NEC MultiSync E201W review

Pros

  • Highly adjustable stand
  • Eco-friendly build and power usage
  • Nicely priced piece of hardware

Cons

  • Narrow viewing angles
  • Greyscale performance is sub-par
  • Lacks an HDMI port

The NEC MultiSync E201W is a compelling choice for businesses looking to trim costs without sacrificing ergonomic comfort. This 20in monitor features a stand that allows you to position the panel to achieve the best possible viewing experience, and it offers three video inputs, including a DisplayPort. It doesn't require much power to operate and is built using recycled materials. However, there are weaknesses here, on the connections front – with a lack of HDMI and USB ports – and the fact that the display’s picture performance isn’t perfect.

Design and features

The E201W looks like a typical business display. The 1600 x 900 TN panel is framed by thin (13mm) bezels and is housed in a plain matte black cabinet measuring 56mm and weighing 3.5kg. The 11in mounting arm provides height and tilt adjustability, and the round base contains a Lazy Susan mechanism for swivel adjustments. You can also pivot the panel 90 degrees for viewing in portrait mode, but you'll have to use your graphics card's control panel to change image orientation as it does not support auto-rotation.

The back of the cabinet is home to VGA, DVI, and DisplayPort video inputs. As we’ve already mentioned, you won't find an HDMI port on this model, nor will you find any USB ports or speakers. Positioned along the lower screen bezel are five buttons that are used for navigating the on-screen display (OSD) and for making quick input selections and ECO Mode adjustments. One of the buttons is a four-way rocker switch that makes it easy to choose menu items and tweak picture settings. There's also a light sensor that works with the Auto Brightness feature to adjust brightness settings depending on ambient light. Auto Brightness can also be set to react to white content, or a combination of white content and ambient light.

There are six DV modes (picture presets) including Standard, Movie, Photo, Text, Gaming, and Dynamic. Standard mode offers the best picture quality for everyday use and is the setting that I used for my testing. The six colour temperature adjustments include 9300K, 7500K, 5000k, and Native colour settings as well as a User setting and an sRGB setting.

Along with separate Brightness and Contrast settings there are two ECO Mode options; one is an Energy Star setting and the other changes luminance levels to reduce power consumption by 30 per cent. This model also features NEC's Carbon and Cost Savings meter which shows you how much money you save while operating in ECO mode using your own cost per KWh formula. It displays the carbon savings in kilograms.

NEC covers the E201W with a three year parts, labour and backlight warranty. The monitor comes with a user guide plus DVI and VGA cables. A DisplayPort cable is not included.

Performance

The E201W did a good job of displaying every segment of the DisplayMate Colour Scales test image. Colours appeared uniform across the scale and were evenly saturated with no obvious tinting errors. Small text was sharp and well defined down to 5.3 points (the smallest font on the Scaled Fonts test).

However, greyscale performance was lacking; the panel was unable to display the lightest and darkest shades of grey on the 64-Step Greyscale test. The two darkest swatches appeared black and the lightest swatches were white-washed. Greyscale performance won't be much of a factor while going about everyday office tasks, but if you require greyscale accuracy for things like photo editing, this monitor will likely disappoint.

As is the case with most TN monitors, the E201W looks best when viewed from the sweet spot, which is head on. When viewed from a side angle there is noticeable colour shifting where whites appear tan and the overall picture loses luminance. The view from the bottom is worse as the screen becomes way too dark and colour shifting is dramatic. You can avoid this by using the height adjustment to keep the panel at eye level, but you'll certainly notice it when you pivot the panel for portrait mode viewing.

The E201W used 19 Watts of power during my testing while operating with ECO Mode disabled. Switching to ECO Mode 1 dropped power usage to 17 Watts and the picture was still bright enough for a typical office environment. In ECO Mode 2, power usage dropped to 12 Watts without becoming too dim. Given the E201W's low power consumption and use of recycled materials, it certainly gets the stamp of approval on the green-friendly front.

Verdict

With a sub-£150 price tag and numerous eco-friendly features, the NEC MultiSync E201W can help businesses save money on capital expenditures while reducing utility costs. It comes with a couple of options not typically found on budget-class monitors, most notably a four-way adjustable stand and three video inputs, and the display delivers good colour and small text reproduction.

Greyscale performance is not this monitor's strong suit, however, and the picture deteriorates when viewed from side, top, and bottom angles. If viewing angle and greyscale performance are deal breakers, then there are better options out there, and you might want to cast your eye over an IPS monitor.