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You can tell that a market is saturated when the selling points of any given device become incredibly fatuous. Compact cameras are a good example. Manufacturers are falling over each other to promote cameras with face detection, smile detection, crotch detection and other mostly useless guff. Sooner or later someone's bound to develop a camera that can do everything by itself and that can be sent on holiday on its own, safe in knowledge that'll it'll come back loaded full of pictures large enough to be printed over ten sheets of A1 paper.
Much the same can be said of LCD monitors, especially those of the 22in variety. Long has passed the time when large widescreen monitors were a novelty, consumers have voted with their cash and manufacturers have duly obliged. Unfortunately, with so many now available and some, like the Hanns.G HG216D we looked at last week, available for stupendously low prices, manufacturers are quickly running out of ways to differentiate their products, especially since the former favourite hobby horse of response time has long since become an anachronism.
LG's latest 1,680 x 1,050, 22in offering is a perfect case in point. Yes, it has a super low response time - 2ms grey-to-grey if you happen to care - and all the other baubles such as HDCP support that we've come to expect, but LG is also claiming a stupendously high 5,000:1 contrast ratio when using the F-Engine's 'Movie Mode'. F-Engine, if you aren't familiar, is LG's name for its image processing technology, which relies heavily on dynamic backlight control to improve perceived contrast and black levels.
Unfortunately, this is the sort of claim that immediately sets alarm bells ringing and this case is no different. Fine, 5,000:1 may sound fantastic and makes for a great headline, but what does it look like in practice? Not good, to be entirely blunt. Switch to the aforementioned mode and everything becomes a mess of pitch black holes, beetroot red skin tones and extreme colours. It's all rather ugly and though it may fool anyone who doesn't know any better into thinking this monitor is capable of producing amazing colours and dark level detail, closer inspection proves otherwise.
However, as is so often the case, once you stroll past the fog of war generated by all this marketing gimmickry, you'll find a monitor that's perfectly capable and even verges on the excellent from time to time.