Professional Pedigree Charlottetown PE
July 1, 2007 By David Birch-Jones
Quite possibly the most overused marketing term in audio/video, the word "professional" is attached to myriad products never intended for true business-to-business trade. It often means nothing more than a set of rack-mount ears attached to an otherwise consumer-oriented product.
At one time a player in the consumer CRT television market and also a leader in the computer desktop monitor business, NEC exited the first back in the 1990s and then later on sold off the monitor business to Samsung, and for the most part has been absent from A/V retail showrooms until this year. The company has introduced two LCD flat-panels under the Multeos moniker; both claim professional status. The 46-inch model and the 40-incher tested here are full-on 1080p high-definition specification and are available in three versions. The base version includes connections for component analog and PC-type RGBHV signals, while the mid-line offering adds additional connections including a single HDMI digital video input. The top variant in the range adds another input module, incorporating analog and digital over-the-air tuners for standard and high-definition broadcasts. Those who have cable or satellite will find the mid-line version fits the bill nicely—and it saves you $300 you could spend on a nice remote control to replace the disappointingly generic one NEC supplies.
All three Multeos variants include pro-style features that probably won't find favor in the residential environment, including vertical orientation capability for digital signage, and RGBHV pass-through for serial display purposes (multiple monitors placed in various locations in a commercial venue). None of the Multeos incorporate loudspeakers, NEC wisely bowing to the wisdom of not providing (nor charging extra for) a feature that custom installers don't need. Metalwork predominates the chassis, a nice upgrade from the plastic sheeting most consumer flat-panels employ. Thermostatically controlled fans allow for in-cabinet placement; they never seem to come on when the unit is placed freestanding.
Test-pattern analysis and color-temperature measurements reveal a number of (mostly pleasant) surprises. The Multeos offers a broad range of color-temperature choices, from the bottom-of-the-scale sunset-reddish 2,600 degrees Kelvin all the way up to an expectedly bluish 10,000 degrees. At the ideal 6,500 degrees setting, the color analyzer reports that the TV stays within 10 percent of this target over most of the gray scale, deviating toward blue in the blacks and deep grays. RGB drive controls for tweaking the white balance hide in a service menu reached through an unpublished code. This "secret" menu stands in stark contrast to the majority of consumer high-def displays, which provide these essential controls in an "advanced" or similarly named menu choice. NEC assures me that dealers and calibrationists will be provided the access code on request.
Once I'm in the E...