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ViewSonic VG800

  • Editors' rating
    6.7 Good

Pros

  • High contrast
  • inexpensive.

Cons

  • No digital input
  • no height adjustment
  • tinny built-in speakers.

ViewSonic's VG800 is aimed at graphics professionals, but a lack of both physical positioning adjustment and digital inputs means it's probably better suited to less demanding users. Other features like the built-in speakers aren't of sufficient quality to add value.

This 18in. LCD monitor has a native resolution of 1,280 by 1,024 pixels. This gives it a nominal pixel pitch of 0.279mm, although the vertical pitch is slightly different to the horizontal, so that the screen area is around 1mm taller than it should be. You probably won't notice. It also means that the screen's aspect ratio is 1:1.25, rather than the more usual 1:1.33.The bezel is a silvery grey colour and at 3.8cm is quite thick compared with many, admittedly more expensive, LCD monitors we've seen recently.

The VG800 only has a single analogue VGA input. This is surprising on a monitor that's meant to be for professional use. We've seen many LCD panels of similar size -- including ViewSonic's own VG191b -- that have a DVI-D input giving better image quality than the digital-analogue-digital conversion that's necessary with a VGA input. Our review model suffered from a few problems with image adjustment. The auto-adjust function to set up the display worked fine every time we used it, but we found that the monitor would lose synchronisation sometimes when the screen was blanked by a screensaver.

Once set up correctly, the image quality is good. The claimed brightness of 250 cd/m² is average for this size of monitor, but the contrast ratio of 600:1 is high compared with the monitors we've reviewed -- 350-400:1 is more typical of this size of screen. ViewSonic claims a response time of 25ms for the LCD panel, which is quick enough for basic video. You're supplied with E-Color's Colorific software to calibrate your display system's colour rendition, and this also includes True Internet Color, aimed at ensuring that Web graphics render correctly.

The VG800's stand doesn't swivel, only tilts, so you'll have to position it directly in front of where you want to sit. Fortunately the viewing angle is wide enough that someone sitting to one side can still see what's on-screen. There's no height adjustment, so if you prefer your monitor at eye level you'll need a monitor stand. There are no USB ports on the VG800, nor is there any facility to add these at a later stage.

The VG800's built-in speakers merely add to the general feeling of disappointment. They're tinny, making them completely unsuitable for listening to music -- alert sounds and voice recordings are about all they're good for. The VG800 also includes a headphone socket, but for some unknown reason ViewSonic has chosen to put this at the rear of the panel with the other connectors, beneath a clip-on cover. Why it wasn't placed on the front of the monitor, where it would be infinitely more useful, is beyond us.

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This is a relatively low-cost 18in. LCD monitor, and considering it that way makes it a more appealing purchase. However, graphics professionals would do well to spend more on their monitor and get more for their money. There are a few things that ViewSonic could fix to make this a more desirable product, but it still won't be the best monitor the company has produced recently.

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