User Rating: Excellent
Ease of Use:
Pros:Price, widescreen, decent contrast/brightness
Cons:No DVI input, speakers are weak
The Bottom Line: I'm completely satisfied with my two Proview widescreen displays. They are a fantastic bargain and the quality is better than some of the other budget LCD monitors.
Recommend this product?
If you've read my profile you probably know that I'm a computer enthusiast. My other love is home theater and DVD movies in general. Sometimes the two cross over with things like PC media devices in home theaters or HDTV tuners on computer rigs. When I was looking around for a nice flat-panel computer monitor earlier this year, I saw model after model of 4:3 monitors from Samsung, Sony, LG, Viewsonic, Insignia, eMachines, NEC and others. You can get just about any size you want, from 14" to 21" as long as it's got a 4:3 ratio. But where are all the widescreen LCD monitors? Dell and Apple of course have their own 20-24" offerings but I couldn't find any smaller and more affordable 16:10 screens like those used in many laptop computers. Then I found this 15.4" gem from Proview.
The Proview PL576Ws 15.4" LCD monitor (hereafter referred to as the 'Proview') is a basic 16:10 widescreen flat panel monitor that can be used in either a freestanding or wall-mounted application. It is fairly slim on features, with just an analog VGA connection and stereo speaker connection, but for the price I wasn't expecting it to have DVI or a built-in USB hub.
The panel used in the Proview is a WXGA screen like those now used in many of the widescreen laptops. It gives you a resolution of 1280x800 pixels which is 30% more than a typical XGA (1024x768) 4:3 15" LCD monitor. A 17" SXGA (1280x1024) monitor has 28% more pixels than the Proview so it sits right in the middle in terms of screen real-estate.
The contrast ratio and brightness of the Proview should be sufficient for any typical home user or video enthusiast like me. In fact, when I'm using the monitor in a dark room I sometimes have to turn down the brightness to make my eyes more comfortable. Like all LCD monitors, the black levels leave something to be desired and will never match the performance of a decent CRT monitor. It is fine for gaming and movies as long as you are comfortable with a faint dark grey glow instead of perfect black.
Although the Proview has a resolution that slightly exceeds the 720p HDTV standard, it has been reported online that it is not compatible with the 1280x720p mode. You can use 1280x768 or 1280x800 and these will work fine if your video scaler is compatible with that resolution.
In the Box
In the box you will get the Proview monitor, the aluminum stand, the DC power converter, a standard AC power cable, a 6 foot male VGA to male VGA cable, a 6 foot headphone jack to stereo RCA jack cable, and a user's manual with warranty information.
The front of the monitor is silver colored with a 1/2" bezel around the top and sides of the screen. The bottom side of the front has two speakers with 5 buttons in-between. The menu, up, and down buttons control the On Screen Display, the auto button adjusts the monitor for different input resolutions, and the power button does what you would expect it to do. There is a tiny indicator light on the power button the glows green or amber depending on the power mode of the monitor. Green means it is active and amber means it is in power-saving standby mode.
The back side of the monitor is black colored has the four mounting holes if you use a VESA mount. The VGA and stereo audio connectors are near the bottom on the right-hand side and the DC power connector is on the left-hand side. The VGA cable that Proview provides is right-angled so the plug won't protrude very far if you decide to wall mount the screen, and it is also silver colored.
The OSD (on screen display) is easy to navigate with just three buttons. You get the typical controls for up/down/left/right shift/stretch, brightness, contrast, color temperature, and language. You also get a phase control for fine tuning the input signal and can select whether to stretch non-widescreen modes to fill the screen. This is handy if you play computer games that don't support widescreen monitors. Just select 1024x768 and the monitor will expand the picture to fill the screen area.
Ease of Use
The simplicity of the Proview makes it a piece of cake to set up with your computer system, provided that your video card is recent enough to support widescreen video modes. Any ATI Radeon, nVidia GeForce, or Matrox card manufactured in the last 4 years should support these modes but check beforehand to make sure.
The screen is separated from the stand when it first comes out of the box so all you have to do is tighten down a thumbscrew to attach the two pieces together. If you are planning to use a wall-mount kit refer to those instructions for how to attach the brackets. The Proview uses standard VESA mount holes so it should work with any of the smaller LCD kits.
The two cables that connect to the computer system are the analog DB15 VGA cable and a stereo audio cable. If you don't plan to use the built-in speakers on the monitor you can disregard the stereo audio cable. Most people will find that this is the case, since the built-in speakers sound worse than some laptop speakers. Obviously the focus here was on the screen itself and not the audio. If your video card only has DVI outputs you will need a DVI -> VGA adapter to connect the Proview.
Once you get everything hooked up, power on your computer and you should see output on the screen. After your operating system loads, change the video card resolution to display 1280x800. If that isn't available the next-best choices are 1280x768 or 1024x768 but you won't get a true 1-to-1 pixel mapping which will cause blurriness. Press the auto button on the front of the Proview and it will recalibrate itself for that particular resolution mode. Any time you change the resolution you should press auto so as to get the clearest picture.
If the screen color looks a little off you can adjust it in the OSD by going to the Color option. I typically use "Cool" since it enhances the blues and gives a brighter white, but some people prefer "Warm" which gives a more natural, softer color with more red in the picture.
If you have trouble getting the monitor set up the user's manual is helpful in showing where everything gets connected and what modes are supported.
* Native resolution 1280x800
* Contrast ratio 400:1
* Brightness 250 cd/m^2 (after warm-up)
* Stereo 2-watt speakers
* Power consumption < 35 watts
* Supports 60Hz vertical refresh, 31-60KHz horizontal refresh
* Microprocessor-based OSD
* Compatible with IBM VGA, SVGA, XGA, and VESA resolutions
* VESA DDC1/2B compatible for plug-and-play detection
* Weight 10.66lbs
* Dimensions 15.5" W x 12.5" H x 5" D (with stand)
* Dimensions 15.5" W x 10.4" H x 2" D (without stand)
There had to be a downside and this is it. Fortunately the failure rates on LCDs are very low so I'm not concerned about the very limited warranty coverage.
I had no dead pixels on the two Proviews that I purchased which is great but not always the case. In the user's guide Proview states that up to 0.01% of the pixels may be dead on any given monitor, so according to them you could have 100 dead pixels and that would be acceptable (for them). Fortunately the store you purchase from should have an exchange policy should you get a monitor that has some dead pixels.
The normal warranty is one-year limited parts and labor coverage. They consider dropped pixels and geometric distortion "normal wear and tear" and it is not covered.
The Proview PL576Ws 15.4" LCD monitor is a great way to get widescreen capability on your computer without spending a lot of money. If you need a larger screen size there are some other options out there, albeit at substantially higher prices. If you do need additional desktop space, remember you can buy two of the Proviews (like I did) for less than one 20" widescreen LCD from Dell and you get the flexibility of dual monitors.
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Amount Paid (US$): 200
Operating System: Windows