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IBM ThinkVision L review: IBM ThinkVision L

IBM ThinkVision L

Dan Littman
2 min read
Review summary

Priced at less than $600, IBM's ThinkVision L170p has a lot going for it. Like its noteworthy 15-inch sibling, the L150p, the L170p has a matte-black bezel that gives it a classy, understated look. Set within an exceptionally sturdy, square base, the L170p's two narrow legs sit upon a lazy Susan that swivels--albeit stiffly--a generous 75 degrees to the left and the right (most LCDs swivel only 45 degrees each way). The display tilts backward 30 degrees and can be mounted to an "--="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">&siteid=7&edid=&lop=txt&destcat=ex&destUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2D132%2Eibm%2Ecom%2Fwebapp%2Fwcs%2Fstores%2Fservlet%2FProductDisplay%3FcatalogId%3D%2D840%26langId%3D%2D1%26partNumber%3D19K4464%26storeId%3D1" target="_blank">IBM radial arm. The panel also slides up the neck to add about 4 inches of extra height, although it does not pivot between Portrait and Landscape modes.


IBM ThinkVision L

The Good

Attractive design; range of adjustment options; good image quality; analog and DVI inputs.

The Bad

Cables are difficult to attach; DVI cable not included; stingy dead-pixel policy.

The Bottom Line

IBM's ThinkVision L170p offers a winning combination of image quality, chic design, and connectivity.

Unlike the analog-only L150p, the L170p accepts both analog and digital signal inputs (unfortunately, IBM includes only an analog cable); we like the display's ability to toggle between signals with the push of one button. Tightening the thumbscrews on the cables wasn't easy; both ports are nearly flat against the back of the panel, and the neck obstructs access to them--we bent our screwdriver in the process. Once they're plugged in, however, a nice cable-feed loop on the back of the neck keeps them neat and tidy.

Five ripple-shaped, onscreen menu buttons give the display a nice modern touch, although it took us a few minutes to decipher their somewhat confusing labels. Once we did, we found the onscreen menus easy to navigate.

The L170p's image quality was good. Text and images looked especially crisp and sharp, and the panel accurately displayed the subtle differences between deep darks and extreme lights, though colors looked a tad undersaturated. CNET Labs tested the L170p on the analog signal, but an informal trial of the DVI signal showed very little difference in image quality.

IBM supports the L170p generously, with a standard three-year warranty on parts and labor and the backlight. The company also offers customers a temporary replacement unit during repairs, including prepaid shipping, and three years of 24/7, toll-free telephone tech support. IBM's policy on defective pixels is stingy, though: the company will replace only displays that have more than 10 nonadjacent bad pixels.

IBM's flat screens often cost more than the competition's, but they're also usually cooler-looking, more sturdily built, and better performers. Shoppers on a budget should check out the more modest ThinkVision L150, which has no DVI input and fewer adjustability options, or the L150p, which is basically just a 15-inch version of the L170p.

CNET Labs DisplayMate tests  (Longer bars indicate better performance)
Samsung SyncMaster 172N
Cornea CT1704
IBM ThinkVision L170p
Philips 170W4P
KDS Radius Rad-7xp

Brightness in nits  (Longer bars indicate better performance)
Measured with the Sencore CP500  
Philips 170W4P
Samsung SyncMaster 172N
IBM ThinkVision L170p
KDS Radius Rad-7xp
Cornea CT1704
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