NEC MultiSync LCD6520L

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NEC can now provide you with a 65-inch LCD screen in full high definition, and in our view it's definitely worth a look.

Commercial displays can provide both information and entertainment to your clients. Imagine a 65-inch screen as a shop window display or detailing the services your business offers clients. Or perhaps you just want to entertainment customers while they wait in queues.

Test procedure
We assess screens on a largely subjective basis. We consider image quality, including colour reproduction, brightness and contrast as well as image sharpness and blurring caused by inadequate pixel response times. Image quality is assessed while viewing a range of scenes including bright daylight, night scenes and fast action.

The onscreen display (OSD) should be easy to access. Navigation should be logical and easy, with few menu levels and appropriate wording. The remote control should also display intuitive layout and labelling.

We also assess the build quality for durability and attractive design. The device needs to last and it needs to impress even when turned off.

Design and features
The 6520L is the biggest LCD we have ever seen. According to the manual it weighs in at 80kg, and when moving it, it seemed like there was 80kg at each end. 64.5 inches or 163.9cm is an awful lot of screen space. The native resolution of 1920 x 1080 will support full HD video.

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We've already indicated that the great weight of this screen. We certainly appreciate the need to build a commercial screen for strength and it must be able to support its own weight, but the mass does seem excessive -- did NEC construct it from lead? Have they heard of aluminium? If there was a heavy glass sheet in front, like a plasma-display, we could understand it more.

There is excellent range of ports supporting both digital and analogue signals -- including Component, VGA, DVI, HDMI, RGB/HV and S-video. While there are no integrated speakers, a range of audio-out options are also present.

I personally like NEC's OSD design. Tabbed menus make it easy to see where you are in the menu structure at any given time. Navigation is both intuitive and explicitly stated. There are an impressive range of options for controlling colours, inputs, screen ratios, PIP and much more. One remote control can be set to administer up to 26 screens if required and they can also be controlled from computer via standard communication ports.

Each screen has twin RS-232 ports allowing multiple monitors to be daisy-chained to the one port on your PC. Each screen has to be assigned an individual ID -- this is done via the remote control unit so presumable only one screen can be turned on at a time while IDs are being assigned. Once done, multi-screen administration is so much easier. You can even set schedules controlling when the screen are active -- no need to waste power when there are no clients to impress.

The response time for this LCD is stated at 6ms (full white to full black & Gray to grey), but what does this mean? Over the last few years quoted response times for LCD have been coming down more and more. Not so long ago the figures were 16 or 20ms now we see times of eight, six or even three milliseconds. How much better can it get -- and is there a point? It is generally thought that the average human eye has a response time of about 16ms (i.e. 60Hz). Because of this, 12-16ms is considered an adequate response time for screen pixels. So why go for lower response times and why are 6ms machines visibly better than 12ms machines?

There are two reasons. The first is sheer advertising -- if 12ms is better than 16ms then surely 6ms is better still (whether we can appreciate it or not). Secondly, the numbers are very slippery. The response time quoted may be full white to full black, which is also called -tr-tf".

Since liquid crystals respond faster to higher voltages manufactures can 'overdrive' the voltage to force faster change, but when the need is more moderate changes, between say two shades of grey, a lower, highly controlled voltage is required and thus response times may be quite low.

The fact that this machine is quoted as achieving 6ms for both full white to full black and grey-to-grey looks impressive, but we still noticed some blurring when watching video on this screen. Of course we don't know just what the starting and finishing grey levels are and this affects the quoted response time. In the end the numbers don't matter nearly as much as user experience -- don't buy without looking at the machine yourself.

The 6520L has great colour reproduction. High definition video is an amazing experience on this screen. Individual hairs and skin pores could be seen distinctly and without obvious jagged outlines. The colours are vivid and contrast is remarkably high for an LCD screen. During fast panning, there was a little blurring of image due to inadequate response time.

Management features are excellent. Multiple screens are readily managed from a single device and scheduling will lead to better power consumption practices. Manuals and menus are straightforward and intuitive.

Paying $26,825 for one glorified computer monitor is a bit scary, but the features, quality and remarkable size make the figure not too surprising -- undoubtedly prices for screens this size will come down in time.

The standard warranty is three years with a further 12 month extension available. Servicing is onsite, but the owner is responsible for demounting the device from walls prior to any repairs by NEC -- understandable, but potentially a nuisance since it would mean waiting for two separate contractors. The 'L' in the model name indicates landscape -- a similar 'P' -- model designed for portrait orientation is also available for $27,599.