If 17-inch LCDs seem beyond your budget, consider CTX's PV720A. It may lack the cachet of an Apple or a Sony model, but it has a more down-to-earth price. And for the money, you get a display with very good image quality and extras such as integrated audio and a pivoting screen. If 17-inch LCDs seem beyond your budget, consider CTX's PV720A. It may lack the cachet of an Apple or a Sony model, but it has a more down-to-earth price. And for the money, you get a display with very good image quality and extras such as integrated audio and a pivoting screen.
Easy setup despite minimal help
As with most displays, the $630 PV720A is easy to install: plug it in, attach the VGA (analog only) connector, and turn on the power. Cable connections in the rear are easily accessible. And a setup CD contains Windows 95 and 98 drivers, as well as the product manual in PDF and HTML formats. Still, as simple as the installation is, CTX should have included a bit more detail for inexperienced users in the quick-setup guide.
Configuring the display settings is also easy. The onscreen-display (OSD) controls, placed conveniently on the right-hand side of the bezel, are intuitive and easy to navigate. An AutoTune feature does a good job of providing an automatic initial adjustment of the display, but additional tweaks may prove necessary, depending on your lighting environment.
A display this inexpensive has to give up something, and in the case of the PV720A, adjustability and viewing range got the ax. While the LCD tilts forward 5 degrees and back 20 degrees, you can't swivel it from side to side or adjust the height. Add to this the display's limited, 120-degree horizontal and 115-degree vertical viewing angles, and the PV720A is clearly best for desk use rather than presentations.
However, the PV720A does have some redeeming features uncommon to low-cost LCDs. For example, using the bundled Pivot Pro software (included in U.S. models only), the screen rotates to allow both landscape and portrait viewing. An optional, VESA-compliant wall mount is also available. The display comes with a stereo-audio module, which snaps onto the bottom of the display (a screwdriver is required to pop off a port cover first). The speaker sound quality, as with most integrated solutions, is mediocre, but you can get better sound via the module's convenient front headphone jack. The OSD buttons double as volume controls and include a Mute button, but they're not as convenient as a typical, analog volume knob.
At its native resolution of 1,024x768, the PV720A scored very well in CNET Labs' DisplayMate-based tests, particularly for a budget LCD. With a high luminance rating of 250cd/m², the PV720 produced a bright, sharp image, especially when displaying text. Focus was uniform across the screen except for a slight shadow effect in one corner. Colors in our test screens looked rich, with good gradation and range. Also, screen uniformity suffered slightly from a bright patch at the center of the screen and the aforementioned shadow stretching noticeably across the top of the display. In anecdotal tests, such as viewing Web pages or Photoshop images, we were impressed with the screen's overall quality.
Support for the PV720A is decent. CTX's three-year warranty on parts and labor is especially comforting because it also covers the backlight. Toll-free technical support is available via phone or e-mail, but it's offered only Monday through Friday, 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. PT. Support on the CTX Web site is meager, offering a scant handful of FAQs and a useful, online RMA request form and tracking feature.
The CTX PV720A suffers from a few of the cut corners you'd expect in a low-cost LCD, but it makes up for them with strong overall image quality and some useful features. This display is a good alternative for home and small-business users who might have been considering a 19-inch CRT or a comparably priced 15-inch LCD.
17-inch LCD image quality test
Longer bars indicate better performance
|The CTX PV720A's focus was uniform across the screen except for a slight shadow in one corner. Colors were rich, with good gradation and range in our color test screens. In anecdotal tests, such as viewing Web pages or Photoshop images, we were impressed with the screen's overall quality.|