Comparison of 15" LCD Monitors - Part II


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Name15'' Studio DisplayTFT5030TFT 15"L1520MultiSync 1550XSDM-S51
ManufacturerAppleCompaqContinental EdisonhpNECSony
US$ price$600$639Not sold in the US$475$550$500
TechnologyTN + FilmNVATN + FilmTN + FilmS-IPSTN + Film
Panel manufacturerLG-PhilipsSharpAcerAcerNECLG-Philips
Response timeNc40 ms40 ms35 ms35 ms30 ms
No. of colors displayed16 million16 million16 million16 million16 million16 million
Contrast ratio300 : 1400 : 1350 : 1350 : 1300 : 1300 : 1
Brightness230 cd/m²300 cd/m²200 cd/m²250 cd/m²250 cd/m²250 cd/m²
Vertical angle90o170o100o110o170o110o
Horizontal angle120o170o120o130o170o130o
Panel, diagonal15 inches15 inches15 inches15 inches15 inches15 inches
ConnectionDVI Apple proprietaryAnalog + DigitalAnalogAnalogAnalog + DigitalAnalog
Integrated casingNoNoYesNoNoNo
Pivoting functionNoNoNoNoNoNo

The only screens that stand out from the crowd are the ones from Solarism and HP. Both monitors have speedy response times, and the colors are displayed accurately. The colors on the Solarism LM 1503 are particularly vivid and true. To make the monitors even better, they ought to distinguish more accurately between the darker tones, and the design could stand to be more stylish.

Our greatest disappointment was with the Compaq screen. The TFT5030 claimed a response time of only 20 ms, but it clearly hadn't been measured in the same way as its competitors.

The Apple screen is handsome but can only be used with the Mac, due to the proprietary Apple connector. It has a DVI input, but with a Mac gloss on it. So there's no point in PC users even considering it. But have no worries: the panel is already out of date.

The IPS did not live up to its promises. The technology may have been better than the TN in the past, but the TN has made great progress in recent months. As a result, the 1550X cannot compete with any of the latest TN screens.

Finally, the most important thing about the Sony screen is that it is less expensive than its big brother, the M-51. The pixels are always too slow to refresh, and we found some deficiencies in the darker tones.

So, only one screen is worthy of joining the elite members in the all-around category (i.e., screens that are good for all types of applications, including games): the winner is the HP L1520. It thus finds itself in the company of the Belinea 10 15 35 (only available in Europe), the Eizo 365, the Hercules ProphetView 720, and the Samsung SyncMaster 151MP.

Those of you who have been paying attention will have noticed that all the screens mentioned above are fitted with TN + Film panels. So much for the theory that says that TN technology still cannot match that of MVA and IPS; there is clearly a gap between theory and practice.

If we are also going to give points to the makers of display panels, Samsung is the winner with two points (Samsung and Hercules screens), followed by Acer (HP screen), Chungwa (Belinea) and NEC (Eizo), all with one point each. So far, none of the LG screens have made it to the winners' circle.