Hardware

Alive and Kicking-Large CRT Monitors Offer Best Bang for Your Buck

15 Sep, 2004 By: Ron LaFon


Prices on large CRT monitors have dropped substantially since our last CRT review in September 2003. Not so many years ago I remember paying triple what these current CRTs cost. What you don't get for these lower prices are multiple connectivity options—there's usually no USB connectivity whatsoever. The overall quality of these behemoths is, however, excellent.

Some vendors, such as EIZO, are now selling only LCD monitors, though most of the major vendors of computer displays still offer one or more lines of CRT monitors.

Test Procedures

To begin, I attach a monitor to the test system, power it up, adjust for our standard 1280X1024 at 85Hz test settings, and then allow it to stabilize for at least an hour before running any tests. Though most monitors don't require this long to come up to stable performance, some do, so this puts each monitor on the same footing.

Once the monitor is stabilized, I use DisplayMate Technology's DisplayMate software (www.displaymate.com) to run through a wide range of video tests for brightness, contrast, focus, convergence, purity, geometric distortion, and raster rotation. During the course of testing, I also evaluate the on-screen menu, the general functionality of the controls, and the connectivity options.

Once I complete the tests, I rate the large CRT displays on several factors weighted according to importance: image quality (6X), price (4X), connectivity (2X), image controls (2X), and warranty (1X). An extra credit category is available for any monitor that has some feature of significant value or excellence beyond what's covered in the normal evaluation process. In this particular roundup, no display received extra credit.

 CRT Review Summary
CRT Review Summary

I used an NVIDIA FX 3000 graphics card with the NVIDIA 56.72 drivers in an @Xi Computer 4240 MTower SP workstation for all the tests. See p. 36 for a First Look review of this system.

Evaluating the scores can be difficult at times. I never know the star ratings until I test all the monitors and compare the results.

Certain things tend to stand out during evaluation, such as a lack of more than the most basic connectivity options or a warranty that extends beyond the norm. The overall quality of the large CRT monitors tested here is very high, but slight flaws have a way of becoming magnified in the final tally. A quarter-point off in one area can be a determining factor in the final rating. None of the monitors achieved an A+ score during testing, though the IBM C220p came close with display quality. Its very slight flaws were not enough to warrant a specific deduction, although enough to dissuade me from giving an A+.

Pricing is another area where an otherwise excellent monitor can get less than top ratings. If the pricing of a particular display is out of line with comparable displays included in the roundup, the deduction can again be amplified as a result of the weighted nature of the report card.

I do hope that large CRT monitors continue to be available. Unless LCD flat-panel monitors suddenly achieve much faster response times, the CRT units will remain the most responsive and reasonably priced of large displays. What will my next monitor purchase be? I expect to buy two new 21" or larger monitors by the end of this year. Though many things about large LCD monitors are attractive, my two new monitors will both be large CRT displays like those reviewed and evaluated here.

P1230

Dell

www.dell.com

Star rating: 4.5 stars out of 5 Price: $679

The Dell P1230 is a 22" monitor with a 20.3" viewing area and a rated dot pitch of 0.24mm. The P1230 offers a maximum resolution of 1600X1200 at 106.3Hz (UXGA) and has a 98% color gamut for vivid, accurate colors. The unit received for evaluation features an attractive dark gray case that measures 19.7" X 19.7" X 18.5" (wXhXd) and weighs a hefty 77.1lb, the heaviest monitor in this review by a significant margin.

The Dell P1230 22" monitor offers good viewing and an easy-to-use menu.
The Dell P1230 22" monitor offers good viewing and an easy-to-use menu.

Pricing for the Dell P1230 is a bit on the high side at $679 when compared with most of the other monitors in this review. The P1230 incorporates two standard D-sub connectors, with no DVI connectors or USB.

On the test bench, the Dell P1230 showed some very slight softness on two edges, but because detail was high, I gave no deduction. Similarly, some very slight misalignment appeared at the edges of the screen on the convergence test, but again it wasn't significant enough to warrant a point deduction. On the color purity tests, however, the reds were too orange and the magenta was overly bright, resulting in a quarter-point deduction. All other scores were generally excellent. Some very slight banding occurred in horizontal gradations that should've been a smooth progression.

