NEC is one of our favourite monitor manufacturers. That's partly because, much like Eizo (see: Eizo Foris FX2431), it doesn't deal too often in mediocrity. Neither, for that matter, does it dabble much in consumer displays. Its last effort we saw was the ambitious MultiSync LCD24WMGX3, which for all its daring failed to capture the imaginations of consumers and has since been discontinued. Today's specimen, the MultiSync EA231WMi, isn't a consumer display, but its Full HD, 1,920 x 1,080 native resolution, 23in IPS panel and reasonable asking price make it a monitor plenty of people will be keen on.
Okay, so "reasonable asking price" might be stretching things a mite. After all, £300 for a 23in monitor is hardly what one would term a bargain. Or, at least, it's not compared to the massive collection of 22 and 23in displays going for a song around the £150 mark. Ultimately, though, the EA231WMi has far more in common with more expensive 24in monitors like the Dell UltraSharp U2410 and HP LP2475w thanks to its high-quality panel, making this a good value option for anyone who wants that kind of image quality but without some of the more expensive extras.
Not that the NEC lacks some of those extras. Its focus on business users means it has a wealth of adjustability; tilt, swivel, height and pivot are all on hand and there's a VESA mount as well. All these functions are well designed, too. Mechanisms are smooth yet stable and there's a large handle at the back that makes it easy to lift and adjust the monitor.
Our enthusiasm for this design is only tempered by the slightly ordinary aesthetic design, particularly of our silver and white version, though a black version is also available that'll probably see more action. Aside from our indifference to the colour scheme, though, the demur design is much as you'd expect and the slim bezel is one particularly pleasing aspect.
It's connectivity where the NEC begins to deviate from more expensive 24in displays. VGA, DVI and DisplayPort cover most bases and NEC throws in a four-port USB hub (two rear-mounted, two side-mounted), audio input and a headphone jack for good measure, but HDMI is conspicuous by its absence.
You can forget about using adapters, too, since such devices can only connect a DisplayPort source to an HDMI monitor, not the other way around. This will be a blow to anyone thinking of connecting a PS3 or other HDMI device (it can be done via DVI sans any sound), but it's completely understandable omission given the display's stated purpose and the license fee HDMI commands.