These intrinsic qualities can partly be attributed to the S-IPS (Super-In Plane Switching) liquid crystal (LC) panel that NEC uses. Keeping it simple, with this technology the LC molecules are aligned in a parallel orientation to the glass substrates and to one another, plus the electrodes are positioned parallel to each other on the lower substrate.
When a voltage is applied across the electrodes the LCs are free to rotate though 90 degrees and because all the molecules are kept in the plane of the display, light that passes through it at an angle remains at more or less the same intensity as light that passes straight out. The end results are very wide viewing angles (up to 178 degrees) with very little colour shifting, both of which I can certainly confirm in the 1980FX’s case.
NEC also backs this up with its GammaComp feature – dedicated internal circuitry combined with a small application downloadable from NEC’s website – that allows you to adjust the monitor's internal 10bit gamma Look-Up-Table to custom gamma settings and tone response curves. Furthermore, because gamma correction is done internally in the monitor at 10bit, rather than using the 8bit Look-Up-Tables on the graphics card, you effectively get four times more tones per colour channel leading to smoother gradations and reduced banding.
The benefit of these features was borne out in our DisplayMate tests where the screens for colour scales and greyscales were very even and smooth. Furthermore, colours are very vibrant and there’s no sign of banding along the ramps. In addition, I should mention that the 1980FXi’s response time is 18ms and in real world use appears to be fast enough to keep motion smearing at bay in both games and movies. All in all, the 1980FXi is pretty much one of the best screens (that isn't classed as 'specialist' like NEC's SpectraView range) you can get. In my opinion it should happily find a home in a range of professional environments.
Last of all a word on the 1980FXi’s design. If you’re one of our regular readers you’ll notice that NEC has stuck with it’s older design compared with the updated new look as seen with the 2070NX and unveiled at the launch last year.
It’s a boxier design which I rather like, but then I drive a 1989 W124 Mercedes which goes a long way in explaining my love of angular aesthetics. Basically, you're either going to love it or hate it. However like the Merc, the 1980FXi is solidly constructed and has some neatly engineered functions too.