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

Quality Tests: Asus VW246 And Analysis

Interestingly, Asus shipped our VW246 with default control settings of only 90 brightness and 80 contrast. Despite color channel values of R100/G100/B100, we measured an initial temperature of 5800K and luminance of a surprisingly bright 263.8 cd/m2 (0.3 cd/m2 minimum). This was also the only display of the nine we reviewed that showed a defective (blue) pixel.

By the time the VW246 hit our bench, we were getting a bit antsy to experiment. Advanced mode calibration left us with an 86 contrast. Leaving the brightness at 90, an 80/80/80 combination of color channels had us looking cool at 6000K but still excessively bright at 200.7 cd/m2. We found this out as one of several steps on the way down to a surprisingly low 45 brightness setting, which finally gave us 120.5 cd/m2 with R87/G80/B95 yielding a perfect 6500K.

Kudos to this relatively antique CCFL for nailing a near-perfect center luminance and showing impressively little fall-off around any of the edges. Temperatures ranged between 6300K and 7000K as minimum luminance bounced between 0.1 and 0.2 cd/m. Gamma stayed rock steady at 2.2 everywhere.

ColorThink Pro reported a gamut of 883 808, and you can see in our graph how similarly the VW246 behaves compared to the Asus MS246H. Our Delta-E results are fairly middle of the road, averaging 1.55 with a 4.95 maximum. That 1.4 result on black should be a bit better.

After watching a range of content, from basic Windows productivity to hi-res photos to HD video, we can say that Asus' two CCFL displays look virtually identical. The VW shows slightly darker shadows more reliably; the MS246H sometimes loses more detail in the darks. Being slightly lighter overall, the MS246H also reveals a bit more compression banding. These points are almost an exercise in fishing for something to say, though. The screens are visually very close.

Setting the LED-based MS238H next to the MS246H, the LED unit looks strikingly red, almost sepia-toned in comparison. At the same time, this red is so vibrant that it makes the MS246H seem washed out. However—and this won’t be the only time we point this out—the MS238H sacrifices some shadow detail, particularly in black and white photography. The LED unit looks stronger and more vibrant to the eye, but the CCFL-based MS246 actually stays truer to the original colors and more faithfully conveys shadow detail.

Given all that, and adding back in power consumption considerations, we would pick the MS246H as the best option among the Asus triad for general content viewing. Yes, it’s a bit erratic on uniform luminance, but it does well with color, wins on detail, and stays toe-to-toe with the LED unit on energy.