Boy, you get a lot of Chinese screen for $229!

The 25" I-INC 1080p HDMI/SVGA display isn't a name brand, but for serious screen real estate, it's a ton of bang for the buck at $250.00 street.

The 25" I-INC 1080p HDMI/SVGA display isn't a name brand, but for serious screen real estate, it's a ton of bang for the buck at $250.00 street.

What can I say. I love a bargain, and I love really big monitors.

Click on the "Read the rest of this entry" link below for more., aka TigerDirect, has been promoting some pretty serious blow-out deals lately. Last week, a particular deal caught my eye -- a 25" LCD flat panel HDTV monitor (no tuner, and made by a no-name Chinese company called I-INC) with HDMI and SVGA inputs for $199, less shipping. This seemed to be a crazy, too good to be true deal -- after all, widescreen monitors of comparable size from name brand manufacturers were going for considerably more -- twice the amount of money in most cases. And if you want Apple's new 24" display, it will set you back $800. The Samsung Syncmaster 245t goes for about $480-$500 street, which is at about the mid-range for a large desktop monitor.

However, I've bought a number of products from TigerDirect, and they're a pretty reputable online retailer. It didn't really matter to me that I had never heard of this Chinese brand before. Hell, the thing was so cheap, that if it dropped dead in a year (it has a 1 year warranty) it didn't much matter to me if I had to replace it. I like the Samsung Syncmasters  -- I have three of them -- but I just couldn't justify spending nearly five bills on another one. The economy is making me think twice about how I spend my money, and the conventional decision algorithm which determines how I value name-brands in consumer electronics has gone completely out the window. Generic Chinese monitors? Sure, why not.

I must admit, preconceptions about build quality aside, I'm really impressed with this thing. The display quality on the I-INC is utterly fantastic. It's bright and extremely clear with incredibly high contrast. Whatever I thought about Chinese manufacturing quality as compared to the Japanese and the Koreans has completely changed with this purchase -- I honestly didn't think the PRC could make LCD display units this good.

Right now, I'm using it connected to my docking station for my ThinkPad, which only has SVGA, but I did some tests with my Roku box and my Samsung Blu-Ray player which have native HDMI outputs and the sharpness was crystal clear. For those of you who have a need for a smallish HD screen (and you've got a digital cable unit or a DirecTV/DishNetwork box with HDMI, and don't need a tuner) or want a really huge monitor for your desk, this would be a really good choice.

The good points:

1) Bright, very clear display quality, excellent color representation

2) Really, really friggin' huge amount of screen real estate

3) It's dirt cheap. TigerDirect is running it for $229.00 right now.

(TigerDirect is also selling a similar 23" unit made by Acer in Taiwan for $199.)

The bad points:

1) No ATSC tuner, so you'll need a HD input source if you want to use it as a TV set.

2) The screen's HDMI input needs a DVI converter cable if you use DVI-D outputs on your PC as opposed to SVGA, but the cables don't cost much, as HDMI and DVI are signal compatible.

2) The built-in speakers are kind of lame. 2.5 watts are kind of tinny sounding, so if you want to use it for movies, I'd use external speakers running through a A/V receiver or your PC.

3) The base is a little on the wobbly side and the monitor is top heavy, but unless you plan to move the thing around a lot, it's not a major deal.


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