The soot-black Planar PL1910M doesn't have the razor-thin lines of the 20-inch Sony SDM-S204 or the height and adjustability range of the 19-inch Philips 190P5. Instead, it is stationary and only as tall as it is wide--16.5 by 16.6 inches. The relatively low height of the PL1910M may cause problems for taller users, but given its low price, they'll probably be able to afford a riser for it. The PL1910M doesn't rotate or pivot, but its sturdy and trim square base turns fairly easily on smooth surfaces, and its svelte 0.75-inch bezel along the top and the sides gives it a sleek appearance. The bezel's bottom edge is just shy of 2 inches wide, providing room for the control panel and the embedded speakers.
The viewing angles on the PL1910M are generous--170 degrees from top to bottom and from side to side, making the PL1910M a good bet for wall mounting. Planar sells two $80 wall-mount kits for it: the flat-to-the-wall FX 30 and the rotating-arm S-200.
The PL1910M's 2-watt-per-channel speakers provide better than average LCD speaker sound quality, and a dedicated volume control knob makes sound level adjustments fast and easy.
Setting up the PL1910M requires connecting the panel to the base, but this is easily accomplished by placing the base on your desk, then carefully easing the screen's support column down into it. The PL1910M has two connection ports--one analog and one DVI-D--and the cables are included. Connecting the cables and plugging in the power and speaker cords is pretty straightforward, as long as your desk is smooth and spacious enough for you to spin the PL1910M around to gain access to the back. The PL1910M does not have a cable-management system, but the cables are too few to get tangled up, and the low screen hides them from sight.
The PL1910M's five-button control panel is easy to use: one button is for power and the other four are for bringing up the onscreen display and making screen adjustments. If you're using the PL1910M with its digital connection, most of the controls are preset and cannot be changed. If you're using the analog connection, you can tweak many image settings, including brightness, contrast, and individual color values. (Should your adjustments prove unhelpful, just navigate your way to the Recall and/or Auto Adjustment settings, and all are quickly restored.)
The PL1910M performed fairly well in CNET Labs tests. Connected digitally and running at its native 1,280x1,024-pixel resolution, the PL1910M's text was clear, sharp, and easy to read. Colors on the PL1910 looked vibrant and image quality was fairly consistent, with only minor irregularities in an otherwise smooth progression from dark to light. The grayscale tests did reveal a slight tendency to shift toward the blue end of the spectrum, and color adjustment is not available with a DVI connection, but this shouldn't be a problem unless precise color accuracy is required. With a pixel response rate of 25ms, it's not surprising that the PL1910M has a hard time displaying motion without some streaking, ghosting, and noise effects, but it showed realistic flesh tones and a nice range of colors on the Labs' test DVD.
Planar backs the PL1910M with a customer-friendly three-year parts-and-labor warranty. If your LCD fails, Planar will send you a replacement via two-day air and will have the defective model picked up free of charge.