Pros: Outstanding value, very good text and graphics display, quick response times
Cons: No DVI connector
The 17" Dell E171FP Flat Panel Monitor is Dell's low end 17" LCD monitor, bridging the price gap between 15" LCD monitors and Dell's top of the line 17" and 19" UltraSharp series of monitors. The $499 list price E171FP is built around a Samsung display panel, and provides very good performance with these key specifications:
- Image Brightness: 250 cd/m2 (typical)
- Image Contrast Ratio: 350:1
- Image Max Horizontal View Angle: Left/Right: 70? (typical)
- Image Max Vertical View Angle: Up/Down: 60? (typical)
- Optimum Resolution 1280 x 1024 pixels
- Typical Power consumption 34 watts
- Response time 25 milliseconds
- 15 pin analog video connector (NO DVI connector)
- Wt. 11 lbs, overall height 14.75"
In the box you get the monitor/display stand in one piece, a power cable, 15 pin monitor input cable, driver/manual cd, and a disappointing one page quick setup guide that shows you where to plug things in and what words like "menu button" and "power button" look like in several different languages. The CD contains a digital user's guide that is more helpful.
My wife's computer is located in our den, which allows her to work on the computer while keeping track of whats going on in the rest of the house. Unfortunately, the only desk that would fit was too small to allow enough workspace to work efficiently and leave room for a CRT monitor. I considered finding and buying a new desk, but ended up attacking the workspace problem from a different angle, buying this monitor instead. And, although we were replacing a 19" Pixie CRT, the actual viewing dimension was 17 3/4", only slightly more than the actual 17" diagonal dimension on this LCD display. (The 19" monitor trickled down to my son.) One of the key space limitations on our desk was that the overall height of the monitor had to be less than 17 1/2", and it turns out most 17" LCD monitors I looked at initially (from Samsung and Envision) were about 1/2" too tall. This Dell 17" model is less than 15" high, easily fitting in the available space.
If you keep track of the everchanging sales and coupons available at the Dell website, you'll be able to get as good a price as is available on the internet for just about any computer peripheral. I was able to buy this monitor for $390 shipped, taking advantage of free shipping and a couple of other offers available in early December. Typical price for this monitor is $425-$475, still a pretty good deal for a good 17" LCD.
Connecting the E171FP monitor to our computer was easy. We've used this monitor successfully with two video cards under Windows XP, a Creative Labs TNT card, and more recently have hooked the monitor to a Dell Dimension 4550 computer with a GeForce 4 MX420 card.
The steps are
1. After turning off your computer, plug the monitor cable into the video card.
2. Plug in the monitor
3. Turn on the monitor and computer. At this point the display is working.
And one key step:
4. Set your video card to match the monitor's "optimal resolution" to get the clearest picture. Our previous monitor was set at 1024 X 768 resolution, which resulted in a display on this LCD that was slightly fuzzy. Changing the resolution to 1280 by 1024 at 60hz, this monitor's optimal resolution setting, quickly resulted in very sharp text and clean graphics with bright colors.
The E171FP is Dell's baseline model and offers no "extras" like USB ports, speakers, or pivoting display. The display takes up less space than other 17" models I looked at, with dimensions of 14.75" x 7.52" x 15.6". The 17" display has a spartan, dark grey (almost black border), only about 3/4" wide, with a black display stand. Along the bottom of the display are four buttons and a small power LED. The buttons are Power, Menu, and PLUS and MINUS buttons for adjusting brightness and contrast directly and many other settings within the OSD (On Screen Display) accessed by pushing the Menu button.
The monitor can tilt back about 30 degrees from vertical, and down about 10 degrees. The monitor is light enough to allow you to turn it on its base if you need to turn it left or right, but there is no left/right rotating joint in this monitor's stand. Both the standard power cord and display cable can be detached from the monitor.
Pushing the menu button accesses the on screen display (OSD), which provides an intuitive menu for
- adjusting the display position and size
- color settings (temperature, hue, saturation)
- locking in the OSD settings,
- a choice of 5 different languages for the OSD
- an "AUTO ADJUST" setting that Dell says should find the best settings for most users
- a "FACTORY RESET" that allows you to reset the color settings, the position settings or both, to default values
We used the Auto Adjust and Standard color settings (which favors a sl. red tint) when initially setting up the display, and found those settings to be very good for our use.
If the monitor is turned on, but receiving no signal, you'll see a floating test pattern called the Dell Self Test Feature Check, useful when troubleshooting. If you try to send a signal to the monitor that is outside of its acceptable horizontal and vertical frequency ranges, you'll see a single message on the monitor "CANNOT DISPLAY THIS VIDEO MODE". With the right display and monitor drivers installed, its unlikely you could find a way to do this.
I find it a little difficult to describe how pleased we are with the appearance of this display, a subjective opinion. The viewing angles are surprising good. You can have 3 or 4 people stand around this monitor, and each will be able to see the display with minimal impact on the quality. Dell's stated viewing angles (120 deg vertical, 140 deg horizontal) are pretty accurate. If the angle is more than about 50-60 degrees left or right, the colors will tend to fade out slightly and at about 60-70 degrees, the screen still looks ok, but the colors are noticeably washed out. The viewing angles are much wider than on the LCD display on most laptop computers. Similarly, you can be standing up and be viewing the monitor from a 45 degree angle down and the display quality is very good.
Text and graphics are very sharp on this system. We set the resolution at 1280 X 1024, which resulted in smaller icons and text than what was used on our previous 19" CRT, yet everything seems as sharp or even better than how it appeared on the previous 19" CRT. We have noticed no problems with glare or reflections from overhead lights, the "antiglare" coating used by Dell on this monitor seems to work very well.
Dell states that the response time for this display is 25 milliseconds. Although this computer is not used to play the FPS games which tend to require fast response times from LCD monitors, we are using this monitor to play Age of Mythology and a few puzzle games, and notice virtually no ghosting as characters or pieces move across the screen. Video playback of VCD's, SVCD's, and other video files is also very good, although this system does not include a DVD drive to test DVD playback.
One "dead" pixel has shown up on this monitor after 4 days of use (or thats when we noticed it). It's barely noticeable, and casual observers wouldn't notice it, but once you know its there, you see it. Its particularly noticeable on dark solid color screens where it shows up as a single, tiny green/blue dot.
The Dell site offers a lot of support options, message boards, FAQ's, email and toll free phone support, and a knowledgebase. This monitor is covered by a 3 year warranty, although the warranty mentions in year 1 Dell will repair or replace the monitor, and in years 2 and 3 Dell will provide replacement parts for any parts that fail. Dell offers a 30 day "Total Satisfaction" Return Policy if you want to return your monitor for a full refund (except for shipping charges). One important note that you should be aware of if you buy this monitor for a non Dell system; the Dell site fine print says this monitor is * Supported by Dell Technical Support when used with a Dell system.
Would I purchase the Dell E171FP Flat Panel Monitor again?
Yes. There are several good 17" LCD monitors available (on sale at least) for less than $500, from Envision, Mag, Samsung, and other reputable companies. This Dell is certainly competitive with any of those models, and is usually available at a very good price without having to worry about rebates, sales tax, or often even shipping costs. The monitor is easy to setup, appears to be well designed mechanically, and most importantly, has performed well in all the applications I have tried. Dell support doesn't seem to have quite the excellent reputation it once had, as you might expect as the company has grown and been forced to be more competitive. However, I have had very good luck with every purchase I have made from Dell over the past 2 years (about 10 purchases), and feel they are still one of the best firms to purchase from.
Link to Monitor image:
Link to Dell Web Site: