LCD monitor reviews

A 19” LCD monitor will help you make the most of multimedia computing.
 
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01 .Introduction

LCD-monitors

Test results for seven LCD monitors from $996 to $1399

Pros:

  • Slimline, so they save on space
  • LCD monitors use less power than traditional cathode ray tube (CRT) monitors

Cons:

  • Not as sturdy as CRT when it comes to knocks
  • Dead pixels can be distracting and manufacturer pixel policies can be hard to find

See our latest article on Budget monitors.

Please note: this information was current as of April 2006 but is still a useful guide to today's market.


Our research shows that prices vary by hundreds of dollars, but the more expensive brands we tested weren’t necessarily the top performers. Your choice should be based on features such as price, pixel policy and DVI connection as well as performance and ease of use.

We tested them for:

  • Picture quality
  • Colour quality
  • Brightness
  • Contrast
  • Focus
  • Readability
  • Pixel persistence
  • Ease of use

Models tested

  • Acer AL19165
  • BenQ FP91G+
  • Diamond Digital DV197SB
  • Hyundai Imagequest L90D+
  • LG L1932P
  • Samsung SyncMaster 940B
  • Viewsonic VX924

See our latest article on Budget monitors.

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Product profiles

LG

Price: $899

Warranty: 3 years

Good points

  • Best overall.
  • Best performance.
  • Has adjustable height and pivots between landscape and portrait.

Bad points

  • Buttons placed beneath the lower bezel, making them awkward to access and press

Hyundai


Price: $689

Warranty: 3 years

Good points

  • Built-in speakers and headphone jack.
  • Favourite monitor of the viewing panel.
  • Has adjustable height and pivots between landscape and portrait.

Bad points

  • Buttons placed beneath the lower bezel, making them awkward to access and press

Samsung

Price: $799

Warranty: 3 years

Good points

  • Best ease of use.
  • Has adjustable height and pivots between landscape and portrait.
  • Has 360-degree swivel.
  • Three-year zero dead pixel policy.

Bad points

  • Viewing panel thought colour balance was too yellow.

BenQ

Price: $599

Warranty: 3 years

Good points

  • Second best ease of use.

Bad points

  • Viewing panel didn’t consider it as sharp for DVD viewing as other models.

Acer

Price: $699

Warranty: 3 years

Good points

  • Viewing panel considered its skin tones were better than most.

Bad points

  • No DVI connection.
  • Test unit had a dead pixel.

Diamond Digital

Price: $699

Warranty: 3 years

Good points

  • DVI connection and cable supplied.
    Has adjustable height.

Bad poin ts

  • Test unit had a dead pixel.


ViewSonic

Price: $759

Warranty: 3 years

Good points

  • DVI connection and cable supplied.

Bad points

  • Lowest overall score.
  • Lowest performance.
  • Viewing panel thought it looked washed out.

What we found

In general, all the monitors in our test performed well and the overall scores were quite close.

  • Similarly, scores for performance and ease of use were close, although there were some exceptions. Our testers had difficulty attaching the base and accessing the menu buttons on the underside of the Hyundai and the LG monitors, but they both scored well in other parts of the tests.
  • All LCD monitors tested were good overall performers.
  • 19” monitors are a good choice for gaming and video editing.
  • Check the manufacturer’s policy regarding dead pixels carefully before purchasing.
  • We haven’t recommended a particular model from our test products. Why? All of the models performed well, so your choice will be based on features such as price, pixel policy and DVI connection as well as performance and ease of use.
  • The decision depends on which criteria you favour. For example, pixel policy is important if you plan to use the monitor for graphics editing, but if you just want a larger screen, then a good overall performer should suit you.
  • When making your choice, consider where and how the monitor will be used as well as price and features.


Other points

  • Ease of use scores didn’t vary by much across all the tested models.
  • Most models in the test include both an analogue and DVI connection.
  • The Acer was the exception and has only an analogue VGA connection.
  • Any monitor with a DVI connection is compatible with current Mac models.
  • The ViewSonic was the only monitor to list system requirements for Mac compatibility.
  • All models had a three-year warranty.

