LCD Monitor with a multimedia hub. (February 8th, 2008)
Product Manufacturer: ViewSonic
Price: $509.00 US
- Superb picture quality. Built in 4-port powered USB dock. 8-in-1 card reader. Space saving design 5 millisecond response time.
- Poor sound quality from built in speakers. Requires two power adapters. Menu buttons are difficult to use.
ViewSonic is one of the first companies to sell an all-in-one LCD monitor and iPod dock. The monitor, available in sizes from 19-inches to 28-inches, features its own speaker system, headphone and microphone jacks, and a card reader. The model tested for the past couple of months by our reviewers is the 22-inch VX2245wm.
This space saving display takes your breath away when you're watching HD content or playing the latest games. The native 1680 x 1050 resolution with a 16:10 aspect ratio has an impressive five-millisecond response time, ensuring fluid on screen animation.
Multimedia HubA multimedia hub sits at the base of the ViewSonic and it includes an iPod dock, USB ports, and an 8-in-1-card reader on the side. The card readers support SD/MMC, MS, MS Pro, Smartmedia, Compact Flash, and MicroDrive memory. Cards from Canon, Casio, and Kodak cameras, were read flawlessly and the photos displayed in beautiful color.
The USB ports, one on the back and three on the front, worked very well for Oni. He plugged in his USB mouse and wireless USB adapter for the duration of his test. Ilene only used the back and one of the front USB ports, because two of the front ports did not all function at all on Ilene's test unit. The ViewDock has a lot of grip, so you just push either the device or the cable in with minimal fuss, and the monitor stays put.
The LookThe monitor case is finished with a glossy exterior and silver trim that gives it a classy look. A nice arc where the buttons are located in the centre and where the speakers blend in on the monitor portion finishes off the sleek design. The monitor base is black with a silver centre for the iPod dock.
The power and control buttons on the front of the ViewDock are difficult to use. The small horizontal thin buttons lie nearly flat against the bezel of the screen, so they are quite difficult to push unless you have small fingers. The main power button for the monitor lights up blue when on or orange when in standby mode. The four surrounding keys allow access to the menu functions as well as the preset settings like Cinema and Text modes. You cannot see the symbols on the buttons very well, which makes them frustrating to use also. Ilene used a flashlight to read the symbols.
The DockThe iPod dock has a separate silver power button that stands out. You can play music directly from the iPod because the monitor supports direct audio bypass. Both of us expected to be able to play back videos directly from a docked iPod, but you cannot. You can't just dock the iPod and play a video straight on to the display and that was disappointing. You have to play the iPod videos through iTunes on your computer.
Speaker SystemUnfortunately, the integrated 2.1 speaker system, running at 2.5 watts backed up by a 3-watt subwoofer, is a disappointment. Oni states. "My expectations weren't high for a built-in speaker system but they were a lot higher than the results I got when I docked my iPod in to test out some new tunes." Both our tests left us wondering why they bothered to add the speakers at all. They worked fine for system sounds, movie dialog, and added punch to games, but fell short of what most of us expect when we want to listen to music. On the plus side, if you don't mind keeping your music volume low, the built-in speakers save desk space and are fine for background music while you work.
Impressive DisplayWhile the added peripherals may not live up to expectations, the monitor display certainly does. Oni watched a variety of 720p and 1080p DVDs and QuickTime movies, while Ilene tested out various photographs, iPod movies, and full-screen DVDs. The display quality is impressive. The brightness of the display, sharpness of the picture and the color tones are really quite remarkable. Skin tones for on screen characters appeared very accurate and natural and dark/light tones are represented very well with rich and vivid blacks.
Fast ResponseOni felt that the ViewDock's fast response time helped when playing games like Quake 4 and Command and Conquer 3. Likewise with the video playback, we experienced no ghosting or lag with fast images, instead the motion is fluid and dark to light transitions are smooth. The ViewSonic really does excel when it comes to display quality and although this isn't touted as the ultimate gaming monitor, it is certainly adequate for most of us. If you want more information on the technology ViewSonic uses to create fast LCD displays, download their white paper PDF, "Ultra-Fast LCD Panels-Breaking the 12ms Barrier."
SummaryThe ViewSonic VX2245wm price is almost reasonable, especially with all of its convenient extra features, even if you do not need them. It looks good, displays graphics well, and saves space on your desktop. The LCD ships with all of its needed pieces, such as iPod adapters, a 15-pin VGA video cable, DVI-D cable, and the required stereo cables. It is also compatible with Mac OS 8.5 and above, so you can use it as a second monitor on your old Mac too.
While not all the features are implemented perfectly, they are acceptable for most working environments. As noted above the sound system isn't great, the iPod dock isn't optimized for video, and the setup buttons may be a bit frustrating to use, but if you are more interested in a great display we do recommend this product.