Ever since the CRT gave way to LCD panels, the world of monitors has been a little quiet. Sure there have been faster panels produced with better bit rates and high contrast ratios, but incremental increases aside, not much has really changed.
Enter LED: one of the technologies likely to become a staple in future years. While not prominent yet, there are a few units popping up that utilise LED technology to some extent, such as Viewsonic's VLED221wm. This LCD panel features LED backlighting, meaning it uses less power without sacrificing image quality. However the price tag is high, and although the picture was fairly good it wasn't any better than that of competing units.
This unit is a 22in display with a standard resolution of 1650x1080. We ran it through our standard array of imaging tests and were fairly pleased with the results. The most standout feature was the VLED221wm's colour performance. It seems the LED backlight really makes a difference in this regard. In Displaymate Video Edition colours looked bright and vivid while still remaining accurate. In our film tests everything was rich and vibrant.
Contrast was fairly good on both ends of the spectrum, with nice separation in the intensity ramps at the low end of the charts. At the brighter end of the scale we were a little disappointed by the sharp jumps between blocks — it could have been a little more gradual — but all up, performance was solid.
The image was sharp and clear with text rendered nicely and no aberrations or distortion. There was no noise visible at all on moire patterns or block colours; uniformity was good right across the screen. Viewing angles, however, were disappointing. The image remains clear when sitting quite far off centre, but there is some fairly extreme colour shift as soon as you're not directly in front of the monitor. After having the monitor set up for less than three hours we'd already had two colleagues ask us why our monitor was pink; not a good sign.
With a reported 5ms response time, the VLED221wm is on par with most new 22in displays. There was some moderate ghosting in our standardised tests, but it wasn't problematic in real world scenarios. Black levels were pretty good and the image was generally bright, but the monitor does have an annoying feature that adjusts the contrast and brightness based on what is being displayed. While this worked well most of the time, in some of our tests it didn't judge things properly and darkened the image far too much.
Connectivity is fairly standard, with a basic combo of DVI and VGA ports. There are also speakers running along the base of the bezel, but they are of fairly poor quality and probably won't be useful unless you really have no other alternative.
We quite like the aesthetics of the panel. It has a simple, glossy black bezel that looks slick, although it does attract finger prints. The controls run along underneath; although they are quite intuitive, we found the keys stuck and were difficult to press.