The Dell P1230 has five highly visible small buttons to the left of the Dell logo on the bottom bezel of the monitor and a larger power toggle and LED power indicator to the right of the logo. One button is for selecting the input source and the next one is for navigating the menu system. The on-screen menu is easy to navigate and use. There is a 5° tilt option.

The Dell P1230 is covered by a standard three-year warranty. If you use a Dell monitor with a Dell system, it's also supported by Dell Technical Support.

The slight deduction for color purity and the relatively high price for the P1230 resulted in a star rating of 4.5 once I tallied the weighted factors. This is an excellent monitor, but because the general quality of all the tested displays is very high, slight deductions pushed some CRTs away from a 5-star rating.

P1230

Hewlett-Packard

www.hp.com

Star rating: 5 stars out of 5 Price: $569

The HP p1230 monitor is part of the Performance series of monitors from Hewlett-Packard. This 22" aperture-grille monitor with a 20" viewable area offers a 0.24mm dot pitch. The HP p1230 comes with an attractive carbon and silver housing that measures 19.1" X 19.5" X 18.8" (wXhXd). Immediately obvious was the excellent antiglare coating on the screen, which stops most environmental reflections.

The Hewlett-Packard p1230 delivers excellent display quality for a great price.
The Hewlett-Packard p1230 delivers excellent display quality for a great price.

The HP p1230 weighs 66.1lb and includes two standard D-sub connectors, vertically mounted, on the rear of the monitor. There is no USB connectivity. The HP p1230 is priced at $569, which earned it a A for pricing.

The SuperBright Diamondtron CRT technology incorporated in the p1230 doubles the brightness level with the simple touch of an on-screen display button and helps maintain image crispness for graphics, animation, and video. Maximum resolution on the HP p1230 monitor is 1920X1440 at 60Hz.

The on-screen menu is adequate, but a little awkward to navigate, although I gave no deduction for it. This is a very subjective thing to grade. Seven control buttons are located at the bottom center of the matte silver bezel. These include a power toggle with an LED power indicator, an input toggle to choose which video feed is functional, and an on-screen menu on/off switch. The other buttons help navigate the menu system.

Reviewers Report Card
Reviewers Report Card

The p1230 supports six languages: English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, and Japanese.

The image display on the HP p1230 is very attractive. The only deduction for display quality was a quarter-point for yellows that were slightly dull. Otherwise, all the test scores were excellent, without even the slightest imperfection.

The HP p1230 is covered by a three-year warranty that covers parts, labor, and CRT.

Hewlett-Packard monitors are held to high recycling standards, are certified for low emissions, and are compliant with Energy Star and most major international standards.

You network folks can save time and errors by tracking monitor information electronically with Insight Manager, which provides individual users or network administrators with monitor model, serial number, resolution, and video controller information.

Even with the quarter-point deduction for display quality, the HP p1230 earned a 5-star rating. Highly Recommended.

ThinkVision C220p

IBM

www.ibm.com

Star rating: 5 stars out of 5 Price: $649

The IBM ThinkVision C220p monitor's attractive matte-black housing typifies the attention to detail in both design and construction that characterizes IBM hardware. It's well designed and engineered.

The ThinkVision C220p is a 22" aperture-grille monitor with a 0.24mm dot pitch. The bandwidth on this display is 360MHz, and it offers a maximum resolution of 2048X1536 at 80Hz. The C220p measures 20.2" X 20.3" X 19.1" (wXhXd) and weighs in at 67.2lb.

IBM's ThinkVision C220p monitor is well designed and well engineered. It earned a 5-star Highly Recommended rating.
IBM's ThinkVision C220p monitor is well designed and well engineered. It earned a 5-star Highly Recommended rating.

Although there's no USB connectivity on the ThinkVision C220p, it has a single standard D-sub connector and a single DVI-A connector located at the rear. Priced at a slightly high $649 when compared with other monitors in this roundup, the monitor earned a B+ score for price on our report card.

The IBM ThinkVision C220p is the only monitor in this roundup to post across-the-board perfect scores for display quality, albeit with a couple of slight caveats. I noted some very slight edge softness, but because detail was distinct and the softness barely discernible under magnification, I gave no deductions. Similarly, the color purity test showed the C220p to have greens that were slightly over-bright, though again this was not significant enough to result in a deduction. Such overly bright greens typically affect gradations in bright green areas of the display, but in this case, as with the slightly soft focus just noted, the brightness wasn't enough to result in a deduction. Otherwise, the display was both excellent and attractive.

