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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.

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The bezel of the 46in. NEC MultiSync X461UN is 7mm wide. The design makes it perfect for videowall displays.

The bezel of the 46in. NEC MultiSync X461UN is 7mm wide. The design makes it perfect for videowall displays.

I used the embedded Windows module to display HTML and Flash-based digital signage files, as well as media files, although one could also install a proprietary digital signage player. Indeed, Scala is working with NEC to do just that, making the expanded Windows-based X461UN a standalone Scala Player connected to Scala's Content Manager via Ethernet. I was able to use my own computer (and video source) to drive both videowall panels using the DVI daisy-chain module.

Rethinking Thin

It's easy to appreciate how terrific an ultranarrow bezel is for videowall images, however it does raise some other issues that NEC needed to address. For example, the bezel itself cannot provide any structural support for the glass. To compensate, NEC placed four industrial handles on the rear of the panel, two on each side, to make installation easy and safe. NEC also redesigned the shipping crate for the X461UN to more evenly distribute the weight of the unit, thereby putting less stress on the bezel and glass.

The extremely narrow bezel also leaves no room for an IR remote sensor in the front of the panel, forcing NEC to locate it on the rear of the unit. That's certainly awkward because it makes the IR remote effectively useless once multiple panels are configured and mounted to a wall. The same is true of the tactile controls behind the bottom bezel. In fact, NEC has done an excellent job redesigning the wall brackets so that multiple panel brackets can be interconnected—something like professional AV Tinker Toys—to ensure tight alignment of all panels without the typical measuring and leveling of each one.

Fortunately, in addition to the IR remote and tactile controls, X461UN panels are controllable by RS-232 and Ethernet. What's more, NEC now includes a smart copy/clone feature that allows installers to configure one panel and then copy the settings (some or all by checking boxes) to all other panels in a video matrix. Naturally, some fine-tuning may still be needed, but the starting point is a whole lot better. NEC also offers optional SpectraView II color-calibration software for matching the output of multiple panels.

In a refreshing break from typical industry specification reporting practices, NEC lists the X461UN's brightness at 500 cd/m2, then adds "700 cd/m2 (max)," rather than just listing the peak possible brightness and implying that would be the appropriate way to use the product. NEC has even added an admittedly token carbon footprint meter in the onscreen menus that at least reminds users about the costs, immediate and future, of overly bright settings. (For those requiring extremely high brightness levels for high-ambient-light or outdoor installations, NEC just introduced the X461HB, which can put out 1500 cd/m2 but does not have the same narrow bezel.) Even more remarkable given industry norms, I measured slightly higher brightness in both configurations—537 cd/m2 in a standard operating configuration and 756 cd/m2 with brightness cranked all the way up—with brightness uniformity averaging 83 percent to 85 percent depending on specific brightness and contrast settings.

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