Sceptre has established itself with its affordably priced displays. The $259 D77D 17-inch CRT is definitely affordable, but it also suffers from some design and documentation problems. In the end, however, its image quality could be worth the trouble. Sceptre has established itself with its affordably priced displays. The $259 D77D 17-inch CRT is definitely affordable, but it also suffers from some design and documentation problems. In the end, however, its image quality could be worth the trouble.
Some features too good; others not good enough
The D77D has a number of impressive features, though some are perhaps excessive. Because the Sceptre is a flat-screen monitor, the viewable area, at 16.1 inches, is slightly bigger than that of a traditional CRT, and the perfectly flat glass exhibits less distortion, as well. The D77D's fine, .25mm stripe pitch and high 1,600x1,200 maximum resolution are impressive, but that high resolution runs at a fairly low and strain-inducing 70Hz refresh rate. What's more, running such a high resolution on a monitor of this size is almost absurd; even very young eyes would have to squint to see anything.
When it comes to documentation, the D77D starts to look a bit chintzy. The included owner's manual is skimpy, but it manages to cover all the important things, such as setup and onscreen-display icons. However, the troubleshooting section is minimal, and there is no tech-support information listed.
The onscreen display is also somewhat poorly designed. It's accessed by three buttons on the front of the display: a Select button displays the onscreen menu and lets you navigate through the controls, and left- and right-arrow buttons browse through the controls and adjust levels. There's no exit button, however, so you have to scroll around to get to the option. At least the Sceptre D77D includes a full set of controls, from Brightness and Contrast to Pincushion Balance; it also includes separate controls for adjusting the top and bottom corners of the display. The only notable omissions are the control that allows you adjust the time it takes for the onscreen display to time out and disappear and the control that lets you move the onscreen display around the screen. But those are features that most of us can probably do without.
Impressive image quality
We were very impressed with the Sceptre D77D's overall image quality, and the monitor did quite well in CNET Labs' DisplayMate tests. At our test resolution of 1,024x768 and an 85Hz refresh rate, the display was uniformly bright and clear, focus was sharp from corner to corner, and there was no visible flicker. Text was legible in various font sizes, even 6.8 points. Our test Photoshop photographs looked very sharp, with smooth, realistic skin tones. The monitor reproduced colors well on both Photoshop and Web pictures, though they were a little duller and darker than we'd prefer. The D77D's geometry was very good from corner to corner (meaning that there was little distortion in shapes), but no amount of adjusting would get the bottom corners straight--they were either slightly bowed outward or slightly pinched in.
The Sceptre D77D comes with a nice, long warranty: five years on parts, three years on labor. However, this warranty doesn't include any onsite service. Phone support is available for the life of the monitor, via either a toll or toll-free number, Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. PT.
You could certainly get a 17-inch monitor that costs less than the $259 Sceptre D77D, but you'd probably have to sacrifice image quality or important features. The D77D asks very little of the user beyond the initial purchase price, and with a five-year warranty, it's a sound investment.
17-inch CRT image-quality test
Longer bars indicate better performance
|We were very impressed with the Sceptre D77D's overall image quality. The display was uniformly bright and clear, focus was sharp from corner to corner, and there was no visible flicker. A page of text in varying font sizes was legible, with little jagginess or blurriness, even at 6.8 points. Photographs looked very sharp, with smooth, realistic skin tones--though they were a little duller and darker than we'd prefer.|