- ✓Three-year on-site swap-out warranty
- ✓hardware controls for brightness, contrast and audio volume
- ✓compact, narrow bezel design.
- ✕Slightly tight on viewing angles.
Iiyama describes its new 17in. ProLite TFT display as an entry-level monitor, which is reflected to an extent in its list price of £325 (ex. VAT). Where 17in. TFTs are concerned at the moment, 'cheap' is about £230 or so, 'affordable' is £300 to £350, and 'premium' is £450 (all ex. VAT). To put this in a wider context, you'd pay around £80 for a plausible 17in. CRT alternative to the ProLite.Not that most system integrators or buyers upgrading privately see the glass tube as a viable alternative to the TFT panel these days. Now that TFT prices have fallen to realistic levels, the advantages of higher image quality, higher usable resolution for a given diagonal, and huge space savings are proving irresistible from the high street to the board room.
Iiyama hasn’t tried to be clever with the ProLite, concentrating instead on providing the features you’re likely to need and omitting extras that will push the price up. So there’s no digital signal input, just plain D-SUB VGA; there’s also no integrated USB hub, which may well be more missed than a digital input -- especially if your PC has its USB ports at the back. You do get an audio input for the pair of 1.5W stereo speakers built into the bottom corners of the bezel. Like virtually all such integrated audio, these are functional but basic, and not intended to encroach on the territory of free-standing speaker systems. There’s no hardware mute, but you can adjust the volume quickly and easily from primary functions of the control buttons, which always beats having to fiddle about in software. Flat panels should always be compact, since size is one of their main selling points, but the ProLite is small for its class thanks to a narrow bezel only about 15mm wide except at the bottom, where there’s a bit more depth to accommodate the control buttons and speakers. This helps keep the weight down to a modest 4.1kg, and allows the designers to get away with an equally compact, but stable stand. The power supply is external, which lets you get that much further away from the nearest mains socket, even if it is a bit less neat and tidy than having the PSU built into the stand itself. Iiyama provides Windows drivers, but you don’t seem to need them with ME or later -- we just plugged in, then used the Auto setup button on the bezel to tune the panel to the host PC. As is usually the case with flat panel monitors, this approach worked gratifyingly well, and there was no need to delve further into the on-screen setup menu to improve the image. If you ever do need to make manual adjustments, the setup options cover the essentials, from eliminating horizontal and vertical distortion with clock and phase tuners to colour temperature presets and one RGB-adjustable custom colour channel.
The 17in. panel has a native resolution of 1,280 by 1,024, which is the ideal choice for this diagonal -- neither too high (tiny, unreadable text and minute screen objects), or too low (big, Fisher-Price style Windows desktop). There were no discernable stuck pixels, and the screen was brightly illuminated, although we did notice that the viewing angles -- particularly the vertical -- were a bit tight. This showed up as a tell-tale difference in apparent brightness: lighter along the bottom; darker at the top. The effect wasn’t that serious, and is only likely to be a show-stopper if you are after a particularly good standard of display, in which case you’re probably going to be looking at something more expensive than the ProLite anyway. There can be a certain sameness about flat panels at this sort of price, so as a final point, it’s worth remembering that Iiyama backs its monitors with a three year swap-out on-site warranty. A decent helping of peace of mind like this might be enough to swing it for the ProLite if you were finding it hard to decide.