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ThinkVision L171P review: ThinkVision L171P

The ThinkVision L171p scores points for its versatility, but its image quality, while adequate, doesn't match that of similarly priced monitors.

Dan Littman
4 min read
ThinkVision L171p

Lenovo's takeover of IBM's ThinkVision line of monitors hasn't brought many changes: the ThinkVision L171p still features the same basic, office-ready black bezel and is supported by IBM's noteworthy warranty (IBM is still handling warranties and support for the ThinkVision line). The $350 17-inch LCD is one of the smallest we've seen that offers a landscape/portrait pivot function and at least six inches of height adjustment. The monitor's versatility impresses, but we're disappointed by its merely average performance, which doesn't match that of similarly priced monitors such as the Sony SDM-HS75P/S and the Sharp LL-172G.


ThinkVision L171P

The Good

Flexible; pivots from landscape to portrait orientation; supplies both analog and digital inputs; superior warranty; good brightness.

The Bad

No cable-management system; colors appear in the grayscales; screen is not uniform.

The Bottom Line

The ThinkVision L171p scores points for its versatility, but its image quality, while adequate, doesn't match that of similarly priced monitors.

The ThinkVision L171p is a member of Lenovo's performance line of LCDs, which means that it accepts both digital and analog inputs and has a highly adjustable stand. Its business-black coloring and array of adjustability options make this 17-inch monitor a great fit for any office environment. The bezel is a slim half-inch on each side, but along the bottom it widens slightly to accommodate the familiar wavy row of menu buttons. The base is a solid black half-circle that provides ample stability, and the large triangular neck also provides support and hides the telescoping column-in-column design, which allows the monitor to slide smoothly up and down. This design gives the ThinkVision L171p a sleek overall appearance, but when the monitor is raised to its maximum height, you can see the shiny metal of the interior column, which slightly mars the L171p's single-color scheme. The monitor also lacks a cable-management system, which is especially unfortunate when it's turned to portrait orientation and cords are sticking prominently out of the side.

We'll take the slight appearance flaw with a grain of salt, due to the wealth of adjustments the design allows. The monitor can be raised from a low of 3 inches above the desktop to an impressive 9 inches. The screen swivels 45 degrees to each side and tilts 5 degrees forward and 30 degrees back. You can also pivot the screen between landscape and portrait orientation. However, unlike some monitors we've seen, such as the LG Flatron L1981Q, the ThinkVision L171p doesn't automatically pivot the image. Doing this is fairly difficult, in fact: you must open the Display Properties control panel, go from the Settings tab to the Advanced window, and find the pivot command in the tabs specific to your PC's graphics card. The inconvenience might discourage you from taking full advantage of the pivot feature; some older graphics cards don't even support pivoting without third-party software.

The digital, analog, and power inputs on the underside of the panel are fairly easy to access. You can hook the monitor up to both digital and analog signals from two different computers and switch between them by hitting the dedicated input-swap button--the first button in the wavelike row of buttons. The ThinkVision L171p ships with only an analog cable, so for a digital setup, you'll have to buy a digital connection cord. The rest of the buttons launch and navigate the onscreen menu (OSM) and power the display on and off. Using the buttons and navigating the OSM is quite easy, though at first we did accidentally switch inputs a few times when trying to exit an OSM submenu. The adjustment options include all the standards--brightness, contrast, RGB colors, image position, sharpness, and menu position--except for color temperature.

Though we were impressed with the ThinkVision L171p's physical attributes, we were less excited about its performance on CNET Labs' DisplayMate-based tests. At its 1,280x1,024 native resolution on a 17-inch panel, the L171p's pixel pitch is a fairly dense 96 pixels per inch. Text was sharp but showed a tiny band of red along the right edge of all vertical strokes. In our grayscale tests, the light end of the scale showed bluish tinges, while the darker end had green undertones, which indicates color-tracking errors. Also, compression was evident at both ends of the grayscale. Color saturation was lackluster throughout our test screens, and screen uniformity was inconsistent, with colors appearing darker at the top of the screen. When we watched a DVD at partial screen size, we could discern faint ghosting and streaking, which grew somewhat more pronounced when we enlarged the image. The ThinkVision L171p's flat, matte screen minimizes glare and reflection without detracting from the display's high brightness score.

IBM covers the ThinkVision L171p under an industry-standard three-year warranty, but it rises above the competition by including second-day replacement and paid shipping for both the defective monitor and its replacement. Toll-free phone support is available 24/7, and drivers, documentation, troubleshooting tips, and recycling information can be found on IBM's support Web site.

CNET Labs DisplayMate tests
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
ThinkVision L171p

Brightness in cd/m2
ThinkVision L171p


ThinkVision L171P

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 8Performance 5Support 7Setup 6