Displays with acrobatic skills such as telescoping necks and the ability to pivot between portrait and landscape mode are usually much bigger and significantly more expensive than the $385 Planar PX1710M. But while its performance in displaying games and video was acceptable, its overall image quality was mediocre.
With most 17-inch LCDs, adjustability options include only a few degrees of backward tilt, but the acrobatic PX1710M has a telescoping neck and can pivot between portrait and landscape modes. It also offers good DVD and game playback, though its overall image quality and embedded speakers' sound quality leave much to be desired. For a similarly flexible LCD with better performance, we recommend the ThinkVision L171P or the Samsung SyncMaster 711t.
The Planar PX1710M's design achieves the invisibility we like to see in business-oriented monitors. The 0.75-inch black bezel disappears into the background, leaving the screen in the limelight. The sturdy telescoping neck can raise the display panel from 3.25 inches up to 7.75 inches above the desktop. The panel itself swivels 45 degrees to the left and right, tilts 5 degrees forward and 35 degrees back, and pivots between portrait and landscape mode. (PivotPro software, which pivots the screen's image, comes with the display.) It's easy enough to make any of these adjustments with one hand.
The display has digital and analog connectors on the back panel as well as a PC audio jack that channels sound to the 1-watt speakers embedded in the monitor's base (Planar includes all three cables). The display's pivot function puts the connectors at eye level and makes it easy to hook up the display. Unfortunately, the monitor has no cable-feed system, so the connector, power, and audio cables dangle in plain sight and disrupt the display's otherwise discreet design. The extremely stable oval-shaped base houses the speakers--an unusual arrangement, as most LCD speakers sit to the side of or below the panel. The speakers are no good, though; they sound extremely faint and shallow. The PX1710M lacks dedicated volume-control buttons, so you must use the onscreen menu (OSM) to adjust the volume. The OSM, which has pages of submenus that you access by repeatedly pressing the M button, is very easy to navigate.
The PC1710M's overall performance on CNET Labs' DisplayMate-based tests was mediocre. At its native resolution of 1,280x1,024, we found the display rife with color-tracking errors: grays took on colored hues, and colors tended to shift in hue as they changed in intensity. When viewing dark screens, we also noticed a streak of light along the display's bottom edge. Finally, image quality varied dramatically depending on viewing angle. Despite its mediocre performance in our tests, the display is adequate for everyday productivity tasks and Web surfing. Its fast 8-millisecond response time made for a pleasantly smooth DVD and gaming experience.
The Planar PX1710M comes with an industry-standard three-year warranty on parts, labor, and backlight. Planar offers toll-free telephone support Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET. The company's Web site has driver downloads, FAQs, documentation, and forms for e-mailing tech support.