Introduction

It has been quite some time since we've done any display reviews at AnandTech. It is a topic that comes up on a regular basis, and the display is definitely an important aspect of any computer system. Quite a bit has changed since our last display review, nearly all of those changes for the better. Many of the concerns we used to have about LCDs have now been addressed - pixel response times, color purity, and pricing have in the past been the major deterrence towards purchasing a large new LCD. While there is always room for improvement, desktop LCDs are now at the point where very few people would prefer anything else. Simply put, the CRT is dead; long live the LCD! That is not to say that LCDs are the only foreseeable display technology for the future, but before we get into the technologies, let's briefly talk about displays in general.

For some applications/scenarios the display is of little importance. Many large corporations will have headless servers - servers that aren't connected to any display - because they don't need to use the system directly. Logging into a server from a remote location is more than sufficient for most administrative tasks. A single KVM switch (Keyboard Video Mouse) can also be connected to a bunch of systems for times when physical interaction with a server is necessary. It's possible to have as many as 24 systems sharing a single KVM setup, which allows you to conserve space in a data center, not to mention cutting back on cable clutter and power requirements. In such usage scenarios, the display is probably the least important component in the system.

The reverse of that is the typical home or office user. Depending on your work and hobbies, you may find yourself staring into a computer display as much as 12 hours a day, and even more in some instances. Hopefully you take periodic breaks, but more likely than not you get too involved and forget such minor considerations. A typical power user will load up a lot of web pages in the course of a day; work on some documents, images, spreadsheets, etc.; maybe play a few games; answer email, and perhaps even watch a video or two.... That's a lot of time looking at your display! While having documents and web pages open faster is always nice, most people agree that the fastest computer in the world connected to a lousy display would be a chore to use.

We have frequently argued that the display should be a primary decision when purchasing a new computer - unless you already have a high quality display that you'll be keeping. Unlike computers where you might upgrade systems every year or two - or at least a few of the components - it is not unusual to use a display for a very long time. Some people will spend as much as 33% of their computer budget at the time of a new system purchase on the display, with the intention of using the display for at least five years. Once you have a good quality display, there are only a few reasons to consider upgrading: either you want a larger display, your old display starts to wear out (i.e. poor colors/contrast/brightness), something breaks, or now we have the new problem of not being able to support HDCP content. As much as that last item can irritate some of us - anyone who purchased an expensive LCD two years ago feel free to raise your hand - HDCP support is now a feature that the majority of users will want to have, if only as a safeguard. If you never intend to watch video content on your display, you can probably manage to live without it, but all other things being equal why not spend a few dollars more for something that might be useful?

Besides the features that go into a display, there are plenty of new technologies in various phases of development that are worth keeping an eye on. CRTs have basically been relegated to the budget sector, and very few manufacturers are interested in that market anymore. LCDs are the most common display right now, generally offering high contrast ratios, clear and bright colors, and an attractive slim profile that so many people like. Looking towards the future, OLEDs show a lot of promise, and different methods of backlighting are being used with LCDs to further improve image quality. Outside of computers, various other technologies are in development/deployment, but most of these aren't likely to move onto the desktop. Rear projection HDTVs have been around awhile, with many projection systems now moving towards DLP, but rear projection/DLP displays require far too much space for most people to want them on a desktop. Plasma displays have also been around for quite some time, but their increased weight relative to LCDs is likely to keep them away from the computer market. SED (Surface-conduction Electron-emitter Display), FED (Field Emission Display), and various other display technologies may steal the spotlight in the future but for now it looks like LCDs and OLEDs will be the primary choices for computer users.


We're going to kick off our return to display reviews with a look at one of Gateway's newest offerings, the FPD2485W. This is a relatively high-end display intended to compete with offerings from other major manufacturers (Dell, Samsung, HP, Viewsonic, Acer, etc.) In contrast to some of the other 24" LCDs currently on the market, it has only been available for a few months and it sports one of the newer LCD panels. Priced at under $700, it's also reasonably affordable though certainly not cheap. Given what we've just said above, however, we would definitely recommend anyone considering the purchase of a midrange or faster computer take a serious look at their display and decide whether or not it's time to upgrade. After seeing what we have to say about the Gateway FPD2485W, you might be willing to make the investment.

Overview of Features and Specifications
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  • jbr65n - Friday, March 14, 2008 - link

    I purchased this monitor 11/2007. In 2/2008, the monitor completely died. I called Gateway and they refused to send me a new monitor. they would only send a refurb. (customer service reps were nasty, arrogant, and rude, when you do not agree with them they hang up on you).

    The second monitor did not work right out of the box, none of the touch control buttons lit up and they did not work, I had no way to turn the monitor on or off.

    They sent a third refurb unit, and again, right out of the box, the backlight kept turning off, I would have to cycle the power several times to get it to come back on and then it would only stay on for a few seconds. Tech support said they would take back the monitor and the speaker bar add-on (since the speaker only worked on this one monitor) and refund my money for both. He transferred me to customer service to process the refund and returns and they changed there mind and said they will not give a refund. When I asked how long this was going to go on, there reply was "until I get a unit the works"

    In all fairness, this is a nice monitor, but three bad ones in a row, and there lack of proper customer service, is enough to make anyone think twice!


