ViewSonic VP2365-LED £200
14th Jan 2012 | 10:29
Affordable IPS panels are becoming more common, but this ViewSonic is still something special
The influence of Apple's computers and gadgets is often over egged.
So we'd forgive you for coming over all sceptical at the suggestion that the latest generation of affordable PC monitors owes much to the fruit-themed outfit some simply love while others love to hate.
For sure, this new ViewSonic VP2365-LED 24-inch desktop screen doesn't look anything like Apple's slick and sensuous fare.
It's downright dowdy. But it does take a leaf out of Apple's definitive work on image quality. Specifically, ViewSonic has jumped on the IPS bandwagon.
IPS, or In-Plane Switching, is the LCD panel technology favoured by Apple in many of its recent computers and gadgets.
It's IPS that delivered the massive increase in colour quality and contrast the iPhone 4 offered compared with the 3GS. It's IPS that enabled the iPad to immediately raise the tablet industry's image-quality game. And it's IPS that ensures the iMac range offers the best screens in the all-in-one business.
Critically, where Apple goes, others follow. With Apple shifting millions of IPS-equipped products, punters are not only getting a taste for decent screen quality, they've an inkling what to ask for. IPS is beginning to enter the public consciousness.
That matters because just a few years ago most monitor companies had given up on offering high-quality LCD panels in mainstream monitors. IPS and other premium panel technologies, including PVA and MVA, cost more and punters weren't willing to pay. All that mattered was price and screen size. And that meant that cheap, ugly TN technology dominated.
So, we know the new ViewSonic VP2365-LED packs an IPS panel. But what does that actually mean in terms of specs, and what else makes this £200/$350 panel tick?
With a 24-inch screen diagonal and 1,920 x 1,080 pixel grid, the VP2365-LED ticks the same Full HD 1080p box as all those cheap TN panels. Look a little closer, however, and you'll begin to spot the differences.
For starters, the viewing angles are quoted at 178 degrees for both horizontal and vertical. That may not sound like a dramatic increase over the 170 and 160 degrees horizontal and vertical typically claimed for TN screens, but it makes an enormous difference. The 1,000:1 static contrast ratio also hints at a quality panel.
Slightly less impressive is the 6ms claimed for grey-to-grey pixel response. It's the one metric by which IPS panels can't compete with TN technology. The ViewSonic VP2365-LED's 250cd/m2 brightness isn't exactly stellar, either, especially considering that it packs an LED backlight rather than old school CCFL tech.
Another highlight is the stand and chassis. OK, it's black and bland to the point of anonymity. And there's zero tactile delight to be had from the plain, hard plastics. But the overall assembly is sturdy and stable. It also offers full adjustability, including rotate, swivel, tilt and height and VESA wall-mount compatibility.
What you don't get, however, is much in the way of peripheral technology. Unlike many cheaper screens, the ViewSonic VP2365-LED's on-screen menu isn't stuffed with fancy-sounding image processing options. It does offer full colour, gamma and temperature configurability. There's a dynamics contrast function too. But the likes of switchable pixel response modes and fancy adaptive colour processing are absent.
Frankly, that's no great loss. Most such technologies promise much but deliver very little. Nor is the superficially limited connectivity (DVI and VGA is your lot) much of a downside. Instead, ViewSonic has cooked up a no-nonsense package that majors on the things that matter - panel, backlight and chassis quality. If ViewSonic can execute on that little trio it'll have a winner on its hands, and never mind the frills.
The ultimate in current LCD technology would combine the best of IPS and PVA panel technology and throw in some LEDs and fully adjustable stand for good measure. Hold onto that thought for a moment.
Out of the box, if you didn't know what sort of panel the ViewSonic VP2365-LED packed, you'd face something of a conundrum. On the one hand, the colours are conspicuously rich and vivid. That suggests PVA. On the other, the palette isn't over saturated, which tends towards a diagnosis of IPS. Then again, the anti-glare coating is very smooth and free from sparkle. The blacks are rich, too. We're back to PVA again.
The VP2365-LED also puts in a strong showing in the Lagom suite of test images. Both black and white scales offer oodles of detail. The colour scales aren't exactly shabby, either, while the viewing angles do the usual IPS thing, which means they're wide enough to be a total non-issue.
