- Review Price: £236.75
If there are any regular readers out there that think that the NEC Multisync LCD205WXM looks rather familiar then you’re not alone – I think it looks familiar too. That’s because it sports exactly the same design as NEC’s LCD225WXM, which I reviewed a few weeks ago. In fact, the only visual difference between them is that the LCD225WXM is a 22in screen, whereas the LCD205WXM is a 20in screen. Other than that it’s the same monitor, which means that this possibly won’t be the most exciting review ever. Let’s find out.
Design wise then there’s nothing much to say here that wasn’t covered in the review of the 22in model – it’s a solid, deliberately understated design that will neither excite nor offend. Perfect then for a company that wants to project a sensible, non-controversial image – i.e. most of them. The thin bezel is definitely a highlight and the five buttons have nicely rounded edges and have a decent feel to them.
One thing I couldn’t help feeling is that the monitor seemed rather small to me. While a 20in seems large in fact it’s simply a widescreen equivalent of a standard 5:4 aspect ratio 17in panel, which will explain the lack of impact of the screen on the desk. It says something of how prevalent large screen desktop monitors have become, at least in our offices, that a 20in display can seem so underwhelming.
The stand design on this understated NEC uses a circular base, which lets you rotate the screen on the spot. You can also raise it up and down, but only a small amount, and tilt it back very slightly and forward a bit more. On my desk I found that it was best to work with it at its lowest point and tilted slightly back. Naturally, there’s no pivot – it’s a monitor, not an acrobat.
Unfortunately, the basic looking OSD doesn’t match up in terms of look and feel, but it gets the job done. The range of options is limited to Brightness, Contrast, and the choice between colour temperatures, 9,300K, 7300K, sRGB and a user mode, where you can adjust the Red, Green, and Blue separately, giving you the opportunity to really mess up the picture should you not know what you’re doing – most will stick to the sRGB setting. The Tools menu just consists of options such as turning the OSD off, and even turning DDC off – the Display Data Channel that tells the graphics card what the monitor can do, though I’m not sure why you would want to do this.
Connectivity is, unsurprisingly, straightforward – you get DVI and D-Sub but no other video inputs. There are speakers however, that deliver no more than a passable audio performance, though they win points for being there and invisibly too, pointing downwards underneath the bezel as they do. There’s also VESA standard mounting screws and a security slot, should you wish to keep them attached to your desk and not in someone’s swag bag.
DisplayMate is a tough test for any screen and is designed to pick out flaws that casual observation might not notice. So, naturally enough, I fired it up on the NEC. Immediately I noticed an unwanted green tinge to the bottom of the screen, and next its inability to show subtle levels of gradations at both the light and the dark ends of the scale, with the last few levels mixing into each other instead of being clearly delineated.
In the main though colours are quite strong and pleasing to the eye, while the low degree of banding is a plus. There’s no high contrast coating to really boost colour and contrast, but when you’re sitting in front of a display all day at work, a reflective screen could get distracting. In the text test, the NEC did well down to 7.5 point, but the 6.8 point text was not really readable simply down to the size of the screen.
Looking at photos I immediately noted one of the main problems with the LCD205WXM – the problematic viewing angles, with colours appearing off at the top of the screen compared to the top, even when the screen was right on front of me. You really need to use that tilt feature and position the screen optimally in front of you. Then again, this is pretty much par for the course with a TN based panel as this is.
As with the 22in, I felt that there was a lack of detail in dark areas despite the quoted 1,000:1 contrast ratio. The colours were adequate but they hardly jump off the screen and had a slightly lacklustre quality to them, though they are far more accurate than some of the worse screens we’ve seen.
A highlight of the screen is relatively smooth motion from video with the quoted 5ms response time actually seeming to have some weight behind it, unlike so many of its competitors. However, just as with the images, the black levels are not exactly awe inspiring.
In gaming this is less important, which means that this actually makes for quite a decent gaming display, with the smooth motion making this pleasant to play on. Again though, there’s no real boldness to the image and a larger screen would be preferable.
The image quality then is a little like the design, quite adequate but not awe inspiring. For general office use, be it office documents, online videos and presentations, this screen will do a decent job, without setting hearts a flutter. However, its uneven viewing angles and its limited features even when sitting in front of it, mean it won’t be winning any awards. In a sense NEC is a victim of its own success here, as we know first hand that it can make some really great screens.
However, what really put the nail in the LCD205WXM’s coffin is that it’s actually more expensive than NEC’s 22in LCD225WXM. Unless your company insists on standardising on 20in screens or you have a specific size requirement, there’s really no reason to buy this 20in screen at all.
A very average screen in terms of design and image quality, the NEC Multisync LCD205WXM is actually more expensive than NEC’s own 22in version and much more so than the rest of the competition. Thus, if you want to standardise on 20in screens in an office environment then it will do the job, but otherwise it’s a disappointment for the price.
Score in detail
Image Quality 6
Unlike other sites, we thoroughly test every product we review. We use industry standard tests in order to compare features properly. We’ll always tell you what we find. We never, ever accept money to review a product. Tell us what you think - send your emails to the Editor.