Getting Started With Your New Monitor

21st September 2015 Colour Accurate Monitors


We’ve written this article to help you get started with your new monitor as easily as possible. It contains a general set up guide, as well as some trouble-shooting tips if you get stuck. This article points to a lot of other related content in our knowledge base that you can refer to while you’re setting up your new monitor.

Note: These instructions are written as a general guide to all of our monitors, but there are some notes on specific models highlighted in red. Given these are a general set of instructions, follow the spirit of the instructions more than the letter if they don’t match up exactly with what you have in front of you. Instructions specific to Windows are in green, and specific to Mac in blue.

Setting Up

Unpacking

Orient the box so that the box is standing up with the opening at the top. Carefully cut the tape holding the box together, making sure you don’t cut through to anything underneath (i.e. use a small blade to do this, not some great big machete!).

When unpacking everything, do your best to keep everything as in tact as possible, just in case of any warranty issues and the like – it’s much more difficult when things have been torn apart or the box destroyed. Hang on to the box for several weeks, at least until you’re comfortable that the monitor has settled in nicely.

After you've opened the box, sitting at the top of the box on some foam, you will typically find a bunch of cables, some manuals and discs. Put these to one side, and then remove the top foam. If your monitor comes with a separate stand, assemble this now using the instructions in the box - you want it to be ready for when the monitor comes out of the box.

The next step is easier if you have someone helping you, and we suggest taking off any rings/watch etc you might be wearing as they might scratch the screen if you happen to slip. Reach in and get your hands under the bottom of the monitor’s bezel taking care not to touch the screen itself. Lift the monitor gently out of the box while supporting both sides of the bezel from underneath (it may resist slightly as it comes free from the foam). The key is to make sure your are carrying the weight of the screen by the bezel and that you do not put any pressure on the delicate LCD surface itself.

Put the monitor down gently resting it on its stand on a stable, flat surface. Now remove any foam wrappings and the cardboard sheet that covers the screen. Check the monitor carefully for signs of physical damage - they’re packed very well, so it’s very unusual to see any issues at this stage.

Plugging In

A monitor may need up to three cables plugged in

  • Power Cable (almost always a standard 'kettle plug')
  • Video Connection Cable
  • (Only some models) - USB Cable for data communication during calibration & to enable the USB hub if there is one

All of these should generally be in the box with the monitor if required for that model. However it may be that you need a particular cord that is not included - feel free to ask Image Science for advice if anything is still unclear once you've read the sections below. Your computer should be switched off while you plug everything in.

Power

Very occasionally, because these come from overseas, the Australian power cord is not to be found in the box. If so, please contact us and we’ll send you a cord, but in the meantime it’s a standard 'kettle cord', the same as goes into almost any electrical device such as computers and (surprise!) kettles. Feel free to borrow one from another device or if you’re really desperate to get going, any normal supermarket has these for sale for a few dollars. But do let us know and we’ll make sure you get a cord.

Make sure you push this in firmly. If you later hear any crackling type noises when using/adjusting/moving the monitor, it almost always means this cord isn't actually in properly.

Video

If you’re not sure about what these connectors are, or look like, your monitor and computer manuals should have info about this, and we also have a comprehensive guide.

In order of quality, best to last, use the following connections if available to you:
1. DisplayPort [digital] - BEST
2. HDMI or DVI-D [both digital]
3. VGA [analogue] - WORST

It’s a question of looking at the inputs your monitor accepts, and the outputs your computer has. We very strongly recommend you connect your monitor using a digital connection – so DisplayPort ideally, or DVI.

Almost any modern computer or laptop (apart from very basic netbooks) will have at least one form of digital output, usually HDMI with PC laptops and Mini DisplayPort with Mac laptops. If you’re using a machine that has an HDMI output, you may need to purchase an HDMI to DVI (or DisplayPort) adapter – these are available from pretty much any computer store or place like Jaycar, JB HiFi etc. We like the excellent online store www.cablechick.com.au

For Macs

Many Mac machines (and particularly laptops) only have a Mini Display Port or Thunderbolt output. Generally speaking you will get a mini display port to display port cable with your monitor - if not, you should probably buy this cable from Image Science as we have tested the options (many of which are not fully compatible - Macs are fussy in this area and even Apple's own cables often don't work well!) - we can make sure you get the best cable. Oursplug into both Mini DisplayPort and Thunderbolt ports and work perfectly, including with sleep etc.

