Westinghouse L1916HW review: Westinghouse L1916HW

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MSRP: $249.99
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3.5 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Superlow price from Best Buy; good movie and games performance; built-in speakers.

The Bad Onscreen display buttons are too sensitive; low speaker volume.

The Bottom Line The Westinghouse L1916HW has a superlow price and good performance in games, movies, and office tasks.

7.2 Overall
  • Design 7.0
  • Features 6.0
  • Performance 8.0
  • Service and support 6.0

Editors' note: At the time this review was originally posted, Best Buy was offering the Westinghouse L1916HW for $160. Since then the price has been increased to $180. We will present our intro as it appeared originally because of the simple fact that $20 does not make much of a difference in our recommendation. This is still a great deal.

The Westinghouse L1916HW is a 19-inch wide-screen LCD that carries a $180 list price but can be found for as low as $160 at Best Buy. With its decent performance across a variety of tasks and HDCP compatibility, we think it's a good buy. By comparison, the $250 Lenovo ThinkVision L1940p offers more ergonomic features and better performance but features a lower 1,440x900-pixel resolution. The Viewsonic VX1962WM features the same 1,680x1,050-pixel resolution as the Westinghouse, but is about $40 more expensive and offers less impressive performance in movies than the Westinghouse. The OSD design on the Westinghouse can be frustrating--and we wish it had more screen adjustment features--but given its price, we recommend it for those looking for a supercheap, small monitor.

Design and features
The Westinghouse L1916HW has a unique-looking design among 19-inch LCDs. There's a fiberglass plate running under the bezel with a Westinghouse logo on it. Above the plate is a white LED that illuminates the logo and reflects off the plate. On the left and right sides, the bezel is less than an inch thick, but it is actually slightly wider than the ViewSonic VX1962WM's or the Lenovo ThinkVision L1940p's bezel, making the display slightly larger than its two competitors. The full width of the Westinghouse is about 17.75 inches; the ViewSonic and Lenovo measure 17.5 inches and 17.25 inches wide, respectively.

The footstand continues the fiberglass motif and measures a relatively narrow 9 inches wide and 7 inches deep. Even with such a small footstand, the display still doesn't wobble much when knocked from the sides. This is thanks, in part, to the Westinghouse's small and light design.

The connection options include VGA and DVI. No HDMI is included, but the display is HDCP compatible. The video connections are located on the back and to the right of the display's neck with about 2 inches between them. This was enough room to connect without any headaches. There is no pivoting, rotation, or screen height adjustment, but the display does tilt back about 20 degrees.

While most 19-inch models top out at 1,440x900-pixel resolution, the Westinghouse display features the unusually high resolution of 1,680x1,050. The display also includes built-in speakers that are located on the back facing backward, which is not an ideal spot for them as the sound is muffled as it comes out.

The onscreen display is simple and intuitive to navigate as long as you can see the "buttons." You see, the OSD buttons aren't really buttons at all in the fact that they don't protrude from the panel. The bottom-right side of the display's panel acts as the OSD with no actual tactile buttons to press. Because of this, you have to look at symbols for each button to accurately navigate the menu and you cannot just go off touch. Also, the "buttons" are calibrated too sensitively. We found that many times, when we touched the display to adjust its position or tilt it back, we accidentally touched either the power button or one of the OSD buttons. Even just running our fingers over the right side of the panel caused the monitor to shut off or opened the OSD window. Calibrating the monitor in a dark room is an exercise in frustration since there is no illumination and again no tactile buttons to feel.

Manufacturer's specifications:
Resolution: 1,680x1050
Pixel-response rate: 2ms
Contrast ratio: 3,000:1 (Dynamic Contrast)
Brightness: 300cd/m2
Connectivity: VGA, DVI
HDCP compliant? Yes
Included video cables? DVI, VGA

Performance
We tested the Westinghouse L1916HW 19-inch monitor using its DVI connection. The monitor posted a composite score of 79 in CNET Labs' DisplayMate-based performance test. It came in just behind the ViewSonic VX1962WM's score of 81 and 8 points behind the Lenovo L1940p with its score of 87. Most of the performance problems of the Westinghouse had to do with its color, where it had difficulty rendering gradations of primary colors smoothly in our Intensity Color Ramp tests. Instead of displaying a smooth dark-to-light gradation of colors, the scale was choppy and the gradation changes abrupt.

The Westinghouse achieved a brightness rating of 307cd/m2, according to our tests. This is compared with the ViewSonic at 283cd/m2 and the Lenovo at 273cd/m2. Though it scored the highest, the Westinghouse had too much backlight bleed through on our Dark Screen test. We noticed that the light was most prevalent at the top and bottom of the screen. With most monitors, the midpoint of the screen is the brightest point; however, with the Westinghouse the top and bottom edges were where we recorded the highest brightness readings. While watching movies this actually helped the display by making the black level appear lower, toward the middle of the screen where the actual picture is and lighter at the edges where the black bars are because of letterboxing. In normal room lighting while doing office tasks, we noticed a light bleeding problem. We also found fonts to be clear and legible when doing office tasks.

In real-world performance, we didn't see any of the aforementioned color problems. Kill Bill Vol. 1 looked good with accurate colors and deep blacks. Blood splatters, in particular, had a deep red look to them and other lighter colors like The Bride's yellow jumpsuit were full and vibrant. The monitor includes a Dynamic Contrast Ratio option--which is supposed to dynamically lower or increase the backlight radiance depending on if there is a dark or light image on the screen--but when we turned it on, we didn't notice a difference in the screen brightness or contrast going from dark to light scenes.

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