Overview of Features and Specifications

Before we get to the specifics of the Gateway FPD2485W, it's important to have some understanding of what makes for a good display. There are many factors to consider, and intended use will play a role. Here's a brief overview of the commonly quoted specifications and what they actually mean.

Brightness: This is generally a well understood measurement. Brightness is typically measured in candelas per square meter (cd/m 2 ) or "nits". Having a brighter display is usually preferable to most people, but there is definitely such thing as a display that is too bright. LCDs have really caused some confusion in this area, as brightness levels have shot up in order to compensate for poor black levels. 100 nits is pretty typical of most CRTs, give or take, and 400 nits is probably as bright as you would really want for prolonged computer use. Staring into an ultra-bright display for hours a day can be uncomfortable, so unless your computer environment tends to be brightly lit you'll almost certainly be reducing the maximum brightness. Depending on the technology in use, it's also worth mentioning that running a display at maximum brightness levels can cause the backlights to burn out quicker.

Contrast Ratio: Contrast ratio is often grossly misunderstood due to misleading marketing. Getting a good contrast setting from displays is further complicated by the lack of proper adjustment options on many devices, and personal preference plays a part. The contrast ratio is simply the brightness level of pure white divided by the brightness level of pure black. In the real world, contrast ratio is always infinity - black is 0 and dividing by 0 is equal to infinity. Contrast ratios became meaningful with displays like LCDs where pure black (0 cd/m 2 ) was not possible, and higher ratios are generally better. The problem with such a generalization is that a display with 1000 nit whites and 1 nit blacks has a 1000:1 contrast ratio, while a 100 nit white and 0.1 nit black produces the same contrast ratio of 1000:1. It is usually better to get a high contrast ratio by having very dark blacks than by having overly bright whites, but the brightness and contrast ratio should be viewed as a combined unit where you want to keep the brightness somewhere in the range of 200-400 nits depending on environment while still achieving a high contrast ratio.

Response Time: Pixel response time gained popularity after problems with early LCD displays. Maybe it was discussed in the early days of computers, but most CRTs were simply fast enough that no one thought about pixel response times. The response time is the time required to change from one color to another color; most companies rate it as the time to stabilize to within 5% of the target color. The problem with response times is that you also have to know whether you're changing from black to white/white to black (TrTf), or whether you're looking at gray-to-gray (GTG) times. GTG transitions are more common than black/white transitions, but both are important - consider how often you see black text on a white background, for example. Unfortunately, response times are another widely abused specification, with many companies only reporting the best case scenario rather than an average response time. Also note that TrTf would be roughly twice the GTG time for any given panel, since GTG only involves one transition while TrTf requires two. It is important to know whether a display will bother you with "smearing" - i.e. slow pixel response times - but that ends up being mostly a personal preference with modern LCDs.

Viewing Angle: Viewing angle is the angle at which you can still see the image "properly". This is doubled, since viewing angle actually describes the arc in which you can still see the proper output, and horizontal and vertical components are often listed separately. For computers, viewing angle isn't very important at all, as you're almost always sitting in front of the display. TVs where you may be watching with a group of people can use a larger viewing angle, but even then anything more than a 90 degree viewing angle should be sufficient - after all, it's not fun to watch TV from an oblique angle even if you still see the proper colors. Unfortunately, as with many of the other specifications, what qualifies as a "properly viewable" image is up for debate. In some cases, companies have been known to rate viewing angle as being able to see 10% of the requested brightness. Our display reviews will list the manufacturers' stated viewing angles, but we will only bring it up as a cause for concern if we find the viewing angle to be extremely narrow.

Color Depth: Depending on the sort of work you're doing, the need for high precision color depths varies. Most displays have a set number of intensities that they can display for red, green, and blue, and this is almost always a power of 2. (Technically LCDs function by passing varying light intensities through a color filter, but the net result is the same.) A 6-bit display can show 26 (64) different intensities while an 8-bit display can do 28 (256) intensities. With separate RGB values, you can then cube that number to get the total color space. 643 = 262,144, 2563 = 16,777,216, etc. While most people will agree that 6-bit is insufficient - even with dithering to approximate a larger color space - anything more than 8-bit per channel output starts to become more hype than substance. Lower color depths can also result in banding, where the transitions between various colors become visible even when they're not supposed to be.

