Philips 200XW 20 inch WSXGA LCD Monitor Review

hardnrg - 2007-08-14 15:11:17 in Monitors
Category: Monitors
Reviewed by: hardnrg   
Reviewed on: September 30, 2007
Philips
Price: $ 335.00 USD

Introduction:

You might not realize, but Philips is one of the biggest innovators in technology of all time. Philips has either solely or jointly come up with some of the most significant inventions in modern technology, including the audio cassette, compact disc, laserdisc, DVD, and digital audio interconnection (S/PDIF). The company also manufactures lighting, household, and medical products.

So what has it done in the visual arena? Well, Philips has developed world-leading imaging systems used in medical and scientific fields. Philips is Europe's largest manufacturer of LCD TVs, and has formed a joint venture with LG to produce LCD panels for many brands, including the Apple Cinema LCD panel and the Dell Ultrasharp 2005FPW panel. LG.Philips develops new technology like flexible LCD displays that you can roll up, and massive 100+ inch displays.

In this review, I will be looking at the Philips 200XW 20" widescreen LCD monitor, a 6-bit TN film panel based display.

 

Closer Look:

Ok, so this is the Philips 200XW7EB, but it only says 200XW on the box, so I guess 7EB is the variation; maybe B for black, E for ... oh I don't know, who cares? It's the 200XW and there are no variations of it on the Philips website at the time of writing this review.

The design on the box is very clean, with a technical drawing element to it. Everything seems very precise, front and back.

 

 

The familiar method of polystyrene end caps and strange foam-cloth cover keeps the screen protected and immaculate. Also inside the box is the bag of cables, and a bag for the CD and paper guides.

 

The screen's base is wedged into the top polystyrene cap, and needs to be attached to the monitor stem. It's heavier than I expected and convinced me that it would be steady and keep the monitor in place.

 

An odd-looking bag is taped to the monitor stem, with something inside, with masking tape around it.

 

An obvious warning label shows that the mystery taped-up thing has something to do with the base and maybe the stand.

 

Closer Look:

So I guess it's time to read the instructions on how to set up the base, and find out what the hell the taped up thing is! The Quick start guide is very visual; you could follow it without even reading, which could be good if you are impatient or don't like manuals or guides.

 

 

 

So the base goes on the stem, what a surprise...

 

Unwrapping the tape from the mystery thing-in-a-bag reveals a knurled screw, you can probably guess what you need to do with this now. Yup, it secures the base to the stem. It's a bit fiddly to turn with fingers alone, but still possible. A screwdriver would be easier, but is not really necessary.

 

So, the base is attached, and round the back of the stem you can see a cable restraining thing, and another mystery screw (more on this later).

 

Turning the monitor back around and you can see it's quite a handsome fellow. Black, sleek, minimal design. Not a hint of tackiness. Ok, ok, the features sticker is tacky, but you can peel that off, and it doesn't leave any sticky residue or smears.

 

Time to think about plugging this thing in. What do we have? DVI-D (digital only), VGA, and an IEC mains socket that can accept any mains voltage in the world, brilliant.

 

Hooking up the monitor and power cables, and pressing the power button, gives you a quick Philips splash screen.

 

The power button lights up green. It's a very small LED and is in the shape of the power button symbol. I like it; I like that it's subtle and not big or bright.

 

This is what it looks like with both monitor cables attached, as well as the power cable. Now you know where the cables are if you have some sort of neat cable fetish, or are thinking about mounting it on the wall or other tomfoolery. If you look closely, you can see where the stem screws off to give you a standard VESA mounting.

 

If you look really really close, you can see something slightly unusual, a USB type-B port. Now what is the point of this, you may ask? Does it send advanced messages to the computer? No, it's merely a passive USB connection for the USB socket on the side of the monitor. Being passive means it's just a direct electrical connection, so if you hook it up to a USB2 device, the monitor USB port is USB2, and if you go USB1, it's USB1. Maybe one day there'll be USB3 and then you can get really excited!

