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HP 2159m review: HP 2159m

HP's 21.5-inch monitor is fairly average for its class — however, in the face of its limitations, the price doesn't add up.

David Field
3 min read

LCD monitors are slowly being released in the same widescreen ratios as widescreen TVs, which is great for the most part. This 21.5-inch HP 2159m monitor is an example of this trend, and even has a native resolution of 1920x1080; the same used by full HD televisions.


HP 2159m

The Good

16:9, full HD resolution.

The Bad

HDMI overscans. Glossy screen. Overpriced.

The Bottom Line

HP's 21.5-inch monitor is fairly average for its class — however, in the face of its limitations, the price doesn't add up.

In practice, the wider aspect ratio means certain kinds of work become a little easier (for instance, working on two side-by-side documents) and the high resolution means that you can get more things on your screen at any given time if you don't mind squeezing a lot onto what isn't an overly huge monitor.

During our testing, we found that the panel could reproduce all the colours and shades of our DisplayMate tests. Out of the box the monitor pulls to the red quite a bit by default, and a little under its other presets. This wasn't as noticeable when the custom preset was set to its maximums, but by this point the display had become overly bright.

The panel is highly glossy, and you will be able to see your reflection (and the reflection of everything else around you) in dark areas of the image when in a lit room. This screen won't be at your eye line without the aid of phone books or encyclopedia volumes, as the stand does not extend vertically. On the flip side the stand does tilt quite far, the viewing angle is very good and the screen doesn't distort fine details such as text.

The only real technical frills are the ability to turn off the power LED, which you may not realise was distracting until you disable it.

While most of these limitations come down to taste and budget, there is a major technical flaw that should concern users who intend to connect their computer to this monitor through an HDMI cable. The HDMI input overscans by default, and cannot be overridden.

This would mean that the image from any computer plugged in via HDMI will be zoomed in and slightly cropped. You won't see the title bar of your program or the leftmost file menu, and you'll certainly lose the program bar at the bottom of the screen.

Overscan is a relic from the era of CRT monitors. Since not all CRTs could be relied upon to display a correctly aligned image, the film and TV industries kept the important parts of their images within safety margins so that no important information would be cut off by CRTs in various states of misalignment. This is why subtitles have never been placed at the far bottom of an image.

None of this is a concern in the world of digital pixel mapping, where pixels can be reliably mapped to precise, repeatable coordinates. When overscan is mimicked in digital hardware, the crispness of the image is entirely lost and fine details such as text are mangled horribly. This wouldn't be as big a problem if this were an LCD TV, but for a monitor it would be crippling if there weren't VGA and DVI inputs available that didn't overscan.

We do know of a workaround for this: you can use an HDMI to DVI adapter or cable to connect HDMI equipment through the DVI input of the monitor (which will leave you with one less usable input); however, none are included in the box.

If you were willing to work around this issue, we'd almost recommend this monitor, if it wasn't for one other major problem. The sticker price is simply too expensive. At AU$500, it's AU$200 more than comparable monitors, and AU$100 less than 3D capable monitors.

If you can find it for AU$300, it's worth a look. But until then, we can't recommend it.