The Good Sharp focus makes it easy to read small text; rich colors enliven the graphics; wide viewing angle allows you to move around the table.
The Bad Connects only to analog – not DVI – graphic controllers; does not rotate; minimum documentation; the video looks pixelated; strict policy on bad pixels.
The Bottom Line Anyone who wants to equip a Mac or flat screen PC should consider this large, simple panel.
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Clearly designed and easy to use, the EN-8100e does not confuse novice LCDs. We didn’t even have to ask for a two-page chart during setup. The screen worked instantly when we plugged its built-in video cord into the Dell Dimension 4100 730 MHz test table.
The monitor consists of a dark-gray abyss sitting on a silvery gray pedestal. The top edge rises 17.5 inches above your desk. Unfortunately, the pedestal is not a telescope or a twist, so you can’t position the monitor exactly. In addition, the screen feels a bit unstable when tilted all the way back (about 25 degrees). Fortunately, thanks to the 160-degree vertical and horizontal viewing angles, you can leave the screen in one position and still be able to see the image well when standing behind a table or tilting the chair away. The OSD buttons (including Auto, Brightness, Contrast, Menu, and Power) operate in a row near the bottom of the panel where you can easily reach them.
The four screws hold the panel and pedestal together, which means you can easily remove the pedestal and attach the panel to the wall bracket or arm. (Envision does not sell the necessary components, but you can find them in stores such as Ergotron.) In terms of screen size, 18.1 inches seems just right for the native resolution of the EN-8100e 1,280×1,024; this combination offers enough pixels to really see what you are doing, but it doesn’t compress them enough that you have to mow.
Envision did not provide the EN-8100e with any applications, but most buyers will not miss them. There are no speakers in the monitor, but your PC probably has better speakers than most LCDs. The EN-8100e also cannot be used as a television tuner, but most LCDs lack this capability, and CRT will probably give a better picture for such purposes. You can skip the DVI interface, which allows you to use digital video rather than analog video. Some LCD screens look better on DVI signals than analog ones, though we rarely can tell the difference. In general, the lack of bonus features does not impair the product, but there is not much else to really surprise us.
As for fine tuning, the main features of this LCD are less complicated than many of us have seen. In particular, the menu controls (Auto, Brightness, Contrast, Menu, and Power) control the on-screen menus without launching a submenu. For example, the Color 7800K and Color 6500K parameters that change the LCD color display are separate items on the main menu instead of two picks in the color temperature menu; similarly, red, green, and blue are separate items in the main menu. This design makes it impossible to confuse which menu or level of menu hierarchy you are on. However, one menu – the choice of DOS mode to optimize the screen while working in DOS – breaks down entire elements for the organization of the menu, and we could not decrypt it without calling Envision. More intricate, the menu label is, at best, vague; it’s like a two-letter box720×400.70 and 640×400.70.And yet, this is the only exception to the otherwise beautiful design.
On the Nvidia GeForce4 Ti4600 graphics controller, the Nvidia GeForce4 Ti4600 graphics controller, the official CNET test lab, the EN-8100e has delivered impressive results. Small types and spreadsheets are almost without gray shading, which can make text so unpleasant to read. The photos and illustrations showed small details, and despite the relatively low brightness specification, the colors looked vibrant and rich. However, in some DisplayMate tests, including the 7: 9 spot shape visibility, the colors very slightly blend into adjacent pixels. DisplayMate geometry tests did not detect any distortion in the figures or when objects were holding back other objects.
But the EN-8100e lowered us a little to DVDs. We know that the graphics controller of our test layer can be jammed with flawless video, but despite having a fairly fast pixel response time of 23 pixels, the video looked noticeably flickering – not bad for the LCD but not as clean as it would look on high quality CRT such as Samsung SyncMaster 900NF.
| LCD image-quality test
Longer bars indicate better performance
The Envision EN-8100e scored slightly above average in CNET lab tests based on DisplayMate with Motion Edition multimedia. The text appeared sharp and shaded, even with small fonts. The shapes looked smooth and properly proportioned, and the skin tones were right on target. However, in most of the tests for the saturation of gray and color saturation of the CNET laboratory, some saturation and turbidity were observed.
Even with a monitor as uncomplicated as the 8100e, we expect vendors to provide adequate printed or onscreen information about their products. Envision’s support policies excel in some areas and disappoint in others. For example, the 8100e’s box contains only a 2-page diagram. If you need more information, you can download a 22-page manual from Envision’s Web site. That’s a big file over a dial-up connection, and you’d better hope that your monitor problem doesn’t prevent you from seeing any screen image altogether.
Worse, Envision, like too many LCD vendors, doesn’t replace panels with defective pixels until the number of defects gets pretty high–at least five dead and/or five stuck pixels, up to a total of eight. So if your display has a few prominently placed dead pixels, you’ll just have to live with it. Be sure to shop at a store that lets you plug in your monitor before you buy it.
On the bright side, Envision backs the EN-8100e with a generous warranty that covers the whole panel, including the backlight, for three years. Better still, the company’s tech-support policy lets you call support on a toll-free line (Monday through Friday, 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. PT) for as long as you own the panel. In our tests, we had to try several times to reach Envision’s tech support during business hours, but once we got through, a friendly technician gave us quick, appropriate responses to our tech questions.