- User Rating: Excellent
Ease of Use:
Pros:Sleek, small package, great price.
Cons:Inconsistent image quality, clumsy controls, TERRIBLE warranty support experience.
The Bottom Line: Nice screen for the price. Not great for graphics work and no good for dual screen setup. The support is the worst I've ever experienced.
I bought this screen because the price was right and the reviews were good. Then I bought a second one. Bad idea. Warranty replacement and support from KDS has been TERRIBLE. Two months since they billed my credit card for shipping a new one to me and I still don't have a new screen. The image is good, the price is right, the controls are so-so, but the support is bad. Here's the full story:
It came time for me to think about replacing my 17" CRT and, since I move around quite a lot (being a student and all) I figured LCDs would be the way to go. I did a lot of searching around before settling on the KDS screen. Everything I read about it claimed it was a great screen for the price. And it was one of the cheapest screens around, which didn't hurt.
I purchased my first RAD-5 at a local computer retailer and brought it home. The packaging for it was nice, particularly the built in handle on the top. Since I move around with it a lot the box has proven to be very useful and is much smaller and lighter than the old CRT!
When I got the screen out of the box I was pretty happy. Very sexy looking. One button on the front for power which includes an LED right in the center. It's green when turned on, flashes between orange and green when in power save mode. The bezel surrounding the screen is very attractive and is silver with a purple rubber edging. Really looks good on the desk. Also comes with a matching mouse, though it's nothing to rave about.
The only really irritating thing is that the screen comes with a great big sticker along the top that is a total nightmare to remove. It is paper, not plastic, and tears easily, leaving bits of sticker all along the top. The best solution for this that I found is to use a product like Goo Gone or even WD-40. Just spray a bit of WD-40 on to a bit of paper towel and rub off the glue remnants. Be careful not to get it on the screen itself. For this it's probably best to leave the protective plastic on the screen until you're done.
Installation is easy. The RAD-5 has only one cable coming out of it which carries video and power. It splits into a video connector and a power lead near the end of the cable. It is NOT detachable at the screen end of the cable which was a bit upsetting because I've had to replace video cables before, which obviously can't be done easily with this one. But it's nice to only have one cable coming out of the screen.
After turning it on I used the auto-tune function to set up the display. It's really good about centering the image, setting all the colors, etc. The controls for tweaking are very good. They cover the basics of contrast, horizontal and vertical position, image size, phase, power save delay, color settings, and language. Unfortunately the buttons are located along the lower edge of the screen and are a bit fiddly to work with. It keeps the screen casing looking clean I guess, but if they had been along the back or even the side I think they'd be easier to use.
Image quality is pretty good. The screens do not handle low refresh rates well at all though. Make sure your video settings are set to 72 or 75 Hz because otherwise the picture tends to get wobbly. In DOS text mode the screens are just horrible, so this is really not a good choice for a POS system or something that is DOS based. The refresh rates in text mode tend to be low and the screen image is unbearable. It varies a bit from one video card to the next but is never good. When run in the proper mode the image is good but on certain colors and things like the Windows shutdown screen where the picture is shaded, the analog signal becomes aparent as a sort of shakeyness to the image. A bit hard to describe, and really extremely annoying when you see it. Usually isn't a problem, but when working in apps like Photoshop it's quite distracting. This is not a good screen for image editing work, that's for sure.
Now the bad stuff:
I run a dual screen setup on my computer, so I thought that I was fairly pleased with the first screen, I'll get another. Bad idea. I ordered the new screen from an online retailer and it arrived just fine. Plugged it in and immediately was not impressed. The image was extremely bright, the blacks were not even close to black. Varying brightness and contrast didn't help at all. It appears to be a manufacturing defect because the backlights that light the screen are clearly visible along one edge of the casing, but not the other. Placed beside the first screen the image is noticable worse and the colors are completely inconsistent. No matter how much I've tried I can't get the colors to match.
Fortunately KDS has a replacement warranty. Within the first month they're supposed to issue an advanced replacement if the first product is faulty. I called the warranty number and since I'm in Canada they gave me a different number to call. The Canadian tech support people were terrible. They didn't believe that there was a problem with the image. I told them that I had a second one on my desk which was great, and the first was just not even close. Eventually they agreed that something could be done about it but I had to fax them the reciept before they would even give me the location of a service center. I did that but, since the screen was purchased from an online retailer in the US they then told me to talk to the US warranty people. So I called there. They told me it was Canada's problem, since I live in Canada. Eventually after a week of calling back and forth, KDS USA agreed it was their problem and they would ship me a new screen, but since I was out of the country they would have to charge my credit card for shipping. Fine. I got an RMA number and was billed US$18 for shipping of the replacement screen. They said 5-7 days before it arrived. A month later no screen. So I emailed the person I had been dealing with and waited. Two weeks later I emailed again. Two weeks after that I called and left a message. Finally I spoke to someone else. She looked up my RMA number and said the screen hadn't been shipped until that very day (wow, what a coincidence!). Now I have a tracking number and I know it's actually left their factory, but it's not here yet. We'll see how this all plays out.
So, to sum up. This is a really nice screen, as long as you get one that works. The color appears to be inconsistent accross screens, and the image shows some flicker or shakiness at certain times, making it unsuited for high end graphics work. DOS mode text is unbearable because of the refresh rate issue. But, for most people this is a great screen at a bargain price. The warranty looks good on paper, but getting KDS to help you is like pulling teeth. Businesses may want to consider if saving $100 on this screen is worth the hours of fighting your IT guys will spend on getting any warranty work.
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Amount Paid (US$): 350
Operating System: Windows