NEC's 80" V801 Monitor: Size Does Matter!
In a rather large departure from our typical PC display reviews, Tom's Hardware got its hands on NEC's V801 presentation monitor. This 80-inch LED/LCD screen is a commercial-grade model that can be used for just about anything requiring a large display. You would most likely see the V801 in an airport, for example, functioning as a dynamic message board or showing news feeds, for example. Obviously nobody's going to set this beast up on their desktop.
Since our lab is more intimate than the average mall food court, we’d rather see how it works as an HDTV. Our monitor benchmark suite is still very much relevant in this review, but we'd be remiss if we didn't spend some quality time watching content like movies and TV shows.
A few short years ago, the only way to experience an image much larger than 50 inches diagonally was to use a front projection system, and that remains the best way to enjoy screen sizes in excess of 80 inches. There’s nothing like the immersion of an image that fills your peripheral vision.
However, projectors have inherent limitations and installation challenges. For example, you need a dedicated room with full light control to extract maximum performance from a projector. Our reference room at Tom’s Hardware is painted flat black, walls and ceiling, and completely light-tight. If we still used film cameras, it would double as a dark room.
Our screen is 92 inches diagonal, is lit by an Anthem LTX500 LCoS projector, and the setup cost about $10,000 in 2009. Even with all of the light controlled, the brightest image we can display is around 54 cd/m2. And that has become our reference minimum output standard.
Back when we built the system, our ultimate big-screen fantasy was Panasonic’s 100-inch plasma display. With an output of around 137 cd/m2, it would have been an amazing experience. Unfortunately, it also sold for $80,000! A screen like NEC's V801 makes an excellent home theater display. Price-wise, it competes with mid-priced projectors like JVC’s LCoS line. And at less than $10,000 on the street, it costs quite a bit less than a Runco or Sim2 DLP model.
|Backlight||W-LED, edge array|
|Screen Size||80 in|
|Max Refresh Rate||60 Hz|
|Response Time (GTG)||6.5 ms|
|Speakers||2 x 10 W|
|DVI||1 in, 1 out|
|Panel DimensionsW x H x D||72.3 x 41.8 x 3.4 in1836 x 1061 x 87 mm|
You can see from the specs that the V801 is one immense monitor. It arrived via freight on a pallet and had to be moved with a dolly just to get it in the door. Where a desktop monitor’s screen area is measured in square inches (311.13 for a 27”), the V801’s size is better expressed in feet: roughly 19. While the max resolution (1920x1080) may seem underwhelming in this age of QHD and UHD, you won’t be able to see individual pixels at a distance of seven feet or more. And since consumer video content is still at 1920x1080, the benefits of a higher pixel-count display are minimal at best.
The V801’s panel technology is not something we’ve covered at Tom’s before. UV2A is a manufacturing technique that Sharp pioneered, and is basically a more precise way to control the angle of the liquid crystal molecules in each sub-pixel. The main advantages include greater contrast and higher power efficiency. The additional control precision is also a precursor for future 4K resolution panels, which will require much smaller pixels for a given screen size.