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Thinner is better

NEC’s MultiSync LCD monitor.

After using NEC’s 17-inch MultiSync LCD 1760VM for nearly six weeks before reviewing it, I learned one thing: I don’t like CRTs anymore. In fact, switching from the lightweight 3-inch-thick display back to my old monitor–which used as a Post-It bulletin board while testing the LCD–was one of the harder things I’d done all month.

The MultiSync is one of the newest from NEC, and it deserves to be a best-seller. It’s a simple, silver panel with 1,280-by-1,024 resolution that compares well with a 19-inch CRT and takes up one-tenth of the space. It comes with ports for both D-SUB and DVI connectors for dual compatibility.

MultiSync’s high resolution is its best component, and you can tell by the way it interpolates at non-native resolutions. Most LCD monitors tend to look a little sloppy and blurry when you change the pixel counts around, but MultiSync’s screen keeps its clarity. For those who like their icons and text bigger, the MultiSync can be set even at 824-by-620 and still look good.

The screen is unbelievably easy on the eyes. For the first three weeks, my desktop wallpaper was a black-background cartoon. Then I switched to an obnoxious neon green desktop, expecting massive eye-fatigue. But the contrast ratio and brightness schemes were so well-programmed that bright green became somehow soothing.

With that kind of screen and clarity, you would hope for excellent video playback–and MultiSync delivered. This is a good monitor for gaming, watching DVDs, and anything involving digital photography or graphics work.

It is, however, not a good monitor for audio. If you buy the MultiSync, you’ll definitely need a separate sound system for the computer if you intend to play DVDs or CDs. Although the NEC factory speakers sufficed for office purposes, their sound seemed too puny and metallic-sounding to take seriously.

Naturally, the screen also had a few flaws, but they were hardly noticeable. Sometimes ghosting occurred with green images or Web page backgrounds. Also, certain viewing angles gave white backgrounds a slightly red-orange tint. But this shouldn’t be a problem for most users, unless you habitually view your computer monitor from a 40-degree angle.

Finally, from a logistics standpoint, the port inputs on MultiSync’s backside were difficult to access and work with. It’s best to plug in your cords before you hang the monitor on the wall, as I learned the hard way.

Initially, the monitor looked far more complex than it turned out to be. The MultiSync has eight control buttons (including power) that would’ve looked more user-friendly on a remote control. But other than the initial setup–during which I used the manual anyway–the controls and monitor menu were fairly straightforward. If nothing else, the menu box could have been bigger.

In general, the NEC MultiSync is one of the best LCDs on the market, with a comparable price for its size (expect to pay no more than $600). And if you’re into video playback and high-resolution graphics, MultiSync will make them look very good.

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