The controls on the IBM ThinkVision C220p consist of four buttons and a large power toggle with an accompanying LED power indicator. One of the control buttons is for selection of the video input source, with the remainder for navigating and adjusting the image display settings. Additional menu controls include manual degauss, information displaying resolution, refresh rate, product details/borderless operation, and menu position. The on-screen menu is simple and easy to navigate, understand, and use.

Warranty coverage for the IBM ThinkVision C220p is a standard three years on labor, parts, and CRT.

This monitor incorporates IBM's ThinkVantage design to enhance usability and is especially useful for users of CAD/CAM, imaging, and digital content creation applications.

The IBM ThinkVision C220p is attractive to look at and offers a high-quality, if not perfect, image that's easy on the eye. The C220p should be easy to use day-in and day-out for extended periods of time. It's one of four monitors in this roundup to receive Cadalyst's coveted 5-star rating. Highly Recommended.

Vision Master Pro 514, HM204DTA

Iiyama North America

www.iiyama.com

Star rating: 5 stars out of 5 Price: $579

The Iiyama Vision Master Pro 514 has a couple of extras not found in any of the other monitors reviewed here: USB support (v1.1; hub is 4 down and 1 up) is built into the base of the monitor, as are a couple of small speakers. The stand on the Vision Master Pro 514 is distinctive in other ways as well—it incorporates the power switch, the menu control system, and the video connectors.

The Vision Master Pro 514 is a 22" aperture-grille monitor with a 20" viewable area. It features a 390MHz dot clock and a dot pitch of 0.24mm. This putty-colored monitor measures 19.4" X 19.7" X 18.9" (wXhXd) and weighs 64.9lb. Maximum display resolution is 2048X1536 at 85Hz.

The Vision Master Pro 514 from Iiyama is an excellent, 5-star monitor for a great price.
The Vision Master Pro 514 from Iiyama is an excellent, 5-star monitor for a great price.

Two D-sub connectors are located in the monitor base along with the USB port. The power switch, source selector, and menu navigation pad make the base the effective control center for the monitor.

The single multidirection navigation button (up, down, left, and right all in one button) makes navigating the simple but complete menu system a snap. The menu is easy to understand, use, and navigate. It supports English, German, French, Dutch, Swedish, and Japanese.

Probably the main feature of this high-end monitor is the new high-brightness tube that, at the touch of a button, switches from the normal display mode to high-brightness mode, the equivalent of a TV screen, which is an especially useful feature for videos, image processing applications, and those who occasionally use their CAD systems for games.

The Iiyama Vision Master Pro 514 is well priced at $579. With its feature set and quality, you get a lot for that price. The monitor received a slight deduction in the price category on the report card because of aggressive pricing by other monitor vendors participating here.

As with the majority of monitors tested, the only quality and performance deduction was a quarter-point for color purity. In this case, the yellow appeared slightly dull. All other display characteristics were excellent throughout, without even slight imperfections. The slight deductions for pricing and display quality were offset by the overall high quality of the Iiyama Vision Master Pro 514 when the report card and star ratings were tabulated.

Warranty coverage on the Vision Master Pro 514 is three years, including all parts and labor.

All the little extras that go into a good display come together to make this an excellent monitor, despite the slight deduction for color purity. Taken all together, the Iiyama Vision Master Pro 514 earned a Cadalyst Labs 5-star rating. Highly Recommended.

MultiSync FE2111SB

NEC-Mitsubishi Electronics Display

www.necmitsubishi.com

Star rating: 4.5 stars out of 5 Price: $599.99

NEC-Mitsubishi's entry for this large CRT roundup is the MultiSync FE2111SB, a 22" aperture-grille monitor with a 20" viewable area and a dot pitch rating of 0.24mm. The synchronous range for the MultiSync FE2111SB is 30-115KHz horizontally and 50-160Hz vertically, and the maximum resolution is 1920X1440 at 75Hz.

NEC-Mitsubishi's MultiSync FE2111SB costs $599.99, right in the middle of this group of monitors.
NEC-Mitsubishi's MultiSync FE2111SB costs $599.99, right in the middle of this group of monitors.