Color Accuracy: Out of all of the factors to consider when looking at a display, this is going to be one of the most important. Unfortunately, accuracy is rarely a reported specification, in part because it is far more difficult to measure but also because it can vary from display to display. Getting accurate colors from a display can be achieved in several ways. The first is to basically just go with whatever defaults an LCD comes with, which usually means that the colors will be wildly inaccurate. A slightly more sophisticated approach is to use software to try and help you calibrate the contrast and brightness, and you can take it a step further by adjusting color intensities as well. This is what is known as "calibrating by eye" and is what most people end up doing. The best way to calibrate your display is to get a hardware colorimeter and appropriate software to help you adjust the various display settings, but unfortunately this costs money and most people don't care enough about color accuracy to go that far. Image professionals, on the other hand, would be well served by purchasing some form of color matching/calibration hardware/software.

Other Factors: Arguably the most important factors for a lot of people when looking at a new display are going to be the size and the price. All of the specifications may look great, but if a display costs several thousand dollars the target market is greatly reduced. Likewise, a decent display sold at a very competitive price is going to be far more attractive to a lot of people. That said, it's not too surprising that lower-cost displays tend to vary much more in terms of overall quality - one unit might produce great colors and the next could be highly inaccurate. Part of the reason for this is that quality control isn't as much of a concern. Build quality is also often affected by lower costs, with some cheap displays coming with very flimsy stands and/or enclosures. LCDs in particular can also develop pixel defects - individual pixels or sub-pixels that are stuck in a single position, resulting in either black dots or bright dots - and manufacturer warranty and replacement policies are something else to we will evaluate. We will also look at the ability of the LCDs to function in non-native resolutions, although most people will want to run at native resolution so this isn't a huge concern. On-Screen Displays (OSDs) and any other noteworthy features will also be mentioned.

Now let's take a look at the features and performance of the Gateway FPD2485W to see how it fares.

Index Specifications
POST A COMMENT

76 Comments

View All Comments

  • jbr65n - Friday, March 14, 2008 - link

    I purchased this monitor 11/2007. In 2/2008, the monitor completely died. I called Gateway and they refused to send me a new monitor. they would only send a refurb. (customer service reps were nasty, arrogant, and rude, when you do not agree with them they hang up on you).

    The second monitor did not work right out of the box, none of the touch control buttons lit up and they did not work, I had no way to turn the monitor on or off.

    They sent a third refurb unit, and again, right out of the box, the backlight kept turning off, I would have to cycle the power several times to get it to come back on and then it would only stay on for a few seconds. Tech support said they would take back the monitor and the speaker bar add-on (since the speaker only worked on this one monitor) and refund my money for both. He transferred me to customer service to process the refund and returns and they changed there mind and said they will not give a refund. When I asked how long this was going to go on, there reply was "until I get a unit the works"

    In all fairness, this is a nice monitor, but three bad ones in a row, and there lack of proper customer service, is enough to make anyone think twice!


    Reply
  • timelag - Saturday, March 10, 2007 - link

    Thanks, Jarred, for the informed review. A selfish request--could you review the current Dell, Apple, and Samsung 23/24" LCDs? A friend is in the market in the next couple months and I am buying before the end of the year. From what little looking I've done, these seem to be the best candidates so far for hobbyist photo work (and movie viewing, game playing, web browsing...). Reply
  • strikeback03 - Monday, March 05, 2007 - link

    I purchased this monitor over the weekend at a local Best Buy. Here are my results from calibrating with the Pantone/greatagmacbeth Eye-One Display 2 colorimeter using the Eye-One Match 3.6.1 software.

    First I calibrated according to their instructions, which include driving the contrast to 100%. I had to go into user color and lower each color channel to 59 (default was 100) to get the brightness down. The brightness meter stated that it was at the target 120 cd/m^2, though the results show differently. Here are the results for the calibration:

    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v315/strikeback0...">http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v315/strikeback0...

