Just over a month back we had reviewed a 17" LCD screen from ViewSonic. We were quite impressed with the performance of that product. Today, let us take a look at another 17 incher from the same stable but with a few different specifications and features.
The ViewSonic VA712 is a neat looking 17" LCD monitor with a metallic grey finish and collinear silver buttons placed at the front. A pair of integrated speakers is also present. I am not one who really cares about speakers in my LCD unless they find a way to integrate a subwoofer there somehow. For the records, the integrated speakers have an output power of 1 Watt each. Unlike the VE710b model which has a built-in power adapter, this come with a separate power adapter.
This monitor has a brightness level of 380 cd/m" which is higher than most of the LCD screens you get here. However the same cannot be said about the contrast ratio. It stands at 350:1 (typical) and 450:1 (max), which is slightly lower than most of the good LCDs today that manage a 600:1 ratio. However in practice, it didn't seem to make much of a difference. It boasts of a horizontal view angle of 160 degrees and 120 degrees for vertical. It supports a maximum resolution of 1280 x 1024 pixels at 32-bit color depth. The frequency range supported by this model is 30 KHz to 82 KHz (Horizontal) and 50 Hz to 85 Hz (vertical). Just like most ViewSonic LCDs, there was no mention of dot pitch in the specifications, but I assume it is 0.264 mm.
Most of the features supported by this monitor are similar to the VE710b, one major difference being the response time. The response time of this LCD stands at 8 ms, which is easily the best we have tested here. Now surprisingly, there is absolutely no mention of that on the box. I have seen brands go gung ho over 12 ms response time but it doesn t seem to have gotten the ViewSonic marketing team excited. For those new to the LCD world, response time is basically the time taken by a liquid crystal cell in the LCD screen to change state i.e. to go from active to inactive and back to active state. The lesser time it takes for this state change, better the picture quality and lesser the ghosting effect. The response time is hardly a factor when you are looking at still images. It only comes into play when you are looking at high frames per second applications like games and videos. Higher response time is one of the major reasons why most of the gamers do not prefer a LCD screen over the classic CRT for gaming in spite of it being softer on the eyes. However 8 ms is really cool and I hardly noticed any ghosting effect when gaming on this one.
We tested this LCD using DisplayMate to get a bearing on how well it performs when put through various test patterns. DisplayMate first lets you tune a monitor to get the best possible display settings and then runs it through a series of test patterns to test everything from color, brightness and contrast to screen geometry. The elementary tests, to be precise.
The performance of this LCD was impressive in almost all the tests and very similar to its cousin, the VE710b. The brightness level was very good and same goes for the contrast. The general picture quality was sharp however it can be a little better especially when reproducing text with small font. The color reproduction once again was excellent. There was absolutely no bleeding of colors and every color and its shades were reproduced perfectly. The screen geometry was perfect too, which is often the case with most LCDs. There was a minor color registration error in the Horizontal Color Registration test. Other than that there was nothing to complain about.
The ViewSonic VA712 is available for a street price of Rs. 18,000 and comes with a three-year warranty. That makes it arguably the cheapest 17" LCD around. And considering its performance and the low response time, it is an excellent buy. It is good to see a major brand pricing their LCD aggressively and we can only hope that others follow soon. Thumbs up to ViewSonic and our recommendations for this model.