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24-inch Acer GN245HQ 120Hz 3D-capable LCD Gaming Monitor Review

July 11th, 2011 · 41 Comments · GeForce 3D Vision

Acer GN245HQ is the latest 24-inch 3D LCD monitor made to be used with Nvidia’s 3D Vision technology, but together with the new bigger 27-inch Acer HN274H display it also features HDMI 1.4 3D support. Both the monitors come with built-in 3D Vision infrared emitters and a pair of 3D Vision active shutter glasses bundled, and when you are using the 3D monitors with 3D-capable devices over the HDMI 1.4 interface you still use the 3D Vision glasses, no matter if you connect a PlayStation 3 console or even an ATI/AMD video card. So you can say that these monitors are the next generation of 3D capable LCDs that offer wider support, but still they are not as flexible in terms of stereo 3D options like a 3D HDTV for exmaple. The reason for that is that they only support frame packaged 3D input over the HDMI 1.4 interface, so you will not be able to use Xbox 360 console in 3D as it usually outputs in Side by Side or Over/Under formats which are not supported. Now let’s get a closer look at the Acer GN245HQ that I’ll be reviewing here…

The specifications for the Acer GN245HQ:

Display size: 23.6″ (60 cm), 16:9 Full HD, LED backlight
Panel Technology: TN (Twisted Nematic)
Resolution: 1920×1080 @ 120Hz
Pixel pitch: 0.2715 mm
Brightness: 300 cd/m2
Contrast ratio: Dynamic – 100,000,000:1, Native – 1,000:1
Response time: 2 ms
Internal speakers: 2x 2W
Viewing angle: 170° hor., 160° vert.
Tilt / Swivel / Pivot: Tilt. -5°/15°
VESA Wall-mount: 100×100 mm
Connections: Analog DSUB-15, Dual-Link DVI-D (3D-capable), HDMI 1.4 (3D-capable)
Power consumption: 38.2W typical
Dimensions: 574.8×417.8×194.4 mm
Weight: 5.8 Kg

I’m starting with a check of the service menu (below you can see a guide how to access it), as I wanted to see what type of panel the new Acer GN245HQ monitor uses and the interesting thing here is that the panel is an updated version of the 23.6-inch one used in the previous GD245HQ/GD235HZ models from last year. The panel used in the Acer GD245HQ/GD235HZ was CMO M236-L02, made by Chi Mei Optoelectronics (CMO) and in the new Acer GN245HQ the panel is CMI M236H5-L02 made by the same company that is now called Chimei Innolux Corporation (CMI). The new panel uses LED backlight which helps in getting rid of issues with backlight bleeding (only very slightly visible brighter light at the bottom end of the screen of the test unit) and has improved handling with the issues found in the older panel resolved so no more oversharpening issues in the new model. Of course the level of crosstalk/ghosting is also reduced, but more about these in a bit. The bigger 27-inch Acer HN274H display uses an LCD panel from LG which is quite different in specifications and characteristics from this one from CMI, but it is performing quite well too.

How to enter the Service Menu on the Acer GN245HQ:

– Turn off the monitor
– Press and hold the first menu key (the leftmost one)
– Press the power button while still holding the 1st menu key
– When you see the image on the screen you can release the menu key
– Press the third menu key (the middle one) to call up the Service Menu
– Navigate in the service menu just like in the normal one, but now all options are changeable
– To return back to the normal mode just turn off the monitor and turn it back on the normal way

I’ve mentioned that the monitor has a 3D Vision IR emitter integrated and after taking an infrared photo of the monitor I’ve found it at the bottom left part of the monitor, it has four IR LEDs. Top positioning of the emitter might’ve been a better solution however, as getting very close to the monitor might lead to breaking visual line of sight and the glasses loosing the sync signal, however this is not something that will hardly lead to problems in a normal use scenario anyway. The interesting thing about the monitors with integrated IR emitters is that they do not need an extra USB cable to be plugged in the PC, all the synchronization goes through the DVI cable which makes things easier for setting up. The drawback of not having an external IR emitter for the 3D Vision is that you don’t have the handy button for turning on/off the 3D effect as well as the useful wheel for 3D depth adjustment, so you need to stick to the keyboard shortcuts for these actions. Of course there is no problem if you plug in an external IR emitter in the computer, the only thing is that you will not have both emitters running at the same time, so only the external one should be active. Another thing that you should consider with the Acer GN245HQ as well as the bigger Acer HN274H is that they only come in versions with built-in IR emitter and bundled active shutter glasses from Nvidia which makes their price higher than for only a monitor. This of course is useful if this is your first 3D-capable monitor as you get the whole bundle at once and with a more affordable price, but the total price won’t be as attractive if you already have 3D Vision glasses and IR emitter like if you are upgrading from an older 3D monitor.

