It has been quite some time since we've done any display reviews at AnandTech. It is a topic that comes up on a regular basis, and the display is definitely an important aspect of any computer system. Quite a bit has changed since our last display review, nearly all of those changes for the better. Many of the concerns we used to have about LCDs have now been addressed - pixel response times, color purity, and pricing have in the past been the major deterrence towards purchasing a large new LCD. While there is always room for improvement, desktop LCDs are now at the point where very few people would prefer anything else. Simply put, the CRT is dead; long live the LCD! That is not to say that LCDs are the only foreseeable display technology for the future, but before we get into the technologies, let's briefly talk about displays in general.

For some applications/scenarios the display is of little importance. Many large corporations will have headless servers - servers that aren't connected to any display - because they don't need to use the system directly. Logging into a server from a remote location is more than sufficient for most administrative tasks. A single KVM switch (Keyboard Video Mouse) can also be connected to a bunch of systems for times when physical interaction with a server is necessary. It's possible to have as many as 24 systems sharing a single KVM setup, which allows you to conserve space in a data center, not to mention cutting back on cable clutter and power requirements. In such usage scenarios, the display is probably the least important component in the system.

The reverse of that is the typical home or office user. Depending on your work and hobbies, you may find yourself staring into a computer display as much as 12 hours a day, and even more in some instances. Hopefully you take periodic breaks, but more likely than not you get too involved and forget such minor considerations. A typical power user will load up a lot of web pages in the course of a day; work on some documents, images, spreadsheets, etc.; maybe play a few games; answer email, and perhaps even watch a video or two.... That's a lot of time looking at your display! While having documents and web pages open faster is always nice, most people agree that the fastest computer in the world connected to a lousy display would be a chore to use.

We have frequently argued that the display should be a primary decision when purchasing a new computer - unless you already have a high quality display that you'll be keeping. Unlike computers where you might upgrade systems every year or two - or at least a few of the components - it is not unusual to use a display for a very long time. Some people will spend as much as 33% of their computer budget at the time of a new system purchase on the display, with the intention of using the display for at least five years. Once you have a good quality display, there are only a few reasons to consider upgrading: either you want a larger display, your old display starts to wear out (i.e. poor colors/contrast/brightness), something breaks, or now we have the new problem of not being able to support HDCP content. As much as that last item can irritate some of us - anyone who purchased an expensive LCD two years ago feel free to raise your hand - HDCP support is now a feature that the majority of users will want to have, if only as a safeguard. If you never intend to watch video content on your display, you can probably manage to live without it, but all other things being equal why not spend a few dollars more for something that might be useful?

Besides the features that go into a display, there are plenty of new technologies in various phases of development that are worth keeping an eye on. CRTs have basically been relegated to the budget sector, and very few manufacturers are interested in that market anymore. LCDs are the most common display right now, generally offering high contrast ratios, clear and bright colors, and an attractive slim profile that so many people like. Looking towards the future, OLEDs show a lot of promise, and different methods of backlighting are being used with LCDs to further improve image quality. Outside of computers, various other technologies are in development/deployment, but most of these aren't likely to move onto the desktop. Rear projection HDTVs have been around awhile, with many projection systems now moving towards DLP, but rear projection/DLP displays require far too much space for most people to want them on a desktop. Plasma displays have also been around for quite some time, but their increased weight relative to LCDs is likely to keep them away from the computer market. SED (Surface-conduction Electron-emitter Display), FED (Field Emission Display), and various other display technologies may steal the spotlight in the future but for now it looks like LCDs and OLEDs will be the primary choices for computer users.

We're going to kick off our return to display reviews with a look at one of Gateway's newest offerings, the FPD2485W. This is a relatively high-end display intended to compete with offerings from other major manufacturers (Dell, Samsung, HP, Viewsonic, Acer, etc.) In contrast to some of the other 24" LCDs currently on the market, it has only been available for a few months and it sports one of the newer LCD panels. Priced at under $700, it's also reasonably affordable though certainly not cheap. Given what we've just said above, however, we would definitely recommend anyone considering the purchase of a midrange or faster computer take a serious look at their display and decide whether or not it's time to upgrade. After seeing what we have to say about the Gateway FPD2485W, you might be willing to make the investment.

Overview of Features and Specifications
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  • strikeback03 - Friday, February 23, 2007 - link

    You skipped quoting the rest of the paragraph:

    s you can see, the black levels of both the Gateway and Dell LCD are equal, so the Gateway LCD achieves better contrast ratios mostly by offering brighter whites. If you work in a well lit office environment, the Gateway system might be the better choice, but most users will likely end up running either LCD at similar brightness levels.

