The 17-inch Planar PE170 lacks many of the bells and whistles often found on top-of-the-line LCDs. Nevertheless, its stunning image quality and equally attractive price make it a tempting choice.
The Planar PE170's pedestrian design lacks nothing important, but next to the elegant IBM ThinkVision L170p or the Samsung SyncMaster 172MP, it looks a bit plain. Made of solid, black plastic, it stands sturdily on a circular base. The bezel seems unnecessarily wide--about an inch on the sides, an inch and a half on top, and almost three inches on the bottom. The panel tilts an impressive 40 degrees backward, and the viewing angles (150 degrees horizontal, 125 degrees vertical) make the panel easy to see from almost any position.
The PE170 isn't particularly adjustable. It doesn't swivel, nor can it pivot between Portrait and Landscape modes (but few 17-inch LCDs do). We wish it had a telescoping neck like that of Dell's 1703FP; the panel sits so low that many users will need a monitor riser. The PE170 can be mounted to a "--="">&siteid=7&edid=&lop=txt&destcat=ex&destUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Evesa%2Eorg%2Ffdmipr%2Ehtm" target="_blank">VESA-compliant wall mount.
The PE170 has no digital input, but it's easy to connect the included analog signal cable and power cord to the back. There's no need for a cable-feed system because the short neck keeps cables close to the desktop and out of sight.
Five clearly labeled buttons line the bottom edge of the bezel. The onscreen menu is fairly easy to navigate. It took some fiddling around to get oriented, but we never had to consult the manual.
Image quality is where the PE170 shines. All LCDs tend to exhibit the same set of flaws: jaggy text and a lack of nuance in the grayscale. But the PE170 aced CNET's Labs' tests. Text looked very sharp, whites were bright, blacks were deep and dark, and colors and subtle shades of the grayscale were even and accurate. The display was truly a pleasure to behold.
The Planar PE170 comes with a three-year warranty on parts, labor, and the backlight. Phone tech support is available Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET. Planar includes a CD with drivers and a manual. The company's Web site offers FAQs, documentation, e-mail tech support, and a personalized page where you can track your customer-support queries.
|CNET Labs DisplayMate tests (Longer bars indicate better performance)|
|Brightness in nits|
|Note: Measured with the Minolta CA210 or the Sencore CP500|