Affordable 23in screens are easy to find, but the NEC MultiSync EA232WMi is a very different story - a 24-bit IPS panel with LED backlighting, yet still available for under £300
Cheaper, lesser screens may make do with humble TN (Twisted Nematic) panel technology, but the 23in NEC MultiSync EA232WMi is made of rather silkier stuff. Built around a high-calibre IPS (In-Plane Switching) panel, the NEC MultiSync EA232WMi promises a greater depth of colour and better viewing angles than those that have plagued most budget screens.
But before probing what's inside the NEC MultiSync EA232WMi, it's hard to ignore what's outside. The NEC MultiSync EA232WMi's appearance is fairly sober, with a single tiny blue light the one hint of colour in an otherwise discreet black casing. The styling is very safe and business-like, subtle but still pleasing to the eye.
The NEC MultiSync EA232WMi screen's design is extremely functional though, and it not only has a height-adjustable stand, but the NEC MultiSync EA232WMi can pivot through ninety degrees into portrait mode, so that you can alter the way you view content on the screen. Text documents or word-heavy web pages are easier to read when there're more lines running down the page, for instance.
Added to that, the NEC MultiSync EA232WMi screen has connectors for analogue, DVI and DisplayPort on the back. It also has a USB hub (with four downstream - two on the side and two at the bottom) for additional versatility.
All in all, it's hard to find fault with the NEC MultiSync EA232WMi's design.
The NEC MultiSync EA232WMi's control panel is a little more quirky. One button acts as a cunningly disguised cursor-steerer, and you can move it in multiple directions in order to run up and down menus and tweak the settings. This takes a little getting used to, but it works adequately after some practice.
And you will most definitely want to master the controls, since the NEC MultiSync EA232WMi puts an impressive array of tools at your fingertips. You have considerable control over the colour palette, and you can change various settings, even down to adjusting a separate brightness reading for the W-LED backlight itself - in addition to the general brightness setting.
You can change the colour matching as well as the mode, and you can turn on a brightness sensor (that adjusts the brightness setting proportional to the amount of light in the room) or set timers so that you don't spend too long staring at the screen.
The NEC MultiSync EA232WMi is environmentally conscious, not only offering you a choice of ‘eco modes’ (tellingly assigned their own dedicated button), but also letting you see the carbon savings you've made - if there's anything designed to make us think about how we can conserve energy, it's a tool that converts our usage into pounds or dollars.
But back to that IPS panel. The colour quality on the NEC MultiSync EA232WMi is remarkable, and the move from TN’s 6-bit to 8-bit per pixel (making 24-bit total for an R, G and B image) allows for considerable depth of palette.
This was particularly noticeable when we played some films on the NEC MultiSync EA232WMi, and the darker scenes were rendered immaculately. The palette is very versatile, so you should be able to adjust it to your liking, whether you like brash vivid palettes or something rather less luminous - for office work, for instance.
The viewing angles of the NEC MultiSync EA232WMi aren't absolutely perfect, and the image still changes noticeably when you move your head significantly up or down, although it remains intact when turning to the left or right. But overall, the viewing angles are a huge improvement over those experienced with TN panels.
If there is a potential problem with this screen (and IPS technology in general), it's the response rate, which is quoted at a rather high 14ms. For most tasks this won't matter at all.
However, we did see the odd defect caused when viewing extremely fast moving games. First Person Shooter enthusiasts, for instance, may find this screen a little slow for their needs. For all but the fastest games, though, there're unlikely to be any problems caused by the response rate.
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