The standard factory settings for the Acer GN245HQ monitor do not provide great color accuracy, there is quite high color deviation from the reference colors. But here more interesting is the result for the maximum brightness and contrast levels, according to the specifications the monitor should provide up to 300 cd/m2 and the measurement has showed 291 candelas per square meter which is pretty close, considering the fact that the monitor is not maxed out. The measured black level was about 0.267 cd/m2 and as a result the contrast level was about 1089:1 which is a bit over the specs of 1000:1, so a great performance here. Higher brightness levels and good contrast is a must for 3D-capable monitors in order for them to provide good experience when in darker environments in games or when watching dark scenes in 3D movies etc.

And how things change after going through a color calibration. Now the monitor has 247 cd/m2 maximum brightness as the calibration is done is a way to preserve the maximum possible brightness level, and still an average Delta E of less than 1 is achieved which means really good color accuracy can be achieved with even though this is a TN panel. After the calibration the black level is 0.264 cd/m2 and the contrast is reduced to about 926:1, but the image on the screen is also visually more pleasing as compared to the default settings, so it is not only something that can be measured with special hardware.

Still if you need a display in order to work with colors this might still not be the best choice, you better go for something more professional that is designed with color accuracy and for people working with colors. This is after all a gaming monitor, but it is up to you, with color calibration you can get really good results even from it, partly thanks to the LED backlight as well. On the other hand, if you are not into stereoscopic 3D multimedia or gaming and just need a good 120Hz LCD monitor, this one might be a good option to consider. Unfortunately the Acer GN245HQ is not without input lag, but the input lag measured was at maximum about 15 milliseconds with an average of about 8 which is pretty good and hardly noticeable even by users more sensitive to lag. Still it would’ve been nicer if there was no input lag at all, but there still seem to be very few 120Hz LCD monitors that don’t have input lag and the same goes for normal 60Hz non-3D displays as well.

Moving to the extreme crosstalk tests with the specially made 3D test photos that I’ve made available here should you wish to compare. The result here is quite good and very close to the one provided by the 27-inch Acer HN274H. If you take a closer look at the white result you will notice that the Acer GN245HQ also suffers from the same white banding issue that I’ve first noticed on the Planar SA2311W. This of course is a result of pushing the overdrive function in order to further reduce ghosting in stereo 3D mode and what you are seeing in the extreme test photos I’m using is not something that you will notice in normal use, so this is something that I’ve actually expected to see (the 27-inch Acer also had it, although less apparent).

Next is the sailboats stereoscopic 3D test video, a real world crosstalk test to show you that the specific issue described above does not usually create any problems with normal use for stereo 3D content. Here there is no crosstalk/ghosting visible with the named eye in normal use, although there is some slightly visible if you take a very closer look. Anyway, great result in this test, but not as good as the Planar SA2311W that is still probably the 3D LCD monitor with least crosstalk that I’ve tested so far.

Switching to a real game, namely Tomb Raider: Underworld as one of my favorite games to play in stereo 3D and to test for crosstalk/ghosting with. First looking at the top of the screen, very faint traces of ghosting that are hardly visible in normal use, very similar to what the Planar SA2311W 3D monitor provides and better than the 27-inch Ace HN274H.

The situation with the bottom part of the screen and the crosstalk there is a bit worse however, the color ghosting due to the overdrive here is slightly more apparent, although still in tolerable levels. Still the overall crosstalk/ghosting level is not that high, although the situation could’ve been better, tweaking a bit the Overdrive function might’ve provided a more balanced overall results and making the Acer GN245HQ perform even better in terms of crosstalk/ghosting or actually the lack of such.

