While the native resolution is 1,920 x 1,080, the NEC is also able to upscale to 1,920 x 1,200. However, not surprisingly, this results in a loss of image quality, particularly sharpness, as the screen overscans the image (essentially, it zooms in). This might be useful in games that only support 16:10 resolutions, but it's not critical - because at its native resolution, the NEC is simply awesome.
Given the IPS panel inside the NEC, we had high expectations - and we weren't disappointed. Digital photos that we'd seen so often they had become boring looked as though they'd been shot again by a professional or juiced up in Photoshop. Detail jumped out at us with brilliant accuracy and vividness, and there were so many more colours visible on the NEC than more modest screens that it was quite startling.
HD video playback was similarly remarkable, with not a hint of any artefacts in dark areas of the image. The edge detail and sharpness in particular were astonishing, and only surpassed by the explosion of colour in action scenes. Our standard video test - a 1080p HD trailer of Serenity - was a joy to watch, even if it was slightly less astounding than on the aforementioned HP LP2475w .
Games looked fantastic too, with the lush, green forests in Crysis looking incredibly realistic. There was superb depth to the scenery of the game on the NEC, even if the HP went a little further with the wow factor. Viewing angles on the NEC were outstanding, with next to no loss in image quality and colour accuracy as we moved our heads up, down, left of right.
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We only saw a slight loss in brightness at the very extremes of vertical and horizontal viewing angles. Text on websites was a little fuzzy, but this was quickly resolved by running through the ClearType calibration in Windows 7. We headed over to www.lagom.nl to see in more detail how the NEC performed. It fared well in all the tests, with the contrast test in particular backing up our observations in the video tests; the NEC was able to distinguish between the very darkest of greys against the black background.
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Our input lag test revealed no issues either, with the NEC keeping up to the millisecond with our virtually input lag-free Dell 3008WFP-HC control monitor. While we were worried that the quoted 14ms response time would lead to blurry images and ghosting in games, the NEC displayed roughly the same level of lag as the HP - it was fine, if not exceptional.
We found it surprisingly easy to become accustomed to the reduced height of the 16:9 23in panel over a 16:10 24in screen - the NEC is still a sizeable screen. The stand offered plenty of adjustment potential to position the panel at just the right height and angle to be comfortable, and we like the inclusion of the four-port USB hub too. However, the outstanding element of this screen is the brilliant quality of the panel. While the HP LP2475w uses a superior H-IPS panel to this standard IPS, and has the larger 16:10 resolution of 1,920 x 1,200, it cost £440 and is nearing the end of its life, so is difficult to find. Regardless of whether you can find an HP for sale, the NEC MultiSync EA231WMi is definitely worth considering.