The aesthetic appeal of the Viewsonic VX2245wm ViewDock's design is largely dependent on how much you like having an iPod docked right below your screen. Opinion of CNET editors was largely split, with some thinking the iPod would be distracting and others liking the integrated dock. The bezel is glossy black, as well as most of the stand. Right down the center of the stand is a silver stripe where the iPod dock is.
Connecting the monitor to make the iPod dock work is a little more trouble than you'd expect. The first bump you'll run into is that the stand itself needs a separate power cord--that's a pain if, like us, your power strip could always use one more outlet. Next, you'll need to connect two separate audio cables--one essentially connecting the stand to the monitor, and the other linking the monitor to the computer. We can understand running the cord from the monitor to the computer, but it seems like Viewsonic could have designed the dock so it didn't need to connect to itself. Lastly, you'll need to make the USB connect from the display to computer, which is standard for any monitor with USB and media card readers.
Aside from some of the quirks with the dock itself, we like the three USB ports located on the front of the stand. They're convenient if the ports on your PC aren't easy to reach, and the same goes for the eight-in-one media card reader. On the other hand, we really didn't like the front-panel controls, because they're set into the panel and force you to use your fingernail to press them. With our stubby nails, this made configuring the display harder than it should have been. There's also a volume knob on the front, as well as a tiny microphone.
As we said before, the iPod dock doesn't live up to its full potential. When the VX2245wm was first announced, we imagined it might have offered the ability to just pop in your iPod and listen to music or watch a movie without using a computer. This isn't the case--instead, it's really just like any other iPod dock, except that it's physically attached to the monitor. It can't play music through the speakers by itself--like an iPod speaker system can--so you could essentially duplicate its functionality with the USB/Dock connecter that comes with new iPods and iTunes. Of course, it wouldn't be as stylish or have the convenience of a dedicated dock, but it is a whole lot cheaper.
The built-in speakers are fine for listening to a quick YouTube clip, but anyone expecting more will be disappointed. There's also a "subwoofer" located in the stand, which adds a little extra bass response, but not anything like you'd expect from a real dedicated sub. Like all built-in monitor speakers, don't expect them to rock out your home office.
For the price, the performance of the Viewsonic VX2245wm is perfectly acceptable for the vast majority of everyday tasks. We didn't have any gripes while Web browsing, using a word processor, or performing similar tasks. We were a little let down for video games and DVD playback, as we felt the picture wasn't quite as sharp as we would have liked, and the video looked grainy. Of course, this is also a factor of watching a standard-definition DVD on a 22-inch monitor from about a foot away--you're going to notice flaws that you wouldn't if you were watching your TV from your couch. The VX2245wm had an overall score of 72 on CNET Labs' DisplayMate benchmarks, a few notches higher than the Viewsonic VX2235wm ($350), which received a 69.
The value of the Viewdock will largely depend on how much you value its styling and its limited iPod functionality. If you have no problem continuing to use a separate iPod dock and monitor, you'll probably better off going for the cheaper VX2235wm, which offers much of the same performance. If you like the all-in-one design and you appreciate an iPod dock on your monitor, as well as the additional connectivity options, then the Viewsonic VX2245wm might be a good fit. Even still, it might be worthwhile to hold out for the next-generation of the ViewDock, which could offer tighter integration between the display and your iPod without the extra wires in the back.
Viewsonic backs the VX2245wm with the industry standard three-year warranty on parts, labor, and the backlight, and there is also an option to buy an extended warranty. ViewSonic's support site has an e-mail support form, a knowledge portal, white papers, and driver downloads. Toll-free phone support is available 24/7, but you must go through Virtual Support Assistant to get the number.