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Head to Head: 17-Inch Monitors
Three 17-Inch Monitors: Up Close and Personal
-- by Deborah K. Wong
Seventeen-inch monitors have rapidly become the preferred standard for Windows computing. Here's a close look at three new 17-inch models: the techmedia TCM-1764, the Shamrock C705L and the Mitsubishi Diamond Pro 87TXM. We tested them with Sonera Technologies' DisplayMate suite for Windows and Number Nine's Imagine Series 2e graphics card, which supports high resolution rates.
The techmedia TCM-1764 costs $529 and is covered by a three-year warranty. The monitor offers flickerfree image quality for home and business applications. With a bandwidth of 120MHz, the techmedia uses a dot-trio Invar shadow mask tube. The TCM-1764 has a 0.28mm dot pitch and active viewing area of 15.7 inches, tips the scales at 50 pounds and measures 16.8 by 16.4 by 18.5 inches. The monitor's maximum resolution is 1280x1024 pixels at vertical scanning frequencies of 50Hz to 120Hz and 30kHz to 67kHz horizontal. It includes antiglare and antistatic coatings and comes with a tilt-swivel base. It is Energy Star-compliant and adheres to MPRII standards and VESA DPMS. Navigating the unit's four on-screen push-button function keys was a bit confusing, and there were no moire distortion or color convergence controls.
Disappointingly, the techmedia showed weak color scales and sev-eral uncorrectable convergence errors. In the defocusing test, the unit exhibited reduced contrast and visibility, indicating insufficient video bandwidth and transient response. It did, however, produce a flicker-free image.
At 38.5 pounds and measuring 16 by 16.4 by 17 inches, the lightweight Shamrock C705L produces brilliant color images at a reasonable price ($599). It has a 135MHz bandwidth, a 0.26mm dot pitch and a 15.7-inch active viewing area. Equipped with a dot-trio Invar shadow mask tube, the Shamrock supports resolutions up to 1600x1200 at 70Hz with a horizontal scanning range of 30kHz to 88kHz and 47kHz to 130kHz vertical. It's best viewed at 1280x1024 at 75Hz. The unit, which comes with a two-year warranty, has a tilt-swivel base and includes antiglare and antistatic coatings. It meets Energy Star requirements, adheres to MPRII standards and VESA DPMS, and supports VESA's Data Display Channel 2B standard for Plug and Play (DDC2B). Unfortunately, the six digital on-screen controls for 17 functions don't include moire or convergence controls.
The C705L displayed excellent color rendition and clarity. But it exhibited faulty corner linearity and slight geometric distortion that were nearly impossible to correct.
Mitsubishi Diamond Pro 87TXM
The Mitsubishi has an ultra-fine 0.25mm stripe pitch and a 16-inch viewable area. The monitor, covered by a three-year warranty, has a bandwidth of 135MHz. At 48.4 pounds and 16.1 by 16.1 by 16.7 inches, it's in the middle of this pack in terms of size.
Push-button on-screen controls are accessible from a front rollout panel. They allow 19 functions for precision icon-based control in Normal mode and six more in Enhanced mode. In Normal mode, you have extra options for geometric fine-tuning. Complementing the Enhanced mode are more in-depth pincushioning adjustments and a function to eliminate excessive green or white background that may occur when both Sync-On-Green and external sync signals are applied.
Like the other monitors, the Diamond Pro also has antistatic and antiglare coatings and a tilt-swivel base. It follows VESA DPMS, is Energy Star-compliant, adheres to MPRII standards and supports DDC2B. It also complies with the strict Swedish TCO '92 guideline for environmentally safe emissions. The Mitsubishi alone included a BNC cable connection, a D-Sub serial port and a serial interface connector. Unfortunately, you can't use the BNC and D-Sub connectors simultaneously to toggle between two monitors.
The Mitsubishi was also the only unit to offer a value-added software kit. Its Diamond Control computer-controlled display adjustment kit and DiamondMatch Color Calibrator Kit are available free via a mail-in coupon.
But what sets the Diamond Pro apart is picture quality. Its vertically flat Diamondtron aperture-grille CRT serves up sharper, brighter images than the other two monitors. The Mitsubishi displays a maximum noninterlaced addressable 1600x1200 resolution at a refresh rate of 66Hz, at 30kHz to 86kHz horizontal and 50Hz to 130Hz vertical scanning frequencies.
Our testing revealed minor pincushioning problems on the screen's left side; these were difficult to correct. The monitor also had slight problems with vertical screen regulation (the ability to hold a high-contrast shape stationary while nearby areas undergo rapid changes in brightness). Otherwise, the unit produced a sharp, bright picture that remained distortion- and flicker-free at all resolutions.
The bottom line
The Mitsubishi Diamond Pro 87TXM produced the best overall results in each category of testing and has the best digital chassis design and on-screen controls of the three monitors. Its image quality runs a close second to that of the Princeton EO70 and even the Compaq V70 on our WinList, but at $829, it can't beat the Princeton's price. And though the Shamrock and techmedia cost about the same as the Princeton, they can't hold a candle to its overall performance and on-screen controls.