Of course, all this talk of DeltaE values can sound rather complicated to the novice, whereas some people in the industry regard the CIE L*a*b* colour space to be an out of date reference. On the other hand, all this colour calibration can be totally ignored if you prefer using your own pair of eyes to setup the SpectraView 1980. Indeed, you’re not short of adjustable settings in the OSD. A total of eight buttons laid out in the same fashion as the 2180UX, cover power, a factory reset, a select button that also switches between the inputs, two pairs of select and adjust buttons and an exit button.
Using these to invoke changes from within the OSD is reasonably intuitive and the range of settings covers everything from brightness and contrast, picture position, and sharpness, all the way to image zoom expansion, video signal priority detection, and OSD position/rotation. Six colour temperatures as well as an sRGB and an original native colour mode are also included, plus you can increase or decrease the levels of not only red, green and blue, but also of yellow, cyan, and magenta. Even the saturation level can be tweaked. Either way there’s no denying that this 19in monitor is a top performer and a quick run through the DisplayMate’s test screens quickly revealed this.
Both colour scales and greyscales were evenly stepped. The 256 greyscale test showed no signs of banding with very smooth ramps from white to black and vice versa. I saw no evidence of pixel jitter when the SpectraView 1980 was fed with an analogue signal although if there was, it would probably be corrected before I spotted it because the built-in auto-adjust function is activated every time the monitor is started-up. Colours looked very rich and in terms of real world testing, I found I could easily distinguish detail from low contrast, shadowy areas in my test images. Skin tones were well reproduced too, and with a response time of 25ms I found little to worry me in the motion smearing department. DVD movies looked rich although a little soft, but this could be improved with the sharpness setting within the OSD. Viewing angles were very wide with no apparent colour shift when viewed from around 170 degrees both horizontally and vertically – an inherent property of an IPS panel.
Overall, I was very pleased with the SpectraView 1980's image quality results. For a 19in display (which the truth be told, is a size I’m not keen on simply because I can pay less for a good 17in display that offers the same 1,280 x 1,024 native resolution) the 1980 is excellent, although very pricey.
Despite my personal feelings about 19in LCDs, the NEC SpectraView 1980 is by far the most accurate 19in display I have used in terms of colour reproduction. It certainly made my job easier when controlling the colour casts of my images. The SpectraView Profiler software is comprehensive and lets you quickly calibrate and profile the properties of the monitor for your digital workflow. The only real issue I have is one of price and the fact that you have to buy the optical sensor later which could set you back another couple hundred. The SpectraView 1980 does cost a lot more than your average 19in monitor, but the old adage of "you get what you pay for" is one that’s applicable here. Hopefully, NEC/Mitsubishi's estimated retail prices quoted here will fall when more units flood the market.