    Reply
  • timelag - Saturday, March 10, 2007 - link

    Thanks, Jarred, for the informed review. A selfish request--could you review the current Dell, Apple, and Samsung 23/24" LCDs? A friend is in the market in the next couple months and I am buying before the end of the year. From what little looking I've done, these seem to be the best candidates so far for hobbyist photo work (and movie viewing, game playing, web browsing...). Reply
  • strikeback03 - Monday, March 05, 2007 - link

    I purchased this monitor over the weekend at a local Best Buy. Here are my results from calibrating with the Pantone/greatagmacbeth Eye-One Display 2 colorimeter using the Eye-One Match 3.6.1 software.

    First I calibrated according to their instructions, which include driving the contrast to 100%. I had to go into user color and lower each color channel to 59 (default was 100) to get the brightness down. The brightness meter stated that it was at the target 120 cd/m^2, though the results show differently. Here are the results for the calibration:

    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v315/strikeback0...">http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v315/strikeback0...

    And here is the validation results as an image of an Excel page. The Eye-One software does not give an easy way to directly export a graph, so colors tested are labeled by both RGB and Lab color values. Dunno how these compare to the values the Monaco Optix package uses, but by it's tests the results were quite good.

    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v315/strikeback0...">http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v315/strikeback0...

    As the fist image shows though, the colorimeter was doing a lot of adjustment at the dark end of the spectrum, and video suffered from crushed blacks. So I tried changing brightness and contrast until video looked good, then recalibrating. Settings used here were brightness of 76 (with individual color channels still set to 59) and contrast of 60.

    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v315/strikeback0...">http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v315/strikeback0...

    Much less work is being done to dark colors now, video looks good, and the dE is even lower now:

    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v315/strikeback0...">http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v315/strikeback0...

    Brightness is still a little higher than recommended, but not much above what turned out following their procedure exactly.
    Reply
  • Ferris23 - Tuesday, February 27, 2007 - link

    I have this display and love it, but something I like to know about all my displays is how to access the service menu. Usually there are extra options that allow even more fine tuning with color etc...

    Do you have any connections that would be able to tell you the way to enter a service menu on this display?

    Gateway "tech support" has no idea what I am asking and just send me spec sheets or links to what the OSD looks like.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, February 28, 2007 - link

    Not sure what more could be done to fine tune the display. If you go to the user settings you can adjust RGB colors, but being an LCD it doesn't really make a difference whether you do that on the LCD or in the Windows drivers. They both end up accomplishing the same thing. I have never looked into "hidden service menus" on any of the LCDs I've used, I'm sorry to say. Reply
  • gandergray - Tuesday, February 27, 2007 - link

    Jared:

    Thank you for the review. I'm very pleased that you will be reviewing monitors again. In your future LCD display reviews, I suggest that you identify the manufacturer and model of LCD panel in the monitor, and continue to identify the manufacturer and model of the signal processing chipset (you did in this review), as in Kristopher's November, 2003 "Dell UltraSharp 2001FP Preview: Gaming LCDs for the Masses" review. Finding information about an LCD monitor's panel and chipset is difficult at best. I suspect that many enthusiasts would often consider the panel type, brand and model when choosing monitors, if that information was readily available. In fact, I frequently read discussions about the merits of S-IPS panels over S-PVA panels. Additionally, would you also alert readers when a monitor manufacturer uses different types of panels in the same monitor, i.e., model. This practice is disconcerting; Consumers simply can't be certain that the specific model that they purchase will have a specific panel. I believe that a vocal outcry would eliminate or substantially reduce this practice.

    Gandergray
    Reply
  • gandergray - Tuesday, February 27, 2007 - link

    My apologies-- Jarred. Reply
  • Googer - Monday, February 26, 2007 - link

    quote:

    Currently, the FPD2485W is listed for $680 on the Gateway web site, while the regular price of the Dell 2407WFP is $750. Dell routinely runs sales, however, and the 2407WFP is available for $675 right now. You basically end up with two very similar monitors that cost about the same amount, although the <U><B>Dell comes with a three-year warranty included making it a slightly better deal.</u></B>


    Gateway offers a $29 extended three (3) year warranty for the FPD2485W making it the same as the Dell 2407WFP for $40 less.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Monday, February 26, 2007 - link

    The Dell is currently (or was last week) $675 with the three year warranty. The Gateway is $680 + $30 for a 3-year warranty. So right now, the Dell is clearly less expensive. If the price of the Dell goes back up (which is almost certainly will at some point), things change a bit. Reply
  • larciel - Friday, February 23, 2007 - link

    quote:

    The problem is, darker blacks are good but brighter whites are only good up to a certain point. Anything above 400 cd/m 2 is far too bright in our opinion. As you can see, the black levels of both the Gateway and Dell LCD are equal, /
    quote:



    Dell achieves 200cd/m2 while gateway achieves 400, 405.21cd/m2 to be exact.

    Aren't you supposed to compliment gateway for its excellent white brigthness while bash dell's inferior test result? or are you saying gateway's performance is nothing to sneeze at because it went over mere 5.21cd/m2 of your recommendation of 400cd/m2

    I hate to speculate, but I'm very disappointed in this review.. reminds me of biased reviews from Toms. Reply

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