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ViewSonic VA720 review: ViewSonic VA720

The Good Clean, attractive design; PC and Mac compatible.

The Bad Poor image quality; short warranty period; mediocre dead-pixel policy; limited adjustability.

The Bottom Line ViewSonic's VA720 doesnt have the features, the connections, or the adjustability options to make up for its disappointing image quality.

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5.7 Overall

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review summary

At least ViewSonic's VA720 looks attractive. Its brushed-silver bezel runs a fairly wide inch and a half on all sides, but the bottom edge has a pleasing convex shape, contributing to a clean design. The five round buttons for image adjustment and power are set into an etched, rippling groove on the bottom edge--a stylish touch. The panel is connected to the sturdy ovoid base via a too-stiff hinge; using two hands, you can tilt the panel a few degrees forward and 90 degrees backward, flush with the base (which makes it very easy to attach to a &siteid=7&edid=&lop=txt&destcat=ex_1&destUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Evesa%2Eorg%2Ffdmipr%2Ehtm">VESA-compliant wall mount). Otherwise, the VA720 lacks adjustability: it won't swivel or pivot, and there's no way to raise or lower the panel, so most users will need to boost the display with a riser.

The VA720 is Mac and PC compatible, but it doesn't offer many connections or features for a $450, 17-inch LCD. The back of the panel sports an analog signal port (ViewSonic includes a cable) and a power input. ViewSonic offers extras such as a TV tuner and a USB hub on its &siteid=7&edid=&lop=txt&destcat=ex_1&destUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Eviewsonic%2Ecom%2Fproducts%2Flcd%5Fva720%2Ehtm">Web site.

Image quality is the VA720's Achilles' heel. In CNET's tests, text lacked contrast, colors were distorted, and it was hard to read even black type on a white background. The panel also displayed rampant inaccuracies in both grayscale and color test screens; instead of a smooth transition from dark black to pure white, the VA720's grayscale looked like a strip of Fruit Stripe gum. And while the onscreen menus are intuitive and easy to use, we found it almost impossible to get a good picture with the VA720, no matter how much we tweaked the image settings.

ViewSonic's service and support for the VA720 is decidedly second-rate. Three years of warranty coverage on parts, labor, and backlight is standard, and that's what VA720 owners get--if they live outside of the United States; otherwise, you're stuck with a measly one year of coverage. ViewSonic's dead/stuck-pixel policy is about average: the company will replace a VA720 that has seven or more dead or stuck pixels. ViewSonic offers toll-free, 24/7 phone support for the life of the product, and the company's &siteid=7&edid=&lop=txt&destcat=ex_1&destUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Eviewsonic%2Ecom%2Fsupport%2Findex%2Ehtm">Web site has useful features, including drivers, FAQs, white papers, user guides, a calibration tool, e-mail support, and a terrific Instant Support tool that delivers intelligent answers in real time.

ViewSonic's Web site says that the VA720 is "a mix of performance and style," but we found a mix of only disappointing image quality, limited adjustability, and an inflated price. Other 17-inch LCDs, including the Planar PE170 and AOC's LM729, offer much better image quality for a comparable or lower price.

CNET Labs DisplayMate tests  (Longer bars indicate better performance)
Planar PE170
Cornea CT1704
Sony SDM-HX73
ViewSonic VA720

Brightness in nits  
Sony SDM-HX73
Planar PE170
Cornea CT1704
ViewSonic VA720
Note: Measured with the Minolta CA210 or the Sencore CP500.

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