USB

Many monitors have a USB connection in addition to power and video. If this is offered, you should definitely plug it in as it may be the calibration system works across this cable, so it is an essential connection (Eizo CG and NEC PA monitors, for example). Typically the screen will have downstream ports as well, so you can plug your calibrator and/or mouse/keyboard into the monitor.

Occasionally the monitor makers leave the USB cord out of the package as not everyone needs it (e.g. if you're not calibrating the monitor). In this case, you will need to buy a standard USB cord or search your cupboards for one (usually called a 'USB printer cable' - one end is the standard flat rectangular USB fitting, and the other the square-ish fitting you find on the back of printers, hence the name).

Firing It Up

It’s time to turn everything on and do some basic checking. Turn the monitor on first (often there is a hard power switch at the back or side of the monitor that also needs to be turned on in addition to the front power switch). You should see a little LED light on the front of the monitor in most cases. The reason we want the monitor to be on is that when the computer first turns on, it will query the monitor about its capabilities and the monitor needs to be on to respond.

If it doesn't appear to turn on, check the power connection very carefully at both ends, particularly the monitor end as often the sockets can be a little tight at first.

Your computer should start to boot and you should see output on the screen. If the monitor appears to turn itself off, and/or you see any 'no signal' errors - believe the monitor! This message means the monitor is not getting an appropriate signal from the computer. Triple check your connections, and be sure that your computer supports the monitor you have bought (e.g. some laptops will not output to screens bigger than 24"). On some old PCs, you may have to go into the BIOS and tell it to 'init PCI graphics first' or similar if you have built in graphics and an external video card.

Installing Your Monitor's Software

Note: we are talking about general software at this stage, not calibration software - this is covered later.

Your monitor will have come with a disc. This disc typically contains a PDF manual, possibly some driver files, and some utility software such as picture checking software or utilities that let you control the monitor's functions (brightness etc) via software rather than the monitor's actual buttons. It's up to you whether you install this or not - it can be useful but it's generally not essential - we generally don't bother with it.

Getting Software Updates/Drivers

Generally, you don't need to install drivers for monitors. Modern video cards communicate directly with the monitor over the digital connection, and should retrieve all the information your system really needs to get going. That said, you can run into instances where drivers and general software updates can be handy.

Here's where to get them:

Checking

There are two basic checks to make - one is for native resolution (so you get best sharpness) and the other is for pixel checking if your monitor came with a dead pixel warranty.

Resolution

(Resolution - the number of pixels being sent to the monitor, given as horizontal by vertical - e.g. 1920 by 1200 pixels).

Once the boot is finished, we want to check the monitor is getting the correct resolution sent to it. This is critical for getting the best, sharpest display from your monitor (it's not like the days of CRT monitors when you could choose whichever resolution you liked - LCD monitors are very fussy about getting one native resolution and just don't look right unless they get that resolution).

You will need to know what this native resolution is, by checking your monitor specifications (see our website or your monitor’s manual).

Here are some common resolutions though:

  • 22”/23” Widescreen Monitor – Normally 1680 by 1050, sometimes they are 1920 by 1200
  • 24” Widescreen Monitor – Almost always 1920 by 1200
  • 27” Widescreen Monitor – Usually 2560 * 1440
  • 30” Widescreen Monitor – Usually 2560 * 1600

You should check in your display preferences that the resolution your system is set to is a perfect match for the monitor’s native resolution.

For Mac

Right Click on the Desktop and choose ‘Properties’ or ‘Screen Resolution’.

For PC

Go into System Preferences -> Displays.

