As for cable routing, there’s no cable hooks as such and instead NEC/Mitsubishi has gone for a detachable cable cover that clips on the back for loosely gathering up all the cables. The cables themselves come in the shape of two types – a D-SUB to DVI-A cable and a DVI-D-to-DVI-D one. There’s no D-SUB-to-D-SUB cable because you don’t really need one because NEC/Mitsubishi employs what it calls the ‘Ambix’ feature. Derived from the word ambidextrous, the 1980 comes complete with a D-SUB, DVI-D, and a DVI-I port for a full range of connection options. For example, the DVI-I port can accept a signal from either an analogue or digital-enabled graphics card and at the same time you can attach another two PCs – one with an analogue interface and the other with a digital one to the remaining respective ports. In other words, you’re pretty much covered for any setup scenario.
Another aspect I really like is the very narrow bezel. It’s got to be one of the thinnest I’ve seen at only 17mm along the sides. This not only frames the picture beautifully, but also makes the bezel less conspicuous, especially when you place or mount several of these monitors side by side in a multi-display setup. If this is what you’re after, it’s possible to combine up to 25 units in a 5×5 arrangement to display a shared picture, but you’ll need a video amplifier in order to do so.
That more or less covers the design of the chassis and the available inputs, but what makes this 1980SXi a SpectraView classified model? Well, many of you will probably recognise the folding hood that comes with the SpectraView CRTs that are currently marketed in the US. This serves a similar function here, in that it blocks out a high degree of ambient light thereby making colour calibration and general use more effective. The hood comes as standard and is secured to the screen along magnetic strips. It also features a sliding aperture that allows you to hang an optional optical sensor against the screen during calibration.
The is just one aspect of the SpectraView branding, so don’t be mistaken into thinking that the extra £200 on top of the £599 estimated street price (all ex VAT) of the 1980SXi is just for the felt-lined hood. Also included is the SpectraView Profiler software on CD, which works with a range of optical sensors currently available on the market. NEC/Mitsubishi kindly supplied me with a GretagMacbeth EyeOne Display sensor which worked seamlessly with the Profiler software, once it was fully licensed through a web-based registration process. The software itself is pretty easy to use and comes with extensive .pdf documentation. Without going into too much detail, it allows the brightness, white point and luminance curve to be calibrated in the monitors hardware, and ultimately to create an ICC colour profile for use in your workflow.
That’s not all the extra cost entails. There’s a whole protocol that NEC/Mitsubishi follows before sending a SpectraView monitor out to you. First of all, a 1980SXi is hand selected from stock and the magnetic hood strips are fitted. The monitor is then pre-set via the OSD for use in the pre-press environment to the following settings: Brightness level 60% (160-170cd/m2); Colour temperature 5000K (Daylight 50); and Gamma Correction 1.8 (for the Mac OS). This is then followed by a full validation of these settings by comparing the colour differences to the CIE L*a*b* Colour Space Specification, expressed as a DeltaE value.
This colour uniformity value and the results of the validation are included on a signed certificate that accompanies every SpectraView monitor. As a rule, a DeltaE value of one is considered a perfect calibration i.e. there is no difference between the CIE L*a*b* colour space and the colours reproduced by the monitor. Furthermore, DeltaE values that are equal to or less than three are considered highly accurate. A DeltaE of three, or more and the chances are you’ll notice the colour differences. Interestingly, the DeltaE number on my certificate here shows a figure of 3.49.
In addition, it’s worth noting that a quick browse through some of the literature from NEC reveals that a test report from an independent colour consultant using Altona’s Test Suite, recommends that the SpectraView 1980 is more suited to good reproduction of RGB images, but less suited for pre-press soft proofing with the CMYK colour space. Nevertheless we’re talking high-end printing there and for those like me involved in digital photography and web images where an RGB colour space is probably the best option for encompassing how your monitor will render my images in your non-colour aware Internet browser (Apple’s Safari and IE for Mac browsers excused). For this purpose, the NEC SpectraView lends itself splendidly.