 

Installation:

Ah, so time to find out what the second mystery screw does. Well, like the other screw, you can turn it by hand, but this time you unscrew it. This disengages the stem lock, and lets you adjust the height of the monitor. The idea of having a screw to engage the stem lock is so that the base doesn't fly off when you lift the monitor. You can still lift the monitor without the screw in place if you are careful, but it's not recommended. This is what that cautionary danger label was about earlier. It would have been better if there was somewhere to stow this screw, like maybe another screw hole, because what am I supposed to do with this now? It might end up being mistaken for a curtain hook or something and lost forever ... might not though.

 

 

 

Behold, the monitor with the big neck. Sort of like E.T. with his big wide head. Yeah, that's where the comparison ends.

 

Can you make E.T. do this though?! Probably not. You'd have killed him and then there wouldn't have been a movie made or anything.

 

Having the screen sideways isn't useful unless you're a professional couch potato. It's better to set it up in "portrait mode". This way you tell your graphics card to rotate the screen and you end up with a tall image.

 

 

Just look at all that Overclockersclub goodness, so much, all on one screen.

 

 

ATI and nVidia both have screen rotation built into the drivers. You can enable the tooltray icon and just right click it to adjust the rotation of the display. Takes you about 1 second.

 

 

Configuration:

Time to stop horsing around with the rotation and get down to the configuration!

The monitor comes with a CD. Pop this in your computer and up comes the e-Manual in a web-browser.

 

 

 

 

Go to select the model, but which one could it be? Oh there's only one option, pretty easy then.

 

Now we're getting somewhere; options to read the manual, or install software utilities to help configure the display.

 

Though the monitor is actually already physically set up, it's a good idea to at least have a browse of the manual, if not read it in its entirety. The manual is split up into horizontally tabbed sections.

 

Some parts are the usual boring warnings like "don't drop it on your foot because it might hurt, and also the screen might break," but other parts are interesting and informative, and tell you a bit more about the monitor, its features and controls.

 

Configuration:

I can't remember ever having any useful software with a monitor. Usually it serves some kind of function like adjusting the position of the image on the monitor, or something similarly devoid of excitement. What did Philips decide to include on the CD? Well, first up is Philips Flat Panel Adjust.

 

 

 

 

After the brief installation, you can run the software utility and it takes you through a series of simple test screens to ensure the display is working properly.

 

 

 

 

NOW I'M DONE! Am I? No, I'm not done at all; let's look at the other utility. It's called Altiris Philips SmartManage Agent. It asks you for your name, and organization name. Is this really necessary?

 

 

 

What did that do then? I'm not sure if it actually tells you, but it adds a tab in the Advanced section of Display Properties. This extra tab gives you extended controls for the monitor.

 

 

 

 

Specifications:

 

Picture/Display
LCD panel type 1680 x 1050 pixels. Anti glare polarizer. RGB vertical stripe
Panel size 20.1" / 51 cm
Effective viewing area 433.4 x 270.9 mm
Pixel pitch 0.258 x 0.258 mm
Brightness 300 cd/m²
Contrast ratio (typical) 600:1
Display colours 16.2 M
Viewing angle 160° (H) / 145° (V). @ C/R > 5
Response time (typical) 8 ms
Maximum resolution 1680 x 1050 @ 60Hz (digital input)
Recommended resolution 1680 x 1050 @ 60Hz (digital input)
Video dot rate 205 MHz
Horizontal scanning frequency 30 - 98 kHz
Vertical scanning frequency 56 - 76 Hz
Aspect ratio 16:10
sRGB Yes
 
Connectivity
Signal input Analogue (VGA), DVI-D
USB 1 x USB 2.0
Video sync input signal Composite Sync, Separate sync, Sync on green
Video input impedance 75 ohm
Sync input impedance 2.2k ohm
Video input signal levels 0.7 Vpp
 
Convenience
Convenience enhancements On screen display, SmartManage enabled
Monitor controls Auto, Brightness Control (Up/Down), Left / right, Menu (OK), Power on/off
OSD Languages English, French, German, Italian, Russian, Spanish
Other convenience Kensington lock compatible
Plug & Play Compatibility DDC/CI, sRGB, Windows 98/ME/2000, XP
Regulatory Approvals CE Mark, Energy Star, FCC-B, UL, CSA, SEMKO, TCO '03, TÜV/GS, TÜV Ergo
Swivel +/- 45°
Tilt -5° to 25°
Height adjustment 130 mm
Pivot 90° (clockwise)
VESA Mount 100 x 100 mm
 
