ViewSonic VA1912w review

19 Jan 2006

A cheap yet good-quality widescreen panel that's equally suited to the home or office

Price when reviewed: 
187(£219 inc VAT)
5

Widescreens are great for working on; the extra horizontal pixel count gives you more spreadsheet cells, or lets you hold two documents side by side for quick fact checking and editing. They've always been an extravagance, though, and there won't be many IT departments that will accept them as a standard roll-out option. But this latest offering from ViewSonic might begin to change that.

At this price, the VA1912w is cheaper than quite a few standard-aspect 19in panels. It would be natural to expect a few compromises in return, but after running through our demanding DisplayMate tests we were pleasantly surprised. The few flaws we saw were minor at worst; for example, there's a slightly restricted colour gamut at the high end, which means this isn't the ideal panel for anyone needing colour accuracy. There's nothing to stop you enjoying using the VA1912w day to day or when viewing photos.

With these encouraging results, and the widescreen resolution, it's also well suited to movies and gaming titles that support wider aspect ratios. With a resolution of 1,440 x 900, it's actually a 16:10 aspect ratio, so movies don't quite fill the entire screen. The high contrast range results in rich colours, while we saw minimal lag during fast motion.

But it's equally at home in the office, with a light-diffusing layer rather than the glossy screens that come with many panels these days, such as the NEC. That does reduce the initial impact when looking at media, but makes long spells sat in front of it less fatiguing.

The only real disappointment is the speaker bar below the panel itself. We didn't expect much, but it's particularly tinny and lacking in volume. Still, it isn't as if ViewSonic has increased the price of the VA1912w to include it. And while the housing may not add much glamour, the TFT panel itself is good enough for even reasonably demanding uses. The aspect ratio is a boon, particularly on a monitor so cheap. All in all, you're left with a fantastic bargain, with barely any compromise.