    Optimal brightness setting for LCDs is often stated to be 120 cd/m^2. So in many circumstances the extra brightness of the Gateway isn't useful.
  • JarredWalton - Friday, February 23, 2007 - link

    400 cd/m2 is the most I could imagine using, and once both LCDs were adjusted the actual white point was a lot closer - meaning even though the maximum on the Gateway was twice as high, once calibrated I didn't use anywhere near that white level. 300+ cd/m2 can be almost painful to look at in my opinion, and 400 or higher is generally overkill.

    The point is, the only reason Gateway and others seem to have such insane brightness levels is to get better contrast scores. Most people will run around 200 cd/m2, give or take probably 50. But if your black is only able to reach a minimum of 0.35 cd/m2, that means the contrast ratio would be somewhere between 500:1 and 600:1. The "solution" is to simply crank up the maximum brightness, so you can claim a 1000:1 (or even 1200:1) contrast ratio. More is better, right? Except, it's not, because hardly anyone will actually use those super-bright whites.

    Also worth noting is that if you max out brightness and contrast (max white level), the color accuracy scores go to hell and the whites all run together, so everything from about 200 or higher on the RGB scale ends up as the same level of white. At maximum contrast, the recommended calibrated brightness (according to Monaco Optix) is 20%, where if I choose 60 contrast the recommended brightness is 61%. As mentioned in the review, the overall color accuracy was better with contrast set to 60 as opposed to 100.

    The maximum brightness (100% contrast) was even higher than reported: 500 cd/m2 was pretty close, but black went up to 0.45 cd/m2. Depending on the room you work in, higher brightness may be okay or not. I prefer running closer to 200-300 personally.
  • DigitalFreak - Friday, February 23, 2007 - link

    All I can say is that I love my 2405!
  • Painman - Friday, February 23, 2007 - link

    Besides the already requested input lag tests, modern LCD reviews usually include at least a few gaming tests... some commentary on what kind of visual artifacts are evident with fast moving objects. I had 3 of these Gateways (returned for various defects) and tried to like it, but aside from other problems the smearing was just too much to take... green and brown smudges always popping up in my face. I bought myself an IPS based NEC and I ain't looking back.

    This isn't a very good gamer panel... thinking about it now sitting in front of this NEC, I can't really say the Gateway FPD2485W is a good ANYTHING panel, tbh.
  • Aquila76 - Friday, February 23, 2007 - link

    If you want to see something that'll blow your mind on this display, fire up HL2. At the menu screen, where it's out of focus as it loads the game, it looks like you've dropped to 256 Color mode and are 'dithering' the image. I noticed the same effect when hitting the Nitro in a couple Need for Speed games.
  • knirfie - Friday, February 23, 2007 - link

    This monitor features DCDi by Farudja, why is there no mention of this in the review (or did I miss it?). And how is the videoquality/deinterlacing over composite/svideo/component?
  • DigitalFreak - Friday, February 23, 2007 - link

    Page 3:

    The Gateway FPD2485W uses a Faroudja DCDi signal processor, which is one of the more respected brands.

  • Souka - Friday, February 23, 2007 - link

    get an apple cinema display and make sure its calibrated properly....

    nothing better IMHO... use them all the time at work. Some folk have those Dell units...yuk....color is off, things seem dull, despite all calibration attempts.

    Good thing they're just doing web page design and programming....
  • dcr - Thursday, February 22, 2007 - link

    Could you test WoW and see if you get this "flashing" in the terrain?
  • chizow - Thursday, February 22, 2007 - link

    Jarred, nice review of the 2485W, was wondering if you wouldn't mind posting your settings after you calibrated your display with Optix. Reason I ask is that myself and many others felt the color accuracy out of the box on this panel were horrible, especially compared to other displays. I was able to get better results by asking what settings people were using, and obviously what looks good to them will vary person to person and card to card, but it was a big help.

    Also, it might be worth noting what month your panel was made. There were some serious issues with this panel in early production runs (November), but each successive month seems to correct problems and greatly reduce other problems. Backlight bleed seems to greatly diminish as well as an annoying PSU buzzing problem with newer models.

    Lastly, I was glad you mentioned the 1:1 pixel mapping, but I think there needs to be greater emphasis on this aspect of 24" panels or any panel able to do 1920x1080. In the era of HD with all of the inputs this monitor and some competitor models provide (BenQ, Dell Rev. A04), the ability to do 1:1 is a major consideration for the enthusiast. If you have multiple HD capable devices (HDTV, PS3, Xbox360, HD-DVD, Blu-Ray) this monitor can basically serve as your entertainment center, all while maintaining its main functionality as a massive 2.3 Megapixel PC display. There's really few other tech-enabling devices I've purchases that can compete with this panel's versatility and functionality.

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