Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Legend: Nanao Eizo CG241W-BK

Some of you know that I had the Eizo CG243W on order from Adorama. The CG243W sports an IPS display, 1.07 billion (with a 'b') colors when using DisplayPort which it has.

Oh and it costs $2239 from Adorama (today's price) and was/is backordered EVERYWHERE.

My main gripe with the CG243W was the price. It replaced the 2-year-old CG241W which utilized a tried-and-true Samsung S-PVA panel and while lacking the DisplayPort connector and therefore a 1.07 billion color palette, was the industry standard as far as top-of-the-line color accurate monitors were concerned. Retouchers and photographers alike depended on this legendary workhorse for their color accurate work.

Pricewise, the CG241W used to cost $2300 but because of the CG243W, Eizo dropped the price to maintain the sales in these units. These units (also backordered nearly everywhere) can now be purchased for about $1900

Is the advancement in technology worth $400 in price? Probably. I've heard great things about the viewing angles for the IPS displays. Would I need 1.07 billion colors? No, but it'd be nice and I'd have bragging rights. Of course that would mean having to purchase a DisplayPort<->Mini DisplayPort adapter for my MacBook 5.1 which unfortunately Apple themselves don't even make. I suppose being backordered for 2 months didn't help either. Hell I went to Asia for a month and came back and still there is no word on when the CG243W will be available.
Between you and me however, I got inside information that Eizo has fulfilled all backorders for the CG243W as of yesterday. So if you're still waiting for your CG243W, you should receive it very soon.

So what led me to purchase the 2-year-old CG241W?


Or in other words once I found a CG241W for $1,250 (nearly $1,000 difference from the CG243W), there was no comparison.

But there's a catch. Ohhh there's always a catch.

Basically what happened was, upon returning from Asia I got upset with Eizo and Adorama and being backordered for months on the CG243W. I started calling a few places to see if they still had inventory on the CG241W and discovered that you could get demo units for the CG241W at a discount from the retail price. While waiting for a callback from one of the Eizo distributors, I got impatient and called Eizo myself and talked to Michael (account executive) and suddenly the stars aligned.

They had 1 demo unit of the CG241W in stock.

They are located in Cypress, CA (38 miles away from me).

Oh, and their price was $1,250.


I'll be there in 40 minutes!

Wait, but what's the catch??? There has to be a catch.

Demo units are usually units that go on the road to trade shows where Eizo shows off their latest and greatest gear. This unit had "some hours on it" and carried a 1 year warranty instead of the 5 year warranty that Eizo usually provides. Did it make me leary? A little. I figured there'd be some cosmetic defects. Potential of dead pixels. Banding. Maybe there was something wrong with it. Of course, I had a warranty and I could always drive to Eizo and create a shitstorm in person if I so chose... so that made me feel better. The demo units go back to Eizo, and are essentially "refurbished" (examined and tested) and then sold as "demo" because they aren't technically "new" even though they're as good as new. Was this the truth? I would soon find out.

I even brought my computer and portable battery to try out the unit before leaving the parking lot.

Did I test it? No. Here's why.

Upon meeting Todd and Michael over at Eizo, I was presented with a large box... the kind that housed a monitor and could survive a nuclear holocaust. This thing was boxed and packaged well. In fact, Michael exclaimed that this was indistinguishable from their brand new units and the factory had outdone themselves. He would know I guess. Hell, you could shake this box and you would hear nothing move inside. That's good packaging.

So good in fact that I didn't bother opening it in the parking lot, instead opting to test it when I got home. Oh and I left my DVI<->Mini DisplayPort adapter at home. :)

My questions remained unanswered though. The drive home was unbearable. Dead pixels? Banding? Scratches? Defects? Cracked screen? What would it be?

Got home. Opened the box. Packaged with soft foam (not styrofoam). This was the good stuff. The stuff like memory foam but a little more rugged.

Hooked it up, turned it on. Do I see a dead pixel? I dunno, it looks like there might be... whew, it's just part of the snow in the snow leopard background with the SL operating system (OS 10.6).

Put the hood together (no instructions so it took a little bit of trial-and-error but the hood fit well and was a definite go. Now we're cooking!

Scratches? Nope.

Cracked screen? Nope.

Banding (open PS and do some B&W gradients)? Nope

Accessories? Yep

Manual and software? Hmmm, seem to be missing those.

Now, for the real test. Calibration.

To be honest, I did not have an ounce of doubt in my mind that the CG241W would dominate the calibration process. In fact, I "figured out" (again no manual), that the CG241W has an uplink/downlink via USB that would calibrate the display via the internal hardware in the CG241W with the help of the Spyder3Pro. In laymen-speak, simply plug in the USB from the display to the MacBook and then run the Color Navigator software (fortunately downloadable) and with a few settings, you'll get less than 1 DeltaE of variance.

The Spyder3 Pro software can kiss my ass. I say this because I was getting incorrect results using their software during the calibration process. This pissed me off. Particularly because the S2402W-H calibrated so quickly and so well with the Spyder3 software. Hell the Dell 2405FPW did too... but those were both non-wide gamut displays.

So was it worth it?

How could it not be worth it? I paid practically 1/2 of what it was worth 3 months for a new unit. Oh and I ran tests on it. This thing supposedly has less than 0 hours of use when I first got it. The adjustability is endless and I trust that I will get consistent results. When you buy an Eizo, you're paying for the level of trust and dependability of a legendary workhorse.

Oh and the viewing angles on the S-PVA panels are not as bad as what people make them out to be. In fact on some of the IPS panels, there's some color shifting at the extremes still. Besides, the S2402W-H was a TN panel. Now that had poor viewing angles although it was still a good display overall (maybe not for the price though).

Am I in love with the CG241W. Yes. The color saturation on normal sRGB stuff takes a little getting used to though. Hopefully I'll have nothing usual to report in the medium to long-term review of this thing!

LMAO! and it comes with 2 USB slots :) just figured that out right now!

Eizo's CG241W page

Comparison of the CG241W with the CG243W

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