99% of the time this will be correct, if it is not, choose the appropriate resolution. If the appropriate resolution is not available, then you might need to install more up to date drivers for your video card and/or the monitor driver.

Updating Video Card Drivers

Install the latest drivers for your video card, and then reboot your machine - with any luck you will now be able to choose the appropriate native resolution for your monitor.

For Mac

The latest drivers should be installed as part of the general system update function.

For PC

The latest drivers are generally available by going to the ATI, Intel or Nvidia website depending on what sort of video card you have.

Updating Monitor Drivers

Monitors don’t generally need drivers and so they typically don’t come with them.

For PC

That said, if you are still having issues, you can usually find a .INF file on the CD supplied with your monitor, and in Windows you may need to go in to Device Manager and manually update the driver for your monitor by pointing it at this .INF file (notes for Windows 7/Vista here. Notes for XP here). If you can’t find a .INF file on the disc, visit the Eizo or NEC website as they are often available for download (on the Eizo site, download the monitor’s ICC profiles and the .INF file is delivered with them).

Pixel Checking

If your monitor comes with a dead pixel warranty, you should now check for stuck pixels. Remember you have often only got coverage for this for the first two weeks or 100 hours, so check this straight away and you might want to repeat the check after you’ve had the screen for a week.

All NEC monitors sold by us have a dead pixel warranty for the first couple of weeks. Eizo CG monitors now have 12 months for dead pixels, and BenQ PG monitors have 6 months. As always, do check directly with the manufacturer for current terms and conditions.

To check for dead or stuck pixels is easy – simply set your desktop to White, Black, Red, Green and Blue, each time checking carefully across the display for visible dots – dead pixels will be permanently dark, otherwise you may see stuck pixels – white, red, green or blue. Check *very carefully* that anything you see isn’t just a dust spot or similar. You can sometimes make out slight imperfections in the pixel grid itself, but these don’t effect display and generally aren’t visible from 10cm or so away, so check very carefully before you conclude you have a pixel issue – about half of all monitors returned due to a pixel issue are in fact just suffering from easily removable dust spots!

Fortunately both Eizo and NEC have very good checking so it’s rare that you’ll see a dead pixel, but very occasionally one can still slip through the net. If you do have one (& your monitor came with a dead pixel warranty), contact us and we will arrange for a replacement monitor.

Calibration

Now that we've got past all the basics and the monitor is working in the broader sense, it's time to get the very best (most accurate) picture from the monitor.

Now we move on to calibrating your new monitor. We have lots of content about this, you'll need to choose the relevant guides (you can print them off our website for off line reference of course).

General Guides To Colour Control on Monitors

Installing Your Calibration System

Now is the time to install your calibration software.

NEC MultiProfiler

NEC MultiProfiler is perhaps the future of monitor calibration - that is, it's a system for calibration (setting the monitor to some needed target settings such as 6500K, luminosity of 100 cd/m2 gamma 2.2, etc) that doesn't actually need a calibrator! It bases all it's settings and calculations on the original factory measurements of your monitor. We have found it to be uncannily accurate.

It's also a very handy tool for controlling some of the more advanced functions of the NEC PA monitors, like PIP Picture in Picture, and the USB hub/KVM functionality of the monitor. You can use MultiProfiler happily in conjunction with SpectraView 2, so we think all NEC PA owners should download and install this handy application. It is a free download for all NEC PA monitor owners. We have some more notes about it here.

NEC SpectraView 2

All NEC MultiSync and P/PA Series of monitors are compatible with SpectraView 2 and we recommend you purchase this if you haven't already. It's perhaps the best calibration system on the market.

You can download free updates to this software and in fact we advise you do this straight away as often the CDs are a few months old when they get to you, and usually updates have been released.

Once you have the latest version, install SpectraView 2 (and do not install the software that came with your calibrator as you won't need it - SpectraView 2 includes its own drivers for compatible calibrators).

