Monitor manufacturers have cottoned on to the fact that home users are spending just as much time watching video and playing games as typing documents and browsing the web. For this reason, most now incorporate various optimisation features designed to tailor the screen for specific environments, but few have gone quite as far as LG with its new W53 HD series.
The 23-inch version on test (the only model available in the UK, though rumour has it a 27-inch model will hit our shores later in the year) features a tidy enough piano-black design with a tilt stand and connectivity that includes HDMI, DVI-D and D-Sub. It’s a Full HD screen so is capable of 1080p resolution (1920 x 1080) at 16:9 aspect and offers a range of touch-sensitive controls to access the plethora of optimisation features available.
Perhaps the most useful of these is the Auto Bright function, which uses a built-in light sensor to analyse ambient conditions and adjust the backlight to optimum levels. This not only reduces eyestrain but is also kinder to the environment, since the screen isn’t pumping out unnecessary light. Elsewhere a "time control" feature alerts you to take a break when you’ve been working for a selected amount of time, and the control lights stay dark when not in use to reduce distraction, with a proximity sensor switching them on when a hand goes near.
One particularly interesting addition is the Cinema Mode. This is a separate installable application and allows you to draw a box around, most typically, a currently playing video, at which point the surrounding area is dimmed to draw focus to the content. This actually works very well, though in a practical environment it’d be used infrequently unless you’re very easily distracted. In addition to this all of the controls available on-screen are also available through a separate application, which may be preferable when experimenting.
Aside from these headline features, manual controls are available for screen adjustment, the screen can be switched to 4:3 to prevent video from being stretched and photographers can benefit from colour effects such as Gaussian blur, sepia and monochrome for effective editing.
Finally, a set of presets is available for movie, internet, game and custom environments via LG’s f-ENGINE optimisation technology.
This massive array of features is available via the touch-sensitive controls and though these are pretty well laid out, suffer a little from an inherent problem with this choice of operation, and until you get used to the layout expect to squint down at the screen to find the right button and multiple mashes with a thumb or finger are sometimes necessary to get a response.
Clearly it seems as though LG has prepared the W53 as a versatile all-rounder and the series ticks just about all boxes when it comes to modern advancements and conveniences. Luckily most of these work very well too, and features such as the Auto Bright and present environments do seem to make a distinct difference.
The display image is extremely clean and crisp and provided you remember to switch modes depending on the task at hand, can make a noticeable, improved difference when gaming or watching video. A 2ms response time means that fast-action clips are rendered very well, and our only real problem in terms of performance is that while black levels are very good, colours are often oversaturated which makes subtle hues difficult to distinguish. This can be improved somewhat by tweaking the manual controls, and though it’s rarely a problem until you get to HD video resolutions, we’ve seen better performance in this area elsewhere.
LG’s W53 is an extremely versatile screen that’s packed with features to help improve the experience and for the most part these are effective, easy to use and easy to configure. Despite some issues with colour reproduction there’s little to criticise in terms of performance and those looking to enjoy a mix of web browsing, games and video will find it to be very well equipped.