Accessories
Included accessories AC Power Cord, DVI-D cable, USB cable, VGA cable
User manual Yes
 
Dimensions
Set dimensions (W x H x D) 483 x 338.5 x 68.7 mm
Set dimensions in inch
(W x H x D)
19 x 13.3 x 2.7 inch
Set dimensions with stand in mm (W x H x D) 483 x 402 x 215.3 mm
Set dimensions with stand in inch (W x H x D) 19 x 15.8 x 8.5 inch
MTBF 50,000 hrs
Relative humidity 20% - 80%
Temperature range (operation) 0°C to 35°C
Temperature range (storage) -20°C to 60°C
Product weight (+stand) 8.6 kg
Product weight (+stand) (lbs) 18.9 lb
 
Power
Complies with Energy Star
Consumption 48 W (Typical)
Off Mode < 1 W
Power LED indicator Operation - Green. Standby / sleep - Amber
Power supply Built in. 100-240VAC, 50/60Hz

 

Features:

 


Key Features:

 

Testing:

OverclockersClub uses DisplayMate Multimedia Edition to benchmark all monitors. After many hours of research, eye straining testing, and coming to the realization that the cost to purchase any mechanical piece of equipment that could truly benchmark a monitor costs in excess of five thousand dollars, DisplayMate Multimedia Edition is the perfect solution.

"DisplayMate Technologies is a company devoted exclusively to video testing, evaluation and optimization. The company develops state-of-the-art video diagnostic products for the consumer and professional markets."

"DisplayMate Technologies is widely recognized throughout the computer and video industries as the worldwide leader in video diagnostics, which are used in the calibration, testing, evaluation and optimization of image and picture quality for all types of displays, such as CRTs, analog and digital LCDs and plasma displays, video projectors, microdisplays, HDTVs and more."

 

Testing Setup:

* WSXGA, 1680x1080@60Hz
** UXGA, 1600x1200@85Hz (optimum); QXGA, 2048x1536@60Hz (maximum)

 

Benchmarks:

 

Set Up Display:

"This selection will show you how to properly and precisely set all of the controls on your display and video board to produce Optimum Geometry, Grayscale and Contrast. All of the other picture quality enhancements in DisplayMate assume that this procedure has been followed carefully."

Tune Up Program:

"The Tune-Up Program further improves and enhances display picture quality by searching for every possible potential weakness of a computer display at high sensitivity, and then showing how to improve the image at every step. The program selections include the following:

Script LCD Test:

"A set of test patterns to setup and check LCDs."

Video System Info:

Upon boot up no changes.

Screen Pixels
1680H x 1050V
Screen Colors
16,777,216
System Colors
16,777,216
Intensity Levels
256
Screen Orientation
Landscape 8:5
Reported Screen Size
520 x 325 millimeters
Screen Aspect Ratio
1.60 H/V
Square Pixels
1.00 H/V
Color Capability
True Color
Color Depth
24 Bits per Pixel
Color Palette
Not Available
Color Planes
1
Pixel Pitch
0.26 x 0.26
Dots per cm
39 x 39 dpcm
Dots per in
99 x 100 dpi
Total Pixels
1,764,000
Screen Memory
6890 Kbytes
Pixel Memory
32 Bits per Pixel
System Font Pixels
7H x 16V
System Font Format
240 Columns x 65 Rows
System Font File
vgasys.fon
Display Driver
VGA
Driver File
vga.drv
Driver Version
64.0
Enhanced Lines
Yes
Wide Lines
Yes
Styles Lines
Yes
Filled Lines
Yes
Block Fills
Yes
Polygon Fills
Yes
Curved Fills
Yes
Flood Fills
Yes
Clipping
Yes
Curves
Yes
Polygons
Yes
Device Fonts
Yes

Testing:

Set Up Display:

DisplayMate suggests using the "Set Up Display" to properly set up your monitor before beginning any tests. The "Set Up Display" runs through many screens to help you adjust brightness, contrast and other picture quality enhancements. The "Set Up Display" consists of 34 different screens with different color variations and vars. Below are some screenshots of what I saw while running it.

 

The first four are concentrated on brightness and contrast that focus on black and grayscale.

 

The following progress from grayscale to white, while later testing color purity, color tracking, and so forth.