Acer GN245HQ comes as a worthy successor of the previous Acer GD245HQ/GD235HZ, performing better and with some nice extra features, but it was a bit short on becoming the best overall 3D gaming LCD monitor currently available. It did not manage to overthrow Planar SA2311W by providing less crosstalk, although the Acer comes pretty close to the results show by the Planar in most tests. There is some input lag present, roughly the same amount as the old GD245HQ/GN235HQ had, which can be a bit of a setback for some more demanding gamers willing to get a 120Hz LCD monitor for gaming with 120Hz refresh rate and not in stereo 3D mode. The presence of HDMI 1.4 3D support is a nice extra, allowing you to use the monitor with more 3D-capable devices other than your PC, however you are still limited as there is no support for Side by Side, Over/Under and some other 3D input formats that are usually supported by 3D HDTVs. And the overall conclusion is that the Acer GN245HQ is actually a great choice if you are just going to be getting into stereo 3D support on the PC and not only. As there is still no perfect 3D monitor that excels in just about everything, the Acer GN245HQ does provide very good results in overall, and thanks to the built-in IR emitter and bundled 3D Vision glasses it is a good starter choice if you want a 24-inch 3D capable solution. If you are thinking about upgrading to the Acer GN245HQ, then it depends on what is your old stereo 3D monitor at the moment, if it is a first generation one from Samsung or Viewsonic, then you should upgrade… if not, then it depends on what your specific requirements are.

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Review of the 23″ LG W2363D 120Hz Full HD 3D Gaming Monitor

July 2nd, 2010 · 115 Comments · GeForce 3D Vision

The first 120Hz LCD monitor from LG is now starting to appear on the market, the display is based on the introduced at the end of last year 23-inch 120Hz LG LCD panels. What LG is offering is another 23-inch Full HD monitor that is compatible with Nvidia’s 3D Vision active shutter glasses for displaying stereoscopic 3D content. And the LG W2363D is becoming another alternative to the Acer GD245HQ/GD235Hz and the Alienware OptX AW2310 as well as the soon expected to be available ASUS VG236H. So it seems that the things in the field of 120Hz monitors is starting to finally heat up and having more competition is just going to benefit us – the end users, because we are going to have wider choice of products, more affordable prices and better and better performing displays. But let’s get back to the LG for now and see what the W2363D offers and after that to put the monitor to some tests…

Specifications of the LG W2363D

Panel Size: 23″ Widescreen, 16:9
Panel Type: TN – Twisted Nematic
Native Resolution: 1920×1080 (Full HD)
Contrast ratio: 70000:1 (dynamic)
Maximum brightness: 400 cd/m2
Response Time: 3ms (typical) (GtG)
Viewing angles (hor./vert.): 170/160 degrees
Video Connectivity: 1x Dual-Link DVI, 2x HDMI
Energy consumption: 49W (in use), 1.4W (in standby)
Size & Weight: 555.5×205.95×419.2 mm, 5.2 kg

You can probably notice very easy that the specs are quite similar to that of the competition. An interesting thing here is the higher maximum brightness level that can be a plus for when using the stereo 3d mode, but that needs to be verified. Another thing that I’m pretty sure you’ll ask about, because the availability of two HDMI inputs, is if they will be 1.4 or not and if they can be used for feeding 3D content to the monitor? The answer to this question is no, they are not HDMI 1.4 and in order to display stereo 3D content on the LG you’ll need to use the Dual-Link DVI input on the monitor.

The monitor that I’ve tested is not an earlier sample, it is a production model just like the ones that are being sold already on some markets and that will soon be available on others. The monitor I got for a few days in order to test has been produced in May 2010 and has been assembled in Poland (Europe), but depending on where you live things might be a bit different in your case. Also have in mind that it is quite possible that different monitors from the same model might perform differently from the one I tested, although the tolerance in results should not be that big.

The LG W2363D uses a touch sensitive (capacitive) controls for navigation inside the monitor control menu. This looks and feels Ok, but you might need some time in order to get accustomed to quickly and accurately use the navigation buttons inside the menu. I want to point out the first button on the left (the one with a joypad icon) that is quite important, because it controls the so called THRU Mode on the display and that mode is important as it is intended to eliminate the input lag when activated, but more about that in a bit. And if the standard menu on the monitor is not enough for you, then you can also go to the Service Menu, but be careful and sure you know what you are doing should you decide to change settings in the Service Menu!

Accessing the Service Menu on LG W2363D LCD Monitor

– Turn off the monitor by pressing the Power button
– Press and hold the Menu button and then push the Power button to turn on the monitor
– When you see the image on screen you can release the Menu button and press it again to call up the Service Menu
– When you finish with the service menu you can turn the monitor off and then on again to be back in the normal mode

Should you have trouble and the display gets locked up and not responding to your commands, just disconnect the power cable for a bit and reconnect it and everything should be back to normal. Have in mind it is not recommended to play with the options in the Service Menu if you don’t know what you are doing! Unfortunately, unlike on the Acer GD245HQ/GD235HZ, here with the LG 2363D you don’t have an option to turn on and off the Overdrive function of the display in the service menu.

