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6/96 Reviews HW: NEC MultiSync M500

Complete listing of June 1996 reviews

Display Debuts New Tech Tube

(Editor's Note: The WinMag Box Score: rates products on installation, usability, supporting materials, functionality, performance and utility. Our overall ratings follow this scale: 5,Outstanding or breakthrough product, best of its kind; 4, Exceeds expectations, superior to most competing products; 3, Works well, meets all our expectations, no major problems; 2, Has serious difficulties or limitations; 1, Has critical flaws. A list of recommended products follows the Reviews section.)

By James Alan Miller

NEC's new multimedia display, the MultiSync M500, incorporates a new type of CRT, the CromaClear, which has a phosphor design that differs radically from that in today's standard CRT types.

The phosphors appear elliptical, rather than striped as in an aperture-grilled Trinitron tube or round as in a dot-trio CRT. Its purpose is to give you better focus, contrast and color saturation across the viewable area. The elliptical shape minimizes the black stretches between phosphors, resulting in a better image than the one the round phosphors in a dot-trio CRT can provide. Also, this new phosphor shape should reduce the focus and color distortion commonly found at the edges of many monitors, especially Trinitrons, because of changes NEC made to the shadow mask and electron gun.

The M500 turned in a very good performance, with excellent scores for focus, sharpness and color saturation on Sonera Technology's DisplayMate testing suite. Some slight moir... patterns and difficulty with the regulation test subtracted from the M500's overall mark, but most monitors perform poorly on this test. Nevertheless, I'd be happy to have a monitor of this caliber on my desktop.

The 15-inch M500 has two built-in speakers, along with a microphone, a mute button and a headphone jack, as well as microphone and line-in jacks in the rear. You get good sound quality from the speakers without any distortion of the image.

The seven-part on-screen menu (OSM) provides a plethora of features. The first menu offers volume, treble, bass and balance adjustment for the speakers. Next, you get brightness, contrast, degauss and video boost. When you activate video boost, a centered window appears that can be adjusted from 25 percent to 100 percent of the viewable area. In this window, brightness and contrast are automatically adjusted for optimal viewing. After this, the OSM offers vertical and horizontal position and size, while the next menu, AccuColor, supplies bang-up color control features. You can select from five color temperatures, from 4200K to 9300K, and adjust red, green and blue individually. Geometry options consist of side in/out and left/right pincushion adjustments, as well as parallelogram, trapezoid and rotate.

The Tools category offers Surround Mode for three preset sound settings, music, movie and simulated, as well as Language for six language options, and OSM position,turn off and lockout. Linearity lets you adjust spacing on the screen, while Factory Preset returns all controls to their original settings.

The monitor's case looks like a weird modern art experiment. Though the case is not unattractive, an armadillo does come to mind.

The display weighs 33.1 pounds and measures 16.0 by 14.6 by 15.9 inches. The viewable area, 13.8 inches, is a bit low for a 15-inch model. The monitor supports a resolution of 1280x1024 from a vertical refresh rate of 55Hz to 65Hz, as well as 1024x768 from 55Hz to 86Hz, 800x600 from 55Hz to 110Hz and 640x480 from 60Hz to 120Hz.

The M500 is Plug-and-Play compatible and meets the Swedish MPRII and TCO NUTEK standards for reduced electromagnetic emissions and power management, in addition to being VESA DPMS compatible. NEC calls the shortest distance between two like phosphors the mask pitch rather than dot pitch. In the M500's case, the mask pitch is 0.25 millimeter.

The MultiSync M500 is a little pricey for a 15-inch monitor. A 17-inch version, the M700, is a better value at $899.

Info File
NEC MultiSync M500
$599 (street)
Pros: Controls; multimedia; focus; sharpness; color saturation
Cons: Moiré patterns
NEC Technologies
800-NEC-INFO, 508-264-8000
WinMag Box Score 3.5
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