Results tables

Features
Brand/model (in rank order) Price1
($)
Overall
(%)
Performance2
(%)
Ease of use3
(%)
Built in
speakers
DVI
connection
LG L1932P
(www.lge.com.au)
899 81 83 76
Hyundai Imagequest L90D+(b)
(www.hyundaiq.com)
689 79 82 73
BenQ FP91G+
(www.benq.com.au)
599 78 78 78
Acer AL1916S
(www.acer.com.au)
699 77 79 71
Samsung SyncMaster 940B
(www.samsung.com.au)
799 77 76 80
Diamond Digital DV197SB
(www.mitsubishielectric.com.au)
569 76 76 76
ViewSonic VX924
(www.viewsonic.com.au)
899 74 75 71

Table notes

1 Price recommended retail in February 2006.
2 Performance (70% of Overall) a combination of the results of the technical tests (50%) and expert viewing panel (50%). The technical tests evaluate aspects such as picture and colour quality, brightness, contrast, focus, readability and pixel persistence.
3 Ease of use (30%) how easy it is to attach and detach the base; swivel, tilt and height adjustments; stability; button size and placement; driver file installation; menu; viewing angle; user manual.

(b) Model discontinued but may still be in stores.

Specifications4
Brand/model (in rank order) Power consumption ($/year) Brightness (cd/m2) Contrast ratio (x:1) Response time (ms) Zero dead pixel policy Recommended
system
Viewing panel comments
LG L1932P
(www.lge.com.au)
44.96 258 470 4 • (a) Windows 95+ No irregularities or flaws.
Hyundai Imagequest L90D+ (b)
(www.hyundaiq.com)
35.61 218 593 8 Not stated Natural even tones when viewing images.
BenQ FP91G+
(www.benq.com.au)
43.69 252 546 8 • (c) Windows 98+ A little too warm when viewing images; not as sharp as some others when viewing DVD.
Acer AL1916S
(www.acer.com.au)
39.53 249 546 12 Not stated A little too warm, but good definition when viewing images; good skin tones when viewing DVD.
Samsung SyncMaster 940B
(www.samsung.com.au)
41.55 265 587 8 • (d) Windows Me+ Too yellow.
Diamond Digital DV197SB
(www.mitsubishielectric.com.au)
45.01 235 625 8 Windows 95+ A little too warm and too much contrast when viewing images.
ViewSonic VX924
(www.viewsonic.com.au)
50.01 275 750 3 • (e) 90MHz+,Windows
95+ Power PC G3+, OS 8.6-9.2
Washed out when viewing images and DVD; not good for viewing documents.

Table notes

4 Specifications

  • Power consumption how much it would cost to run the monitor for a year with the power on.
  • Brightness average maximum brightness measured.
  • Contrast ratio the measured ratio.
  • Response time provided by the manufacturer.

(a) Limited to first 14 days
(b) Model discontinued but may still be in stores
(c) Limited to first 7 days
(d) Limited to three years
(e) Limited to first 90 days

Contrast

Black should be black and white should be bright for good picture definition. The contrast ratio measures the distance between the blackest black and the whitest white and the bigger the ratio, the better the picture. The monitors have claimed contrast ratios that range from 470:1 to 750:1. In most cases, the tested score didn’t match the claims.

  • The ViewSonic, Acer and Diamond Digital had higher measured ratios
    The Hyundai, BenQ, LG and Samsung had lower measured contrast ratios than those claimed by the manufacturer.

Brightness

  • The measure of the amount of light a screen emits. It’s measured as candelas per square metre (cd/m2).
  • Most models had a typical claimed brightness of between 250 and 300 cd/m2. The measured average maximum brightness was generally fairly close to the claimed figure, with the exception of the Hyundai, where the measured figure was somewhat lower than the claimed figure. This didn’t seem to affect performance, based on our test results, however; nor did the difference in contrast.
  • The amount of ambient light around your monitor will affect how much or how little screen brightness you need. For example, you’ll need a monitor with higher brightness in a well-lit room with lots of natural light, while a monitor in a dark room will need to be turned down to a sufficiently low level.

Auto-adjust

  • All of the monitors were tested on auto settings, which were accessible from the menu option in the on screen display (OSD), or a control button on the monitor itself.
  • This will optimise the screen settings automatically and provide a good overall picture, although manually tweaking the settings can deliver a better result based on your preferences.