Things get even more confusing as you dig a little deeper, calling on a range of go-to give aways in the quest for panel identity. When is comes to IPS screens you can almost always pick 'em, thanks to a little quirk known as IPS glow. It's basically a little unwanted light leakage that's visible when displaying very dark tones. Sweep your head across the screen and you can see the glow transition across the panel surface.
But not here. Or at least the IPS glow has been suppressed to the point of near invisibility. The same goes for those traditional PVA tell tales, inverse ghosting and input lag. Both are a by-product of image processing and in particular pixel overdive, a technology commonly used on PVA screens to improve pixel response. Neither rear their ugly mugs here.
Likewise, while there have been reports of the ViewSonic VP2365-LED suffering from edge or corner bleed from the backlight, our sample simply didn't suffer them. All of this will have you wondering what if anything could possibly spoil the party.
Well, that 250cd/m2 backlight rating does indeed translate into less than retina searing brightness. This isn't an issue in normal usage, since few people are comfortable for long periods beyond 200cd/m2 in normal lighting conditions. But it does make for a slightly less flexible monitor.
The only other hitches involve the pixel response and refresh rate. Both, frankly, are relative. In absolute terms, the ViewSonic VP2365-LED is more than quick enough for games, movies, you name it. But it's not as lightning-quick as an overdriven TN panel.
The same goes for the 60Hz refresh rates. It's pretty much the industry standard, and if you'd never tried anything else, you wouldn't give it a second thought.
Problem is, we have seen something else, namely screens built for active shutter 3D tech that support refresh rates of 120Hz. They're so slick and smooth that even just for wiggling windows on the desktop, once you've seen 120Hz, it's hard to go back.
The holy grail of PC paneldom is a screen that marries the best attributes of all available monitors, ditches the bad bits and does it all at price you can afford. That the ViewSonic VP2365-LED doesn't pull that off is no surprise. But it comes awfully, awfully close - much closer than any screen that's even in the same postcode or price.
The 24-inch proportions and 1920 x 1080 resolution are nothing special. In truth we prefer the slightly less widescreen 16:9 aspect ratio and more vertical pixels in the form of a 1920 x 1200 grid. But the panel itself is really something special.
The sparkle-free anti glare coating gives the sort of clarity that's usually reserved for PVA screens. Meanwhile, rich colours and deep blacks smack of PVA, too.
But this is in fact an IPS screen, so you get all that and all the good stuff that comes with IPS, too. That means excellent colour accuracy and outstanding viewing angles. The only thing missing from the mix is pixel response to match the best TN screens. That's not to say the response is poor, it's just not the best available.
Strictly speaking, we'd like a little more oomph from the backlight, too. While we're being picky, there are a couple of other items on the wish list. Support for 120Hz refresh would be nice, both for those who fancy some stereoscopic 3D action and because 120Hz makes for buttery smooth visuals on the desktop and in games.
Despite the 1080p hype and the fact that it's become the de facto standard for desktop computing, we don't think the 1920 x 1080 native resolution is ideal. 1920 x 1200 is certainly preferable. Some would prefer even more pixels. We wouldn't argue.
Elsewhere there's little bad news to report. The ViewSonic VP2365-LED's chassis won't turn any heads courtesy of sheer panache. But it does deliver a sturdy base to work from and adjusts every which way - and that's what really counts.
The same goes for the ostensibly limited DVI and VGA video ports. Sure, it wouldn't hurt to have HDMI and DisplayPort as options. But if what you want is a serious PC display, DVI does what it says on the tin.
The ViewSonic VP2365-LED offers terrific image quality, a great stand and all the input options you need. For £200/$350, what more do you want?
ViewSonic has put together such a strong package, picking holes is an exercise in pedantry. Nonetheless, the list of minor complaints includes good rather than great pixel response, less than stellar backlight strength and a dreary appearance.
After a long wait, the flood gates have finally opened on affordable screens based on non-TN panel technologies. The new ViewSonic VP2365-LED is one of, if not the, best of this new breed of PC monitors.
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