The ViewSonic VP912b is like a posh gift wrapped in newspaper: its stoic black bezel encases extremely bright, rich images for an LCD. The full-featured onscreen menu (OSM) lets you tweak those images, while the adjustable panel helps you arrange the display to suit your needs. You'll often avail yourself of the bezel's adjustability to avoid the glare that comes off the antireflective screen surface--our biggest gripe about this display. (Note: ViewSonic claims it will begin shipping the VP912b without the antireflective surface in 2005.) Otherwise, the ViewSonic VP912b stands as a solid choice for casual multimedia enthusiasts seeking a capable LCD at a reasonable price.
In a departure from its other LCDs, such as the DVI, two analog, or AC power ports, all of which are located on the screen's back. The cords feed down the display's neck through three flimsy plastic holders that are little more than glorified bread-bag twist ties. Securely storing the cord inside the neck itself, as the Sharp LL-T2020B does, is a more sensible solution., ViewSonic didn't adorn the VP912b's base or thin, 0.75-inch bezel with appealing silver accents, instead sticking with basic black. The adjustable panel ascends and descends through a 4.3-inch range, swivels 45 degrees to either side, tilts 5 degrees forward and 25 degrees back, and rotates from Landscape to Portrait mode. This ample adjustability would be even better if the included Pivot Pro software automatically switched viewing modes, rather than forcing you to manually toggle between Portrait and Landscape. Though the swivel capability is designed to let you view legal-length documents or long Web pages, it also comes in handy when plugging cables into the LCD's
The VP912b's five, rectangular buttons on the bottom bezel include a power button, an OSM button, up and down arrows, and a dedicated Enter button. The VP912b includes the same colorful OSM as the VX710, which departs from the boring DOS-like appearance of most OSMs. The panel is stable and wobble-free, thanks to a base composed of a pair of wing-shaped feet that flare out from the stem of the neck.
While the ViewSonic VP912b doesn't come near the fabulous image quality of our top-performing (and superexpensive) DisplayMate-based tests. As with most LCDs, text is crisp and legible. In fact, we were able to read text down to 6.8 points. In the grayscale screens, the VP912b shows some bluish tinting on the bright end and compression on the dark end, though the scale itself looks fairly smooth. While we also noticed color-tracking errors (which show up as color tinting in grayscales and should be color-free), they aren't as distracting as in other LCDs. The VP912b's screen uniformity is average, with brighter spots in the center and corners that produce a slight shading effect. We noticed some streaking and ghosting during DVD playback, though nothing beyond the norm for an LCD. The VP912b's 1,280x1,024 native resolution and brightness help gaming images appear in fine detail, with very little blurring. However, the brightness proves to be overkill when viewing regular documents and Web images: we had to knock the default brightness down by one-third so as not to fry our eyes. We like displays like the that allow you to save different brightness settings for various viewing circumstances. Otherwise, the display showed our DVD's images in granular detail and vibrant color. Unfortunately, the glare from screen's antireflective surface, which is intended to diffuse image-distorting light, distracted us throughout all of our tests., it still made a respectable showing in CNET Labs'
ViewSonic ships the VP912b with the standard three-year warranty on parts, backlight, and labor. Toll-free phone and e-mail support is available 24/7. ViewSonic's Web site has drivers and utilities, user guides, monitor calibration tips, Q&As, and more.
(Longer bars indicate better performance)