The HP L1940 manages to be both elegant-looking and clunky at the same time. The 12-by-15-inch viewable panel is framed by a sleek-looking, matte-finish, faux-aluminum bezel that measures 5/8 of an inch around three sides and 1 inch along the bottom. The panel is supported by a wide, black, folding neck piece that rises out of a graceless molded plastic base. The L1940's base contains a large junk tray for corralling loose items. More notable is the lazy-Susan-style rotation device built into the bottom of base that swivels the entire display 360 degrees; this is nice, but it makes the monitor wobble back and forth at the slightest touch.
The most interesting feature of the HP L1940's design is its double-hinged neck. The two hinges--one at the base of the neck and one at the top--allow the top of the display to rise almost 20 inches above your desk or lower it until the bottom edge sits a mere inch and a half above your work surface. In addition to tilting forward 5 degrees, the panel can tilt all the way back until it's parallel to the ceiling (which is not terribly useful, except for shipping or storing purposes). All this makes for an extremely adjustable display, but it's so fluid that it moves all by itself, especially when tilted forward in Portrait mode at low heights. Rotating the L1940 from Landscape to Portrait mode is more difficult--the joints don't move as easily. The L1940 is also VESA compatible and can be removed from its base entirely and securely bolted to a wall or arm mount.
The HP L1940's front-panel controls consist of a line of five slender buttons, with the main menu and directional arrow scrolling buttons sandwiched between an autoadjustment button on the left and the power button on the right. The onscreen menus are easy to read and navigate.
At the back, the HP L1940 has single-power VGA and DVI-D ports alongside one upstream and two downstream USB 2.0 ports. Plugging in the cords from Portrait mode is a breeze, and they can be gathered in place by the sturdy plastic clip at the base of the neck.
HP does not include pivoting software with the L1940. If you're planning to pivot, make sure that your graphics card can do it or that you have a spare $40 for PivotPro pivoting software.
The L1940 ships with a USB cable and a VGA connector cord. If you prefer using a digital signal, you'll have to buy a DVI-D cable. The L1940 doesn't feature integrated speakers or a headphone jack, either. But if you need audio, you can buy a two-speaker HP Flat Panel Speaker Bar for $30.
We tested the HP L1940 at its native resolution of 1,280x1,024 pixels using the analog cable, and the results were favorable, especially with text. The L1940's sans serif text was legible, dark, and clear, and serif fonts such as Times New Roman looked sharp. Color and grayscale performance was less impressive. Our CNET Labs' DisplayMate-based grayscale tests revealed the L1940's affinity for the dark end of the grayscale; instead of smoothly progressing from dark gray into black, the L1940 jumped abruptly to black. We also saw a good deal of color in the grayscale, an indication that the red, blue, and green channels were not making the progression to black at the same rate. This was confirmed in our color test screens where the blue and the red had an especially hard time moving smoothly and evenly from light to dark, although green traversed the scale with aplomb.
On our DVD-playback test, the HP L1940 showed an unexpected knack for displaying accurately colored flesh tones in a performance that was otherwise average.
The HP L1940 is covered by a three-year limited warranty that covers parts, labor, and onsite repairs. Additionally, should your HP L1940 fail completely, HP will send you a replacement within two business days. HP provides toll-free, 24/7 tech support for the L1940 for the life of the warranty. You can also e-mail questions to HP tech support while the display is under warranty, and HP promises to answer most questions by the next business day.