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NEC EA261WM

>> Friday, August 28, 2009

Mounted on the lower right hand bezel are four well marked function buttons and a power switch that glows blue when the monitor is in normal operating mode and turns amber when it's in standby mode. The Menu button launches and closes the on screen display (OSD) program, while the Select button activates the highlighted selection and acts as a hot key for selecting an input source. The Reset or DV Mode button restores the highlighted selection back to its factory default setting and lets you choose one of the five preset luminance modes (Standard, Text, Movie, Gaming, and Photo).

There's also a handy four way toggle switch, which makes it easy to navigate the OSD by allowing you to move up, down, left, and right within the menus as if you were using a joystick. Once inside the OSD, you can tweak a variety of settings, including color temperature, brightness and contrast, sharpness, and speaker volume. There's also an Off Timer option that will power down the monitor after a predetermined period of inactivity. If you prefer to change these settings using a keyboard and mouse, you can do so using NEC's NaViSet utility, but it is not included in the box. Instead, you'll have to go to NEC's Web site and fill out an electronic form before you can download it.

NEC EA261WM features an ECO mode setting that, when activated, reduces the panel's brightness to 50 percent from the factory default of 100 percent this in turn reduces power consumption from 85W to 48W, as measured using a P3 International Kill A Watt meter. When ECO mode is enabled, a "carbon footprint meter," which indicates the reduction in carbon emissions while operating in ECO mode, appears in the brightness adjustment screen. For example, according to the meter, switching to ECO mode results in a 15 percent carbon footprint reduction.

The meter begins tracking total carbon savings (in kilograms) from the moment the monitor is powered up. NEC offers a Total Trade recycling service that provides credit toward new NEC products when you trade in your old equipment. Additionally, NEC EA261WM is EPEAT Gold, Energy Star, and RoHS qualified. All of this earns it our GreenTech Approved seal. If you work with multipage documents or desktop publishing applications, you'll appreciate this monitor's ability to reproduce the smallest fonts. Using images from the DisplayMate testing suite (www.displaymate.com), NEC EA261WM did an excellent job of displaying fonts set to 5.3 points (the smallest setting on the Scaled Fonts test).

Text quality was crystal clear, and every character was well defined and perfectly legible. Color quality was also very good the wide gamut panel produced rich colors without any trace of tinting or over saturation. The panel's 5 millisecond (black to white) pixel response rate offered good motion handling performance as well. When played a round of Far Cry 2 without experiencing any artifacts or ghosting, and Pixar's Madagascar 2 on DVD played smoothly and looked spectacular on the big screen. However, the monitor did not fare so well when it came to rendering grayscale swatches.

It was unable to display the lightest and darkest shades of gray on the DisplayMate 64 Step Grayscale Test, showing them as pure white or black instead. The panel's horizontal viewing angle performance pretty much bore out NEC's claim of 170 degrees, but the vertical angle was much narrower, especially from the bottom, where colors began shifting at around 150 degrees. The flaw may not be an issue when you are operating the display in landscape mode, but when you rotate the panel to view it in portrait mode the weak viewing angles offer a faded, subpar picture from either side. NEC EA261WM comes with a three year warranty covering parts, labor, and backlighting. DVI and VGA cables are included in the box, along with an audio cable, an upstream USB cable, and a setup guide.

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