 

Color intensity, Gamma tracking, size and position, sharpness and moiré interference patterns are also included.

 

Last but not least, are text readability, font size, bandwidth, and a master screen that you can use to perform a quick setup.

 

This is the first time I have used this program and it took a while to get used to adjusting the monitor controls as well as the various DisplayMate controls in the tests. All the rooms in the house have diffused flourescent lighting, and I usually keep the curtains in my room closed on sunny days to eliminate any issues with glare (although that's rarely a problem in "sunny" England!). The first thing that struck me about the monitor was "AARG! My retinas are burning!" The display was just blindingly bright on the default settings. I tried setting the brightness to 0 and lowering the contrast, but even that was literally hurting my eyes. I ended up having to set a custom RGB color profile in the monitor OSD menu (Red: 65, Green: 65, Blue: 65) to achieve brightness and contrast levels that passed all the tests and also provided a display that was suitable for comfortable usage over long periods of time. I ended up homing in on the optimum settings for this monitor; brightness 4 and contrast 64. The brightness level may seem extreme, but after going through the tests several times, this was the best setting to achieve the correct black level. The screen positioning, sharpness and gamma tracking sections all appeared flawlessly. Moiré testing did not show any uneven fluctuations in the display, and the text testing showed that the minimal readable text in most fonts was an average of 9 pixels, 6.8 points. Video bandwidth, on checkerboard intensities was 254/255, with a video mode of 100.4. With the initial set up completed, the Tune Up Program was the next stage of configuration.

Testing:

Tune Up Program:

Testing:

LCD Test Script:

DisplayMate comes with many scripts that can be run to test your monitor (CRT, LCD), video boards, projectors and even a setup for printers. My reason for using the LCD script was to check if my settings that I had made while using the Set Up and Tune Up programs had made a difference. I ran the LCD script prior to adjusting the monitor and after adjusting the monitor.

The LCD script test has a timer and I set it to 30 seconds a screen; included in the test are screens from all the other tests. The difference between the default settings and the optimized settings resulting from the calibration software was huge! Before, looking at the display was like staring at the sun first thing in the morning when you step out the door. Ok, not quite that bad, but the "no no, I'm going blind!" reaction was the same for me. After the calibration exercises, the monitor was tamed and the color reproduction far exceeded my expectations of an LCD monitor. Instead of a bright, glaring screen, with washed out colours, the displayed images were rich and wholesome.

 

Subjective Viewing:

 

Gaming:

I was eager to see how the LCD monitor performed in games, as I am very much a stubborn CRT user, and wondered what would happen to the display when put to the test of high-motion action in first-person shooter games. Throughout the tests, I compared the Philips 200XW to my favorite monitor, the Mitsubishi Diamond Plus 230SB. The Philips used the DVI connection, and the Mitsubishi used its only available connection, VGA.

There are two major things that bother me about most flat-panel displays. The first is the black level being far too high, appearing dark grey instead, and producing inverted images in dark scenes. The second is one linked to response times of the LCD technology, and the resulting ghosting or smearing of images moving across the screen. I was surprised and delighted to see that the Philips 200XW did not have either of these problems. The Splinter Cell series makes use of the dark as an intrinsic part of the game, and often I see LCD displays struggle to show the correct image without inversion anomalies. The Philips 200XW had a slightly higher black level than the Mitsubishi CRT, unavoidable with a backlit display, but the blacks were evenly distributed and were free of inversion or colour tinting. The slightly higher black level was actually an advantage as on many games, it is harder to see in darkness or shadows on the Mitsubishi CRT. Next, I tried a variety of fast-action games and made a sequence of manoeuvres that would make the squeamish barf up their lunch, but there was absolutely no perceptible ghosting or smearing. After playing games for testing, I played the entire demo of Bioshock for fun.

 

Video:

My bedroom is a combined office, recording studio, gaming area, and home cinema. The entire room is optimized for the best possible visual and audio experience whilst sitting at my desk, or relaxing back on my bed. The desk is axially aligned to the bed, with the monitor exactly in the center, and speakers positioned symetrically on either side. I am very particular about the visual and audio experience, and can not stand settling for mediocre quality or performance. So when it comes to movies, I want it to be incredible, not so-so. I usually watch movies on my Mitsubishi CRT or Sharp XG-NV6XE LCD Projector, both of which are 4:3 displays. Of course, I watch these "letterboxed" so that I can see the whole picture of widescreen movies, and I hate it when people set the display to "pan & scan" and cut the sides of the picture off! Anyway, this is the first widescreen computer display that I have personally owned. I have had a widescreen standard definition CRT TV in the past, but the Philips LCD is in an entirely different league.

