It may be small, but it packs a wallop
The $399 MultiSync 1550V is available in either a white or a black cabinet. Though it looks a bit boxy, the rounded top and bottom edges give the NEC a sleeker look. And at 13.6 by 13.9 by 6.5 inches, it's about one-half inch slimmer on each dimension than the diminutive Compaq TFT 5030 and about 6.5 pounds lighter. Much of the credit for the smaller size and the lighter weight can be attributed to the 1550V's thin-framed design and the narrow bezel surrounding the screen. Despite its size, however, the NEC looks and feels as strong as many of its heavier competitors. But its undersized base makes it a bit more likely to fall over if it were bumped too hard.
Installation is a no-brainer, except when routing the cables. As with many recent LCDs, you're expected to route the power and video cables underneath a durable two-piece plastic cover, which takes a bit of maneuvering. NEC has thoughtfully provided a set of built-in plastic clips, which hold the cables securely in place. A driver isn't included, but the standard Windows Plug and Play driver works fine. The MultiSync 1550V does include an unlocking code for the LiquidView software program, which is available online. This program scales the size of your Windows icons and other interface elements to fit the resolution of your monitor. The 21 pages of documentation are plainly written, with large sections on ergonomic and environmental issues.
High-end performance; low-end limitations
Overall, the analog-only MultiSync 1550V performed well in CNET Labs' DisplayMate tests. The focus was excellent when viewing Web pages, digital photos, and text. We noticed some slight color distortion during video playback but experienced no ghosting with DVD movies, thanks to the MultiSync's quick 30ms pixel-response rate.
While the NEC MultiSync 1550V performed very well in our tests, it did have some classic low-cost LCD limitations. We found ourselves cranking up the brightness level most of the way; the 200cd/m² brightness rating is merely adequate, as is the 300:1 contrast ratio. The 120-degree horizontal and 90-degree vertical viewing angles are barely adequate, so you wouldn't want to choose this monitor for group presentations. The display also lacks a DVI connector for digital video. While you could get an LCD with better specs than these, you'd likely have to pay more for it.
Easy control panel
The onscreen display's seven control buttons are easy to handle and contain some convenient features for multiuser environments. They're intelligently grouped and clearly marked, and unlike the double-duty buttons found on some other monitors, the single-function buttons make it easier to remember what's what, even if you change the settings infrequently. A reset button returns all the settings to the factory defaults and is handy when moving the monitor among computers. You also have the option of resetting the individual adjustments, and the menu system features a lockout function to keep the uninitiated from messing up your configuration.