We knew it had to happen sooner or later. With the release of the Viewsonic VX2245wm ViewDock ($455) monitor, LCD displays are the latest product category to become "iPod-ified". The 22-inch widescreen display boasts an iPod dock built right into the base offering the promise of a simplified desktop along with its glossy black design. The idea of integrating an iPod dock into a monitor isn't completely without merit, but don't get ahead of yourself imagining what the ViewDock can do. First off, you can't listen to music or movies without using iTunes on your computer. It also doesn't quite live up to the ideal of simplicity--the ViewDock requires two power cables, along with a couple of audio cables and a USB cable to make the whole system work. Once you get past these caveats, the ViewDock has its charms: three USB ports up front, built-in speakers and an eight-in-one media card reader. We also thought the performance was fine for everyday activity, and even a step above the other Viewsonic 22-incher we tested, the VX2235wm.
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.