Design and features
Sporting a classy, faux brushed aluminium finish and a stand that offers more than the usual fare, HP's latest foray in the 22-inch widescreen market is attractive and feels well-built.
The initial set up was a breeze; the unit had a heft and resistance that usually isn't found in monitors in this price bracket, giving it a feel of quality. The stand itself was a particular highlight — rather than offering the usual tilt function that 22-inch monitors are restricted to, it also offered pivoting through a rubberised turntable underneath the base, making turning the monitor easier. The screen itself can be rotated 90 degrees and height adjustment is a welcome and pleasant surprise. The curved neck leading down into the base of the stand also gives space to store your keyboard and a rectangular nook in the neck serves for cable management, a nice touch for users with limited desk real-estate and a need for neatness.
Not all was perfect though, and the LA2205wg suffers a few design faults. Firstly, the bezel wasn't very rigid at the sides, resulting in distortions and blotches on the screen from even a slight pressure, such as when adjusting the monitor's position. The screen was also deeply set, resulting in distracting reflections appearing on the piano black interior bezel whenever a bright element like an icon was near the edge of the screen.
While having two extra USB ports is always a blessing, HP falls foul here too by setting them far enough back behind the panel to be inconvenient. You'll either have to rotate the monitor, or stand up and peer behind it just to see where you're plugging your device in, something that will become quickly frustrating to those who just want quick access to plug their USB stick in.
Aside from the USB upstream port that services these problem ports, the unit also offers the following which can be switched between: VGA, DVI and DisplayPort video inputs.
The menu was quite easy to navigate, with the usual fare of colour profiles, sharpness and adjustments. Dynamic contrast ratio was available, but thankfully turned off by default, avoiding the annoying brightness shifts that come with it.
The LA2205wg generally performed well across the board. DisplayMate showed it capable of displaying from 0 through to 253 of the 255 shades possible, indicating a tendency to blow out whites a little too early. The gradient tests proved this across the board with both colour and greyscale increasing light too quickly, but thankfully the usual "crush to black" experienced with cheaper monitors wasn't present. No discolouration was noticed in the greyscale gradients.
When we played Red Faction: Guerrilla, the response time was snappy and there was no discernible ghosting or tear. High-definition video playback was weaker, with the colours slightly washed out and the motion somewhat blurry. A crisper image would have been nice, but the performance was generally satisfactory.
A darkened room highlighted some backlight uniformity issues, and light bleeding around the edges of the panel. While this is pretty much par for the course for this price level, it's a grim reminder that despite the faux brushed metal that tries to shout "PREMIUM!", this is a sub-AU$500 monitor.
If you can look past the design niggles like the reflective bezel and the squishy frame, the LA2205wg provides solid performance for a decent price. Don't let the AU$499 RRP turn you off — you can easily find it for less with a bit of searching. The stand helps this 22-inch unit to get a leg up on the competition — but if you're looking for 22-inch perfection and don't mind spending a bit more, our money's still on the Dell 2209WA.