Hitachi's midpriced, 17-inch LCD, the CML170B+, fits comfortably between the stripped-down models that cost around $600 and the higher-end units that look amazing but cost a mint. This display accepts both analog and DVI signals, and it has good overall image quality. Hitachi's midpriced, 17-inch LCD, the CML170B+, fits comfortably between the stripped-down models that cost around $600 and the higher-end units that look amazing but cost a mint. This display accepts both analog and DVI signals, and it has good overall image quality.
Good, stable design
The $819 CML170B+ has a generally good design. The bezel and the stand are a uniform black; an ivory-colored version is also available. The monitor can swivel 45 degrees to either side, 10 degrees up, and 5 degrees down. The horizontal viewing angle is a decent 150 degrees. The unit is, like most LCDs, not height adjustable, but at 18 inches, it should work for most users. The base is stable and just 7 inches deep, for a compact fit on most desks.
A few flaws could stymie novices, however. The manual does a good job of covering installation but skimps on explaining the display settings. Attaching cables to the recessed ports requires tiny, tough fingers. And the buttons for the onscreen display (OSD) feel mushy and unresponsive, while the OSD itself is somewhat disorganized and its icon labels cryptic.
Your choice of digital or analog
The Hitachi's dual analog/digital connectivity make it versatile enough for use with both older and new graphics technologies. The analog VGA port means you can use the display with legacy graphics cards that are designed to work with the analog signals of CRTs. But LCDs output a digital signal; when connected to newer graphics cards that have a DVI port, they avoid the digital-analog signal conversion that can degrade image quality.
In the case of the CML170B+, however, it showed a surprising consistency between digital- and analog-driven images. CNET Labs used the display's DVI connector for its DisplayMate tests and also tested the display informally using the analog VGA connector. In both cases, we ran the monitor at its native 1,280x1,024-pixel resolution. While we noticed a subtle improvement in color saturation and brightness on the digital link, the analog quality was otherwise equally good; text and images looked rich and crisp, and the 25ms pixel-response rate handled movies with no ghosting. The display's score might have been better, but it showed some slight color-tracking errors (when colors creep into a grayscale image), and it had a stuck pixel right in the middle of the screen.
Pixels and policies
When we originally reviewed this monitor, we complained about its stuck-pixel policy, but after reviewing the policies of its competitors, we realized that Hitachi's is one of the better ones. With two, three, or four bad pixels, the exchange policy depends on how close together the defects are. And everything else about the company's service and support is fine. The three-year warranty covers parts, labor, and the backlight. Phone support is free and toll-free during the warranty period, and lines are open 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET on weekdays.
The Hitachi CML170B+ is a good, midpriced, 17-inch LCD. The company's stuck-pixel policy is not ideal, but considering some of the other policies out there, you could get stuck with a lot worse.
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17-inch LCD image quality test
Longer bars indicate better performance
|The Hitachi produces a crisp, rich image and is virtually distortion-free. A fast pixel-response rate means no ghosting, even during fast-moving DVD scenes. The display's otherwise excellent score was marred by a stuck pixel right in the middle of the screen, which made the defect hard to ignore.|