An important thing that you should know about the LG is that when it switches to 3D mode the brightness level (the Contrast slider) is automatically forced to 55 no matter what value you have set it to in 2D mode. The Brightness slider (controlling the contrast on the monitor) also becomes locked in S3D mode, but it retains the value you’ve set it to in 2D mode, you just cannot change it while in this mode. This might not be a significant problem, but the maximum brightness out of the possible 400 cd/m2 by specifications gets significantly limited while in 3D mode. I suppose that the reason for locking brightness to a lower level is that with 55 it provided the optimum results in terms of the monitor being bright enough while the ghosting that is visible being as little as possible.

I’ve already mentioned that the so called THRU Mode available on the LG is designed to eliminate any input lag that the monitor might have, so that you are not going to have delays in your reaction time while playing competitive games. In 2D mode you have control over that function if you wish to have it enabled or disabled, but when you switch to stereo 3D mode the function automatically becomes activated and you have no control over it, so you cannot disable (no that you would want to). But let’s put that function to the test and see if it really does what it is supposed to… Unfortunately I was not able to get a Acer GD245HQ/GD235HZ monitor to compare directly with the LG W2363D, so I did the comparison with the Samsung 2233RZ instead, but as I’ve already compared the Samsung 2233RZ and ViewSonic VX2268WM and found they both have the same input lag, and that input lag is almost identical to that of a good CRT display (meaning input lag of less than 1 ms if there is any at all). On the other hand the Acer GD245HQ/GD235HZ monitor has between zero to about 15-16 ms input lag delay compared to the ViewSonic and all this can help a lot in judging the results I got from the LG below, so pay good attention.

The minimum input lag I’ve managed to get with the THRU Mode disabled was 9 milliseconds delay as compared to the Samsung monitor. And after taking a long series of photos with an exposure time of 1/1000th of a second and high ISO setting the maximum input lag I was able to measure was about 18 seconds. Have in mind that these tests are performed with the use of a DVI splitter cable instead of connecting the two monitors to the two outputs of the video card and using a clone mode as my tests confirm that using the clone mode does not provide accurate results as compared to using a single monitor output with a splitter cable.

Enabling the THRU Mode on the LG completely eliminates the input lag on the LG, bringing it down to exactly the same results the Samsung is showing. So the THRU Mode on the LG does exactly what it is supposed to do – eliminate the input lag completely. So LG did a good job in providing a fast 120Hz LCD gaming display that has no input lag at all, but is the monitor so good in other aspects too?

One of the more serious (on the annoying side) issues with most of the currently available 120Hz LCD monitors is that the do have some backlight bleeding – more or less, depending on the model. The backlight bleeding is easily visible on completely dark image covering the whole screen (black for example) and the issue is presented in the form of non-uniform lit screen – brighter and darker areas. In the case of the LG W2363D there is almost no backlight bleeding, just a bit very close to the edges which is another good point of the LG, however you should be aware that the bleeding issue might be more apparent on some of the LG displays and less apparent on others.

I’ve already mentioned that you cannot disable the Overdrive function here on the LG (using higher voltages to make pixels switch their state faster in order to improve their response time). The Overdrive needs to be active when you are displaying stereo 3D content on the monitor as otherwise the response time of the pixels might drop too much and thus the ghosting you’ll be getting might increase significantly. On the other hand, when in 2D mode as a side effect of the overdrive you might notice that the picture is a bit too sharp, and this oversharpening might not be convenient for some people, but might as well be just fine with others – a matter of personal preferences. For me personally that is not an issue, but for some people the oversharpening of the image is a serious problem. And since you cannot disable the Overdrive function you cannot get rid of that sharpening on the LG, unlike on the Acer.

When talking about the level of crosstalk/ghosting the LG is performing quite well, very low level of ghosting even in the good sailboats test that is ideal to catch issues with ghosting, because of using very bright moving objects over a darker background as well as having a higher separation. The level of ghosting on the LG is quite similar to that seen on the Acer GD245HQ/GD235Hz monitors and probably as well as on the Alienware, but I’m not sure about that as I haven’t personally seen/tested the Alienware OptX AW2310 monitor yet.

Some color ghosting is present as well, but that is to be expected because of the Overdrive. The level of the burnt colors here you may see as shadows around bright objects on darker backgrounds is a little bit less than on the Acer, but the difference is not that big. The game Tomb Raider underworld is a good example to demonstrate that whit higher separation and that game does allow very high depth levels if you can handle them of course.

