LG HD-ready Monitor Easy on the Eyes
By Jim Bray
You could almost call it "Vista Vision."
Or maybe not, if you don't want to get sued by Paramount Pictures or whoever holds the trademark on that old widescreen movie format name. But the point is that this LG widescreen computer monitor is not only a terrific size for the average desk, it offers features that make it perfectly at home in small home theaters, corporate boardrooms or lobbies.
That's because LG's Flatron L245WP 24 inch monitor isn't just a computer monitor; it's also a perfectly serviceable high definition television monitor. It's 1080p compatible, with the proper HDMI input, and if you have a small room (such as a college dorm room or small apartment), it's an excellent way to get into the wonderful world of high definition affordably.
I tried the monitor in both applications and really liked it. 24 inches isn't nearly large enough to be at home in our home theater (where we have currently a 57 inch CRT-based rear projector), but despite that it worked just fine for our test purposes.
Setup is completely straightforward: you patch it in, plug it in and fire it up. Then you can install the drivers from the CD LG includes in the box.
The monitor features full 1920x1080 resolution for high definition broadcasts and/or Blu-ray or HD DVD disc playback. But its native resolution is even higher: 1920x1200. This is great when you're using it as a computer monitor, but as a home theater screen it can lead to a stretching of the picture from top to bottom – kind of the opposite of what you get when you stretch an old fashioned 4x3 picture to fill a 16x9 screen. So instead of everyone being short and fat, everyone's just a tad tall and thin.
You can adjust this "out" when you're running it at the 1080 resolution, from the easy to use menu system. It gives you a mild letterboxing effect, with small black bars above and below the screen, but it's hardly obtrusive and lets you watch high definition video at its proper aspect ratio.
This doesn't work if you're watching a non-up converted DVD at its native 480 resolution (you still get the mild stretching), but you're better off up converting DVD's today anyway if you have such a player (and they're widely available).
I hooked the LG into a Sony Blu-ray player and ran such high definition discs as X-Men 3, Dreamgirls, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and Superman Returns and was very impressed with its performance. Colors were rich and deep, and the depth that comes from something progressively scanned (with a decent contrast level) was quite evident. As an entry level 1080p unit, this is hard to beat.
Besides HDMI, the LG also boasts component video and PC inputs. And it comes with a DVI to HDMI adapter cable in the box (there's a regular PC cable included, too) that made it easy to hook it into my dual DVI-equipped PC.
When using it as a PC monitor (it's "MS Vista certified," hence the VistaVision crack above ), I ran it at full 1920x1200 resolution, and it was great. The large screen size, high resolution and wide aspect ratio meant I could have multiple windows open side by side, which was very handy. For example, I loved being able to drag and drop text from one Word document into another without having to drag the cursor to the taskbar and then wait for the second window to pop up.
Even handier, I ran it as "Monitor 1" in a multiple monitor setup with my normal 20 inch widescreen LCD beside it. That was a real eye opener. First, I couldn't believe how much difference and how much extra real estate the extra four inches gives you. It was tough going back! And second, the higher resolution and the far superior color performance of the LG blew my normal monitor out of the water (or is it "off the desk"?).
And I had been very happy with my usual monitor until I ran the two side by side.
As a side note, I also grew to love using two monitors and, thanks the small footprint of LCD's, there was still enough room on my desk for the rest of my junk. I started keeping things I usually run minimized or in the background (such as my email program) on the second monitor, where they're visible and accessible immediately.
But I digress.
The feature list for the LG isn't over yet. It also features picture in picture and picture beside picture capability, which is kind of like using multiple monitors (and you can use it to watch TV or a movie while you work, if you can get away with it). The stand will tilt, swivel, and is height adjustable, and you can also pivot it between portrait and landscape modes.
That latter point was the only fly in the ointment. LG throws in PivotPro software and I installed it to see how portrait mode would be. Well, at that point all hell broke loose and I lost the video to both my monitors; all that was left was a flashing cursor. Control-Alt-Delete would bring up the proper screen, but if I tried going past that to Task Manager it would go back to black. Ditto for reboots.
Fortunately, my son is a computer genius and he came over and bailed me out, after which I uninstalled the PivotPro software and put it back into the LG box, never to darken my desktop again.
So I can only say that I assume the portrait mode works (the monitor does, indeed, swivel), but not in my home office.
Other specifications include a brightness rating of 500cd/m2 and an 8MS response. Contrast is rated at 1000:1, which is pretty standard for a computer monitor. It's low for a good TV, though, and you can tell when watching high resolution television or discs that the contrast isn't quite state-of-the-art, but considering the $650 price of this monitor, it's still excellent performance.
LG's L245WP is one heckuva product. It offers excellent PC performance, with full 1080p high definition capability built in, at a price that makes it seem like you're buying a good entry level HDTV, and getting a computer monitor thrown in for free.
How's that for a deal?
Jim Bray's columns are available through the TechnoFile Syndicate.
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