Three-Way 23" LED LCD Roundup: Dell, HP, And Samsung

Calibrated Performance: Color Accuracy And Gamut

As Coloreyes Display Pro explains, absolute rendering the black point produces the most numerically accurate results, and works well for high-quality monitors. But doing so could also easily generate plugged shadows (dark regions where detail is lost) on a lower-quality monitor. If matching two displays is critical, absolute rendering is the best choice, assuming both monitors can handle absolute black. Relative rendering maps the darkest values on your monitor relative to its ability to display them. This isn't as accurate, but provides detail in dark areas where your monitor has difficulty.

Since we are trying to compare the color quality between monitors, we choose to calibrate for an absolute black point. These values represent the best we can achieve with our monitors, but they add another variable to consider when judging color performance. Dell's 23" LCD consistently produces the darkest blacks, but it does suffer from plugged shadows. The effect is very minor, and HP's performance is still arguably worse; shadows aren't visible, but the lack of sufficiently dark blacks yields a poor contrast in the color gamut. By comparison, Samsung's PX2370 generates a much better white point, which is why contrast isn't negatively affected.

Dell SR2320LDell SR2320LHP 2311xHP 2311x

Dell SR2320LDell SR2320LHP 2311xHP 2311xSamsung PX2370Samsung PX2370

The range of colors doesn't change when you calibrate a monitor. A wide-gamut monitor still behaves like a wide-gamut monitor, even when you turn down brightness. However, when you calibrate a monitor, color perception changes as colors become more accurately represented. This is the result of changing the shape of the luminance curve on a gamut map.

After calibration, we evaluated the profile against a GretagMacBeth's color palette. As we mentioned earlier, delta E is a measure of color accuracy. However, this only gives a small perspective of color performance because we interpret colors within a spectrum, not from individual points.

Absolute Color Gamut

It's harder to perceive the difference in gamut when you’re inspecting individual delta E values. With 3D images, it is best to examine the graph as a video, which is why we use Chromix's ColorThink Pro to illustrate how color gamut is affected.

Calibrated Color Gamut of Dell SR2320L

The wire form outline in each video represents the total gamut volume of AdobeRGB 1998. The solid gamut map represents the gamut of each monitor.

Calibrated Color Gamut of HP 2311x

Calibrated Color Gamut of Samsung PX2370

Remember, this is not just an examination of how one color profile maps to a reference, nor is it only about how much can be rendered (in this case AdobeRGB 1998). This is an absolute comparison of gamut volumes, which can be used to help identify strong and weak points in a color profile.

When you compare in absolute terms, you can see that Samsung's PX2370 is particularly good at representing the entire color gamut, though some of the higher luminance values still fall short of the reference. Dell's SR230L is the weakest of the group. It produces very poor greens, green-blues, and even some reds. The 2311x shares this fault. However, it is not as weak in the secondary colors of magenta and cyan.

Notice that all three monitors perform very well in yellow and blue tones. These are the fairly easy points to hit with today's LED-based TN panels. Often you can see a strong blue bias caused by some lower-quality LED backlights. This is what we see with the monitors from Dell and HP. When you inspect the 3D map, you can see the shifted performance of the color gamut. If you are dead-set on matching the white point on multiple monitors or highly accurate color representation, this can be unsettling. However, as a practical issue, it shouldn't deter you from purchasing them.

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  • jimslaid2
    Ummmm LG! How Could you have left out LG?
  • taso11
    I think you mean DVI-D not DVD-D on your front page chart.
  • pirateboy
    hey where did my comment go?

    please review 16:10 monitors next time
  • sleeper52
    where's the NEC EA231wmi or EA232WMI? that's around $300 as well and it's an IPS
  • aznshinobi
    Hmmm.... Could've added an LG, I love my LG W2286L
  • fstrthnu
    I'd actually rather see a 24 & 25.5" monitor shootout, they tend to be the higher-end displays of the brands (like Dell's super-duper Ultrasharp U2410).
  • Assmar
    A certain retailer has the samsung monitor listed for 280 with free shipping. If you don't live in CA, that's tax free, i'm pretty sure.
  • sleeper52
    fstrthnuI'd actually rather see a 24 & 25.5" monitor shootout, they tend to be the higher-end displays of the brands (like Dell's super-duper Ultrasharp U2410).

    +1 I'd like to see that. HP LP2475w (rev 2.0) vs Dell U2410 (rev 2.0) vs ASUS PA246Q
  • LuckyDucky7
    Why would you bother buying one of these monitors when you can get an IPS one for the same price?

    How about reviewing something like the ASUS ML239H and give us a useful review, rather than going over which one of these junk TN panels is the best? 100% sRGB is useless if you can't see it unless you're straight inline with the screen (any sometimes not even then).

  • agnickolov
    Finally an article about LCD monitors!

    The selection is rather pointless (what self-respecting Tom's Hardware reader goes to Best Buy to get a monitor anyway?), however. Replacing Dell and HP with manufacturers like ViewSonic, ASUS and LG would make more sense, at least for the low end.

    Reviews for IPS panels would be very welcome, but TN is where the bulk of purchases go, so I'd like to see more TN reviews going forward too. Just get realistic online prices please, instead of the MSRP Best Buy sells at... Case in point - I bought my older generation (16:10, e.g. 1920x1200) 26" ASUS for $240 last year.

    Hopefully we get a series of LCD monitor charts (chart per monitor size) out of this some day, but we'll need a lot of testing activity to happen until then...
  • nevertell
    Why would you even calibrate a TN panel, if the colors shift even if tilt your head a little.
  • andrewcutter
    "If you're a gamer, wider gamuts should be your preference because the gamut required to adequately represent the colors in titles like Just Cause 2 is much larger than what's needed to watch an episode of House (which usually uses a smaller and darker color palette). This also goes for anyone that seriously cares about content creation. For example, if you're a photographer, accurate representation of a color space may be your livelihood. "

    toms i like your site but what the heel are words like photographers and content creaters doing in a review of tn monitors. :O
  • lott11
    21" 23" 24" 27" LG,Vs ASUS Vs San sung Monitors for 3 way monitor set up,for ATI video card Gaming setup.
    and a best setup mount or alinement's, best in visual and smallest borders, so on.
    and just like gaming PC lets say $1,000.00 $1,200.00 $1,500.00 i would have said $900.00 but that is not realistic.
  • Anonymous
    Would like to see (~300$) monitors reviews based on IPS panels. For example LGE IPS231P, Dell 2311H etc.
  • dirtmountain
    Thanks for this review of monitors. Readers of Tom's run the whole gamut of computer people, from neophyte business people to foaming at the mouth gamers and even (as we see above) elitist wankers. You can always focus on premium displays in the future, thanks for this average budget minded review.
  • exenter
    All tech sites I know of test games on the resolution 1920x1200, but only test monitors with max resolution of 1920x1080. Why is this?
  • neo700
    LuckyDucky7Why would you bother buying one of these monitors when you can get an IPS one for the same price?How about reviewing something like the ASUS ML239H and give us a useful review, rather than going over which one of these junk TN panels is the best? 100% sRGB is useless if you can't see it unless you're straight inline with the screen (any sometimes not even then).KTHXBAI[/citation.

    Is IPS some new kind of monitor?
  • ubercake
    One thing I notice about the Samsungs these days is the 3 year warranty as opposed to most companies 1 year. That's pretty substantial in the day and age of producing "disposable" lcd monitors. I'm sure this is a big part of the higher cost. The picture is usually great on a Samsung monitor, though the reason I will always choose a Samsung monitor is the warranty all other things being equal (beside price).

    Samsung doesn't even back it's $1500+ 3D TVs more than 1 year (I can tell you first-hand there's a reason they don't!). Samsung TVs have the best picture around, but the component quality sucks balls. For this, I will never buy another Samsung TV (unless they add a 3-yr warranty to their TVs).
  • ibemerson
    I will never buy another 60hz monitor again. So I would like to see a roundup of 120hz monitors.

    To quote a review from anandtech: "Though the 120Hz refresh frequency does make games playable in 3D, there’s another important benefit of using a faster refresh rate - everything looks smoother, and you can now drive up to 120 FPS without tearing. The ASUS VG236H was my first exposure to 120Hz refresh displays that aren’t CRTs, and the difference is about as subtle as a dump truck driving through your living room. I spent the first half hour seriously just dragging windows back and forth across the desktop - from a 120Hz display to a 60Hz, stunned at how smooth and different 120Hz was. Yeah, it’s that different. . . honestly, the completely unparalleled level of smoothness on a 120 Hz display has made me hyper attuned to just how flickery 60Hz looks on all the other LCDs I’ve got."