The compact dimensions, super-slim proportions and ultra-minimalist design of the NEC EX201W 20in monitor are complemented by a fully adjustable ergonomic stand and extremely low power consumption.
A business monitor, the NEC EX201W is lightweight and can be adjusted up and down by up to 110mm, while a pivot mode is added to the usual tilt and swivel options. With a frame this slim and unobtrusive, your computer's desktop seems almost to hover in mid-air before your eyes. See also: Group test: what's the best display?
The NEC EX201W display is designed not only to be slim and stylish, but also lightweight and portable. A quick release mechanism allows you to remove the screen from the stand, pack up the external power adaptor and take the panel with you – perhaps to make a presentation. An optional portable stand and carrying case are available, should you wish to do this. It's when put to this use that the display's unfashionably small 20in panel feels like just the right compromise between size and convenience.
The reduced size calls for a somewhat lower screen resolution than usual, and in this case NEC has settled on 1600 x 900 pixels – which obviously present a 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio. The NEC EX201W is therefore suitable for playing back from a variety of sources.
But watch out if you want to connect multimedia equipment or older PCs as it comes with neither HDMI nor VGA inputs. Instead you'll have to use an adaptor and hook up via either the DVI-I or DisplayPort connectors. A USB port is also included at the top of the NEC EX201W display – well placed for attaching a webcam.
With touch-sensitive controls built into the lower-right of the NEC EX201W's bezel, the display is very easy to set up. Touching a control brings up an on-screen menu with the function of each button displayed adjacent to it. Using the screen in this way ensures that the button functions are always readable.
Where values can be tweaked up and down, such as for brightness or colour adjustments, you simply slide your finger along what is effectively a touch-sensitive scroll bar. This gives you much more of the feel of an analogue slider control as there's no need to repeatedly push buttons to move values up and down. Although based on the popular low-cost TN panel technology, the NEC EX201W incorporates NEC's ‘XtraView' feature which enables wider-than-usual viewing angles – it lists up to 176 degrees horizontally and 170 vertically.
Subjectively, the NEC EX201W's viewing angles do seem rather good for a TN panel, but you certainly shouldn't expect the rock-solid uniform look of an IPS-based display. The tell-tale TN viewing angle-based shifts in brightness are there if you look for them, just much less than usual.
If you choose to use the display pivoted into a vertical orientation, you will notice the brightness shifts in what has now become the horizontal direction. We wouldn't recommend this monitor for desktop use in such a configuration. If there's one stand-out feature of the NEC EX201W it has to be its exceedingly low operating power consumption, which is backed up by a raft of additional power-saving facilities designed to reduce it still further.
At our standard test brightness level of 120 cd/m2, the monitor consumed only 10W – increasing only as far as 14W when cranked up to the maximum brightness, measured at 306cd/m2.
There's no need to keep tweaking the brightness yourself as the display has a built-in ambient light sensor which will adjust the backlight power in response to the level of light in your room, helping to conserve power and reduce eye-strain. If you're called away from your desk, a motion sensor will detect that no-one is in front of the screen and either dim it or place it in power-saving mode according to your selection.
If you'd appreciate a regular pat on the back for all this ecological consideration, you can check the menu for an on-screen estimate of your carbon savings to-date.
This is an economical and utilitarian business display that clearly isn't aimed at graphic artists or movie watching, but our testing revealed performance better than we would have expected from such a TN-based panel. Colours are vivid and bright and although they're not one hundred per cent accurate, we wouldn't have expected them to be. The NEC EX201W could reproduce 96% or the sRGB gamut, and had a contrast ratio of 650:1.
However, the measured black level was rather less impressive – a totally black screen being rendered visibly grey and with some backlight bleed visible from the extreme right edge. This results in less-than-brilliant contrast performance and a minor lack of luminance uniformity across the screen.
NEC EX201W: lab results
Measured Black point luminance (calibrated): 0.5cd/m2
Maximum measured brightness (calibrated): 306cd/m2
Maximum checkerboard contrast: 650 : 1
Percentage of Adobe gamut: 78%
Percentage of sRGB gamut: 96%
Measured native white point: 6400K
Colour error (min/avg/max) 0.21 / 1.41 / 3.48 deltaE
Power consumption at maximum brightness: 14W
Power consumption at 120 cd/m2: 10W
Power consumption (‘Conserve' mode) 10W