The problem with the top ghosting is still there on the LG as well as with just about any other 120Hz LCD monitor currently available. The usual reason of the presence of ghosting at the top of the monitor even if there isn’t any on the other part of the display is due to the synchronization timing between the glasses and image being drawn on the screen. Maybe we’ll see an improvement in that with version 2 of the 3D Vision glasses if/when they become available, but for now you should still be ready to tolerate a bit of top ghosting. Lowering the depth level should generally bring down the top ghosting.

Let’s take a look at the default color reproduction of the LG and what is the brightness level that you get. Now, here you should not expect great results and very accurate results as this monitor is using a fast TN panel and not a PVA/MVA/IPS-based one. But getting very accurate color reproduction on a gaming monitor has never been a goal for any producer of such hardware, if you need a monitor for working with colors – graphic design, web design, photo editing and printing etc., then you need a different class of monitor…

Nevertheless the LG is doing quite good and becomes even better after a calibration. The brightness levels are also quite high, so the end results are very good for the specific task of using the display for playing 3D videos and photos as well as gaming in stereo 3D mode. After pushing the brightness level of the display just to measure the maximum brightness I was able to get up to 305 cd/m2 measured, but then again the display is not very comfortable to be used with these settings, even the colors are reproduced with a high deviation with the delta E going over 16.

As a conclusion I can say that the LG W2363D is really a good step towards improving the 120Hz LCD monitors for providing better and better results in stereo 3D mode. No input lag, little ghosting, nice feature set. The LG is comparable to the competition and even bests other good displays like the Acer GD245HQ/GD235HZ in some aspects, but that comes with a bit higher price level than that of the Acer… though still cheaper than the Alienware. So if you already have a first generation 120Hz LCD from Samsung or ViewSonic you may still want to keep it and wait for even better new models, unless you really want to upgrade. But if you are currently thinking of buying your first 120Hz 3D-capable LCD monitor then the LG might be almost the perfect choice for you, at least for now, but depending on how you plan to use it and for what the Acer might also be a very good alternative choice.

And at the end another possible issue that might arise should you decide to get three LG monitors to build a 3D Vision Surround setup with them is that the monitor does not offer the thinnest bezels and the bottom of screen has an extension with a thicker round bezel. And if you decide to overlap the bezels of the display in order to minimize the “lost” screen space within the 3D Vision Surround configuration you might have trouble getting things right. The center screen will be a bit further or backwards compared to the other two because of the thicker bottom of the bezel.

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Playing With the Service Menu of ViewSonic VX2268WM LCD Monitor

June 11th, 2010 · 9 Comments · GeForce 3D Vision

After the good results I got with the Service Menu on the Acer GD245HQ / GD235HZ in terms of reducing ghosting a few days ago, I’ve decided to try the same approach with the Samsung 2233RZ and ViewSonic VX2268WM. Unfortunately the Service Menu on the Samsung does not offer a lot of options to play with, but the story with the ViewSonic is completely different… the Service Menu it has is quite extensive, but unfortunately nothing else besides lowering the brightness level helped in reducing ghosting here. I’m saying that with a bit of disappointment and to warn you that there is not specific need to tweak the options available in the Service Menu, especially if you don’t know what you are doing! On the photo above you can see how the Service Menu on the ViewSonic VX2268WM looks like and what options it has available…

Now, on the first photo the Service Menu looks just fine, while the monitor is running at 60Hz refresh rate, but when you switch to 120Hz and call up the Service Menu it will look as on the photo above… it gets a bit messed up, although fully functional, and it is harder to change the options, so if you want to adjust something better do it at 60Hz.

With that said lets get to the point on how you can access the service menu on the ViewSonic VX2268WM, just another waring that you should not play with options that you are not well aware of their functions. It is best to take a photo of the initial settings, so that if you mess things up you will be able to return them back to their normal levels, before you started messing up with the values.

Accessing the Service Menu on ViewSonic VX2268WM:

– You start by turning off the monitor if not already off
– Press and hold the first menu button and then press the power on button
– Wait a few seconds while holding the 1st button pressed (the leftmost one), until you see the image on the screen
– Press the first button as you usually do to call up the menu and you should see an additional option at the top
– By default the new F icon at the top is selected, so you can press 1 to enter the service menu
– When you finish with the service menu just press the power button to turn off the monitor and then again to turn it on normally

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