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22in CRT Head 2 Head

Going by all these similar figures, you’ve probably gathered that these monitors share something in common. Well, you’re right. Each makes use of the relatively recent NEC-Mitsubishi Diamondtron tube featuring a U-NX electron gun and U2 deflection yoke. Now, without getting too bogged down in details, the U-NX gun makes use of a second electromagnetic lens (joined to the first with an electrode), which increases the concentration of the electron beam. This leads to a finer beam spot and ultimately a sharper picture across the whole screen. As for the U2 deflection yoke, this offers more deflection sensitivity so that less power is needed for the electromagnets that deflect the beam during horizontal scanning. It also helps to minimise beam convergence errors.

These new design developments were also tied in with the key feature of this Diamondtron tube, namely the high brightness modes. Both monitors make use of this feature ie. SuperBright (SB) for the NEC-Mitsubishi and Optimize Picture Quality (OPQ) for the Iiyama. These settings offer two enhanced brightness levels – one designed for displaying pictures and the other for movies. In practice, both settings improved the vibrancy of our test pictures and movie, although the hike in beam intensity was more aggressive with the Iiyama. Gamers will also find that detail in those notoriously low lit corridors and tunnels is more pronounced when using one of these modes.

However, when it comes to activating these high-brightness modes the Iiyama proved to be quite irritating. Whereas the NEC-Mitsubushi has a dedicated SB mode button mounted on the front control panel, Iiyama has embedded it’s OPQ settings within the OSD. To launch it, you either have to press the little control pad on the front of the base up or down and then left or right to select the OPQ mode. Now call me a slow learner, but after a while I’d completely forgotten that the up and down controls activate the OPQ and instead I found myself adjusting the brightness and contrast with the left and right controls. Oh and if it’s the volume you’re after, getting to that involves a not so intuitive press of the left or right controls followed by a press of the menu button. Furthermore, once you’re in the OSD menus, there’s no way out unless you wait for it close automatically. In contrast, the NEC’s OSD is far simpler to navigate thanks to fact that the controls are spread over six buttons rather than a four way pad and a single menu button. If only Iiyama would take a leaf out of NEC-Mitsubishi’s book, it will lose its reputation for designing awkward OSDs.

In terms of the level adjustment, NEC-Mitsubishi comes out on top by including several more settings than Iiyama. These include linearity, corner correction, an auto adjust function and an equally neat constant brightness feature that purportedly maintains the brightness and screen colour levels consistently over the life of the monitor. And if that’s not enough, you can also download NaViSet from here which lets you set all the screen adjustments from the display properties applet in Windows, rather than the buttons on the unit.

Obviously it’s not all about features, and image quality has to be taken into account. For testing, both monitors were hooked up to our Matrox Millennium G550 dualhead graphics card, set to a resolution of 1,600 x 1,200 at 85Hz, and left to warm up for several hours. After this period, the displays were optimally configured for colour, brightness and contrast using DisplayMate’s setup script, and then evaluated simultaneously using the same program’s test screens.

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