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Eizo ColorEdge CX 240 review
A high end 24.1" (61 cm) LCD Monitor
It's been some time since Keith looked at monitors in any detail.
Normally we just get to test various colour management tools and software, using our assorted monitors in the office.
A conversation at the Eizo stand at this year's Focus show, and the slight decline of Keith's Apple Cinema display suggested that it was about time he looked at monitors for professional use.
At Northlight, we don't do colour critical proofing work, but we do a lot of editing work on our own images, and Keith does a lot of black and white print work, so a good reliable monitor is essential.
This particular test is with the CX 240 connected to Keith's OS X 10.6 24GB Mac Pro, with an ATI Radeon HD 4870 display card.
The monitor was profiled and calibrated with Eizo's ColorNavigator software.
It's been a while since I looked at monitors, graphics cards and their specifications, indeed many reviews and info I've come across seem to be aimed less at image quality than the gaming market, something I've no real interest in.
Eizo have a long reputation for building high quality monitors, adding in as they do, a lot of refinements in the areas of display uniformity, stability and accuracy.
The CX series includes built in hardware calibration that will ensure the ongoing accuracy of your display calibration (the higher end CG series has a built in device that is used for initial display profiling/calibration as well as ongoing monitoring)
The CX series is aimed at Pro level photographers (oh and that weird 'Prosumer' category too). The CX 240 I tested came with Eizo's own ColorNavigator 6 profiling/calibration software (an optional extra with the CX series). I'll cover some of the reasons you might choose this over the collection of profiling software I'd normally use later when I look at the software, but suffice to say, it can access parts of the monitor that others can't.
The monitor comes well packed, with a simple setup guide, power, DVI and HDMI cables, and a much appreciated DisplayPort cable (mini) which made it easy to connect to both my MacBook Pro and Mac Pro.
The display port connection makes it possible for the display to use 10 bit video (if your display card supports it).
The monitor works well on the desktop, and is widely adjustable.
Even without calibration, the display looked great, but not surprising since Eizo monitors are known for their calibration at the factory before shipping.
Simple on-screen controls allow for calibrated display, or setting to basic Adobe98 or sRGB modes.
Here's the CX 240 set at 6500K (nominally the same as the laptop)
Whilst it's not possible to show differences here (on your monitor - unknown to me), the colours on the main monitor were noticeably more intense and refined (the image is in the Adobe 98 colour space)
Our CX 240 shipped with ColorNavigator software - this is apparently not supplied by default and is an extra expense that you should note (and consider) since it offers functionality beyond normal calibration software.
I'll show some photos of the monitor connected to my MacBook Pro, not because I regularly used it with the monitor, but my main office (where I'm writing this on the CX 240) is nowhere near as uncluttered ;-)
Setting the monitor to 5500K (suggested for 'photography') makes the difference much more obvious.
I've used 6500K for years, and have no problem with it for my work. Indeed, as you lower the colour temperature the contrast range of the monitor drops. With monitors such as my Apple one, this becomes less than I'd like, and the linearity of the monitor (greyscales for example) doesn't look so good.
If I was to use the CX 240 all the time I'd probably shift to 5500K (5000K is just too yellow). I have a viewing cabinet that is around 5000K, but careful use and positioning has meant I'm just fine with my monitor at a higher colour temperature (see my review of the GTI PDV 3e for more).
I tested profiling of the monitor with both the Datacolor Spyder4Elite and i1Display Pro. As I expected, both produced perfectly good profiles, but if I was going to buy a monitor like the CX 240, I'd really want to get the best out of it.
Adjustments carried out by profiling software for most monitors are relatively basic, some parts are still done with adjustments of your graphics card. The ColorNavigator software tweaks internal aspect of the monitor that other software can't reach, indeed, without setting up with ColorNavigator, the automatic monitor validation won't take place.
I installed the software from a link supplied on a CD, along with a license code.
The software can check for updates (why not in the install process?)
The main screen allows you to create your own settings groups (targets) - there is help available (PDF manual) which is well worth reading through.
I'll not go into all the intricacies of what you can do with the software, just a basic profiling setup.
It's possible, for example, to configure 3D lookup tables for film emulation when grading video - I'd be lying if I said I had even a working knowledge of what this involves, I don't do video work :-)
The software can work with a lot of devices, but didn't like the X-rite software left on my laptop from a previous test.
The i1Display Pro - ready for measurement.
As with all profiling packages, the screen displays a series of colour patches to measure.
