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HolidayBuyer's Guide

HP F2304 review:

HP F2304

From a home-theater perspective, the biggest issue we had with the HP f2304 was the lack of control over the picture. For example, there was not enough range with the brightness control on the component-video input to set the black level properly for DVD--even at maximum, the HP f2304 lost detail in the dark areas. Also, the global gain controls for red, green, and blue don't have enough range to track a grayscale well. For that reason, you're better off leaving the color adjustments at the factory settings, as the variation in the grayscale was better before we color calibrated it. The DVI input is clearly meant for use with computers, as it leaves only the brightness control available in the menu for tweaking, and it yields an unacceptable video picture.

The 1,920x1,200 native resolution is the highest we've seen from an LCD panel, and the sharpness of the picture is impressive. Note that this unusual resolution results in an odd 16:10 aspect ratio rather than the standard 16:9, which renders objects disproportionately tall.

Even with its limitations, after calibrating the panel as well as we could, DVDs looked pretty good. Chapter 25 of Seabiscuit was extremely sharp, and we were impressed with the relative lack of low-level noise and false contouring artifacts in dark scenes. In Alien, blacks were more like dark gray, but they didn't suffer from the video noise seen on most LCDs of this caliber. HDTV material from our DirecTV HD satellite looked extremely detailed, although blacks were again too bright. Most built-in monitor speakers sound tinny and faint, but the f2304's are noticeably louder, warmer, and fuller sounding. They won't substitute for a good set of stereo speakers, but they're better than we expected.

HP provides a three-year warranty for the f2304. Toll-free phone tech support is available 24/7, and HP's Web site offers additional support in the form of FAQs, a searchable database, e-mail, and live chat with technicians.

CNET Labs DisplayMate tests  (Longer bars indicate better performance)

Brightness in cd/m2  
Note: Measured with the Minolta CA210

What you'll pay

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