Pros: Sharp, stable and well saturated image. High quality construction and design
Cons: Menus. Poor off-axis performance.
It has to be said that I generally like NEC displays. They are not the best, not the cheapest, not the brightest, fastest or lightest, but in the great scheme of things, for quality of image, construction quality and for reliability in use, NEC displays seem consistently rather good.
Indeed, my only real complaint is that NEC has seemed unreasonably interested in competing with itself with an overly complex collection of models offering just about every possible option the vast majority of users dont even know they want, with model numbers that fail unerringly to hint at what the features are. Yet amongst them all, when looking to replace my 1530v with something offering a bit more real estate, and with an interest in hooking up to a DVI port, the 1760NX bubbled to the surface of the catalog.
Im glad it did.
This is a heavyweight in the increasingly flimsy LCD market. Not sufficiently tough that an armor-piercing shell would bounce right off, but you get the feeling that anything not classified as field artillery would fail to make much of a dent in it. Perhaps NEC have filled the entire casing with wet sand, because theres nothing obvious in the construction to explain why this thing needs a very firm grip and some muscles to lift it, but the impression of solid, good quality, construction is hard to ignore or shake. When added to the slick rotating base, which is adjustable for both height and tilt with little more than a practiced finger, and its difficult to reach any conclusion but that this is a well-thought, well made piece of kit that plans to take its job very seriously indeed.
And thats before you turn it on.
The monitor has a choice of VGA or DVI connection, although only a VGA lead is supplied. Many NEC models have snap-on covers that allow you to route the cables almost out of sight, and while the 1760NX does have a cover under which the power and video cables are intended to be routed, it doesnt serve to tidy things up much. That said, cabled up and ready to use, the 1760NX presented its first minor challenge: it didnt seem to work.
Which just goes to show that a quick read of the manual is often a good place to start rather than best left to last resort, because the 1760NX has the usual power button on the front panel which is easy to spot, and a second, used for powering down the display for longer periods than normal, tucked away on the right-hand side panel. Faulty user repaired, the power came on.
Next step is a sharp intake of breath.
Admittedly, the sharp intake of breath is optional, but quite difficult to avoid because the image quality is quite amazing. Brightness is absolutely level across every part of the screen, and the picture is sharp and rich. Colors are well saturated and subtle details are well presented and clearly visible. There are no artifacts, no instabilities, no wavering, wobbling or shimmering. The image is totally stable. Side by side with an older display, a trusted and well used 1700M that has often been the yardstick by which other displays are measured, its clear the 1760NX has a far brighter white, better contrast and altogether crisper display.
And its fast too. Playing a DVD there is no ghosting or blurring which has been a hallmark of LCDs since their introduction, and which is finally now being ironed out with the present generation of fast response panels. The upshot is that the 1760NX provides a fluidity of image that is much closer to that of a CRT display than many earlier LCDs have managed to attain.
There are some issues though. First is the control button/menu system. Short of having a button for each function and an adjustment knob, as displays get more sophisticated the menus needed to control and adjust them become little short of flabbergasting. This one isnt the absolute worst, but seen in the light of the button used to call the menus up being labeled exit, its not difficult to grasp the inadequacies of this sort of method of control. Buried inside the menus is an adjustment for almost everything imaginable, including color balance, but getting to the options is too-frequently a multiple set of dancing finger-jabs away and the result is that without a bit of effort and practice, more often than not youll arrive at an option you didnt want instead of the one you did.
In an age where a simple click wheel can navigate through complex menus and selections on an iPod, engineering a menu system in this manner, seemingly favored towards the badly nervous, is really an abandonment of good design or common sense. That said, the range of controls once the menu system has been mastered is excellent.
Another oddity is that when used in DVI mode with an appropriate video card, the 1760NX actually seems to display a narrower band of shades than it does in VGA. The image is as vibrant and rich, and increases in sharpness by a small, but noticeable degree, but its as if a few shades of color have been whisked away. In normal use this was barely noticeable, but with video editing underway, it became rather more apparent. This isnt a disturbing problem, but it does mean that some users will find their experience of this display to be better with a VGA connection.
The last complaint is a very basic one that might render this display entirely unsatisfactory for some uses: that it starts to wash out with relatively small changes in viewing angle particularly when looking down on it. All LCDs have limitations in this respect, but this one is worse than most others Ive worked with. Tested against the 1700M, where it tends to show increasing contrast leading to a more dense image as you move off-angle, the 1760NX washes out and the image becomes less distinct.
So is this the good, the bad or the ugly of 17 LCDs?
Undoubtedly, in my view, its in the good column. The menus are frustrating and may need to be accessed a few times before the display is set to perfection, but once done should not need to be touched again. The sharper but slightly less fulfilling color in DVI makes for a compromise that really should have to be made, even if VGA delivers entirely sufficient sharpness and richness of tone, and the off-angle performance is not of concern to many who will primarily sit in front of it and work. And thats the beauty of this monitor, because to sit in front of it and use it the result is uncanny and almost unique in usability its a display that because it is stable and sharp can be used for hours at a time without discomfort.
Added to the quality of design and construction, the 1760NX does one thing extraordinarily well delivers a sharp, colorful and completely stable display thats a pleasure to use, and a relief after time spent with the competition.