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NEC MultiSync P461 - Impressive Calibration Aids
You could also have added other jacks via the upgrade bay, including a pro-grade HD-SDI board and a CAT 5 receiver, if you hadn’t already eaten the slot up with the Atom PC board!
Naturally, this PC board also includes an Ethernet port, as there wouldn’t be much point having a PC in a screen these days without it having the facility to get online.
Heading into the P461’s setup menus uncovers some unexpectedly impressive stuff. There’s a dedicated Black Level adjustment, for instance, with 100 levels of fine tuning. Even better, there’s an option to adjust the colour temperature in 100-Kelvin steps all the way from 2,600k to 10,000k. Naturally, this includes a stop point at the 6500K level generally reckoned to be the best for video playback.
You can further fine-tune the red, green and blue gain levels within the colour temperature section, as well as the general saturation levels of the red, green, blue, cyan, magenta and yellow colour elements.
As if all that wasn’t enough, you get a set of gamma presets including a native one and the 2.2 setting we favour, plus you get the option to turn on or off an adaptive contrast system. This defaults to Off, showing some confidence from NEC in the natural contrast performance of its screen.
This really does add up to an impressive suite of calibration tools for a screen not specifically aimed at domestic users, and it allows you to achieve some dramatic effects on the picture.
The only issue we’d take with the settings is that the Movie picture preset provided on our sample seemed way off our idea of a good movie setting. It pushed brightness much too hard, so that the picture emphasised noise and lacked contrast.
More sensibly calibrated, though, the P461 produces a picture considerably better than we’d anticipated. Our experience of public display LCD screens previously has suggested that - quite understandably - they tend to push dramatic brightness and OTT colours ahead of the subtler approach necessary for optimum domestic viewing. But crucially, the P461 has enough flexibility with its settings to calm it down from its 'shop'-oriented over-aggressive starting point to a level where it’s actually very watchable with films too.
The single biggest shock finds the P461 able to produce colours of striking authenticity and subtlety. Its colour palette seems extensive, skin tones look believable, but the picture always still looks dynamic and lush.
This is helped by the set’s predictably extreme brightnesss output - but thankfully, you can rein this in until it actually looks right for a home rather than 'public' forum. Even better, during pictures with a mixture of light and dark content, the screen even seems able to produce a decent degree of black level response to provide a strong foundation for the colour pyrotechnics to operate against.
HD pictures look extremely sharp and detailed too, with the screen doing an excellent job of reproducing the slightly grainy look deliberately delivered by some high quality Blu-ray film transfers.
Its sharpness, brightness, and colour accuracy enable the P461 to deliver a good sense of depth and scale with a high quality HD image. In fact, at times there’s a near-professional mastering grade of finish to some aspects of the picture.
Pity, then, - if hardly a surprise - that the screen struggles in one or two other fundamental areas. First, when watching a predominantly dark scene rather than one that’s mostly bright or more of a mix, there’s a really quite grey, milky look to picture parts that should be black. This is apparent even after calibration.