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The ViewSonic E790

ViewSonic's E series of monitors has been around for a few years and represents quite a good balance of price and performance. I have personally had an E771, their 17 inch model for the last 7 months and decided to upgrade to a 19 inch model. I was perusing their website when I noticed that the E790 had popped up in the E series column. Since I was satisfied with the E771, I figured I'd take a closer look at the E790. To my surprise, newer models have better specs and this unit is no exception to the rule. Out of all of ViewSonic's 19 inchers, the lowliest of them all has the best specs. I saw 1600x1200@76hz refresh and the drool began flowing from my mouth. Just by looking at the picture of this monitor, I could tell that it wasn't a compromised "short neck" model either. The screen was obviously as flat as any other 19 incher I'd seen, so I bought one.


0.26mm dot pitch

(0.225mm Hor., 0.135mm Vert.)

This super fine dot pitch produces clear, crisp images with great picture definition, even at the highest resolutions.

1,600 x 1,280 maximum resolution
Displays a maximum resolution of 1,600 x 1,280; 1,280 x 1,024 at 88Hz flicker-free refresh rate for easy viewing.

  • 1,600 x 1,200 @ 76Hz
  • 1,280 x 1,024 @ 88Hz
  • 1,152 x 870 @ 103Hz
  • 1,024 x 768 @ 116Hz

SuperContrast™ screen
By incorporating glass with a lower transmission rate, bright, bold colors are assured. The pixels are well defined, creating a greater contrast and more brilliant colors.

VESA GTF compliant
Maximizes display performance by automatically aligning images to reduce set-up time.+

Available in both white and black cabinets

OnView® Controls including ViewMatch®
All screen adjustments are made via an on-screen menu using simple controls. ViewMatch allows the user to adjust color temperature and individual color intensity for screen-to-print matching.

Ergonomically designed and environmentally conscious
This monitor complies with the world's strictest standards of low radiation, safety, ergonomics, recycling and power management while saving costs through automatic power savings modes.

Invar shadow mask
Special type of alloy that withstands higher heat levels, extending the picture tube life while displaying sharp, bright pictures.

Anti-static, anti-reflection screen
This anti-static, anti-reflection screen coating refracts unwanted light away from the user while maintaining the highest quality of the displayed image.

Plug & Play+
Fully support the Windows® auto-installation standard for easy, trouble-free configuration and setup.

PC and Mac® compatible

Three year limited warranty

What's A Reasonable Resolution?

You've probably heard phrases like, "I run at 1600x1200." What you can't see is how small the fonts are on that particular screen. Let's face it, people love to brag. "Mine's better than yours," is a commonly recurring statement and us computer guys are the worst offenders. So what's a reasonable resolution? Take the average 15 inch monitor. At 800x600, the font size isn't excruciatingly small, nor is it "I'm blind" big. Most 15 inchers these days have about a 14 inch VIS (viewable image size). If I want to run at 1024x768 all day, what VIS would I need to keep the same font size as the 15 inch? Doing the math, we get ((1024/800)x(14))=17.92 VIS, which is close enough to 18 inch VIS. The vast majority of 19 inch monitors have a 18 inch VIS. If you wanted to run at 1280x1024, a 22 inch VIS would be needed. That would be a BIG monitor, probably a 24 incher. Big $$$ too.

Setup And Calibration

Nearly all the people I talk to DO NOT have their monitor calibrated properly. WHAT? You mean you just don't turn it on? Yup, calibration is always required when setting up a new monitor. For this somewhat tedious task, I use Nokia's monitor tester program. It can be found at www.nokia.com. After choosing all your usable screen resolutions and corresponding refresh rates (I use at least 85hz or my eyes bug out), be sure to adjust the geometry so the picture is straight and full size. Next, adjust the brightness and contrast using Nokia's program. Over time, these adjustments will have to be repeated as tube life decreases. If you are using your monitor under florescent lighting, set your color temperature (ViewSonic calls it Viewmatch Color) to 9300K. If you use standard incandescent lighting, set it to 6500K. If these settings are reversed or are far out of alignment, the tint will be heavily skewed into the red or green part of the spectrum. The E790 also required initial moiré adjustment. Moiré looks like 3D color banding or a smooth crosshatching effect. The E790 has adjustments to remove both horizontal and vertical moiré. This should complete the adjustment process. Plan to spend at least 30 to 60 minutes on this, depending on how many resolutions you will use on a regular basis. Don't forget to recheck your alignments every few weeks, to correct for electronic drift and tube wear. Also, re- check your alignments every time your update your video drivers or change video cards.

Subjective Results

The only true method of comparing monitors is to have all of them in front of you at the same time being driven with the same video card. Since that isn't the case in this review, I'll just have to give you my subjective results. In this case, I used two video cards. The first, a Trident 9850 4MB AGP 2X, will represent the low end. The second, a Diamond Viper V770 Ultra 32MB AGP 2X, will represent the high end. My thanks goes to Lisa Zumstein, who allowed me to haul this 19 inch bad boy over to her house and "borrow" her Viper for a few hours.

Trident Impressions

You would think that a $30 video card would look like crap but the Trident is a 2D el cheapo wonder. Even at 1600x1200, the picture wasn't completely awful and most of the degradation seemed to originate from the monitor, not the video card. At reasonable resolutions, like 1024x768@85hz, the E790 shows it true colors. Scans look almost perfect, and I can easily work on this screen for over 6 hours straight with zero eye strain. Mis-convergence meets ViewSonic's specs-I was barely able to detect any blurring at the screen edges.

Viper Impressions

I used Q2 at 1024x768 and Unreal at 640x480 in addition to 2D text and I must confess that the games looked simply awesome. But, just like other reviews have revealed, the NVidia chipset quality decreases dramatically at resolutions above 1280x1024. The Viper could easily drive the E790 to 1600x1200@75hz (not 76hz, driver limited) and digital camera jpeg's looked fabulous at 4.3 billions colors (32 bit). Those colors were very true and it still amazes me just how great a 1.9 mega- pixel digital image looks.


Is this 19 incher the hands down best monitor period? No. Is it the best one in its class? Yes! For around $350, I know I'd have a hard time finding any other brand of 19 inch that has this kind of quality and wonderful ViewSonic support. Recommended? You bet. Get one before ViewSonic raises the price.

William Yaple
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