    And here is the validation results as an image of an Excel page. The Eye-One software does not give an easy way to directly export a graph, so colors tested are labeled by both RGB and Lab color values. Dunno how these compare to the values the Monaco Optix package uses, but by it's tests the results were quite good.

    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v315/strikeback0...">http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v315/strikeback0...

    As the fist image shows though, the colorimeter was doing a lot of adjustment at the dark end of the spectrum, and video suffered from crushed blacks. So I tried changing brightness and contrast until video looked good, then recalibrating. Settings used here were brightness of 76 (with individual color channels still set to 59) and contrast of 60.

    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v315/strikeback0...">http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v315/strikeback0...

    Much less work is being done to dark colors now, video looks good, and the dE is even lower now:

    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v315/strikeback0...">http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v315/strikeback0...

    Brightness is still a little higher than recommended, but not much above what turned out following their procedure exactly.
    Reply
  • Ferris23 - Tuesday, February 27, 2007 - link

    I have this display and love it, but something I like to know about all my displays is how to access the service menu. Usually there are extra options that allow even more fine tuning with color etc...

    Do you have any connections that would be able to tell you the way to enter a service menu on this display?

    Gateway "tech support" has no idea what I am asking and just send me spec sheets or links to what the OSD looks like.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, February 28, 2007 - link

    Not sure what more could be done to fine tune the display. If you go to the user settings you can adjust RGB colors, but being an LCD it doesn't really make a difference whether you do that on the LCD or in the Windows drivers. They both end up accomplishing the same thing. I have never looked into "hidden service menus" on any of the LCDs I've used, I'm sorry to say. Reply
  • gandergray - Tuesday, February 27, 2007 - link

    Jared:

    Thank you for the review. I'm very pleased that you will be reviewing monitors again. In your future LCD display reviews, I suggest that you identify the manufacturer and model of LCD panel in the monitor, and continue to identify the manufacturer and model of the signal processing chipset (you did in this review), as in Kristopher's November, 2003 "Dell UltraSharp 2001FP Preview: Gaming LCDs for the Masses" review. Finding information about an LCD monitor's panel and chipset is difficult at best. I suspect that many enthusiasts would often consider the panel type, brand and model when choosing monitors, if that information was readily available. In fact, I frequently read discussions about the merits of S-IPS panels over S-PVA panels. Additionally, would you also alert readers when a monitor manufacturer uses different types of panels in the same monitor, i.e., model. This practice is disconcerting; Consumers simply can't be certain that the specific model that they purchase will have a specific panel. I believe that a vocal outcry would eliminate or substantially reduce this practice.

    Gandergray
    Reply
  • gandergray - Tuesday, February 27, 2007 - link

    My apologies-- Jarred. Reply
  • Googer - Monday, February 26, 2007 - link

    quote:

    Currently, the FPD2485W is listed for $680 on the Gateway web site, while the regular price of the Dell 2407WFP is $750. Dell routinely runs sales, however, and the 2407WFP is available for $675 right now. You basically end up with two very similar monitors that cost about the same amount, although the <U><B>Dell comes with a three-year warranty included making it a slightly better deal.</u></B>


    Gateway offers a $29 extended three (3) year warranty for the FPD2485W making it the same as the Dell 2407WFP for $40 less.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Monday, February 26, 2007 - link

    The Dell is currently (or was last week) $675 with the three year warranty. The Gateway is $680 + $30 for a 3-year warranty. So right now, the Dell is clearly less expensive. If the price of the Dell goes back up (which is almost certainly will at some point), things change a bit. Reply
  • larciel - Friday, February 23, 2007 - link

    quote:

    The problem is, darker blacks are good but brighter whites are only good up to a certain point. Anything above 400 cd/m 2 is far too bright in our opinion. As you can see, the black levels of both the Gateway and Dell LCD are equal, /
    quote:



    Dell achieves 200cd/m2 while gateway achieves 400, 405.21cd/m2 to be exact.

    Aren't you supposed to compliment gateway for its excellent white brigthness while bash dell's inferior test result? or are you saying gateway's performance is nothing to sneeze at because it went over mere 5.21cd/m2 of your recommendation of 400cd/m2

    I hate to speculate, but I'm very disappointed in this review.. reminds me of biased reviews from Toms. Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now