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On a Web page crowded with banner ads, moving signs get the most notice. Likewise, dynamic billboards grab more eyeballs at airports and in waiting rooms, storefronts, and other public areas than static signs do. Staking a larger claim to the digital signage real estate market, NEC Display Solutions of America earlier this month released the S521, adding a 52-inch model to its line of LCD monitors aimed at always-on applications.
The S-series, which began shipping in April, also includes 40- and 46-inch models. It's designed to handle numerous input scenarios and includes features to extend component life and simplify remote control and maintenance. Street pricing for the high-end S521 starts at $2,699.
For testing, NEC sent the CRN Test Center the S461, its 46-inch model, plus a table stand and side-mounting speakers.
Fully assembled with those options, the unit measures about 50-inches-wide by about 27-inches- high by nearly 14-inches-deep (at the feet). There's about an inch-and-a-quarter clearance between the bottom of the lower bezel and the tabletop. Without the feet, it's about six-inches deep.
Setup was quick; the feet slide into position and each is secured with a single thumbscrew. A few more screws secure the speakers, which include wire and a felt strip to minimize vibration. Within minutes, testers were able to view content from a laptop using the included VGA cable. No special software was needed to drive the display. Tests were conducted at 1680 x 1050; the S461's maximum native resolution of 1920 x 1080.
By default, brightness is set at 70 percent, and the remaining variables of contrast, black level, color saturation and so on are at 50 percent. These settings were fine for a brightly lit room. For darker environments, testers preferred the "Ambient 1" setting, which lowered brightness to 31 percent for a room lit with a single 60 watt bulb. The "Ambient 2" setting did about the same, but with a bit less contrast. There are a few other preset modes, which also vary speaker volume, as well as a custom setting.