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NEC SpectraView 2690

Monitor Roundup: 23-26 Inches
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It's a nice touch that doesn't compensate for the other problems we found with this monitor, but it's worth noting nevertheless.

The OSD on this monitor is very usable, and other manufacturers could learn a lot from NEC in this area.

For graphics pros who need to adjust their monitor every day, the illuminated controls will make life a lot simpler.

Is it ever reasonable to try and sell a screen for four times more the going rate?  NEC certainly thinks so.

Adding a few zeros to the price tag is likely to scare the general public, but professional graphic designers might be likely to take a look.

What sets this SpectraView 2690 apart is the care and attention that have gone into its manufacture, completely lacking from more entry-level offerings. Once it's been assembled, each screen is quality controlled to ensure that Nec doesn't ship a single monitor with a dead pixel or a sub-pixel. Further down the production line, the screens are individually checked by a technician. These technicians look at the screens one area at a time, using a color senor to check the evenness of the screen and the brightness, calibrating one area of it at a time using an Onscreen Display that offers more options than usual.

The monitor is finally shipped with a color temperature of 5000 K instead of the more usual 6500 K, but all of the options that allow for individual areas of the screen to be calibrated are available to users.

Our Verdict: It's Not Worth It

The extra cash you'll need to spend on this monitor is a bitter pill to swallow: the SpectraView 2690 failed to deliver the goods in our tests

Compared to more affordable screens, it does well in some areas. It is a lot more customizable, for instance, with a great OSD, and it has great response times and good viewing angles. It's not all good news, though: while the screen is generally fairly even with a discrepancy of 22% between the bottom corners and the center, we've certainly seen better. An average screen is closer to 30%, but the very best monitors are as low as 10%.

Colors & Contrast

The use of an IPS panel allows for very large viewing angles, which are wide in all directions. However, the traditional problem of IPS screens is also very noticeable, with washed-out blacks, measuring as bright as 0.57 cd/m², a long way from the 0.2 cd/m² found on TN and PVA panels. This obviously as a very negative impact on the contrast, which is only 400:1.

Despite Nec's calibration, the default colors are problematic, and the screen needs to be calibrated before you use it. We measured a deltaE of 4.1, showing a large gap between the colors sent by the graphics card, with a gamma of 2.1 in the black and 2.6 in the white.

Elsewhere, the screen promises:

  • lower power consumption: we measured it to actually be twice as high as normal, but Nec claims it works for professional-level screens of this size.
  • 12 bit color: the graphics card only produces an 8 bit signal, so the extra power is only good for interpolated pixels.  On our test images, we couldn't detect any imporvement by eye.
Nec SpectraView 2690
  • Highly customizable
  • Each area of the screen can be adjusted separately
  • Excellent response times
  • Good viewing angles
  • Zero dead pixel guarantee
  • Washed out blacks
  • Default color handling is not as good as you'd expect
  • No video correction chip

As ever, our score doesn't take into the price, just how good the monitor is. If it wasn't quite so expensive then we'd a lot happier recommending it.

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