The NEC AS221WM will appeal to businesses looking to trim their capital spending and utility budgets. It's not a high-end monitor by any means, but this 22in desktop display offers good performance for the money and doesn't require much power. It comes up short in terms of features and resolution though, and it doesn't have an HDMI video input.
Design and features
The AS221WM looks like a typical business display, which is to say it is fairly bland looking. The 22in TN panel is housed in a plain matte black cabinet with thin 13mm matte black bezels on the top and sides and a wider 25.4mm bezel on the bottom. The non-reflective screen has a 16:10 aspect ratio and a relatively low 1,680 x 1,050 resolution. Granted, most office tasks don't require full HD (1,920 x 1,080 pixels), but there are plenty of comparatively priced monitors out there that do give you a higher resolution.
The 5Kg cabinet is supported by a round black base with a tilt hinge. Height, swivel, and pivot adjustments are not available on this model. The AS221WM uses CCFLs (Cold Cathode Fluorescent Lamps) for backlighting, which accounts for its somewhat bulky 66mm profile. There are five small, well-marked buttons mounted beneath the lower bezel used for launching and navigating the OSD and powering up the display. Around the back are DVI and VGA inputs and an audio-in jack, but this monitor is not equipped with an HDMI port, nor does it have any USB ports or a webcam. It does have a set of low-powered 1 Watt down-firing speakers, however.
Picture settings are very basic; in addition to brightness and contrast, you can adjust colour temperature and red, green, and blue saturation. The AS221WM has three ECO modes that are activated by adjusting screen brightness. Eco Mode 2 kicks in when the brightness is set between 0 and 20 per cent, Eco 1 Mode is at 21 to 70 per cent, and Off is when brightness is set between 70 and100 per cent. A carbon footprint meter is updated every five minutes, and tracks the reduction of CO2 emissions when one of the ECO modes is enabled.
The AS221WM comes with a set-up sheet, a user guide, a VGA cable, and an audio cable. You'll have to supply your own DVI cable if you want to utilise a digital signal. NEC covers the monitor with a three-year warranty, including the backlight, parts and labour.
The AS221WM delivers solid performance for a budget monitor. It was able to display most of the swatches on DisplayMate's 64-Step greyscale test, although the two darkest shades appeared black (each shade should change with equal intensity from light to dark). Colour gradation was smooth across the Colour Scales test and colours appeared evenly saturated and natural-looking.
Off-axis viewing was typical for a TN panel, with noticeable colour shifting occurring at around 40 degrees from the centre of the screen. Top and bottom angles were much narrower; the picture degraded at around the 30-degree mark. On the upside, the panel's 5ms (black-to-white) pixel response handled fast-moving images without any noticeable blurring.
The AS221WM doesn't require much power despite using CCFL technology for backlighting (LED backlighting typically uses less power). With ECO Mode set to 2 (20 per cent brightness) it used 15 Watts of power, but the picture was a bit too dim. ECO Mode 1 (50 per cent) used only 18 Watts and was bright enough for most office environments. At full brightness, the monitor used 25 Watts. Given its low power usage, carbon meter feature, and Energy Star 5.0 and EPEAT Silver compliance, the AS221WM certainly has good 'green' credentials.
The NEC AS221WM is a capable budget monitor that will help businesses cut costs across the board. It offers reasonably good colour and greyscale performance and won't stress your electric bill, but it could use additional features, such as an HDMI port, an ergonomic stand, or a few USB ports. A 1,920 x 1,200-pixel resolution would have been nice as well.
Manufacturer and Model
NEC AccuSync AS221WM
1680 x 1050
Supported video formats
Analogue VGA, Digital (DVI-D)
Pixel response time (Black to White)
Rated contrast ratio
Yes (1W +1W)
Pixel refresh rate speed
Yes, -5 to +20 degrees
Stand height adjustment
Yes, 100 x 100mm