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

77 Comments

View All Comments

  • erwos - Thursday, February 22, 2007 - link

    No 1080p over component sucks - when will manufacturers realize that people want this? An additional DVI-HDCP or HDMI input would have been nice, too. That said, it's still a beautiful LCD, from what I've seen of it in the stores. Reply
  • OrSin - Thursday, February 22, 2007 - link

    A second DVI or HMDI connection would be very usefull. Is that why you want 1080P so you can have a second 1080p connection to the monitor? Reply
  • OrSin - Thursday, February 22, 2007 - link

    Component was never orginally spec'ed for 1080p. Alothought it can be done it being out of spec makes most compnays not put the effort in to doing it. Also it was only recently you could get 1080p from any source so why go through the effert to make something when no one could even use it. By the time 1080p showed up HDMI was almost the standard. All broadcast HD is still 720p or 1080i. So you need HD-dvd or Blue-ray for any 1080p.

    I dont think many people really need component 1080p, single not a single 1080p TV comes without HDMI and and high end monitors comes with DVI. Why do you want this again?
    Reply
  • mlambert890 - Saturday, February 24, 2007 - link

    My guess is people want 1080p over component for gaming. Some people probably want it to try to bypass HDMI security, but I think the majority are thinking XBox 360 or PS3 gaming and, possibly at some point, dl'd video. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Sunday, February 25, 2007 - link

    Xbox 360 is the primary reason anyone is talking component 1080p as far as I know. I'm not sure if PS3 does component output with 1080p or not, and I somehow doubt it. Anyone with a PS3 feel free to speak up, though. Reply
  • questech - Wednesday, May 29, 2013 - link

    I have one of these, and it is a great monitor, when it is working. I mean it has great clarity and an interesting resolution, that not all graphic cards can support.

    They have a big problem with the cheep capacitors they use, and my monitor started taking longer and longer to boot up until one day it wouldn't. I replaced the capacitors with their high quality counter parts and that did the trick!

    Unfortunately one day the internal fuse on the power board blew. I thought that maybe it might be an anomaly and replaced it... but it was the sign of something more involved.

    I troubleshot it to the point of narrowing the culprit to either the transformer, or bridge rectifier.

    Then things went from bad to worst... I left the monitor face down on a rubber mat, meaning to get back to the project in a short time, but I got busy with my film business and it sat there for a few weeks. When I got back to it, much to my horror, the rubber mat stuck to the bezel of the monitor and it made a mess.

    OK, that wasn't bad enough, while cleaning the monitor face, I put a scratch in it. Now I'm not sure if it's an actual scratch, a mark that can be rubbed out, or what... but I'm not touching it again for fear that I'll completely destroy it :-)

    At this point I am embarrassed and have decided to sell it for parts. If anyone is interested here's a link: http://tinyurl.com/pg6s3yh

    Anyway, that's my Gateway story, I hope that it will make some of you feel better about any calamities that are happening in your life!
    Reply
  • ZxxAssAssinxxQ - Saturday, February 7, 2015 - link

    love this monitor, my dad bought it in 2007 and it crapped out in 2013, pop off the back, replace a few bulging capacitors (already had the replacements sitting around the house) and voila good as new. the thing is a little dark and the colors arent so great anymore but if you see one on ebay / craigslist i highly recommend it. Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now