NEC MultiSync X461UN Review

Ultranarrow bezel, expansion slot, and mounting brackets make this display a natural for videowalls. 8/07/2009 8:00 AM Eastern

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.

The NEC MultiSync X461UN has a native WXGA resolution (1366x768) and features an expansion slot that can accommodate built-in PCs, DVI daisy-chain cards, and digital signage solutions among others.

When it comes to public signage, bigger is almost always better, more visible, and more eye-catching. But bigger also has its drawbacks. Front projection, for example, generates a sizeable image, but it is rarely practicable in well-lit, highly traveled public spaces. Large rear projection requires an impractical installation footprint. Huge flatpanels impress, but they are expensive to purchase, transport, and install. NEC's TileMatrix videowall solution, the new narrow-bezel MultiSync X461UN, can help solve those problems and can help avoid many of the usual hassles of building and configuring a multipanel videowall.

Installers familiar with NEC may already know about TileMatrix. Indeed, it is far from a new solution and has been a built-in, value-added feature of several generations of NEC flatpanels going back to 2003. The basic TileMatrix technology—along with NEC's TileComp, which automatically compensates for bezel width within multipanel videowalls—really hasn't changed all that much over the last several years. Yet NEC has continued to fine-tune its videowall capabilities to the benefit of installers trying to create that large public space impression, and the new 46in. MultiSync X461UN public display LCD shows it.

The "UN" in X461UN denotes ultranarrow. That's different from ultrathin, the current phrase referring to the thinness of the panel front to back. In NEC's case, ultranarrow refers to the 7mm bezel designed specifically to create near-seamless multipanel videowall images, no matter whether the configuration is a portable 1x2 public signage solution like the one I had in the lab or a matrix of up to 100 panels.

The X461UN has a native WXGA resolution (1366x768), and that's certainly enough for a multipanel wall. It includes both digital DVI-D and analog 15-pin D-sub data inputs, as well as composite, S-Video, component, and HDMI for video feeds. All of those input ports are in the bottom rear of the panel. The X461UN also includes NEC's expansion slot, an open architecture that allows third-party developers to build custom I/O or processing modules to enhance the capabilities of the panel.

NEC's expansion slot is essentially the same as the slot Pioneer included in premium plasmas for a number of years with only limited success. The jury is still out on whether NEC will be more successful enticing third-party development, but NEC clearly has the advantage of today's greater technological sophistication, the maturity of digital signage, and lower costs. The two panels I tested each had a different module. The first was NEC's Microsoft Windows XP PC card, which offered three USB ports, Ethernet, and DVI out to drive other panels. The other was a DVI daisy-chain board to drive multiple panels in a videowall. Other available modules include an analog/digital tuner, an HD-SDI module from TVOne, Magenta's video-over-Cat-5 module, MiniCom's Cat-5 receiver.

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.

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.

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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In my testing, the NEC's colors were very good although shaded, heavily in some cases, toward blue. That's not surprising for a public display that needs to cut through light and grab attention. I was extremely impressed with the NEC's grayscale curve, which rose smoothly from black to white in all preset configuration modes.

The new MultiSync X461UN represents an exciting possibility for videowall solutions. Visually, the new ultranarrow bezel affords nearly seamless images across videowall matrices. Technologically, NEC's now-mature TileMatrix and TileComp features, along with NEC's interconnecting wall brackets, help make building videowalls a lot easier. The increasing number of modules for NEC's expansion slot allows installers to minimize the parts of a public display videowall matrix through smarter onboard processing, more streamlined cabling, and options that allow for more creativity in making a big impression.


  • Company: NEC
  • Product: MultiSync X461UN
  • Pros: Easy-to-configure videowall solution built into panels; extremely narrow bezel; solid image quality; expansion slot adds options.
  • Cons: Narrow bezel comes at a premium.
  • Applications: Videowalls, public displays, digital signage.
  • Price: $4,999/panel


  • Display type: Active matrix LCD
  • Diagonal screen size: 46in.
  • Native resolution: 1366x768
  • Aspect ratio: 16:9
  • Brightness: 500 cd/m2 (standard); 700 cd/m2 (max)
  • Contrast ratio: 3000:1
  • Power consumption: 200W; <1W power-saving mode
  • Inputs: DVI, 15-pin RGB, five BNC RGB, three RCA component, S-Video, composite, HDMI
  • Viewing angle: 178°
  • Loudspeakers: External jack 15W+15W
  • Dimensions: 40.4"x22.8"x5.0" (WxHxD)
  • Weight: 64.6lbs.
  • Warranty: Three years parts and labor

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