I tried an i1 Pro 2 spectrophotometer.
The i1Pro 2 is better at low light levels than the old version and fine for a monitor like this that can achieve very good dark colours and blacks (often an area of concern with cheaper displays)
The spectro needs calibration before use.
The Pro and Pro 2 are held different ways against the screen.
The i1Pro 2 in place - note too the general lack of reflection from the screen (that's a bright window off to the left).
Measurement - 32 patches in basic mode
Even my old ColorMunki is supported.
Here it is, in its case (do remember to open the aperture slider in the case).
In general I'd suggest going for current devices. LED backlighting and wide gamuts do not go so well with older colorimeters.
The measuring process only takes a few minutes.
Here's the basic results (i1Pro 2) at 6500K.
The results at 5500K
A full report of measured patches is available.
Data is recorded so it can be compared over time, showing any changes in the monitor (or your measuring device).
The built in measuring device will pop out at intervals to validate your calibration - it does this during calibration, to establish what it needs to measure against - move your mouse over the image to see it.
The monitor is firmly aimed at users wanting precision and reliability.
Going back through some old highly coloured images (flowers) I was intrigued to see some of the detail in strong colour areas, that I'd not seen before. It's still worth noting that there are a few strong colours that I can print with our iPF8300 that are outside any monitor gamut, so whilst the large gamut of the CX240 is important, there are many other factors to look at too.
Buying the Eizo CX 240
We make a specific point of not selling hardware, but if you found the review of help please consider buying the CX 240, or any other items at all, via our link with Amazon.
It won't cost any more (nor less we're afraid) but will contribute towards the running costs of our site.
The range of functions it will support with the ColorNavigator software, such as controlling viewing cabinets is impressive, although to really benefit from a monitor like this you need to pay attention to all aspects of your workflow and work environment.
In some markets the monitor is available both with and without the software. Given that the software is needed to get the best use of what's not a cheap monitor, I wondered why you'd buy the monitor and not the software? In the UK market, I believe that the CX 240 is now only supplied with software. If you're looking at buying lots of the monitors and want to write your own software, then best give Eizo a call...
The software is tied to a single monitor, so if it's an extra where you are, then outfiting an office with several of these monitors, incurs a not insignificant extra charge and potential support issues.
The matte finish of the screen is very easy to use, and the display crisp, with no flare or 'sparkle'. Whilst I didn't measure it, the display uniformity looks impressive, particularly since the monitor includes features (DUE - digital uniformity equaliser) to maintain this as the monitor ages (something very obvious when I see some older monitors in design offices).
The on screen display is easy to use, with the buttons and power light (a dim blue that you can dim/extinguish) not distracting in any way.
The range of physical adjustment was more than adequate for my needs. I work in a fairly dark environment, so the optional viewing hood was not something I'd use. The screen can rotate by 90 degrees if you are working on tall thin images...
The unit does contain fans, which if you're in a very quiet environment might be distracting to some. They are quieter than the fans on my Mac Pro, but that isn't sitting on my desk right in front of me. Remember though, that keeping the monitor cooled extends its life and consistency.
Normally I like to leave a monitor on for at least 30 minutes to stabilise, but the CX 240 is designed to bring this period down to seven minutes.
If you've not used a wide gamut monitor before, then the appearance of your computer desktop and some software may come as a surprise. If the software isn't colour managed then that light blue folder on a 'normal' monitor may take on an intensity that you don't want.
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It depends on what sort of work you are doing, but I only spend part of my day editing photos.
If I'm working on the web, then a different setup (say 6500K and a reduced 'sRGB gamut' ) might be more appropriate and offer a more accurate indication of what others will see. Fortunately the ColorNavigator software can be set up for such custom uses, and takes care of switching monitor profiles for your system.
After using the monitor for a month or so, I can say that it's not the wide gamut that makes the real difference (it of course helps) but the screen uniformity, ease of setup, linearity and accuracy, that I miss when returning to my old system.
It's been interesting to try out the monitor for a while, and it's certainly helped me appreciate what I need for our photography business.
High quality 16:10, 1,920 x 1,200 pixel display, with 10-bit IPS panel backlit by wide-gamut RGB LED backlighting.
ColorNavigator software can make use of a wide range of calibration devices.
In the UK, available fom Native Digital
Specifications - from Eizo
1 This monitor meets the ISO9241-307 (Pixel fault class I) standard.
Original Press info for CX and CG monitors
The views in this article represent those of Keith Cooper.
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