I decided to watch a 1080p movie, Ice Age 2, to really test the monitors. While the colors were fairly evenly matched, and the brightness not so far off, the sharpness of the Philips LCD was quite noticeable. Everything on the screen just had an extra sense of clarity. The other difference was that the actual size of the movie on the 20" widescreen LCD was a fair bit bigger than the letterboxed movie on the 22" CRT. Another subtle touch is the power LED is very dim, and this is a good thing when watching a movie in the dark, many other brands of monitor have a stupid ultra-bright blue power LED that looks like a small blue searchlight when you turn the lights out. I'm so glad this Philips LCD doesn't have one of those ridiculous blue power LEDs. It really was a pleasure watching a movie on this monitor and my last remnants of doubt about LCDs were quickly dissolving into the ether.

 

Applications:

I do a great deal of research and use the internet as a source of information, and I use a variety of 2D and 3D graphics applications like Photoshop, Maya and 3D Studio Max, so being able to read various font sizes and work with fine detailed images and designs is essential to me. One of the first things I noticed, compared to previous CRT displays, was how incredibly sharp the text appears on webpages and documents. Switching back to the Mitsubishi CRT was, and it pains me to admit this, like losing some of my vision, as the text is comparitively blurry on the CRT. Working with design tools was easier when working with fine lines and edges as I could see the boundaries much more clearly. One thing that I noticed after working in Photoshop for a while, was that some images appeared slightly grainy on the LCD compared to the CRT. This is because of the dithering of the 6-bit LCD, and while sometimes not even noticeable, it bothered me a little bit. This is the first time I noticed the limitations of 6-bit TN film LCD technology on the Philips 200XW. While games and movies were fantastic on both the CRT and LCD, scrutinizing technical drawings was easier on the LCD than the CRT, while judging color textures in photographs and graphic design was easier on the CRT than the LCD.

 

Conclusion:

My preference up until this review has been with CRTs. But, my Mitsubishi CRT weighs 30kg (66 pounds) and uses 112W. It's basically a big, fat, inefficient monster, and possibly the heaviest thing I own. With the rest of my system power consumption going up with each upgrade, I am beginning to be energy conscious, probably moreso for my wallet than the environment, but hey that's a bonus too! I really think my Mitsubishi CRT was one of the last decent large CRT displays to be made, and I won't be buying any more in the future. In comparison, the LCD weighs 8.6kg (18.9 pounds) and only uses 48W. So, now it's LCD all the way!

I really am very happy with the Philips 200XW. It has proved to have almost flawless performance in every area. The only thing that let it down slightly was the dithering making it hard to judge color evenness in photographic work, whether the actual image is grainy, or if it's the display. That says a lot to me, as I was really trying to find fault with LCDs in general, and struggled to mark it down at all.

I like how everything you need comes in the box; there is no need to go out and buy an optional DVI cable, nor even the USB cable to allow you to use the built-in USB port. The on-screen display was very easy to use, with clear meanings of each setting, and light use of graphical icons that add to the usability rather than being a cryptic replacement for words. The DVI and VGA inputs mean you can use this with any graphics card, and even use the display on two computers, a handy feature if you have multiple screens, computers, and KVMs.

Being able to rotate the display was far from merely a novelty for me. Amongst other things, I am a programmer, and being able to set the display up in portrait mode and scroll through hundreds of lines of code is absolutely fantastic! I have not seen a cheaper 20" widescreen LCD with height adjustment and pivot rotation, and together with the usual side-to-side swivel, and up-down tilt, these are big selling points for me. That's a lot of adjustment for such a low-priced LCD considering that you would not get that from other 20" widescreen LCDs at the same price.

This monitor gets the gold award from me because the only thing I can say against it is a barely perceivable color variation on some photos. You can't notice it on most images, and not at all in movies, games, or general use.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: