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Calibrated Performance: Brightness And Contrast Ratio

Three 27" IPS LCDs: UltraSharp U2711, DS-277W, And MultiSync PA271W

Calibrating a monitor is akin to benchmarking under controlled settings. It isn't particularly meaningful to compare the out-of-box performance of one monitor to another. If you want to know what a monitor is capable of, you need to normalize settings in the same way you benchmark two graphics cards.

All three of our 27" IPS-based monitors perform well in white luminance calibration, but we see a large difference in black production. The NEC PA271 excels, while Dell's U2711 produces more mediocre blacks. The most startling result is DoubleSight's DS-277W. It cannot produce deep blacks, resulting in a poorer contrast ratio. This doesn't imply that DoubleSight uses a low-quality panel. Quite the opposite, in fact. The DS-277W suffers in black production due to the monitor's hardware circuitry.

I used Paint to draw a black background on the DS-277W, but it looks grey when the brightness is turned up. And yet, the OSD menu still looks black. DoubleSight's hardware controller seems to affect chromaticity more than luminosity when you change the brightness setting. This ultimately affects black production, and in turn results in a poorer contrast ratio. So, while the panel is capable of 1000:1, it's not a contrast ratio that you actually see due to poor hardware.

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