It used to be that a basic, VGA-only 19-inch LCD such as the Envision EN9600 could win fans by virtue of its good image quality and low price. That's becoming more difficult as other LCDs such as the Westinghouse LCM-19v5 and the Acer AL1951 offer features such as digital inputs and integrated speakers along with a clean, crisp image and the same low price. At a $350 price point, we recommend the comparatively feature-laden Westinghouse or Acer units or the highly adjustable Dell UltraSharp 1905FP, which also turns in good image quality.
The thick, rounded bezel of the Envision EN9600 gives the monitor a quaint, even outdated, look. The bezel is black with a silver inlay and measures 1 inch on three sides and grows to almost 2 inches at the bottom, where it has five tiny, silver-colored control buttons and acquires a bumpy texture like that of a Ping-Pong paddle. The EN9600's anvil-shaped base is a bit unstable, and its connection with the neck is weak, causing the panel to wobble at the slightest touch. If you stabilize the base with one hand and hold the top of the display with the other, you can tilt the panel forward 5 degrees and back 20. The EN9600 is on the short side, rising just 2.5 inches above the desktop--we think 3 inches is a good height for a fixed monitor--and you can't raise, lower, pivot, or swivel it.
The power button is the largest of the EN9600's little, round control-panel buttons--and it's smaller than an M&M candy. All the control buttons are raised, so they're easy to engage, but the labels blend into the bezel so well that they're virtually impossible to read. From left to right, they are Auto Adjust, Brightness, Power, Contrast, and Menu. The Brightness and Contrast buttons double as directional scrolling arrows within the onscreen menu.
First-time setup of the EN9600 is a breeze, and the analog-only monitor doesn't require you to install any drivers. Envision includes both a VGA cable and a power cord. You won't find a quick-start guide, but a printed manual covers the setup procedure and provides a few troubleshooting tips.
Tested at its native 1,280x1,024 resolution, the Envision EN9600 performed well on CNET Labs' DisplayMate-based image-quality tests. Text was sharp, dark, and easy to read. Grayscales progressed smoothly from black to white, although the whites looked slightly dingy. We also saw slight green tints in the grayscales. The EN9600 lost points on our screen-uniformity tests due to dark patches across the top and bottom of the screen and light leaks along the top and bottom edges. However, the errors were minor compared with those of most other LCDs. The EN9600's colors were bright and bold, with good separation between shades. DVD playback was only mediocre, showing overly red skin tones and noisy backgrounds. With its 12ms response time, the EN9600 fared better on our gaming tests, exhibiting bright, well-detailed backgrounds and no evident ghosting.
The Envision EN9600 comes with a three-year limited warranty, but unlike most manufacturers, Envision doesn't cover the screen or the backlight for the whole warranty period--only for one year. You can extend the warranty to five years for $60. Toll-free tech support is available Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. PT. Tech support answered our call promptly and courteously, but when we called for RMA service, we were directed to a voicemail and urged to use the forms on the company's Web site. The Envision Web site also has manual and driver downloads and forms for e-mailing questions to Envision tech support.