Choosing a monitor to suit a budget…

We often get asked advice about choosing a suitable monitor for a particular budget, so, without further ado; ‘What are the key factors when choosing a monitor to suit a budget?’

Something for the professional:

The most popular professional monitor size is 24″, of which Eizo and NEC share the market with their CG243  and SpectraView Reference 241W respectively.

Professional monitors such as these have top grade panels and are supplied – as standard – with a monitor hood and direct hardware calibration software (the addition of a monitor calibrator is required).

The NEC Reference models benefit from a Dead Pixel and Sub Pixel return policy, whereas standard ISO specification allow for a number of dead sub pixels in such a product (just no complete dead pixels).

Although the Eizo CG monitors do not cover dead ‘sub-pixels’, they do include a monitor swap-out for warranty repairs that cannot be resolved during an on-site repair visit.

On the other hand, while slighty more expensive, the NEC SV Reference 241W has newer technology and slightly higher specification than the Eizo.

Decisions become slightly harder when dropping down to the next grade of monitors as you are effectively sacrificing quality and/or features in order to meet a budget. So, it is helpful to understand how each limitation will affect ones specific requirements.

At an inc . vat street-price point of £700-£900 (a saving of 25-45% from the cost of a 24” Professional model), key current choices are as follows…

The Choices:

24″ NEC MultiSync PA241W

24″ Eizo SX2462W

23″ NEC SpectraView 231W

22″ Eizo CG223W

The 24″ Choice:

Firstly the 24” models. The 24″ NEC PA241W and the Eizo SX2462 models are comparable to each other.

The street price of the PA241W is nominally lower than the Eizo SX2462, but the PA241W is a newer product with a slightly higher specification – providing 14 bit LUTs against 12 bit and a maximum contrast ratio of 1000:1 against 850:1.

Both models have IPS panels (similar to the professional equivalents), with the NEC benefiting from P-IPS against the slightly older S-IPS panel technology in the Eizo.

However, a lower price means you do lose some features compared to the professional models:

  1. A monitor hood is not included (but can be added with an equivalent quality PChOOD.
  2. Monitor Uniformity – a far lower specification of uniformity across the panels.
  3. Lack of direct hardware calibration – a higher level of monitor calibration (and less user interaction) is provided through the direct calibration software supplied with the SpectraView and CG monitors.
  4. Features specific to NEC or Eizo professional models (as highlighted above), are not included.

Overall these are a lower grade of monitor. An alternative option could be to drop the size rather than quality.

22″ – 23″ Choices

This introduces the NEC SpectraView 231 and the Eizo CG223.

These models also benefit from a price point slightly lower than the PA241W and SX2462 models, but are 1 or 2″ smaller. So what do you gain from the smaller sized SpectraView and CG specification, in comparison to the 24″ SpectraView and CG models? And equally, are they the same spec as the larger equivalents?

  • NEC SV231W – This is a SpectraView (not a SpectraView ‘Reference’ model).  It has a smaller colour Gamut than the reference models and although a monitor hood is not included, a PChOOD can be added for £60. It also does not benefit from the Zero sub-pixel policy.
  • Eizo CG223 – This is a CG model, but unlike the CG243 which benefits from having an IPS panel, this model has a VA panel, as does lower cost 24″ CG241.

The choice between this pair of monitors is very much down to priorities, for example; the balance of the NEC SV 231W with an IPS panel against the VA panel, but larger colour gamut of the Eizo CG223. It’s also baring in mind that you get a 1″ larger and higher resolution with the SV231W.

The Decision process – a buyers guide:

Step 1 – Can you justify the budget for a 24” Eizo CG or NEC SpectraView? Even if you don’t necessarily need the 24” size, you will not get comparable quality from the smaller models. If not move down to step 2.

Step 2 – Decide on your preference of benefits between the Eizo SX2462 and the NEC PA241W. Similarly repeat the exercise for the lower cost 22” and 23” models.

Step 3 – Decide between your preferred 24” model and 22/23” model. Although the 22/23” model is smaller and lower cost that the 24” options, they may have benefits in quality/specification that are appropriate to your needs.

Still out of your price range?

Step 4 – if they are all out of your price range, consider the NEC P221 or the Eizo S2243. Both monitors will benefit from the addition of a hood. The higher cost of the Eizo is justified through its higher resolution (equivalent to a 24” display within a 22” screen), resulting in a sharper image, but smaller menu display.

Lot’s on information to consider. If you’re still un-decided, or need more advice, give us a call or get in touch and we’ll help you work out which monitor is best for you.

Simon Prais
Technical Director

One thought on “Choosing a monitor to suit a budget…

  1. Pingback: Choosing a monitor (updated) – a buyer’s guide. | The Color Confidence Blog

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