A Crisp and Bright Digital Flat Panel
Written: Jan 3, 2005 (Updated Jan 4, 2005)
a Very Helpful Review
by the Epinions community
- User Rating: Excellent
Ease of Use:
Pros:Beautiful picture quality, large size, supports DVI and analog interfaces, quality craftsmanship, low price
The Bottom Line: This level of picture quality, features, and craftsmanship, at this price level is a dream come true for anyone looking for the best picture possible without breaking the bank.
Among computer graphics professionals, ViewSonic has long been known as a name that commands a lot of respect. Their computer display products are practically legendary for their uncompromising picture quality. The VG191 improves on ViewSonic's earlier 19-inch flat panel displays, incorporating newer display technologies. And of course, the VG191 lives up to ViewSonic's reputation for producing high quality products. The materials and craftsmanship of the VG191 are first-rate.
Size Does Matter
If you're currently using a monitor or LCD panel that is 17 inches or less in size, then the size difference alone can be worth upgrading for. The advantage of a larger display is increased resolution, without making text and other visual elements appear too tiny. The VG191 boasts a full 19 inch viewable display area. At 1280x1024 native resolution, the images displayed on the massive 19 inch surface are big and beautiful. Even small text is crisp and easy to read. In my opinion, 19 inches is ideal for 1280x1024 resolution. A much larger panel with the same resolution would start to look too "blocky" since the physical size of the pixels would be quite large. Smaller panels, such as the 17 inch ones, with native resolution of 1280x1024 are just a bit too small for smaller text to be very crisp and easy to read. ViewSonic has a winning combination of 19 inch display size and 1280x1024 native resolution with the VG191.
If you're wondering what "native resolution" means, in the world of LCD panels there is usually only one resolution at which the display is really meant to be used. This is known as the "native" resolution and depends, of course, on the actual number of physical pixels incorporated in the LCD panel. Lower resolutions can be displayed, if needed, but they will not exhibit the same crispness that native resolution gives since the display must use tricks to "expand" the picture to fill the entire display surface. After expanding the picture, some of the picture's original pixels may not match up exactly with the LCD panel's physical pixels, and the LCD panel must then blur those pixels to make them blend with neighboring pixels. On the VG191 the resulting image, when not used at 1280x1024 resolution, is usually good, but not excellent. Note that this is not a limitation of the VG191 in particular. All flat panel LCD displays will have this same limitation. In the case of the VG191, it handles non-native resolutions quite well considering the limitations of the core technology.
Picture Quality - Brightness and Clarity
The VG191 has an outstanding level of brightness. The picture is as bright and vibrant in the most well-lit room as professional grade CRT monitors. Add to that the inherent clarity that you'll get from any LCD flat panel due to the virtually non-existent glare on the display panel's surface, and the VG191's brightness and clarity will rival that of even the most expensive CRT monitors.
Picture Quality - Digital Accuracy
The first consumer grade flat panel computer displays were analog displays, just like regular old CRT monitors. Even today many of the flat panel displays on the market are still analog displays. The drawback to analog is that the picture will not always be in perfect alignment with the actual display screen. This is particularly problematic on LCD panels because the individual pixels that comprise the display screen are much more well-defined than the pixels on a traditional CRT monitor. Any misalignment of the picture can produce very noticeable and annoying artifacts in the displayed image. Though the VG191 supports the old analog interface for backward compatibility with older computers and video cards, it also sports a Digital Visual Interface (DVI). DVI technology eliminates any misalignment of the displayed image. It accomplishes this by employing an exact pixel-for-pixel digital signal which ensures that every pixel on the display screen is exactly the right color and exactly the right intensity, and the picture is guaranteed to fit perfectly on the display screen with no black border around the edges. The result is the most crisp and accurate picture possible with today's technology. Note that in order to take advantage of the VG191's DVI capability, the computer or video card you connect it to must also be DVI compatible. Most new video cards today are DVI compatible, but most older ones are not.
Picture Quality - Fast Pixel Response
Some of the earlier LCD panels I've had experience with exhibited what can best be described as "motion smear" when displaying any kind of moving picture. This was a side-effect of the slow pixel response times on early LCD panels. One way this manifests itself is with black text on a white page when the page is scrolling. When the page is scrolling, the pixels are so slow to respond to the change in color from black to white that the black text seems to get "smeared" along the direction of motion. This has been known to be particularly problematic for gaming, especially for fast-moving virtual 3D environments, such as first person shooter games. The VG191 boasts pixel response times of only 25 milliseconds, which is fast enough that any "smearing" is not really noticeable. This makes the VG191 suitable for just about any task: watching movies, reading and editing documents and webpages, or playing fast-paced 3D video games.
Ergonomics and Special Features
The VG191 also incorporates some nice ergonomic features. The display's neck is height-adjustable. It can easily telescope up or down. When you move it to the height you like, simply let go of it and it magically holds the panel right at the height where you left it. The display panel can also swivel left, right, up and down so that you can easily and quickly adjust it to the viewing angle you like best. With the lightness and small size of the display panel, making these adjustments on the VG191 is much easier than making them on your typical CRT monitor. Another interesting feature, that you may find useful (but probably won't) is that the entire display panel can be rotated 90 degrees so that it is oriented vertically instead of horizontally. Included software allows the picture displayed on the monitor to also change it's orientation 90 degrees to match the display panel. Supposedly this allows for a more natural presentation of text documents. This is a nice feature at best, but nothing to write home about. In fact, the only time I've really found this feature useful is when plugging the video and power cables into the VG191. It is easier to get at the connectors when the display is rotated sideways.
ViewSonic's built in on-screen display for configuring the VG191 is intuitive and easy to use. Pressing the menu button on the front of the monitor will bring-up the on-screen display and the arrow buttons and selection buttons allow you to quickly navigate the menus and modify configuration parameters. Available options for configuration include brightness, contrast, picture alignment (analog only), color balance, and sharpness among many others. Note that when using the VG191 in digital mode (DVI), the picture alignment controls are disabled, since in digital mode these controls are unnecessary as the picture will always be perfectly aligned.
The picture quality produced by the VG191, especially when used with the DVI interface, is exemplary. I cannot emphasize this enough. The digital accuracy combined with the excellent brightness and contrast produces images that are truly breathtaking and unlike anything you could ever experience on a traditional CRT monitor. This digital flat panel display performs so well all-around that it could be used for just about any purpose. Even if you are a gamer and are concerned that flat panel LCD displays simply aren't up to snuff for playing fast-paced 3D games, the VG191 sports pixel response times fast enough that it won't leave you disappointed. And as if all that's not enough, ViewSonic also throws in the three cute little birds in the top-left corner. Who can resist that? But seriously, I'm surprised that ViewSonic doesn't charge a lot more for this LCD panel.
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Amount Paid (US$): 849.00
Operating System: Windows and Macintosh