Running along the lower part of the bezel are a total of eight buttons laid out in the same fashion as the 2080UX+. There’s the power button, a factory settings reset button, 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 but the two-tier menu system did throw me off at first, and the fact that the exit button also allows you to enter the OSD is somewhat contradictory. Nevertheless, the range of settings is very comprehensive covering everything from brightness and contrast, picture position, and sharpness, all the way to image zoom expansion, video priority detection (for more than one PC connection), and OSD position/rotation.
Oh yes and not forgetting the most complete set of colour controls I’ve come across in a TFT. These include 6 colour temperatures as well as an sRGB and an original native colour mode that cannot be adjusted. Furthermore, and something that will surely appeal to the fine tuners out there is the facility to individually increase or decrease the levels of not only red, green and blue, but also yellow, cyan, and magenta. Even the saturation level can be modified. Do bear in mind, however, that the horizontal size adjustment, auto-contrast, auto-adjust, and fine focus options only become available when an analogue input is used.
Ok so I’ve saved the best aspect of the 2180UX till last, and that’s the quality of the picture. For once I’ve come across a screen that I could find little at fault with. Over a digital connection, it’s bright, the colours are vivid, and DisplayMate’s colour and greyscale test screens were smoothly and evenly stepped. The colour tracking is spot on with little evidence of variation in colour tint even at the extreme bright end of the greyscale where one might expect variations between the RGB channels as they begin to peak. Motion smearing was more or less non-existent thanks to an impressive 20ms full response time, and pretty much the same could be said over an analogue connection, although whites weren’t quite as pure. As for viewing angles these were admirable, more so because there was a very minimal colour shift when viewing the screen from shallow angles both vertically and horizontally. Lastly, in the real world of movies and pictures, the 2180UX proved to be competent performer too. Skin tones in both mediums looked natural and well balanced, and in large areas of subtly varying colour intensities such as blue skies, these small transitions were seamless.
So, at the end of the day the 2180UX TFT panel is top notch, the features are rich, and the design is subjectively good. However, at a price of £1, 251.32 it certainly isn’t the cheapest, yet in it’s favour it wasn’t that long ago when the smaller 2080UX+ was at the same price point, so the company clearly has an eye on costs. That said, it is the price that keeps it from getting an Editor’s Choice award, but when considering the fabulous image quality and the three-year on-site warranty that also covers the backlight, then I reckon it just nabs a Recommended award.
The NEC MultiSync LCD2180UX has probably one of the best, if not the best LCD pictures I’ve seen to date. It’s ideal for dual PC, graphical, and high-resolution work or for those who just want a 21.3in 1,600 x 1,200 display with an excellent array of features and a solid warranty. Recommended on the basis of quality, but the price is still a little high.
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