ViewSonic VA2026w LCD monitor

ViewSonic’s VA2026w is a moderately priced wide-screen 20-inch LCD monitor. It can connect to your Mac digitally via a single DVI port, or to an older Mac or PC via a single analog port. And though it scored well with our judges for text legibility, its narrower-than-average viewing angle and lack of extra features make it difficult to recommend this monitor over other 20-inch wide-screens we’ve recently reviewed.

The VA2026w sports a thin bezel design in black, with silver accents. It features a fairly large circular base that offers little in terms of flexibility. There is no height adjustment and no ability to pivot or swivel, though you can tilt the display back a few degrees. The case also lacks other features like speakers, a USB hub, or camera media readers.

When I connected the VA2026w to my 2.66GHz Mac Pro, it booted up automatically into its native 1,680-by-1,050-pixel resolution. As is true with most consumer displays, images on the ViewSonic’s screen appeared overly blue and bright at the default settings. After calibrating the display with a Gretag Macbeth Eye-One Display 2, images looked much better. For those without calibration hardware, the VA2026w offers multiple color presets, as well as a customizable User mode, which offers easy-to-use onscreen menus.

We assembled a panel of Macworld editors to rate the display alongside a group of similar monitors. They found the text on the ViewSonic to have Very Good legibility, even at small point sizes. On the other hand, the viewing angle on the VA2026w was given only a Fair rating. Of the six 20-inch wide-screen monitors we’ve recently tested, the ViewSonic had the most prominent color shifts and loss of contrast when looking at the display from the left or the right of center. Our jury will usually ignore these color shifts when rating a display’s color fidelity, but the shifts were so prevalent that the narrow viewing angle probably did affect the score somewhat, even though colors looked perfectly fine to those sitting directly front and center of the display.

The ViewSonic uses a technology called dynamic contrast ratio to increase the display’s contrast ratio from the standard 1,000:1 contrast ratio to 2,000:1. This technology examines the incoming image before it is displayed and can adjust the backlight to increase the difference between light and dark areas of the screen. We looked at both games and movies on the display, as well as our standard test images, but we couldn’t see any difference between displays with dynamic contrast and those with standard contrast.

jury tests

Viewing angle Fair
Color fidelity Good
Text legibility Very Good

Scale = Superior, Very Good, Good, Fair, Poor

How We Tested: We connected the display to a 2.66GHz Mac Pro with 1GB of RAM and an Nvidia 7300GT graphics card, running Mac OS X 10.4.10. We noted the performance of the display with its default, out-of-the-box settings and then calibrated it to 6,500 Kelvin with a gamma of 2.2, using a Gretag Macbeth Eye-One Display 2 colorimeter. The Macworld Lab viewed a number of on-screen test images and rated each display as Superior, Very Good, Good, Fair, or Poor on its color, text, and viewing angle compared with a sampling of similar displays.—Macworld Lab testing by James Galbraith

specifications

Size 20 inches
Native resolution 1,680 x 1,050
Connections 1 DVI, 1 VGA
Viewing angle 170 degrees
Brightness 300 cd/m2
Response time 5ms
Contrast ratio 1,000:1
Dimensions (height x depth x width, in inches) 16.1 x 8.9 x 18.6
Special features 2,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio
Warranty 3 years

Macworld’s buying advice

The ViewSonic VA2026w isn’t a bad display, but other models in its category offer better viewing angles and lower price tags. Shoppers could do better by purchasing either the cheaper Dell E207WFP (   ) or the feature-laden, but more expensive, NEC MultiSync LCD205WXM (   ).

[ James Galbraith is Macworld ’s lab director. ]

ViewSonic VA2026w

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