Best Buy
  • Price: 695

  • Company: NEC Display Solutions

  • Pros: Fantastic colour output for the price; detailed fine-tuning controls.

  • Cons: No SpectraView software; included tools are Windows-only.

  • Our Rating: We rate this 9 out of 10 We rate this 9 out of 10

NEC’s latest LCD monitor is an upgraded version of the popular LCD2690WUXi, and like its predecessor, it’s designed to offer high-quality output for print designers who don’t have the need or budget for a £1,000-plus display. The new ‘squared’ version has the same 26-inch screen and 1,920-x-1,200 resolution, but boasts better uniformity of colour across the screen and a wider colour gamut – so you’ll see smoother gradation of shades, especially in blues and colours with blue in them.

We profiled the monitor using DataColor’s Spyder3Elite calibrator and graphed the resulting profile using Chromix ColourThink Pro. This showed us that the LCD2690WUXi_’s colour gamut does indeed output many more shades of blue than the original model – and more than other models at this price point. NEC’s new display has a 12-bit LUT (look-up table) with a level of gradation into blues and reds that we’d expect from an much higher-end display – though its ability to show subtle shades of green is much lower than you’d get from a true high-end monitor. The LCD2690WUXi²’s gamut is also larger than entry-level displays such as the Eizo FlexScan S2242W (reviewed right).

We used the Spyder3Elite’s software to calibrate the LCD2690WUXi², as NEC doesn’t include the excellent calibration software that you get with the company’s high-end SpectraView line. You do get the NaviSet software, which allows you to adjust the monitor’s hardware settings from within Windows – but it’s not Mac-compatible.

The monitor’s OSD (on-screen display) is easy to use, and includes controls from the basic (brightness, contrast) to more advanced (black level, gain) – and even colour temperature modes stretching from 3,000K to 9,600K, so you can match the output to your studio lighting. There’s an ambient light sensor that you can set to raise and lower the brightness of your screen – though this may affect the accuracy of your colour management. The LCD2690WUXi² uses an excellent H-IPS panel with a low level of colour shift, which means anyone next to you viewing your screen from an angle – such as your boss or client – will see a more accurate representation of colours than with other displays.

The LCD2690WUXi² has two DVI inputs but doesn’t include DisplayPort for 10-bit input – though designers using Mac OS X or Windows Vista still can’t use this anyway. There are also no USB ports or media card slots.

NEC’s monitor is also SWOP certified for soft proofing, and would be a perfect fit for a graphic designer with high-grade – but not extreme – colour needs.