The HP vs17 is attractive but somewhat old-fashioned-looking. The bezel is fairly narrow at only 0.5 inch on each side, and the rounded sides make it look more substantial than it really is--it's not the best choice for a dual-monitor setup. A relatively small circular base keeps the monitor stable, but quick adjustments do cause some wobbling. The neck holds the panel a mere 2 inches above the desktop, and you can't adjust the height, which is unfortunate as we like to see monitors a bit higher off the desk for better ergonomics. The only adjustment option the HP vs17 offers is 5 degrees of forward tilt and 30 degrees of backward tilt; it neither swivels nor pivots.
The front bezel is clean, with only two 2-watt speakers built into the bottom. The onscreen-menu (OSM) navigation buttons are out of sight on the HP vs17's right side. Two of the buttons allow you to move up and down in the OSM, but the display lacks a dedicated button for exiting menus, a feature we appreciate on other models. You can adjust the volume through the OSM, but HP thankfully includes volume buttons on the display's control panel. On the back of the panel, there's one analog input and an audio port that supplies sound to the headphone jack and the pair of 2-watt speakers. The built-in speakers sound good but won't fill more than a small room. Unfortunately, HP neglected to include any sort of cable-management system, leaving the cables free to cause chaos on your desk.
The HP vs17 turned in an average performance on CNET Labs' DisplayMate-based performance tests. Sharpness proved to be the HP vs17's strong suit: black text looked bold, crisp, and legible in serif and sans serif type. However, the HP vs17's colors were not as vibrant as we like to see, and red and green color-tracking errors were evident in colors and throughout the grayscale, and we could not eliminate them by decreasing the green color value in the custom color section of the vs17's OSM. Screen uniformity was also an issue with light leaks around the edges and noticeable differentiation between the top and the bottom of the panel.
DVD-playback performance was slightly worse than average: we saw more noise than usual in the backgrounds, especially in gray areas and in skin tones; yellows looked greenish; and fine detail was lost in dark areas. Games were free of motion errors, but the colors weren't vibrant.
The HP vs17 has a short, one-year limited warranty--the industry standard is three years--and extended warranties are not offered. Tech support, however, is better than most: the call is toll-free and the lines are staffed 24/7. You can also e-mail questions to HP; the company says that you can expect a response within an hour. HP's support Web site offers setup and troubleshooting guides, manuals, drivers, and answers to FAQs.