There's little to say about installing the LG Flatron L1710S, which is a good thing. Attaching the supplied analog cable is easy, though you have to lay the display facedown to access the signal port (we like it when attaching the cables is as simple as spinning the display around). The port sits far enough out from the back wall that we didn't break any fingernails tightening the thumb screws, though the manicure-conscious will find plenty of room for a screwdriver. A wide slit in the stand steers the cords off your desk, and we appreciate not having a power-supply brick in the middle of the power cord. Installing the driver is simple: with the cable connected and the power on, we followed the Monitor Driver Install Guide's straightforward walk-through of Windows' install process.
The LG Flatron L1710S is easy to operate. One of our favorite features is the dedicated LightView button, which opens a list of preconfigured settings for looking at text, movies, or photos under day or night lighting. Most users will never have to go beyond the LightView settings. If you need more precise adjustments, the onscreen menus allow you to control screen temperature, red/green/blue intensities, and white balance. Navigating the onscreen menu is simple, thanks to dedicated Menu, Select, and arrow buttons on the display's bezel.
The LG Flatron L1710S lacks a DVI interface, which the slightly more expensive Sharp LL-T17D4 and the Samsung SyncMaster 172X both have. The L1710S also lacks speakers, but most LCD built-in speakers are barely worth their weight in plastic anyway. What the L1710S does provide is a bright, colorful 1,280x1,024 panel with crisp text and clean graphics for an approximate street price of $370 (as of October 2004).
Text is nice and sharp, and the screen looks generally bright and has well-saturated colors, so photos look decent. However, CNET Labs' DisplayMate-based tests show that the Flatron L1710S compresses color and grayscale ranges at the ends of all intensity ramps. In other words, the screen loses subtle variations in the lightest and darkest shades so that light colors are washed out, while dark grays get lost in the black. On grayscales, color creeps in throughout the range, especially on the dark end (a grayscale should be entirely free of color). These weaknesses are less pronounced than on similar competing displays, but if you're picky, you'll notice. Screen uniformity was decent in our tests, though the corners were a bit brighter than the center. The vertical viewing angles aren't good: a change of as little as 10 degrees will impair the image. DVD viewing is decent, though marred by light leaks along the edges, which is especially noticeable with wide-screen formats. Some noise and ghosting also haunt the display, but colors are realistic and details in the midintensity ranges are sharp. Our informal gaming test shows that it performs slightly better than most LCDs we've looked at, but the L1710S doesn't exactly stand out.
LG's warranty covers labor and parts, including the backlight, for three years--about par for LCDs, but it's sweetened by LG's offer to pay shipping both ways for repairs. The company doesn't publish its policy on replacing displays with defective pixels but claims that it complies with ISO 13406-2, a standard that sets strict defect limits and that many vendors say they adhere to. This mixed message means you should be cautious about buying an LG Flatron L1710S without first examining the specific unit; in particular, look for dealers that have a no-questions-asked, no-restocking-fee money-back guarantee. You can download documentation and drivers from LG's Web site and reach support staff with e-mail forms on the site. We found LG's limited FAQ pages and moribund bulletin board disappointing, but you're unlikely to need those information sources because the company provides free, lifetime, 24/7 toll-free telephone support.