Setting up solo
As is the case with most CRT monitors, setting up the $289 HP 92 is easy, once you've hoisted the giant onto your desktop. However, the display comes with no documentation beyond a simple foldout card that contains the URL for HP's tech-support Web site, a vague setup diagram, a key to the front-panel controls, an extremely rudimentary list of troubleshooting tips, and a safety warning. There are neither instructions on how to use the onscreen display (OSD) nor an explanation of what its controls do.
Fortunately, the OSD is pretty self-explanatory. There are four buttons: Menu, right and left arrows, and Enter. Pressing the Menu button brings up a rectangle with all the controls grouped around the perimeter. It's cluttered and inelegant but easier to navigate than OSDs with a lot of submenus. Just select a control with the arrow keys, press Enter, then use the arrow keys to adjust the settings, including basic size, geometry, and color-temperature controls but nothing more sophisticated. A control for sharpness or focus would have come in handy since this display had serious problems in that department.
CNET Labs' tests, using DisplayMate, substantiated our observation that the monitor's main problems were with focus and contrast. At the recommended setting of 1,280x1024 with an 85Hz refresh rate, the HP 92 showed pronounced blurriness when we looked at desktop icons, the type on Web URLs, and even graphics and text on Web sites. Full pages of text were legible but very tiring to read at both small and standard font sizes. At its maximum 1,600x1,200 resolution, the HP 92 offers a solid 75Hz refresh rate, but this setting makes for tiny fonts and icons, and it exacerbates the display's blurriness.
We liked the HP 92's color reproduction more; Photoshop and Web pictures displayed accurate, warm skin tones and good color separation. However, blacks looked more dark charcoal than black, and the warmth of the hues made for off-color reds and whites. Geometry looked quite good overall, in part because the HP 92 has a traditional (curved, not flat) tube and screen, and the bowed glass tends to forgive geometric distortions. However, that same bowed screen also increases the potential for glare.
The company supports the HP 92 with a standard, three-year warranty, and should your monitor need service, HP will ship you a replacement unit within two business days. Phone-based tech support is available 24/7 via a toll number and lasts for the life of the display.
Price or performance
The HP 92 is certainly an inexpensive 19-inch display, but sometimes you have to think beyond the bottom line. Your employees may welcome the extra screen space but not if it means staring at a blurry monitor for eight hours per day. For less than $300, you can get a flat-screen, 19-inch monitor with at least marginally better image quality. Check out our list of Top 5 19-inch CRTs for recommendations.
|19-inch CRT image-quality test
Longer bars indicate better performance
|Looking at images and text on the HP 92, you might think you need to get your eyes checked. Though its color and geometry were good overall, the monitor had great trouble with text, showing blurry fonts at all sizes.