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If there was ever proof that technology convergence isn’t always a good thing, computer monitors are a case in point. Not long ago, the next step up above a resolution of 1,680 x 1,050 was 1,920 x 1,200. However, the 16:9 aspect ratio used by TVs is now to be found on many monitors too. This is attractive to panel manufacturers as more can be produced at the factory from a single sheet of glass and the lower costs do mean monitor prices have come down - however, we still hanker after those missing 120 pixels.
The NEC Multisync EX231W is a typical example. Nominally, this is a business-focused screen, but its 23in display indeed offers a Full HD 1,920 x 1,080 resolution. We happened to have one of our favourite monitors, the Dell UltraSharp 2410, on the desk next to the NEC, and the difference in a Word document opened at 100 per cent equates to over a paragraph; we know which we prefer.
This aside, the MultiSync EX231W is nevertheless an impressive monitor - as you would expect from a manufacturer such as NEC, which has consistently impressed us with its efforts in the past, such as the MultiSync EA231WMi.
The MultiSync EX231W is slightly more affordable that the EA231WMi, but then it should be, as this is a TN rather than an IPS screen and has fewer options in terms of connectivity.
The EX231W impressed immediately when we took it out of the box. For a start, it's slender and lightweight. That’s not to say the construction is flimsy, but we appreciated being able to place it so easily onto the desk. Its svelteness comes from the fact that it is LED backlit, negating the need for bulkier CCFL bulbs, and it uses an external power supply, so only a thin power cable has to be plugged into the rear.
NEC is also a fan of the thin bezel, and the EX231W is a prime example. The thinner bezel has practical benefits if you wish to put multiple monitors close together, and even with just the one display in front of you, it’s easier on the eyes. The stand offers both height adjustment and rotation, so if you want to work on a document in portrait mode you can. It can easily be manipulated with one hand and movement is firm and assured.
Unfortunately, there’s no software to rotate the OS automatically, but it’s easy enough to do in Windows 7. The OSD cannot be turned with it though, so you’ll have to rotate back if you want to change settings.