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WinLab Reviews
Head to Head: 21-Inch Monitors
Broaden Your Outlook with a 21-Inch Monitor

-- by Hailey Lynne McKeefry

For many of us, 17 inches of monitor space is enough. However, some professionals, such as graphic artists and hard-core multitaskers, are looking for more room to spread out. Leading monitor manufacturers are coming to the fore with 21-inch monitors to meet those needs. We recently took a look at two such monitors, the NEC MultiSync P1150 and the ViewSonic PT813. Both units provide generous desktop real estate that will satisfy even the most space-hungry consumer. We tested the monitors with Sonera Technologies' DisplayMate suite on a Kingdom 200MHz Pentium system.

The NEC MultiSync P1150 and ViewSonic PT813 share several features. Each monitor has a screen with an antiglare, antistatic coating. The coating helps to eliminate static electric shock, keep the screens dust-free and increase visibility.

In addition, a multilayer process used to coat the screens is designed to refract light away from the viewer while maintaining the resolution quality of a displayed image. Each monitor also provides a tilt-and-swivel base for maximum viewing comfort.

The MultiSync P1150 and ViewSonic PT813 monitors support Plug and Play and adhere to rigid environmental and efficiency guidelines, such as the MPRII emissions standards and EPA Energy Star power-management requirements. The benefits of meeting these requirements include reductions in heat, power consumption and exposure to electromagnetic fields.

The MultiSync and the ViewSonic also offer a three-year warranty on CRT, labor and parts. Parts offered by both units include five BNC connectors as well as a 15-pin D-Sub connector. Neither monitor provides additional software for color calibration or adjustment, although the NEC MultiSync comes with the latest INF file for better Windows 95 compatibility.

NEC MultiSync P1150

The NEC MultiSync P1150 is a 21-inch aperture-grille CRT monitor that offers 19.6 inches (diagonal measurement) of viewable image space. It provides a fine, 0.28mm grille pitch and appears virtually flat. The MultiSync supports resolutions up to 1600x1200 pixels at a refresh rate of 75Hz. At 1280x1024, it delivers an ergonomic refresh rate of 88Hz.

During tests, the MultiSync had almost no defocusing, blooming or halo problems. On the reverse video contrast exam, it provided extremely good visibility. The monitor performed superbly in terms of color intensity and saturation; the images on the screen were vivid and intense. In fact, the MultiSync's bright and clear colors will appeal to those who heavily employ graphics applications, including professionals involved with CAD/CAM, desktop publishing, graphic design and prepress. However, we noticed some very slight barreling of the vertical screen that we were unable to eradicate.

The NEC monitor is controlled by an eight-button on-screen display (OSD) system, with comprehensive controls that manage brightness, contrast, degauss, horizontal size, vertical size, horizontal position, vertical position, moire, convergence, linearity and geometry (sides in/out, sides left/right, tilt, align and rotate). The controls were simple to use, but NEC didn't provide any front panel controls to change brightness or contrast without accessing the OSD. The power control is located on the monitor's front panel.

The MultiSync P1150 provided some controls that the ViewSonic PT813 didn't, including the ability to turn off the On-Screen Manager (OSM) and the GlobalSync feature (which negates the earth's magnetic forces to prevent them from inhibiting image quality). The MultiSync's controls also let you specify "fitness tips," which offer ways to counteract fatigue such as taking a short break from staring at the screen. These can be displayed at user-defined intervals (15, 20, 45, 60, 90 or 120 minutes). The MultiSync measures 20.4 by 20.8 by 22.1 inches and weighs 77.2 pounds.

ViewSonic PT813

Like the MultiSync, the ViewSonic is an aperture-grille CRT. However, it provides almost a half-inch more viewable area (an impressive 20 inches) than does the MultiSync. As in the NEC MultiSync model, the ViewSonic CRT appears to be virtually flat and features a 0.28mm grille pitch.

The ViewSonic also supports resolutions up to 1600x1200, though at slightly higher refresh rates than its NEC counterpart. For example, at 1280x1024, the ViewSonic supports refresh rates of 100Hz. Furthermore, at 1600x1200 the monitor provides refresh rates of 85Hz.

The ViewSonic performed well on the reverse video, pincushioning, geometric linearity and color registration tests. However, due to slight defocusing, its text and graphics were a little fuzzy at times. The monitor's colors were less bright than those of the MultiSync but were still acceptable. Priced at $1,795, this unit will appeal to business users who want a large viewable image space, but who don't need the extremely fine color saturation demanded by professional graphic artists or graphics applications that need good color.

The ViewSonic's OSD controls use a simple, four-button interface. Like the MultiSync, the ViewSonic offers access to its controls through an on-screen control panel-here, called OnView. The controls manage brightness, contrast, horizontal size, vertical size, horizontal position, vertical position, pincushioning, convergence and moire, among others. Compared to the MultiSync, the ViewSonic is more svelte, measuring 19.5 by 19.5 by 20.5 inches, and weighing 74 pounds.

The bottom line

Both the MultiSync and ViewSonic provide all the features you would want in a high-end monitor. For those wanting crisp, vivid and intense colors, the NEC MultiSync P1150 is the monitor of choice. However, if space or price constraints are issues, the ViewSonic PT813 fills the bill. The ViewSonic also provides a slight edge in terms of viewable screen image. However, neither of these monitors unseats the Panasonic PanaSync E21 from our WinList of recommended products. The PanaSync E21 matches or exceeds the performance of the NEC and ViewSonic monitors in virtually every category. It offers a 0.25mm dot pitch and 20 inches of diagonal viewing area at a hard-to-match price of $1,499.

NEC MultiSync P1150
Price: $2,079
Platforms: 3x, 95, NT
Pros: Bright, crisp image; sure to please graphic artists and desktop publishing professionals
Cons: Image exhibited slight barreling; requires a big desk
Strongest rival: Panasonic PanaSync E21
NEC Technologies
800-NEC-INFO, 630-775-7900
Circle #837 or visit Winfo Online

ViewSonic PT813
Price: $1,795
Platforms: 3x, 95, NT
Pros: Relatively affordable; has a large viewable area and simple controls; takes up less desk space than most competitors; ideal for SOHO needs
Cons: Superficial defocusing causes slightly fuzzy text and icons
Strongest rival: Panasonic PanaSync E21
ViewSonic Corp.
800-888-8583, 909-869-7976
Circle #838 or visit Winfo Online

Windows Magazine, June 1997, page 174.

[ Go to June 1997 Table of Contents ]