Who wants to see life through a letterbox?
I have been looking for a long time for my ideal monitor, and I think I've found it with this NEC 21.3" beauty. When I bought a new computer a couple of years ago, it came with a 19" monitor with a resolution of 1440x900 pixels, giving me less on a screen in the vertical direction than my previous 17" monitor with 1280x1024 resolution. My first thought was that to improve on this significantly I would have to find a WUXGA monitor (1920x1200), which usually come as 24" screens. Unfortunately, I decided this just as the world decided it wanted monitors with a 16:9 aspect ratio, preferably with the full HDTV resolution of 1920x1080, and WUXGA monitors started to get harder to find and their prices suddenly shot up. I'm not really all that interested in watching widescreen videos on my PC, and most of my PC use is for internet browsing, word processing, image manipulation and desktop publishing, none of which are served particularly well by the all-conquering 16:9 letterbox screens.
I carried on looking for a WUXGA monitor for a while, but it slowly dawned on me that the physical size of a 24" monitor in my study would be quite inconvenient, and that I'd be better off with a monitor with the old 4:3 aspect ratio. I looked quite hard at the Dell 2001 and 2007 20" monitors, but I have previously found it quite dificult to set up Dell monitors with a small dot pitch to give the character size that I find most viewable in all applications.
It was at this point that I decided that there was only one monitor size for me, and that was the 21.3" monitor with a resolution of 1600x1200 and a dot pitch of 0.27mm. These are not easy to find. Samsung used to produce them, but reviews of their products were not encouraging. Eizo and Viewsonic produced them, but what a price! NEC also produced them, but theirs were also out of my budget range, until I found this LCD2170NX, new but obviously very old stock, and hence heavily discounted.
I jumped at it, and so far I have not regretted my decision one little bit. It has lots of bells and whistles, but they are not really of any interest to me. I just love it for its generous screen size in both the horizontal and (especially) vertical directions, its very even backlighting and its easy stand adjustment - height as well as swivel and tilt. It has the DVI connection that I really wanted, and the only feature I would have liked that it hasn't got is built-in speakers. A soundbar is available at extra cost to give a reasonably neat solution for this, but at the moment I am content to live with some 2.0 speakers I already had lying around. For the first couple of days of using it I was getting a bit of a headache, but this was easily solved by turning the brightness down to 50%. The monitor has a smart silver bezel uninterrupted by control buttons which are unusually mounted underneath it. They are not framed, so I do not think this arrangement would be very robust. Menu choices are made using a small button which acts as a joystick.
I have no idea whether an expert would regard it as a good monitor apart from one favourable review I have read, and I imagine that its white/black/white response time of 16ms might not satisfy avid gamers, but it suits me very well and I am quite sure that it would suit a lot of other PC users who are being sold 16:9 monitors because they are supposedly what everybody wants.
5 of 6 people found this review helpful.