We were more than a little confused when ViewSonic told us it was making a monitor with an integrated iPod dock. We can understand the logic behind it -- it would reduce cable clutter, increase convenience and stand out from the crowd -- but we still found it difficult to embrace the concept. With a sense of trepidation, we forged ahead with the review.
The ViewDock is fairly attractive to look at. It's predominantly finished in a 'piano-black' coating, which looks great -- although it's highly prone to picking up fingerprints. We like the twin bezel arrangement -- one glossy inner bezel and a super-thin silver outer bezel. We also like the glossy control buttons, which despite being hard to see, are very easy to use.
The base section of the monitor houses an iPod dock, which is framed in the same silver plastic as the screen's outer bezel. The dock comes with a range of clip-on iPod adaptors that'll fit every iPod variant barring the Shuffle and the new nano. There's an integrated subwoofer port just to the left of the dock, as well as a volume adjuster wheel, a headphone port, an integrated microphone and three front-facing USB ports. To the right of the base you'll find an 8-in-1 memory card reader supporting most popular formats.
At the rear are a pair of cable-tidy hoops located on the stalk that separates the screen from the base. Cables can be routed to either DVI or D-Sub input ports, and refreshingly, ViewSonic has included both types of cables in the box -- most manufacturers only provide D-Sub. The rear of the base is also home to an additional USB port, plus audio input and output ports, which route audio from your PC's sound card to the integrated microphone and the headphone port at the front.
The display quality is generally good. The screen has a brightness rating of 300cd/m2, which is about average, and its 5ms response time helped ensure there was no noticeable ghosting during fast-moving movies or games. We were also impressed with its colour reproduction -- all hues across the spectrum were accurately rendered. Its ample native resolution of 1,440x900 pixels provides plenty of screen real-estate, so it's possible to work on a couple of documents side by side.
It's not all peaches and cream. The ViewDock suffers from a slightly limited viewing angle. It's barely noticeable in everyday use, but during our DisplayMate tests it became apparent that near-black and near-white tones would be displayed as either solid black or solid white, depending on where you were sitting.
The ViewDock causes a lot of cable clutter. The monitor needs two separate power cables -- one for the screen itself and another for the dock. Then there's a USB cable for the monitor's USB hub functionality, and finally the audio cables that trail from your PC's sound card to the rear of the screen.
It's not possible to play audio or video unless the PC is switched on and running iTunes, and on a related note, the audio quality is very poor. One might expect the ViewDock to have decent sound quality, particularly as it has an integrated subwoofer -- but this isn't the case. It's rubbish. Audio sounds muffled, and there's barely any bass to speak of.
The ViewDock benefits from above-average image quality, but it's far from perfect. Its 'piano-black' finish is highly prone to picking up grimy fingerprints, its audio quality is atrocious and why it needs two separate power cables is beyond us.
Apart from this there's very little to fault. It's fairly priced, performs well and we love the fact it has a four-port USB hub and 8-in-1 memory card reader.
Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Kate Macefield