NEC MultiSync X461UN Review
Aug 7, 2009 12:00 PM, By Jeff Sauer
Ultranarrow bezel, expansion slot, and mounting brackets make this display a natural for videowalls.
When it comes to public signage, bigger is almost always better, more visible, and more eye-catching. But bigger also has its drawbacks. Front projection, for example, generates a sizeable image, but it is rarely practicable in well-lit, highly traveled public spaces. Large rear projection requires an impractical installation footprint. Huge flatpanels impress, but they are expensive to purchase, transport, and install. NEC's TileMatrix videowall solution, the new narrow-bezel MultiSync X461UN, can help solve those problems and can help avoid many of the usual hassles of building and configuring a multipanel videowall.
Installers familiar with NEC may already know about TileMatrix. Indeed, it is far from a new solution and has been a built-in, value-added feature of several generations of NEC flatpanels going back to 2003. The basic TileMatrix technology—along with NEC's TileComp, which automatically compensates for bezel width within multipanel videowalls—really hasn't changed all that much over the last several years. Yet NEC has continued to fine-tune its videowall capabilities to the benefit of installers trying to create that large public space impression, and the new 46in. MultiSync X461UN public display LCD shows it.
The "UN" in X461UN denotes ultranarrow. That's different from ultrathin, the current phrase referring to the thinness of the panel front to back. In NEC's case, ultranarrow refers to the 7mm bezel designed specifically to create near-seamless multipanel videowall images, no matter whether the configuration is a portable 1x2 public signage solution like the one I had in the lab or a matrix of up to 100 panels.
The X461UN has a native WXGA resolution (1366x768), and that's certainly enough for a multipanel wall. It includes both digital DVI-D and analog 15-pin D-sub data inputs, as well as composite, S-Video, component, and HDMI for video feeds. All of those input ports are in the bottom rear of the panel. The X461UN also includes NEC's expansion slot, an open architecture that allows third-party developers to build custom I/O or processing modules to enhance the capabilities of the panel.
NEC's expansion slot is essentially the same as the slot Pioneer included in premium plasmas for a number of years with only limited success. The jury is still out on whether NEC will be more successful enticing third-party development, but NEC clearly has the advantage of today's greater technological sophistication, the maturity of digital signage, and lower costs. The two panels I tested each had a different module. The first was NEC's Microsoft Windows XP PC card, which offered three USB ports, Ethernet, and DVI out to drive other panels. The other was a DVI daisy-chain board to drive multiple panels in a videowall. Other available modules include an analog/digital tuner, an HD-SDI module from TVOne, Magenta's video-over-Cat-5 module, MiniCom's Cat-5 receiver.
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