ViewSonic VA720 review: ViewSonic VA720

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2.5 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Clean, attractive design; PC and Mac compatible.

The Bad Poor image quality; short warranty period; mediocre dead-pixel policy; limited adjustability.

The Bottom Line ViewSonic's VA720 doesnt have the features, the connections, or the adjustability options to make up for its disappointing image quality.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

5.7 Overall

review summary

At least ViewSonic's VA720 looks attractive. Its brushed-silver bezel runs a fairly wide inch and a half on all sides, but the bottom edge has a pleasing convex shape, contributing to a clean design. The five round buttons for image adjustment and power are set into an etched, rippling groove on the bottom edge--a stylish touch. The panel is connected to the sturdy ovoid base via a too-stiff hinge; using two hands, you can tilt the panel a few degrees forward and 90 degrees backward, flush with the base (which makes it very easy to attach to a &siteid=7&edid=&lop=txt&destcat=ex_1&destUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Evesa%2Eorg%2Ffdmipr%2Ehtm">VESA-compliant wall mount). Otherwise, the VA720 lacks adjustability: it won't swivel or pivot, and there's no way to raise or lower the panel, so most users will need to boost the display with a riser.

The VA720 is Mac and PC compatible, but it doesn't offer many connections or features for a $450, 17-inch LCD. The back of the panel sports an analog signal port (ViewSonic includes a cable) and a power input. ViewSonic offers extras such as a TV tuner and a USB hub on its &siteid=7&edid=&lop=txt&destcat=ex_1&destUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Eviewsonic%2Ecom%2Fproducts%2Flcd%5Fva720%2Ehtm">Web site.

Image quality is the VA720's Achilles' heel. In CNET's tests, text lacked contrast, colors were distorted, and it was hard to read even black type on a white background. The panel also displayed rampant inaccuracies in both grayscale and color test screens; instead of a smooth transition from dark black to pure white, the VA720's grayscale looked like a strip of Fruit Stripe gum. And while the onscreen menus are intuitive and easy to use, we found it almost impossible to get a good picture with the VA720, no matter how much we tweaked the image settings.

ViewSonic's service and support for the VA720 is decidedly second-rate. Three years of warranty coverage on parts, labor, and backlight is standard, and that's what VA720 owners get--if they live outside of the United States; otherwise, you're stuck with a measly one year of coverage. ViewSonic's dead/stuck-pixel policy is about average: the company will replace a VA720 that has seven or more dead or stuck pixels. ViewSonic offers toll-free, 24/7 phone support for the life of the product, and the company's &siteid=7&edid=&lop=txt&destcat=ex_1&destUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Eviewsonic%2Ecom%2Fsupport%2Findex%2Ehtm">Web site has useful features, including drivers, FAQs, white papers, user guides, a calibration tool, e-mail support, and a terrific Instant Support tool that delivers intelligent answers in real time.

ViewSonic's Web site says that the VA720 is "a mix of performance and style," but we found a mix of only disappointing image quality, limited adjustability, and an inflated price. Other 17-inch LCDs, including the Planar PE170 and AOC's LM729, offer much better image quality for a comparable or lower price.

CNET Labs DisplayMate tests  (Longer bars indicate better performance)
Planar PE170
Cornea CT1704
Sony SDM-HX73
ViewSonic VA720

Brightness in nits  
Sony SDM-HX73
Planar PE170
Cornea CT1704
ViewSonic VA720
Note: Measured with the Minolta CA210 or the Sencore CP500.

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