Iiyama has been making high-quality monitors for many years and anyone with a long enough memory will remember the near legendary status that the Vision Master Pro 17 received in the mid nineties. The problem with having an enviable reputation for quality is that buyers expect more, and a company like Iiyama has to work hard to deliver on those customer expectations.
As the cost of monitors has dropped, the market has started to demand higher quality from lower priced units, and itâ€™s this balancing act that manufacturers like Iiyama have had to perfect in order to survive. Thankfully for Iiyama, it seems to have negotiated this tightrope with aplomb and the ProLite E511S-B sitting before me is testament to this.
This screen sports a 20.1in TFT panel with a native resolution of 1,600 x 1,200. Yes itâ€™s slightly smaller than the 21.3in models out there, but the slight drop in size also helps keep the overall cost down.
The bezel surrounding the screen is slim and the fact that itâ€™s black makes it less obtrusive to the eye. Strangely, the black bezel means that this screen can only sport the TCOâ€™99 logo instead of the TCOâ€™03 one. This is why Iiyama also offers this screen in beige and silver, both of which will pass TCOâ€™03 regulations. Whatâ€™s really odd though is that originally no monitor with a black bezel could display the TCOâ€™99 logo, but that was changed when TCOâ€™03 launched. With all this in mind, weâ€™re not really convinced that TCO accreditation is that important anymore.
The front fascia houses all the control buttons as well as a set of integrated stereo speakers. Now, integrated speakers can rarely compare to a proper set of active speakers and these are no exception. That said, these speakers are better than most integrated solutions weâ€™ve heard, and although they lack bass, we found them fine for watching the odd movie and playing background music while working.
The control buttons include a Power button (complete with trendy blue LED), Auto Setup, Exit/Volume, +/Brightness, -/Contrast, Menu and Input. The Input button will switch between the D-SUB and DVI inputs with one touch, which is handy. If thereâ€™s one issue we had with this monitor itâ€™s the OSD. Unfortunately Iiyama still insists on using nested menus in its OSDs, this means that all the controls are split into three menus so you can often find yourself jumping backwards and forwards between menus to access the setting you need. Of course once youâ€™ve set a monitor up, itâ€™s unlikely that youâ€™ll need to go back into the settings very often, especially with the main controls associated to one-touch buttons.
Considering that the price of this unit is very reasonable to say the least, we werenâ€™t expecting it to perform brilliantly, but we soon realised that our expectations were unfounded. The image quality exhibited by the ProLite E511S-B would be impressive in a far more expensive unit, but at this price itâ€™s nothing short of amazing.
Running through the DisplayMate suite of tests for LCD monitors, the Iiyama produced truly excellent results. One area that often trips up even the best looking panels is the greyscale gradations, where there will be hints of green or pink in the midrange. But with the Iiyama there were no such issues and on the 256 level greyscale screen the gradation was completely smooth and uniform. The colour scales also showed an almost perfect step down from high intensity to low across the whole colour spectrum.
Watching movies on this screen is no problem whatsoever, and thereâ€™s no sign of any motion smearing. Some detail does get lost in low-light scenes, but thatâ€™s often the case with TFT screens and the contrast ratio of 400:1 is about average. The gaming experience is equally as good, and the 16ms response time is another impressive feature for the Iiyama considering the price.