Not so easy on the eyes… (3 out of 5)
Hewlett Packard’s HP L1706 is a fairly simple 17" flat panel LCD monitor for the PC. It comes with a lot of their business desktops, but is available for home use. At the company where I work, we have dozens of them in use daily. For the money, I think you could do a little better.
This is not a widescreen monitor, which is already a strike against it in terms of longevity. While computers will still support this type of screen, widescreen is really the way to go these days. They are much easier on the eyes and allow you to dump all your menus on one side of the screen. Even so, plenty of people are still using these square screens and will continue to do so for quite a while.
This 17 inch monitor operates at a native resolution of 1280 x 1024 pixels, meaning that any display setting less than that will appear fuzzy. At 1024 x 768, it actually looks a lot better than most LCD monitors when operating below the native resolution, but it’s still not that sharp. A lot of users with eyesight problems find 1280 x 1024 too tiny on a 17" screen, though you can always get into the Windows display settings and blow up the font and icon sizes to accommodate.
Even at 1280 x 1024, I’ve found that this monitor messes with my eyes. It has a pretty high dot pitch (.264 mm) for a flat panel display and I can literally see it. The dot pitch is the amount of distance between each pixel on the display. Higher dot pitch means a lower quality picture. I am nearsighted, and I’ve found that the smaller fonts on this display sometimes appear to shimmer.
It’ll Do for the Office But…
With a 12ms response time, this monitor is pretty well restricted to business use. Any kind of gaming, especially with a fast paced 3D shooter, might give you some visual artifacts or ‘ghosting’ on screen. This happens because the display can’t refresh itself quickly enough to redraw the screen in time with the software. For regular office use and even for watching videos online, this monitor will do just fine, though.
In terms of brightness and contrast, this monitor’s features are quite average, though very sufficient. The 500:1 contrast ratio provides nice darks and lights that work well under fluorescent lighting, though in direct sunlight the picture may be diminished since it only has a 300 cd/m brightness. While HP did include some anti-glare features on this monitor, it still isn’t totally glare-proof.
As far as looks go, this one is pretty generic. The screen is housed in a silver-coloured casing with a power button on the bottom right and ‘HP L1706’ on the left. Three buttons are in the center, and they allow you to adjust the screen settings, such as brightness or contrast. Although the base is round, this monitor does not swivel around. It will tilt up and down.
I was pretty impressed by the viewing angles on this monitor. It is rated at 140 degrees, but it seemed like more than that. Keep in mind a flat display is 180 degrees, so you can’t look directly from the side, but who would want to? If you tilt the screen around to the left or right, you will notice the entire screen take on a yellowish color when viewed at greater angles. Looking at it from above will make the screen much whiter than normal. If you had a bunch of people standing behind your desk, they’d all be able to see your screen pretty well. Some people might not like that.
At work, we’ve been using these monitors for a couple of years and have had pretty good luck with them. I can only remember having to replace one, and it was in an area where it stayed on 24/7 and was constantly in use. The only major issue I’ve encountered was getting the screen to auto-focus properly. I’ve had two of them where I had to use the CD that came with the monitor to run a special configuration utility to get the display set up correctly. HP included this software that displays a bunch of circles and straight lines that are designed to maximize the efficiency of the auto-focus feature of the monitor. So far, it has worked when nothing else would.
I’ll stand behind the HP L1706 17" LCD Monitor in saying that it is a solid monitor, but I wouldn’t use it anywhere besides an office setting.