Most LCDs look cool just by virtue of their svelte lines and bright screens, but the sleek, black IBM T560 was clearly designed with elegance in mind. Although it's pricey for a 15-inch LCD and has somewhat narrow viewing angles, it's solidly built, easy to adjust, and an absolute pleasure to look at. Most LCDs look cool just by virtue of their svelte lines and bright screens, but the sleek, black IBM T560 was clearly designed with elegance in mind. Although it's pricey for a 15-inch LCD and has somewhat narrow viewing angles, it's solidly built, easy to adjust, and an absolute pleasure to look at.
Slick looks, smooth moves
The $619 T560 is expensive compared to consumer models starting at $350, but its excellent design is worth the price. The display is clad in chic, "stealth black" plastics, and the outer bezel adds a mere inch and a half to the perimeter of the screen. The display sits on a graceful yet very stable articulated neck base. The T560's 120-degree horizontal and 90-degree vertical viewing angles are narrower than average, but the wide forward- and backward-tilt range (from -37 to 145 degrees) makes up for this somewhat; you can easily tip the screen completely backward to let someone across from you view it. The monitor also swivels smoothly between portrait and landscape mode, and IBM includes Pivot Pro software for rotating the image to match the display. Plus, the T560 can be mounted on a wall or attached to an optional swing arm ($169).
Setting up the IBM T560 is easy, thanks to its compact, 10.8-pound frame and a comprehensive user guide that covers setup, image adjustment, troubleshooting, and tech-support options. The signal and power cables plug easily into the bottom of the base--no messing around with plastic covers or cable-feeder clips as with some other displays. The LCD is both digital and analog compatible and ships with both super-VGA and DVI-D cables. It's PC and Macintosh compatible, as well, but the latter requires an optional adapter.
The IBM T560 controls are as stylish and thoughtfully designed as the display itself. Five buttons arranged in a wavelike ripple adorn the bottom edge of the bezel: power, menu engage, left and right arrows for scrolling through the menus, and exit. The buttons make the usual range of adjustments, from brightness to vertical positioning, via a simple, easy-to-navigate menu. The buttons also do double duty, bringing up contrast and brightness controls directly and locking your settings when held for 10 seconds.
Fortunately, the IBM T560 has more going for it than just good looks. It has a high 250cd/m² brightness rating and an adequate 300:1 contrast ratio, but the display (factory preset to the highest brightness and contrast settings) was almost blindingly bright out of the box. Once we lowered the contrast and the brightness, it performed very well in our DisplayMate performance tests. At its native 1,024x768 resolution, text looked crisp, clear, and legible in Microsoft Word and on Web pages, as well as in both small and large font sizes. The T560 displayed a beautiful range of grays, and colors on the Web and in Photoshop were rich and vibrant.
A sight for sore eyes
IBM backs the T560 with a standard three-year warranty. Phone tech support is available 24/7 via a toll-free number for the length of the warranty. IBM also offers two onsite exchange upgrades. Pickup/delivery is available Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. with next-day response ($60) or 24/7 with four-hour response ($90). IBM also has comprehensive tech support (including a searchable database and driver downloads) on its Web site. The display we evaluated had no stuck pixels, but IBM's policy is pretty good; if yours has more than five total or two adjacent, the company will replace the monitor.
These days, you can get a decent 15-inch LCD for less than $400, but it won't match the image and design quality of the IBM T560. If your office can afford to pay the premium, you'll get a display that's well worth the price.
15-inch LCD image quality test
Longer bars indicate better performance
|The T560 performed very well in DisplayMate performance tests. At its native 1,024x768 resolution, text looked crisp, clear, and legible in Microsoft Word and on Web pages, as well as in both small and large font sizes. The T560 also displayed a beautiful range of grays, and colors on the Web and in Photoshop were rich and vibrant.|