On PC

On Windows, If you do have any issues with SpectraView not recognising your calibrator, then visit your device manager and choose 'update driver' for your device. Manually choose the driver in the program folder (usually C:\Program Files (x86)\NEC DISPLAY SOLUTIONS \SpectraView II\Drivers) and this should get your calibrator recognised. If SpectraView 2 can't detect your monitor, the issue is almost always out of date video card drivers or out of date SpectraView 2 - heck you're up to date with both of these!

Eizo CG Class Monitors - Eizo ColorNavigator

If you bought an Eizo ColorEdge Monitor, you will have received a disc from Eizo. You can download updates to this software and in fact we advise you do this straight away as often the CDs are a few months old when they get to you, and usually updates have been released. Once you have the latest version, install ColorNavigator (and do not install the software that came with your calibrator as you won't need it - ColorNavigator includes its own drivers for compatible calibrators).

Eye One or Spyder Calibration Systems

If you don't have a monitor capable of direct hardware calibration, use the CD that came with your calibrator to install your calibration software.

Calibration Guides - Traditional Software Calibration

These guides are for calibrating monitors with traditional software calibration (i.e. calibration that works through the video card, not in the monitor itself. Use these if you bought a monitor that does NOT feature direct hardware calibration. These guides might not cover your specific model but the general principles remain the same.

Calibration Guides - Direct Hardware Calibration

These guides are for all NEC monitors if you have bought the SpectraView 2 software, or Eizo ColorEdge Monitors.

Advanced Topics

We have a lot of information about using these sorts of tools to make beautiful work. We have a comprehensive set of free notes (really a book) on Digital Fine Printing. We have more than 170 free articles as well. Below we highlight some of the most relevant content.

General

Monitor to Printer Matching

Trouble-Shooting

If you have any problems in setting up your monitor - not to worry. Most problems are easily solved. You are always welcome to contact us for support and both NEC and Eizo are very good at supporting their customers.

Set Up or Monitor Behaviour

If your issue appears to be hardware related we'll suggest you contact Eizo or NEC for direct hardware support - you will get a quicker result by going down this avenue first.

If your issue is to do with software, configuration, set up or odd behaviour then please contact us via tech support, and supply as much information as you can about the issue. Most of the common issues in regards to setting up your monitor should be answered in this guide, so have another read first to check if their isn't already a resolution. You can also contact NEC's direct Australian support system or contact Eizo for support.

Uniformity Issues

Most monitor's do not come with uniformity guarantees, and it is one of the things that can still on rare occasions be noticeable and frustrating on LCD screens. In saying this they are definitely improving as time goes on. The old CRT screens - even top CRT monitors, had quite gross uniformity errors, and in reality the uniformity issues are not usually such a big deal in practise with LCDs. 

If you are having a uniformity issue, first make sure that if your monitor has a uniformity system, that this is turned on and set to maximum. You can check you monitor manual for how to do this.

Try a lower brightness, as very high brightness levels (140+ cd/m2 and over) tend to significantly increase uniformity issues.

Calibrate your monitor, preferably using Direct Hardware Calibration.

Also, it's best to let the monitor settle in for a few days before making judgements. Remember that even if your greys are slightly non neutral, this won't affect your prints - it's just a slight cast in the on screen image representation, not the image itself. Try working with the monitor for a while as you may very well find it does not cause a significant practical issue in day to day work.

If after all this you feel you have a significant issue with uniformity that will seriously impact your work with the monitor, then you will need to discuss this with the manufacturer as it's not normally covered under warranty (unless you have an Eizo CG monitor).

Hardware Issues

(e.g. dead pixels or other hardware faults)

Please contact us to via tech support and inform us of the issue and we'll do our best to help. Actual hardware faults are of course covered under the manufacturer's warranty so we will most likely refer you on to them, but we can of course liaise on your behalf if necessary, but usually it is easier to cut out the middle man and go direct.

Hardware Support - NEC

For first line support, please contact Image Science - we're happy to help!

All other support details can be found here.

Hardware Support - Eizo

For first line support, please contact Image Science - we're happy to help!

All other support details can be found here.