Most LCD displays are pretty unadventurous in their design, but not this one. The LG Fantasy Series is designed not only to look good, but also to have outstanding picture quality. Does it live up to its promises, or will it be a case of style over substance?
If you don't like the look of the Ring, there's probably something wrong with you -- general consensus in the CNET.co.uk office is that it looks gorgeous. The bezel running around the screen measures just 15mm and is coated in a glossy, piano-black finish. This finish extends to the rear of the monitor, which is uniformly glossy. You won't find the unsightly vents and stickers you see on most monitors.
The stand is finished in the same piano-black coating, but notably, there's a massive hole in it -- hence the name 'Ring'. This gaping maw is bright red and lights up when you hit the touch-sensitive power button. Another button under the lower bezel is dedicated to switching the light on and off. It's pointless, but we found ourselves playing with it regardless.
In removing clutter from the rear of the screen, LG has had to add a dongle to house the power and DVI ports. This hangs off a 250mm cable, and although it's another wire to put up with, it also creates a nice talking point as the dongle is styled to fit in with the rest of the monitor, with a piano-black coating and a red surround.
The Ring's image quality matches its stylish design. It looked very good in everyday use -- text was sharp, colours were faithfully reproduced in comparison to the excellent Dell UltraSharp FP2405FPW we use daily, and it really came into its own when we fed it a few high-definition movies. The quoted 4ms response time helped it display even fast-moving scenes without blurring, and it has an excellent level of contrast, as you'd expect from the quoted figure of 2000:1. Light colours sparkled against dark areas that were as close to black as we've seen on any TFT display.
Our subjective opinions were justified when we ran our standard DisplayMate tests -- it had no trouble differentiating between black and near black, or white and near white. Likewise, it was perfectly adept at differentiating between similar hues -- we really couldn't find any fault with the monitor in this regard.
In trying to make the Fantasy Series as aesthetically pleasing as possible, LG has decided to remove any button deemed unessential. There's a power button, a switch for the light and that's it. With no on-screen display (OSD) menu switch, you have to install the software on the PC to adjust things like brightness and contrast levels, which is a little long-winded.
19-inch monitors generally have limited resolutions and the Ring is no different. Users are restricted to 1,280x1,024 pixels -- which is fine for everyday use, but you won't get the benefits afforded by a widescreen aspect ratio. Windows Vista takes full advantage of widescreen, as do most movies, so it's a little surprising to see the Ring is the traditional, near-square shape.
Unusually, there's no D-Sub port. You get a DVI port instead, but this is, unfortunately, not HDCP-enabled, so you won't be able to watch copy-protected hi-def movies. You can still connect the monitor to a graphics card with a D-Sub output, but you'll need to use an adaptor, which you don't get in the box.
Fussy users might also quibble about the lack of screen adjustment. There's no height adjustment, swivelling or pivoting -- what you see is what you get. The lack of height adjustment in particular may cause a few ergonomic headaches, but it's nothing that can't be solved by adjusting the height of your chair or putting the screen on a pile of books.
The Fantasy Ring is awesome to look at and has picture quality to match. We found it difficult to fault during everyday desktop use or when watching movies, such was its excellent picture quality. If you're in the market for a new monitor, have a few extra pounds to spare and don't mind the lack of widescreen, you should snap it up.
Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Kate Macefield