May 2003 Best Buys: 15in LCD monitors

NEC MultiSync LCD 15060V+

DESCRIPTION: The MultiSync LCD 15060V+ sports a similar design to its 17in stablemate, the one noticeable difference being that this model does not swivel. It retains a very thin bezel though and its dark styling frames the vibrant screen elegantly. It has a contrast ratio of 400:1 and a rated brightness of 250cd/m2, and its maximum power requirement is a paltry 22W, which is the lowest in this review. For setup in an office or an environment with public access, the screen has a Kensington cable lock facility located on its rear. Standard VESA mounting holes allow it to be wall-mounted after the base structure is removed.

CONNECTIVITY: Input is by way of an analog VGA port and a video cable is provided in the box. The monitor has a built-in power supply and this means that a power cable can be plugged straight into the monitor. To manage these cables, the neck of the base features a removable plastic guide. This guide can channel the cables towards the rear of the monitor so that they are not dangling aimlessly towards the sides.

PICTURE QUALITY CONTROLS: Located on the edge of the bottom bezel are navigational controls for the on-screen display. A dedicated auto-adjust button is not present, but upon entering the menu system of the on-screen display, you will be able to select the auto-adjust options for instant fixes to the screen position and pixel phasing as well as brightness and contrast. This menu system is fairly simple to navigate and other options left to tinker with are the colour settings. While you are unable to manually adjust individual red, green and blue values, the monitor does have up to five different colour temperatures to select from, which are 9300K, 8200K, 7500K, 6500K and 5000K. The default 'native' options produced the most favoured results in our testing.

PERFORMANCE: In DisplayMate, this monitor passed all the tests with ease and was able to reproduce colours, greyscales, and dark and light grey colours almost perfectly. The good representation of colour makes a good screen for watching PC-based video or DVD content (both Charlie's Angles and The Matrix displayed nicely in terms of colour definition) although, as was the case for almost all the monitors in the review, watching DVDs from the sides showed noticeable paleness in the screen. Its viewing angle is excellent and allows text to be read from the screen even when standing way off to the side. With a pixel response time of 40ms, the monitor isn't ideally suited to game playing, and some slight blurring was noticeable during testing.

BEST USE: This display is perfect for the office thanks to its vivid screen, good colour and side viewing ability, but the home user would also enjoy this monitor for those same reasons in addition to its very nice DVD playback.

View the 15in LCD monitor spec sheet here.

Panasonic PanaView

DESCRIPTION: This production sample model from Panasonic produced excellent brightness in our tests and should suit the user who is looking for a video input capabilities as well as a computer screen. This is because the PanaView comes stocked with an S-Video port and a composite RCA port in addition to an analog VGA port. It also has speakers that emit sounds from the rear of the unit, which should only be used in situations where you don’t have any external speakers.

PICTURE QUALITY CONTROLS: Unlike any of the other monitors in the review, the menu controls for this monitor are not located anywhere on the front of the bezel edging, which is only 1.9cm thick by the way. Instead, the controls are located on the right side edge of the monitor and you will need to either develop a feel for where each button is, or turn the monitor sideways in order to locate the appropriate button. However, with its thin bezel edging and external power supply, the PanaView is one of the lightest and smallest displays in the review and is ideal for mounting. This can be done via a standard VESA wall mounting kit once the monitor stand has been unscrewed.

The menu buttons on the side of the panel allow auto-adjustment and navigation of the well-featured on-screen display. Colour temperature can be affected via the standard 9300 and 6500K values, but user-defined colours can also be set. As well, you can adjust pixel phasing and timing, centring, volume level as well as select the input mode of the monitor, although a dedicated button for this function would have been welcome.

PERFORMANCE: In our tests, games proved playable and movies very watchable, however, as with all screens in this review, paleness is evident when viewing from the sides. DisplayMate showed up a slight inability to produce light grey shades on a white background, and the colour gradation was not as good as on other monitors, but bare in mind that the model we looked was a production sample.

BEST USE: its small size, which is even smaller than most other LCD monitors, competitive price of $749 and multimedia capabilities make it perfect for the aesthetically conscious workplace, but the cramped home environment would also benefit from its presence.

View the 15in LCD monitor spec sheet here.

Vibrant VL5A9PL

DESCRIPTION: For users who are on a budget, yet want all the positive attributes provided by an LCD display for their computer system, then this monitor is ideal. It has a price tag of just $520, yet its image quality is more than adequate for productivity applications, movie watching and some game playing. It has a multimedia base that houses two speakers, although these should only be used if external speakers are not available, and wall mounting can be undertaken via the standard VESA mounting holes located at the rear of the unit. The base can not be removed, though, as this also holds the ports for the power and input cables. This is one of the few monitors not to feature a Kensington lock facility anywhere either on the rear case of the display or on the base.

CONNECTIVITY: As expected in this price range, this monitor only has an analog VGA port and the cable for this can not be removed from the base where it resides. The base also holds the ports for the audio jack and the power plug.

PICTURE QUALITY CONTROLS: The 2.8cm bezel edging of this monitor is extended on the bottom to make way for the four simple menu control buttons. An auto-adjust button is present, which adjusts image position and phasing automatically, and for the speakers, a mute button is close to hand. The menu itself is very easy to navigate and is set out in tab form. It provides the ability to tinker with the colour settings either manually for each individual red, green and blue channel, or you can select from a wide range of temperatures, which include 9300K, 7500K, 6500K and 5000K. The menu also allows for adjustments to be made to the pixel phase, but not the pixel timing.

PERFORMANCE: While it rated as having only a 350:1 contrast ratio, in the DisplayMate tests, this monitor showed that it could handle dark and light greyscales with ease and its colour reproduction was excellent. This transcended to the DVD tests, where The Matrix was displayed in good definition during the dark scenes and good vibrant presentation was produced during Charlie's Angels. Viewing from the sides is also adequate on this model. Game playing can be accomplished too, but some slight blurring was noticeable during testing, which most probably won't be detrimental to the overall game playing experience.

BEST USE: At a price of $520, just about anybody who is after a good quality, affordable LCD screen should take note of this model.

View the 15in LCD monitor specification sheet here.

Unfamiliar with the technical terms used in our Best Buys LCD monitor reviews? Check out our LCD Monitor glossary.

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Elias Plastiras
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