MultiSync LCD 1850X


Put a LCD display on your desk and it’s bound to attract the attention and envy of your officemates, especially if that LCD is big and exceptionally comfortable to look at. Based on personal experience, NEC Corp.’s new MultiSync LCD 1850X definitely fits that description.

With an 18-inch screen and native 1280 by 1024 resolution, you get a huge amount of on-screen real estate, and images that are bright, sharp, and colourful. You’ll never want to look at a CRT display again. Sitting next to the 1850X, the image on my aging 17-inch Sony Corp. CRT looked dim, fuzzy, and small. Thinking the Sony was past its prime and my over-40 eyes hadn’t noticed, I swapped it for a newer ViewSonic CRT – which was still not even close to the LCD 1850X’s bright, steady picture and razor-sharp text.

With the CRT monitors I work on spreadsheets, Word documents, and most other applications at 800 by 600 resolution. However, on the NEC MultiSync, text looked far crisper at 1280 by 1024, even though it was smaller than the larger text at 800 by 600 on my standard tube displays. Not only is that easier on the eyes – especially at the end of a long day – but it also translates into more information on-screen at one time.

The LCD 1850X wasn’t difficult to set up, but it would have been quicker were it not for the horrendously bad user’s manual. The display’s video and power connectors are located behind a removable panel on the back of the display. Figuring out how to pull the panel off took several minutes of pondering and searching, and in the end I was lucky I didn’t break off a few of the panels attachment tabs. Not only does the manual fail to give any clue about this task, it merely tells you to remove the panel, attach the video cable, replace the panel, and then attach the power cord. Someone who has actually connected the model to a PC didn’t write this manual.

Once I got past the setup hurdle, the 1850X performed nearly flawlessly. An automatic adjustment correctly sized the image, set the brightness and contrast, and sharpened text. Using the display’s on-screen menu controls, I purposely skewed the image. Pressing the Auto Adjust command correctly reset the size and position of the Windows desktop.

Seven buttons on the 1850X’s lower front bezel give you control of its various menu options. They’re not difficult to use, but the sequence of buttons you have to press to move from menu item to menu item is not especially intuitive. I often found myself pressing the wrong button when trying to move to another setting.

For most of my evaluation, the NEC was connected to a PC with an NVidia GeForce2 MX graphics card, a relatively up-to-date card. While the MultiSync LCD 1850X worked flawlessly with this adapter, it may not play as nicely with older graphics technology. I connected it to my older IBM Corp. ThinkPad with a NeoMagic graphics chip set, and was disappointed by the results. It took a fair amount of manual adjustment to see adequately sharp text, and even at its best it looked a bit smeared.

A Few Fancy Features

At a time when 15-inch LCDs are selling for under US$500, this model’s estimated street price of $1700 to $1800 is beyond steep – in fact, it’s one of the most expensive 18-inch flat-panels you can buy. But it has a number of high-end features that account for its premium price. The most useful, from my standpoint, is the XtraView+ technology that gives this display a viewing angle that rivals CRTs. It lets several people look at the screen at once without crowding together. XtraView+ also helps when tweaking digital photos – their brightness and contrast remain solidly constant whether I’m directly in front of the display or not.

Less useful to me, but more interesting for desktop publishers, is the LCD 1850X’s ability to pivot from landscape to portrait mode. My only gripe with this feature is that the image does not rotate automatically. You have to click on the Taskbar icon and select Rotate before rotating the display. If you rotate the screen first and then try to choose the utility, the movement of the mouse is 90 degrees off from its on-screen pointer and you get a real test of your hand-eye coordination. The on-screen menu also has to be rotated manually by pressing one of the LCD’s buttons. On the other hand, open on-screen windows are automatically resized; and a long Word window in portrait mode is shortened when you rotate the display to landscape.

Another handy feature is the LCD 1850X’s range of connection choices. With dual analog and digital connectors, you can connect two PCs with analog video input, digital video, or a combination of the two. Other notables include a sturdy stand with adjustments for screen height, tilt, and swivel, though the last of these seemed somewhat useless – the joint on my evaluation unit was stiff enough so that the stand tended to move before the swivel hinge.

Upshot: If you can afford it, the big, bright MultiSync LCD 1850X helps relieve the weariness of long hours spent staring at a PC screen. The rest of us will have to lust in vain.

Buying Information: