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Easy and attractive
ViewSonic made the VE700 easy to look at and just as easy to operate. Its back and pedestal are a sophisticated matte black, and a silver bezel surrounds the screen. The bezel reaches only 16 inches above a desk, so even shorter people needn't crane to see the top edge of the screen. The screen tilts from a few degrees forward to 180 degrees back and stays put nicely in any position. Unfortunately, the VE700 doesn't swivel horizontally, but its 150-degree horizontal viewing angle (meaning you can see the screen clearly from anywhere in a 150-degree range) gives you plenty of latitude for moving around. The vertical viewing angle is a comfortable 140 degrees, so you can read the screen standing up at your desk.
You'll have no problems installing and adjusting this display; just attach the cable, insert the CD, and let the driver installer run. We found the VE700's onscreen menus clear and easy to use, with big buttons just below the screen for making adjustments. One button drills down through the menus, arrow keys scroll through the settings, and another button accepts your changes and backs out.
An optional $99 kit lets you mount the VE700's pedestal perpendicular to a wall so that the screen, rather than sitting flat against the wall behind it, projects out several inches. This setup is nice because the power cord and data cable can plug straight into the back, unlike with most wall-mountable LCDs, which stash their connectors inside a recessed slot that's hard on fingers and fingernails. The design could also save you money over buying an add-on arm, as you'd have to for a panel designed to come off its pedestal and attach flat against a wall.
A smooth expanse
CNET Labs tested the VE700 on a 730MHz Dell Dimension 4100 running an Nvidia GeForce4 Ti 4600 graphics controller with 128MB of memory. We found that the VE700 produced a bright image with saturated colors and didn't show ghosting or trails in ordinary use.
However, text looked a bit fuzzy or shadowy at smaller sizes, and shades of gray or colors near each other overlapped and caused some distortion despite the high 450-to-1 contrast ratio. Also, we spotted some stray streaking and pixelating on fast motion, such as in games and DVDs, which comes as no surprise considering the VE700's slow 35ms pixel-response time specification--not to mention its relatively moderate price tag. In other words, although acceptable, this is no gamer's monitor. (In addition, if your PC has a digital graphics controller or you plan to upgrade to one, this LCD won't talk to it.)
Good support; one flaw
ViewSonic backs the VE700 with a three-year parts-and-labor warranty that covers the entire system, including the backlight, plus toll-free tech support available 24/7 for the duration of the warranty. Good thing, since the VE700's 20-page onscreen manual doesn't provide much information about how to use the menu controls or color-matching tools. One concern about ViewSonic's support: the company won't replace LCDs showing dead or stuck pixels unless the unit has at least seven defects. Note that five or six bad pixels can produce a very unpleasant distraction--say, a void or a single, bright color--especially if they're close together or in the middle of the screen.
If you don't need a supercrisp display, the ViewSonic VE700 is a good 17-inch LCD choice at a fair price. But you may want to look for a liberal return policy in case of dead pixels or go to a showroom where you can study the panel before you pay.
|LCD image-quality test|
Longer bars indicate better performance
|The ViewSonic VE700 fared poorly in CNET Labs' tests compared to other 17-inch LCDs, including the similarly priced CTX PV720A.|