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Why settle for a paltry 17 inches of screen size when you can get an 18.1in. LCD instead? Well, it all depends on how much you're paying for the extra inch. In the case of NEC's MultiSync LCD1880SX, you get plenty of space, but it'll cost you almost twice as much as otherwise comparable 17in. LCDs. NEC's policy for replacing dead pixels is also one of the less acceptable examples we've seen.
The £959 (ex. VAT) LCD1880SX is pricey, but it offers a decent amount in return, including a vast, 18.1in. diagonal viewing area within an impressively narrow half-inch bezel. Unlike less expensive models, which generally have limited height and angle adjustability, the LCD1880SX gives you lots of latitude and longitude. The sturdy, L-shaped base swivels smoothly up to 85 degrees to the left or the right and lets you easily adjust the height of the display. The screen itself rotates easily between portrait and landscape mode and has Pivot software for rotating the image, but the vertical-tilt function is stiff and ultimately shifts a modest 25 degrees up or 3 degrees down. The display can be mounted to a range of different swing arms, which are available from third-party vendors. NEC-Mitsubishi also offers an optional sound bar with speakers, which attaches in both portrait and landscape mode.
A terse Quick Start guide walks you through the straightforward process of setting up the display and navigating the on-screen menu (OSM); it also offers basic troubleshooting advice. Complete setup and usage information is available on the included CD-ROM's user manual. The display features Ambix+ triple-input technology, which, simply put, means you can choose from a range of connectivity options, such as DVI-D, DVI-I (digital to analogue) or VGA, and even simultaneously make two analogue or digital connections if you want to share the monitor between two systems. DVI-D and DVI-I cables are included.
The MultiSync LCD1880SX is chock-full of features, most of them useful. It has an average 240cd/m² brightness rating, an adequate 300:1 contrast ratio, and a fast 33ms pixel-response time for extra-smooth video. Its automatic brightness and black-level adjustment means you should not have to work hard to get the best image. This is good, because the OSM, burdened with too many buttons (eight, along the bottom edge of the bezel) and an odd menu design, is cumbersome to navigate. We suggest that you download NEC-Mitsubishi's GUI-based NaviSet software, which lets you easily adjust the monitor with your keyboard or mouse and includes test patterns to walk you through the calibration process. IT professionals get a distinctive bonus: NaviSet Administrator, which provides remote access to the display as long as you're running Windows 2000/XP and a display data channel/command interface (DDC/CI)-compatible graphics card.
At its native 1,280 by 1,024 resolution, the LCD1880SX performed well on our DisplayMate-based tests. Colours were beautiful, with warm, vibrant yellows and reds, and smooth, rich skin tones in Photoshop and on the Web. It also reproduced a beautiful range of greys and a very true black. Microsoft Word and Web-page text looked crisp, bright, and easy to read, even at small point sizes, and the display's overall focus was very good. Unfortunately, our test display had one dead pixel, so we deducted a few points from the overall score.
A single dead pixel is usually a tolerable defect, but what if you have more? NEC-Mitsubishi's replacement policy is marginal; the company will allow up to 10 dead pixels, perhaps fewer if they're clustered together. This policy, especially when attached to such an expensive display, dampens an otherwise good service and support package. The three-year warranty covers parts and labour, as well as the backlight. The company offers one- or two-year upgrades in various pricing structures. Tech support is available 24/7 for the length of the warranty, and NEC-Mitsubishi's Web site includes drivers, FAQs, and other technical support information.
The NEC MultiSync 1880SX's solid image quality, jumbo-sized viewable area and remote-access features make it attractive to IT buyers. But it's expensive, and many users may be better off with a more reasonably priced 17in. display.