Do not adjust your set. Your eyes do not deceive you. The NEC MultiSync 195VXM+ is indeed a thoroughly old school LCD monitor.

So, forget 16:10 widescreen, much less the latest 16:9 aspect, and bask in the sepia-toned glory of the 5:4 awesomeness of this 19-inch panel. It's the sort of form factor that was hot back in 2004, but now looks, at best, like a refugee from your bank manager's office. Talk about square, daddyo.

Actually, that's a little unfair to the NEC. Thanks to the ultra-slim bezel, you could hardly call its industrial-looking design dated. It's just that we've all become so conditioned to seeing widescreen monitors, anything squarer smacks immediately of corporate drudgery.

But the unexpected arrival of the 195VXM+ presents a welcome opportunity to reassess the supposed merits of the widescreen format.

With a native resolution of 1,280 x 1,024 pixels, the NEC oddball certainly gives little away in terms of vertical elbow room to the widescreen opposition. For web browsing or viewing a single document, therefore, it's every bit as effective.

What it doesn't offer is the ability, however theoretical, to view two documents side by side or perhaps achieve that traditional journalistic ruse of positioning a browser next to Word. The better to cut and paste with? Perish the thought.

Pixel poor

Anywho, where the 195VXM+ also loses out thanks to form factor and resolution is the coarseness of its pixel grid. It's native resolution of 1,280 x 1,024 pixels is not an awful lot to spread out over a 19-inch diagonal.

That means each individual pixel is pretty fat. Those with poor eye sight would probably welcome the resulting oversized fonts. But for everyone else, the relative coarseness will be all too apparent.

And that doesn't even factor in the inherent unsuitability of this screen for watching today's widescreen video content.

Overall, then, we will have to chalk up the 5:4 aspect and relatively low resolution as a fail. However, we were hoping that in return for the fusty form factor, the 195VXM+ would give us something we really covet: an LCD panel that's anything but TN+Film. If that were the case, it would make for an extremely interesting choice.

A modern widescreen form factor and high resolutions or superior colour fidelity and contrast, but a constrained work space. But that's all rather academic because it turns out the 195VXM+ is TN after all.

As it goes, it's not a bad panel by TN standards. Granted, measured static contrast is pretty mediocre, just breaching the 600-to-one barrier. But it does nail both the preferred 2.2 gamma and 6500k colour temperature targets after colour calibration.

It also weighs in with a maximum brightness of 243 nits, which isn't too far off the official 300 nit that NEC claims.

Ultimately, it's hard to imagine exactly why anyone would want to pay significantly more for this 19 incher than the likes of BenQ's nearly universely superior 22-inch panel.

In the end, the NEC's Multisync 195VXM+ is exactly what it first appeared to be: an interesting but mortally flawed throwback to an early era.

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