states that it’s running at 6500K, Eye-Match reports 6300K.

Kudos go to Viewsonic for trying to take a more professional tack with its integrated color settings. Users can opt for various color temperature presets as well as an sRGB preset. However, Viewsonic and Eye-Match tend not to agree on matters. For example, Viewsonic’s 7500K gets measured as 6700K. The sRGB profile comes back as 6200K. We went with the 7500K preset, nudged the contrast to 75, and pulled the brightness down to 53, resulting in a final luminance of 119.8 cd/m2, a minimum luminance of 0.1 cd/m2, and a color temperature of 6400K. We should note that temperature stayed impressively uniform across the display, fluctuating between only 6200K to 6400K.

Luminance distribution was very good with this unit, peaking only slightly over target in the screen’s center and never dropping under 100 cd/m2 in any region.

Our calibrated Viewsonic does OK on gamut. What it gains in the yellows and reds it gives up in the violets, resulting in a total volume of 884 335.

Unfortunately, Viewsonic gets nailed with one of the worst Delta-E results in our roundup, with its navy blue leaping clear out to 5.21. Not even a fairly decent grayscale showing can save it from a 1.61 dE average.

A subjective analysis of the Samsung and Viewsonic trio reads much like that of the Dell and BenQ trio, only the Viewsonic’s vertical viewing angle problems single it out here. Straight on, though, the unit does well. It shows a bit flatter, less vibrant palette than its CCFL partner, the P2350, but the Samsung offers a blue/green cast in comparison. Personally, we’d take flat over skewed, especially with Viewsonic performing much better on power consumption. There are some exceptions, though, since we found that some scenes, such as backlit tulips, looked markedly more vibrant on the Samsung. Both monitors do well with detail in bright areas, with Samsung showing a bit more in the darks. 

In comparison, the BX2350 stands out with its reddish overtones. The calibrated BX2350 is not overly bright, but it’s still prone to losing detail in very light regions. Conversely, it does exceptionally well for an LCD in differentiating tones among blacks. You see this particularly well at a distance.

Wrapping It Up

Looking across all nine of these monitors, we can generalize and say that LEDs definitely look more dramatic. The blacks are deeper, the whites brighter, and the colors more vibrant. At the same time, we found LEDs more prone to skewing toward a given color and needing more calibration in order to remedy this. CCFL displays often look semi-lifeless when sitting next to an LED, but their colors appear more photo-realistic. CCFL definitely renders more detail in shadows because the blacks haven’t been pushed down as strongly. Yes, sometimes the measurement data contradicts this, but we’re going by side-by-side visual comparisons, and it’s important to weigh both.

Ultimately, we’d pick LED for media consumption, but we’d pick CCFL for editing work where detail and accuracy are paramount. LED is more fun to watch; CCFL is more reliable. If we bring power consumption back into the equation, displays with the latest power circuitry, such as Asus’s MS246H, or with only two lamps, such as Dell’s ST2310, look like much more attractive options. Dell in particular earns our admiration, mixing a great image with low average dE. It’s blacks could be better, but it’s not a bad total compromise. The Asus, Dell, and Samsung LEDs all skewed toward red, but Dell was probably the least offensive here, plus it did relatively well on shadow and white details. Add in the fact that it consumed the least power of any monitor reviewed, and we’d call the ST2320L our pick of the litter. It’s definitely the screen we choose for general use.

Yes, you pay a price to get the advantages of LED backlighting, but the power savings and color enhancement will be worth losing some accuracy for most users.

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    Top Comments
  • nevertell
    How about doing this with IPS panels ? :>
  • Other Comments
  • Anonymous
    In the "Wrapping It Up" section, perhaps you meant "LED" instead of "LCD"?
  • nevertell
    How about doing this with IPS panels ? :>
  • nforce4max
    I am going to get such a monitor later this year. Imagine the leap from CRT to Led LCD.
  • Ragnar-Kon
    I personally can't wait until the OLEDs manufacturing process becomes cheaper. Having seen Sony's new OLED displays at this year's NAB in Vegas, I can say they are VERY VERY impressive.
  • scook9
    I know that I have been rocking a pair of Gateway FHD2400's for a few years now and love them as they meet all my needs and have never left me wanting
  • g00b
    Ummm ... LED? They are all LCD :).

    "Ultimately, we’d pick LCD for media consumption, but we’d pick CCFL for editing work where detail and accuracy are paramount. LCD is more fun to watch; CCFL is more reliable."
  • Anonymous
    Please substitute "LCD" with "LED" everywhere in the conclusion section!
  • theshonen8899
    Basically the differences are very dramatic right? I'm gonna sound like a hippie for this but I'd definitely go for the greener option. Just being polite for our future generation is all.
  • Anonymous
    what g00b said. At the end you start saying LCD instead of LED, might confuse some poor soul.
  • wrxchris
    May not be too relevant here considering that this article was based around image quality, but as a gamer, I'm still plenty satisfied with my trio of 25.5" Asus TN monitors. Yes, they bleed a bit of light around the edges and the colors may not be very accurate, but they handle fast moving images with no problems and only cost $750 for the set. And my favorite feature is the 16x10 aspect ratio, which is becoming quite hard to find these days; not sure why people are so willing to give up vertical screen space.
  • haplo602
    still does not beat a high quality CRT in image reproduction. size/weight/power are another thing.
  • pirateboy
    if you check the evidence of osama's death on a ccfl screen you would discover he isn't really dead but it's just some random bearded dude they shot
  • Kisakuku
    X-Rite's iMatch software doesn't have a correction for LED backlighting. A colorimeter like i1 Display 2 is not a spectrophotometer and can't just measure any screen thrown at it. It requires corrections for LED and WCG-CCFL backlighting. Not sure how you can make far-going conclusions from these inaccurate measurements.
  • LuckyDucky7

    It's starting to look bad- if you're spending 200+ dollars you might as well be buying a REAL screen instead of these ones.
    Even 40 more dollars buys you a screen FAR superior to these crappy TN panels.

    So why aren't they being reviewed?
  • g00ey
    It would be interesting to look at which LED lit panels use local dimming and which ones do not.
  • masterbinky
    The funny thing in the opening of the article, it typically isn't the CFL that goes out in monitors. It is the power inverter, that powers the CFL. When I did dell repairs, it's funny they didn't let you just get the inverter to replace, you had to replace the whole panel.
  • masterbinky
    nforce4maxI am going to get such a monitor later this year. Imagine the leap from CRT to Led LCD.

    I image it's a leap off a cliff. You'll be dissapointed if you place them side by side. Well, depending on what your looking at, but try a dark image with detail in it,hint: you'll have to use the CRT to identify that image. Black crush sucks.
  • mcd023
    great article. thanks.
  • bildo123
    I was going to make the switch from a 24" VA panel to a newer LED panel (in which I tried two). The first was an Acer LED 23" and the blue hue this thing put off was gross. It didn't how much I calibrated it the colors were dull and the blue hue remained. The next LED I tried was the Samsung BX2450, 24"; the colors were better and the blue hue was less noticeable but it was still apparent (at least to me). I realize both are TN panels as well but I think I'll wait it out until a nice LED-IPS panel comes out for sale in the States.
  • haftarun8
    @ masterbinky Have you looked at top quality IPS panel LCD's calibrated compared to a CRT lately? The HP LP2475w at work beats out an old NEC Multisync 22" CRT with darker blacks even though the whites are brighter, has very accurate colors after calibrating, and has zero black or white crush - every shade of extreme blacks and whites can be discerned on test images. If you don't want crap for LCD's you still have to spend over $500 for your monitor, no getting around it.