Thursday, April 10, 2008

Westinghouse 24" LCD Monitor (L2410NM)






- This is replacing my Dell 2001FP (S-IPS panel) which still works great. I just felt it was time for something a bit bigger and had 1080p wide screen support.

- nice detailed explanation of the different types of panels (thanks Justin Fletcher for the links):
http://forums.anandtech.com/messageview.aspx?catid=31&threadid=2049206&enterthread=y
handy chart:
http://lcdresource.com/mambo/tools/matrix-of-all-matrices.htm
- determine type of panel used in monitors (thanks André Costa for the links):
http://www.flatpanels.dk/panels.php
http://www.tftcentral.co.uk/search.php?query=&select=model
- Other monitors considered:
A comparable dell 24" VA panel is closer to $500-600.
28" hanns-G TN panel for $550.
28" hannspree (HF-289HJB) for $580
doublesight 26" S-IPS for $700
and even wall mounting a westinghouse 37" 1080p hdtv
In the end this was my first 2nd tier manufacturer panel purchase so I wanted something pretty cheap to lower the risk.
- $300 from sam's club
- Dirt cheap P-MVA panel.
- Great viewing angles
- Really really bright at factory default. I'm still tweaking my picture settings.
- built in speakers (I didn't test)
- Tons of inputs: composite, component, svideo, hdmi (with hdcp support), vga (I've only tested vga and dvi->hdmi). Cheap vga cable included. No dvi->hdmi cable in the box. I had a dvi->hdmi cable from monoprice.com laying around.

- Pretty bare bones monitor/hdtv hybrid as far as features go. Very basic stand that only lets you tilt slightly forward and back.
- Monitor sleeps fine in vga mode but if you are using the hdmi, when your pc tries to sleep the monitor it shows a bright blue screen in stead of sleeping. Nice way to waste electricity, generate heat, and wear down your backlight. You'll need to either switch to vga or learn to turn it off when not in use. This is probably the biggest ding against this monitor and you'll have to ask yourself if you can live with it.

- I tested a few games all running at native 1920X1200: geometry wars (using 360 controller), counter strike source, bioshock, and call of duty 4. Ghosting seemed pretty minimum. It was no worse than my dell 2001fp. Input lag wasn't too noticeable in the fps's but I could definitely feel it in geowars using vga. Input lag was considerably reduced using hdmi. In both cases I think input lag is worse than my dell 2001fp but not unbearably so. I can live with it especially when using the hdmi port. In comparison my 17" TN samsung has pretty much no noticeable input lag though horrible vertical viewing angle. So if you are very sensitive to input lag it's probably best to stick with TN or S-IPS. Just keep in mind this is all very subjective testing. I tend to be quite sensitive to input lag on games like geometry wars where quick twitch reaction is critical.
- response rate seems closer to 13ms than 8ms:

- Warranty is 1 yr. I've read some support horror stories and long repair times.
- The buttons are horrible. They are thin, tiny, and all crammed together. It's pretty painful navigating the menu and changing settings.
- Scaling seems ok. You can set normal,full,zoom. Basically you can't force 1:1 but you can at least maintain aspect ratio (16:9 content will have small black bars on the top/bottom when in normal mode to maintain 16:9 on a 16:10 display).
- Manual is pretty bare with almost no explanation of any of the settings. I believe brightness is tied to backlight levels.
- Not all settings are available in all input modes even ones you would think would apply. It's a bit annoying.
- Manual is pretty bare.
- The monitor looks pretty nice: bezel, etc. That clear plastic piece on the bottom with the white power LED defusing through it just screams look I'm cheap but I can still try too hard to look classy! I like how the speakers are hidden behind the monitor especially since I don't ever plan to use them.
- Worked perfectly with this monoprice hdmi 4X1 switch.
Basically what I plan to do is use this along with my 4 way belkin kvm. This way I have the option of going vga or dvi->hdmi. Sure, I have two things to switch then but it will be nice to have multiple machines be able to use dvi. In comparison a 4 port DVI kvm starts at around $190.
- VGA looks pretty good if you are using good cables like the ones from monoprice. DVI->HDMI looked a bit better IMO.
- Played some 1080p movie content and it looked pretty good. Blacks were ok but lost some detail. I'm still not done tweaking my settings though.
- Back light looked pretty uniform except for some very faint vertical banding near the center only visible on a white screen. No bleeding.
- I had two stuck pixels (one in bottom left corner, another near center) using this test:
http://www.laptopshowcase.co.uk/downloads.php?id=1
I fixed the lower left one with this in about 5 min:
http://killdeadpixel.com/
http://www.jscreenfix.com/basic.php
I need to work on the center one longer. Either way I didn't notice them until I went looking for them.
- It doesn't fit on my desk. It's about an inch too wide so I had to sit it closer. I actually like it this way. It makes text even easier to read. With the keyboard tray all the way out the monitor is at about the right distance. The only trade off is I lose some desktop space, and I now have all this space behind the monitor I'm not sure what to do with. 1080p gaming sure is more immersive sitting closer and having that nice widescreen aspect ratio. The first time I fired up cod4 on this monitor definitely had a WOW factor.
- The power supply is internal. It uses a standard pc power cord. I noticed the top gets pretty warm where the vent is. For kicks I shot my infrared thermometer laser gun into it and it read 135F.
- Can see boot/bios screen just fine from both vga and hdmi. No view angle issues. No screen door issues.
- You can remove a plastic cover from the back which exposes the vesa mount. I just leave it off now since I think it helps a bit with heat dissipation.


So far it's an impressive but flawed product at a great price that you hope doesn't break on you because support will probably suck. I guess it all comes down to a bit of risk/reward.

Recommended with reservations.

UPDATE: 4/15/08
So it started flaking on me after about a week. Every once in a while the screen would turn all pink. This is on the VGA port. I wasn't able to confirm if this affected HDMI. Anyways, it looked almost as if it was a bad cable or something but I double checked all that so I'm thinking something internal was broke. I went ahead and exchanged it for another one. This second one works fine so far. Also, no dead or stuck pixels!! Yeah!!!! I'll give Westinghouse one more chance. If this one goes belly up I'll probably have to go look at other brands. Good thing Sam's Club has a 30 day return policy. I have version 1.1 (you can see this in the bottom left when you bring up the menu).

UPDATE: 10/12/08
So I had this idea about the blue screen sleeping issue. Instead of having the monitor go to sleep set in the power settings just use the "blank" screen saver. So have it set in your OS so that the monitor never goes to sleep. Change your screen saver to "blank", set it to whatever time limit you want. Now, if you forget to physically turn off your monitor, at least when you come back you'll have a blank screen. Yes, I know you aren't saving any power this way (backlight is still obviously on) but at least it would prevent burn in. Though I have gotten into a pretty good habit now of always turning off the monitor when I get up and leave the computer.

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