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
POST A COMMENT

76 Comments

View All Comments

  • anandtech02148 - Thursday, February 22, 2007 - link

    I find the Westinghouse 37 lcdtv eye candies with all the pluggins you could want, for pc, consoles and whatever hi-def format.
    and it has native resolution as this Gateway 24.
    Dell is losing it touches lately, Westinghouse got a niche here they should runaway with it.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, February 22, 2007 - link

    I'll see if I can get one for review - I'd certainly like to check out some of the LCD-TVs that can function as computer displays. Of course, pixel pitch is going to be a lot larger on a 37" 1080p display, and while that may be fine for HDTV and gaming purposes, it probably isn't the best for close up computer work. Reply
  • Welshtrog - Thursday, February 22, 2007 - link

    I am looking at these displays with interest, however there is nothing in this review that will change my mind regarding retaining my 19" Flat screen CRT just yet, It has good colour accuracy after being set up and no stuck pixels Reply
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, February 22, 2007 - link

    I've got two decent 19" CRTs still (NEC FE991 and Samsung 997DF), and honestly I can't stand using them after I switched to a 24" LCD 18 months ago. I still get irritated by image tear caused by the 60Hz refresh rate, but in all other areas I'm a lot happier with larger LCDs over CRTs. Part of that is simply the expanded screen size, but the reduced footprint is nice as well. I bailed on CRTs a few years ago and haven't really missed them, although I can certainly understand the hesitation. The $600+ prices doesn't help either. :) Reply
  • Justin Case - Thursday, February 22, 2007 - link

    The review doesn't address this. I know it says "16 million colors", but all manufacturers say that, and 90% of them use 6-bit panels with automatic dithering. The fact that this is an active matrix TFT, coupled with the very low resposne time suggests that this is a 6-bit panel, like the majority.

    This means more banding and dithered midtones. Which is probably fine for "office" use, but it makes the LCD unusable for photo work (actually, any LCD short of an Eizo CG is pretty much useless for photo work, IMO, and even those just barely manage to match a high-end CRT), and can make games and movies look pretty bad, too.

    To test this, just display a smooth gradient (at the monitor's native resolution) and either look at it very closely or take a photograph of a very small area (about 10 pixels wide), and then increase its contrast until the darkest color is black and the brightest color is white. If you see dithering or banding at the pixel level in the intermediate shades, it's a 6-bit panel.

    Reply
  • Aquila76 - Thursday, February 22, 2007 - link

    It is an 8 bit S-PVA panel, like the Dell and Samsung 244t. It does 'real' 16.7 million colors, but as I stated previously (and as Jarred can attest) it is nowhere near accurate. Reply
  • Justin Case - Thursday, February 22, 2007 - link

    I'd still like to see a "real" test of the screen (by taking a high-speed photo of a small area). Some panels out there do intermeidate colors by flipping between two shades. The panel _accepts_ 8-bit values, but the LCs don't actually have 256 stable transparency levels.

    Not that I'm very interested in this particular model, but I think it would be useful if review sites actually did that, rather than trusting what the manufacturers tell them.

    Even in high-end professional equipment there's a lot of deception. Consumer stuff is even worse (ex., until about a year ago there were almost no real 1920x1080 HDTV sets out there; apart from Sharp, they were all 1366x768 and below, but they all claimed to "support 1920x1080", because they could take it as an input signal).

    Reply
  • strikeback03 - Thursday, February 22, 2007 - link

    meh, the color calibration results aren't great, considering on my laptop I have an average dE of around .6 and only 3 values over 1 (out of the 42 tested by my Eye-One Display 2). I'll probably still pick one up though, as it's the only locally available 24" display.

    Other reviews I read online spoke of crushed blacks which calibration did not correct when viewing movies. Any comments on this?
    Reply
  • Gary Key - Thursday, February 22, 2007 - link

    quote:

    Other reviews I read online spoke of crushed blacks which calibration did not correct when viewing movies. Any comments on this?


    Jarred is currently reviewing the requests/questions and will have responses later today.
    Reply
  • xtknight - Friday, February 23, 2007 - link

    When you calibrate using a colorimeter and accompanying software, it only loads the LUT (lookup table) on to the desktop. When you watch a movie, most of the time you're using overlay, which to my knowledge does not allow the fine tuning needed for a lookup table. With VMR you could potentially view videos calibrated, although the last time I tried this I had some odd 16-240 level compression problem.

    I've been meaning to investigate the overlay "LUT" (or to even find if it exists in the first place). I've seen a function in NVIDIA's control panel API that allows the loading of a LUT onto the overlay surface so I'll see what's up with that.
    Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now