Set up

The monitors were easy to set up and get running with Windows XP. You only need to connect the power cable and the VGA cable and turn on both the monitor and the PC. Windows automatically selected the correct driver.

The physical adjustments that you’ll want from a monitor include swivel, tilt and height adjustments.

  • The LG scored highest — it can swivel through nearly 350 degrees and its tilt can be adjusted with one hand from 67 to 94 degrees. Its height adjustment extends through 86 mm and it pivots between landscape and portrait.
  • The Samsung and Hyundai are also height adjustable and pivot between landscape and portrait
  • You can adjust the height of the Diamond Digital
  • The Acer, Samsung, Diamond Digital and ViewSonic have permanently attached bases.

Viewing angle

  • This is the maximum angle from which you can view the screen at each side and above and below without any image or colour distortion.
  • All of the monitors had good side viewing angles, but they’re not as good when viewed at large angles above or below, although you’re less likely to do this when using the monitor.
  • LCD screens are best viewed straight on, but the angles at which the picture started to diminish were extreme, so none of the monitors should pose a problem in normal use.

Response time

  • This refers to the time an LCD monitor holds an image before it’s withdrawn and the screen is redrawn. It’s particularly important for gaming and movies where the screen is likely to be redrawn regularly.
  • The lower the response time, the quicker the screen should refresh and keep up with graphics. The response time is expressed in milliseconds (ms). In the tested models, the response time ranged from 3 ms to 12 ms.
    • The ViewSonic had a 3 ms response time
    • The LG a 4 ms response time
    • The Acer was the only screen with a 12 ms response time.

    Pixel policy

    Dead pixels appear as black, white or coloured dots on the screen that are permanently on or off. This can be distracting, particularly if they’re in the normal viewing area of the screen, or you view or edit a lot of detailed graphics.

    Ideally, LCD monitors shouldn’t have any dead pixels, but they do occur so it’s important to know the manufacturer’s return policy. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to find. We think the manufacturer’s pixel policy should be clearly stated on the packaging but it can be difficult to even find a policy for some products.

    Four manufacturers in our test offer ‘zero dead pixel’ policies. A zero dead pixel policy means that the monitor can be returned if there is even one dead pixel; however, there can be restrictions.

    • The BenQ policy is limited to seven days
    • LG has a zero dead pixel policy limited to the first 14 days
    • The ViewSonic is limited to 90 days
    • Samsung’s policy extends to three years

    The others don’t have a stated zero dead pixel policy, but may offer a replacement. Most policies also have several conditions, such as the number, placement and distance between dead pixels, to qualify for a replacement. Check the policy in the product manual or the manufacturer’s website.

    CMV monitor fault

    During our viewing panel test, a thin, dark line approximately two pixels wide was visible on the CMV CT-934D monitor. This line hadn’t been noted in the early phase of testing. It was most obvious when viewed from low angles in relation to the screen.

    We returned the monitor to the retailer, who organised a replacement. However, the replacement monitor developed a similar, more noticeable problem. This monitor was returned for replacement. The third monitor had no flaws and scored well, although the model has been discontinued so it isn’t included in the table or profiles.

    DVI connections

    The monitors were all tested using a standard analogue connection. But you could also use the digital visual interface (DVI) which links the LCD screen to the video card in the computer using a cable with a special 24 + 5 pin connector.

    A DVI connection requires less image processing because the signal isn’t converted to analogue. DVI can also handle more signals per second, which may result in a higher resolution if the monitor’s suitable.

    However, the difference in picture can’t be detected under normal viewing conditions, so it’s probably not worth basing your decision on this feature alone. All the models, except the Acer, have a DVI connection.

    Running costs

    Do 19” LCD monitors cost more to run than 17” screens? It appears the answer is no — they’ll cost about the same to run over a year. Yearly running costs for a monitor that’s always on and actively displaying images ranged from $36 for the Hyundai to $50 for the ViewSonic.

    This compares favourably with the results from pasts tests of 17” monitors, which ranged from $28 to $51. It appears that the 19” monitors deliver extra screen size for little or no increase in power costs.

    • The yearly standby costs ranged from $0.67 for the Acer to $1.32 for the Hyundai.

    However, this comparison is based on data from 17” models tested in 2004, and there may now be new energy saving models available in this category.