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  • Nanao Ranks Top in Nikkei Byte Survey With Easy-to-use TFT-LCD Monitor
  • June 1, 1998 (TOKYO) -- Nanao Corp.'s E151L 15-inch thin film transistor-liquid crystal display (TFT-LCD) monitor ranked top in a Nikkei Byte magazine survey of users of such monitors that are on the market.
    Users rated the easy-to-adjust feel and image quality displayed after making adjustments.

    Sharp Corp.'s LL-152A monitor was ranked top among all products including prototypes.

    Prices of TFT-LCD Monitors Declining

    Prices of TFT-LCD monitors are falling rapidly, making them more available to general consumers. As of April, monitors in the 14- in. to 14.1-in. range were introduced at prices below 140,000 yen (US$1,020). And prices of 15-in. models, the leading products, have fallen to 200,000 yen to 280,000 yen (US$1,460-US$2,040).

    The 15-in. models were priced at 250,000 yen to 320,000 yen (US$1,820-US$2,330) at the end of 1997, and thus the prices declined by nearly 20 percent in about three months.

    The drop was due to the entrance of CRT monitor makers including Sony Corp. and the U.S.-based ViewSonic Corp. into the LCD monitor market in March, making competition more intense. Also, Iiyima Electric Co., Ltd. introduced a 14.1-in. model priced at 148,000 yen (US$1,080).

    The trend of lower prices will soon gather steam. Prices of 15- in. models will continue falling, as Sony and Nanao plan to release new 18-in. models in June and July. Also, it is anticipated that the trend of falling prices will be bolstered by a 15.1-in. model that will be marketed in June by Artwork Corp., a communication devices maker, at a low price of 157,800 yen (US$1,150).

    Ratings With Emphasis on Easy-to-adjust Feel

    The 15-in. LCD monitor is eyed as a substitute for the popular 17-in. CRT monitor, because the display area of the two models� monitors is almost same in size. Lower prices on the 15-in. LCD monitor will mean that the device will be more affordable to PC users.

    The LCD monitors require major adjustments that are not needed in the case of CRT monitors. The LCD panel is driven by a digital signal. When a PC-originated analog signal for a CRT monitor is input into an LCD monitor, the LCD monitor must convert the analog signal to a digital signal.

    Digitizing a signal often leads to distortion. The waveform of signal distortion differs by video cards. Therefore, it must be corrected through the LCD monitor. Unless the adjustment is made successfully, a satisfactory image quality cannot be obtained.

    For the ratings shown here, Nikkei Byte surveyed the products mainly as concerns easy-to-adjust feel and resulting image- quality, on the assumption that current users of CRT monitors will replace those units with 15-in. LCD monitors.

    Nikkei Byte rated 11 analog interface (connection) type LCD monitor models, including products yet to ship. Some LCD monitors are in the digital interface type. But many users will consider the analog interface type when they want to replace their CRT monitors.

    Five-scale Ratings

    For the ratings, Nikkei Byte used a PWR128P/4VC PC graphics card from Canopus Co., Ltd. (1,024 x 768 dots and 65,536 colors). The PCs used for the ratings were powered by AMD-K6 (233MHz) processors, and had GA-586ATX motherboards of Taiwan-based Giga- Byte Technology Co., Ltd. and 64MB of main memory.

    The ease-of-adjustment was a key survey item, especially automatic features for the "dot clock," "phase" and others peculiar to LCD monitors.

    In addition, the survey emphasized the availability of a manual for users to make adjustments by themselves when the automatic adjustment doesn�t work well. "Utilities" for the adjustment were also surveyed.

    "Optimal Image quality adjustment" was rated mainly based on the presence or absence of flicker, chromatic blur and other points peculiar to the analog interface.

    The ratings consist of six items, each of which is applied to a scale of five. The total ratings are shown by a five-scale rating system, which was obtained by rounding up a fraction of 0.6 of the average of each item and eliminating the rest (See table ).

    For prototypes with no manuals provided, the "manual" and "utility" items were marked on the maximum basis of 4 points, and were excluded from calculation of the total ratings.

    Automatic Adjustment Feature To Handle "Phase"

    The results showed that Nanao�s E151L was the best of the existing models. It exceeds other monitors in the number of auto- adjust functions, which are "dot clock," "position" and "contrast", and it was rich with "manuals" and "utilities" for the adjustment. But, ratings on both the "dot clock" and "position" slipped out of the optimum adjustment by one dot, indicating the automatic adjustment was not perfect. In these two items, products from Sony and Fujitsu Ltd. were the leaders.

    Prototypes of Sharp and NEC Home Electronics, Ltd. and a new product of Mitsubishi Electric Corp. are noteworthy. These products are equipped with an automatic "phase" adjustment feature that is not seen in the existing products.

    Adjusting the "phase" is the most difficult operation for users, but all three models were capable of adjusting it almost perfectly. The Sharp LL-152A won the top rating, including ratings for all other items.

    Sharp�s LL-152A registered almost perfectly in terms of the automatic adjustment even after changing the refresh rate and displaying an enlarged screen.

    Table : Ranking of Easy-to-use Feel of 15-in. TFT-LCD Monitors of Analog Interface
    *1) "Image quality" means Image quality displayed after optimum adjustment.
    *2) Sanyo Electric Co., Ltd. will employ an LCD panel of Korea's Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd.
    for the initial products, but plans to change it later.

    (return to news)

    Related stories : Artwork to Sell Low-priced Color TFT-LCD Monitors
    Nanao to Launch Sales of 18.1-In. TFT-LCD Monitor

    (Nikkei Byte)

    (Nikkei BP Online)

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    Updated: Mon Jun 1 02:18:13 1998