The NEC-Mitsubishi MultiSync FE2111SB is housed in a well-designed and handsome two-toned putty case. A black case is also available. The monitor measures 19.5" X 19.1" X 18.5" (wXhXd) and weighs 65.3lb. The monitor offers no USB connectivity and only a single D-sub connector, earning it a B.

At $599.99, the MultiSync FE2111SB is priced at about the median for the monitors in this roundup—neither the highest nor the lowest price here. The MultiSync FE2111SB is covered by a limited three-year warranty on CRT, parts, and labor. Extended warranty coverage is available as an option.

The on-screen menu is adequate, although I found it a bit difficult to navigate. The MultiSync FE2111SB menu system supports six languages.

Seven control buttons and an LED power indicator reside at the bottom center of the front bezel. Further below and separate is the power toggle, located where it can't be hit accidentally—one of many nice touches evident in the design of this monitor. Another is that the monitor cabinet features recessed cable connections. One of the control buttons is a toggle for the SuperBright feature (on, off, and movie), another button is a reset, and the remaining buttons control the menu system.

If the FE2111SB monitor doesn't fit your needs, NEC-Mitsubishi is almost certain to have one that will. The company offers a broad selection of both LCD and CRT monitors and information displays in screen sizes from 15" to 40", with a variety of options in any given size range.

On the test bench, the only quality or performance deduction the NEC-Mitsubishi MultiSync FE2111SB monitor received was a quarter-point for yellows and reds that were slightly dull. Otherwise, the quality was consistently excellent in all other evaluated areas. The displayed image was crisp and attractive, and should be very easy to live with in everyday use for extended periods of time. The OptiClear+ coating used on the screen virtually eliminates glare and reflections.

The MultiSync FE2111SB has a very solid and substantial feel that is the result of good design and engineering. It earned a 4.5-star rating.

G220fb

ViewSonic

www.viewsonic.com

Star rating: 5 stars out of 5 Price: $493

The ViewSonic G220fb monitor distinguishes itself from the rest of the pack in several different ways. The G220fb is, first of all, the only CRT in this roundup based on Invar shadow-mask technology. All the other displays reviewed here are based on aperture-grille designs. The ViewSonic G220fb is a 21" monitor with a 20" viewable area. The model tested was housed in an attractive matte black housing with a stylish but unobtrusive design. The maximum resolution of the G220fb is 2048X1536 at 68Hz, and the dot pitch is a moderate 0.25mm.

A Highly Recommended monitor, the ViewSonic G220fb posted excellent results on our Cadalyst Labs tests.
A Highly Recommended monitor, the ViewSonic G220fb posted excellent results on our Cadalyst Labs tests.

The G220fb weighed in at a relatively trim 59.4lb, further distinguishing itself by being the lightest of all the monitors in this roundup.

The on-screen menu is easy to navigate and understand. Five buttons are located at the bottom center of the bezel. On the far right (separated by a divider) is a power toggle, accompanied by an LED power indicator. The other four buttons are for navigating the on-screen menu. With all the buttons the same matte black color as the housing, it's a little difficult to see which button does what, but this is something you quickly get used to.

The specially formulated ARAG screen treatment uses an advanced multilayer process to eliminate glare and reflection while maintaining the highest image quality, and is truly excellent.

At $493, the ViewSonic G220fb once again distinguishes itself—this time by being the least expensive monitor in this roundup.

On the test bench, the G220fb generally got high scores. The only two deductions were minor—a quarter-point off for contrast and another quarter-point off for color purity. The contrast of the ViewSonic G220fb was lower than I like, even turned up all the way. Though this resulted in lots of separation in dark tones, it lacked a certain snap. The color deduction was for a very slightly dull red, though other colors were excellent, particularly the yellow and green. Yellow seems to be difficult to reproduce, but the yellow on the G220fb was clear and clean. Green—which on many monitors is overly bright—was also clean and clear, providing subtle gradations in brighter greens.

Though the ViewSonic G220fb is one of three large CRT monitors to get a Cadalyst Labs 5-star rating in this review, the G220fb actually received the highest overall score by a slight margin. Highly Recommended.


About the Author: Ron LaFon


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