|Planar PX2611W 26-Inch Widescreen LCD Monitor|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Monitor | HDTV|
|Written by Jonathan Jessup - Edited by Olin Coles|
|Wednesday, 18 July 2007|
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Planar Hardware Analysis
My unit has no dead or stuck pixels. Planar will replace the display if there are three or more dead or stuck pixels. If there are less, it depends on where they are located on the screen. There is a mild anti-glare coating on the panel, not a glossy coating.
LCD displays have always been sensitive to viewing at angles. There is a little white glowing at a horizontal angle, much like S-IPS panels do. Higher vertical angles give more glow than horizontal angles. Comparatively, PVA panels (Like the Dell 2707) will lose color saturation at higher angles. There always seems to be a trade off. The slight glow from horizontal angles is not noticeable except, when there is a large black area on screen. It isn't distracting in typical use, including in games or even in dark scenes. The vertical angle white glow is distracting, but who sits at high vertical angles from their screen?
For daily computer use, I do photography, web surfing, e-mail, and gaming while sitting right in front of the screen. :) I immediately noticed how bright areas in photos retained detail while before, my CRT did not. Also, the Planar showed a lot of detail in shadows compared to the CRT. This display can push some bright pixels, while keeping details. Shadows and dark areas look great too. It is vivid to the eyes with rich colors that jump out. The sharpness is outstanding. Individual pixels are small, yet visible, but not too small for my taste. The dot pitch is .2865mm or about 1/3 of a millimeter. That's a little bigger than average for LCD computer displays.
The following graphs show the color gamut of AdobeRGB (left), Planar PX2611W (middle) and sRGB (right).
For web surfing and general application use, I find that the display is very capable. It's so very crisp and sharp. The text is very clear and that is easy on the eyes. I can easily have two browsers open on the screen, next to each other. If your computer won't do the screen's native 1920x1200 resolution, the monitor will scale the screen (more on that later) well. 1280x1024 and 1024x768, while a bit soft, looked fine on the desktop for general use. 1280x720 worked fine, too. 1440x900 uses the same aspect ratio and so will fill the screen properly in aspect mode (more on that later too).
For gaming, the monitor tests to a little bit less than one frame of lag (about 12ms) . This is very good for an LCD. The test was using a VGA splitter comparing it to a CRT. CRTs have virtually no lag and are a good comparative benchmark. This LCD has no electronics to introduce input lag such as DCR (dynamic contrast), and no color critical electronics. All good for gaming!
PC Games I used to test the LCD were Battlefield 2142, Overlord and Supreme Commander. For gaming I have a one word review summary. WOW. There is no ghosting. I'm experienced and have been gaming for many years and I'm very picky. I know about lag and yes lag is a bad thing. Yes, I can detect a tiny bit of lag but, in no way did it affect my gameplay. For areas moving very fast, there is some blur, this is something all LCDs have. Supreme Commander on my 21" CRT felt claustrophobic and that's a big reason as to why I didn't play it very much. On this Planar 26" in 1920x1200 I can see the battlefield well. Everything in the game is vivid and clear. I'm going to be playing SupCom a lot more, it's like a whole new game now.
Overlord is a fun game with great graphics that came out in late June. It uses HDR (very bright glowing highlights) and because this display is so very capable of pushing the bright pixels, Overlord looks simply stunning on it. I played Overlord for about fifteen hours at 1920x1200 without any issue on my nVidia 8800gts 320MB video card. I've never seen anything like it. Wow. I suggest that you use either the monitor's sRGB or the 'user' color mode for gaming. For games that use a lot of texture memory, you may need 640MB or more of RAM on your video card for 1920x1200, or you may need to turn the game's texture setting to medium or low. For the savvy user, you can use a program like Rivatuner to provide texture memory usage while in-game.
Battlefield 2142 plays fine. My rank is Brigadier General so, I have lots of experience in it. The lag would be imperceptible to 95% of people, in my opinion. If you are a top professional gamer you would probably notice the approximately twelve or so milliseconds of lag.
Battlefield 2142 and other games, do not support widescreen displays well. This is not the fault of the monitor. The PX2611W has three 'expansion modes' to accommodate standard the 4:3 aspect ratio and also to accommodate lesser resolutions (maybe your computer or device won't go as high as 1920x1200). These expansion modes are called 'real', 'aspect' and 'full'.
Real mode correctly does a 1 to 1 pixel match from the video source, leaving a black (you can pick the color) area around the image if it is not in the native resolution.
Aspect mode will stretch to fill the the screen vertically and keep the correct aspect ratio so that things don't look flattened. In full mode, the display will stretch the video source vertically and/or horizontally to fill the entire screen.
I found that these modes all work well and look fine, except 640x480 computer power-on text screens sometimes stretch horizontally, but not vertically (looks odd) in aspect mode. In Battlefield 2142, a non-native resolution of 1280x1024 in 'aspect' mode looked and played just fine, if just a little soft. Unless the video mode you are trying to display is very low such as 640x480, like DOS mode in full screen, you might not notice the softening and it won't be distracting. The PX2611W softens the edges of the pixels in those cases so it isn't distracting.
There is no one-button toggle for changing the expansion mode, something I'd like to have, even if such a button was hidden from direct view. To change expansion modes it is a five step process: Press menu button; press the joystick-like controller button down once; then press the controller button; select a mode; then press it again. It's not particularly user friendly, but it works. It might be something you set only once or once in a while.
One unfortunate note: There is undesirable color banding at 'real' (1 to 1) mode at 1080p and 1080i (1920x1080). This applies to devices like a PS3 or cable boxes or any device that sends a 1080p or 1080i "high definition" signal to the display. The banding is not visible in movies but it is in games. The banding disappears in 'full' aspect mode. This means that you might notice some quality loss at 1 to 1 in those modes. If you use 'full' aspect mode, the image will be stretched vertically some but have no banding. These modes are the only ones where I noticed the banding. Native 1920x1200 doesn't have that banding nor does any other resolution I tested. Planar could perhaps release a firmware update to fix the 1080p/1080i color banding if enough people complain. To be as clear as possible: the color banding does not happen with PC's or Macs at 1920x1200 at 32bit color when DV mode is at the default TEXT mode even if you are playing a movie or game.
The display is limited to 60hz or 60 frames per second. It doesn't flicker at 60hz refresh rate like CRTs do. You can use a 75hz refresh rate, but it will skip every fifth frame so for gaming use a 60hz refresh rate if you want maximum performance from your video card. This is normal behavior for S-IPS panels. 60 FPS is smooth for me and I find that what makes a game feel slow, is when it slows down below 40 FPS. With my CRT, I used to keep my refresh rate at 100hz specifically to get as many frames as possible, but that doesn't apply to LCDs in the same way.
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