From the Lab: How we test displays

Macworld Lab has spent a significant amount of time testing and reviewing displays of late. And as is the case with many of the products we put to the test, our reviews of two HP flat-panel monitors—the LP3065 and the LP2465 —generated a lot of interesting feedback…as well as one frequently asked question.

Some folks wanted to know how we go about testing our displays—a very valid question. In many hardware reviews, we include “How We Tested” data just below the lab test results—as an example, look at the benchmarks table in this lab report on the 2.33GHz iMac Core 2 Duo. This “How We Tested” blurb has been missing from our reviews of displays—a situation we intend to correct in future reviews and lab tests. Here’s the text we should have included with the above display reviews:

We connected the display to a 2.66GHz Mac Pro with 1GB RAM, running OS X 10.4.8 and NVIDIA 7300GT graphics card. We note the performance of the display at its default, out of the box settings and then calibrate it to 6500K and a gamma of 2.2 using an Eye-One Display II. A panel of Macworld editors viewed a number of on-screen test images and rated each display as either Superior, Very Good, Good, Fair or Poor in regards to color, text and viewing angle performance as compared to a sampling of similar displays.
To further elaborate on this testing note, the images we use consist of solid colors filling the screen, color and grayscale photographs, gradients, and text documents. We look for and report any stuck or dead pixels, light leakage at the edges, and color inconsistency across the screen.

One reader wanted to know about the environment we test in. We are in a small, windowless room with dim fluorescent lighting. The lab is also a little messy, though that probably makes little difference in our display test results.

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