Test lab. (computer monitors)(includes related articles) (Hardware Review) (Evaluation)
by Tom Benford, Mike Hudnall
Incredibly fast and powerful microprocessors supply the brains and brawn of today's computers. But the beauty of a system--the display your eyes follow hour after hour, day in and day out--can be just as important. And there's much more to a monitor than meets the eye. Should you opt for a larger monitor when you buy your next computer system? Should you upgrade from your present 14-inch monitor to a 15-inch or 17-inch monitor? What features should you look for, and what problems should you look out for? This month's Test Lab helps by examining ten monitors with a variety of features--three 15-inch monitors and seven 17-inch monitors, ranging in price from $595 to $1,789.
Knowing what to look for as you shop around is half the battle in your quest for the right monitor. Our grid of monitor features provides you with specifics about dimensions, video modes, operational specs, emissions standards compliance, and FCC certification. In his reviews, Tom Benford offers his expert evaluation of each monitor, commenting not only on performance but on ease of use and the distinctive features of these monitors.
In addition to the standard brightness, contrast, and horizontal and vertical controls, many of these monitors offer a pretty remarkable array of controls that handle everything from barrel and pincushion distortion to magnetization. Because not every application uses the same screen settings, some of these monitors offer factory-preset and user-definable settings. Once you've optimized the settings for a particular application, you can save them. Whenever you call up that application, the monitor automatically recalls the correct settings. With controls like these, not only do you improve the appearance of your apps, but you also work smarter and more efficiently.
For a detailed look at performance, check the grid with the monitor scores for the Video Obstacle Course in DisplayMate Professional. Tom Benford and his team checked each monitor for flicker, bounce, distortion, moires, and a host of other problems, using the more than 30 tests in the VOC. The "Monitor Test Lab Methodology" sidebar details the lab's testing equipment and procedure, and you'll find a glossary to help you with terms that may be unfamiliar.
If you're in the market for one of these feature-rich, highly capable monitors, read on. The facts, figures, and evaluations in this Test Lab can help you make a more informed decision.
HITACHI/NSA SUPERSCAN 15
The physical styling of the Hitachi/NSA SuperScan 15 monitor is nice and clean, but the monitor's good looks don't end there.
Positioned as an ideal monitor for business graphics and Windows applications, the SuperScan 15 delivers a 15-inch display in about the same amount of space required by the average 14-inch monitor. A permanently attached pedestal base provides a highly stable tilt-swivel platform while occupying a footprint only about 10 1/2 inches square.
At the rear of the SuperScan 15, you'll find a permanently attached video cable fitted with a standard 15-pin D connector and an AC power outlet for plugging in the detachable power cord. The manufacturer has placed the adjustment controls at the front of the SuperScan 15, right where they should be for easy reach.
All of the controls occupy an apron that runs beneath the video display and, though not concealed by a door or flip-down panel, aren't visible from the user's perspective. The rotary dial controls are recessed about an inch from the edge of the apron, effectively removing them from view unless you lower your head to the same level as the monitor's base. Icons representing the functions of the corresponding controls appear on the apron lip, helping to keep the SuperScan 15's appearance neat and uncluttered.
As you look from left to right while facing the monitor, you'll see that the control complement consists of vertical position, vertical size, horizontal position, horizontal size, brightness, contrast, and a flush-mounted power switch with embedded LED power indicator. The manufacturer does not provide memory or degaussing circuitry in this monitor.
Generally speaking, the SuperScan 15 is an easy monitor to look at for extended periods, owing to its bright screen and good resolution. The monitor did, however, have a tendency to bow inward slightly on both left and right sides at the center of the screen and, since there is no pincushion compensation control, not much can be done by the user to correct it. Adjusting horizontal size and position made it somewhat less noticeable with a few applications, but there was no way of eliminating the inverse barrel distortion of the screen sides. Surprisingly, the screen's geometric linearity was excellent despite this.
Flickering seldom marred the SuperScan 15's display. Even with dot and crosshatch patterns that proved troublesome for other monitors, flickering on the SuperScan 15 was either totally absent or not as severe. The Video Obstacle Course caused the SuperScan 15 to flicker in two of the tests, but every other monitor covered here flickered in those same tests.
If there's an Achilles heel on the SuperScan 15, it must be moire patterns. While generally very slight and only noticeable on large screen areas containing uniformly gray-shaded areas, the shimmering moires were nevertheless visible on several of the Video Obstacle Course tests as well as with some DOS and Windows applications. Additionally, I noticed some screen bouncing during the screen and local regulation tests as well as during the mode-switching tests. Despite these problems, however, the SuperScan 15 turned in a very respectable score in the VOC.
If your needs and budget seem to point toward a 15-inch monitor as the best choice for you, then you should definitely consider SuperScan 15.
IOCOMM THINKSYNC 5 CM-5128
IOcomm's ThinkSync 5 CM-5128 has some features that consumers should find attractive, but it turned in a generally disappointing performance.
The 15-inch monitor takes up about the same amount of physical space as the average 14-inch monitor and weighs in at the relatively light weight of 38 pounds. The CM-5128's physical appearance is Spartan and uncluttered, with all of the display controls ergonomically located at the front of the monitor, just below the display screen. A rocker power switch occupies the lower right corner of the monitor, with a green LED located just above it to signify when the power is on. You'll find it easy to adjust picture characteristics, thanks to convenient placement of the rotary dial controls for brightness and contrast next to the LED. This location proved to be a good one, as adjustment to the image brightness, contrast, or both was frequently necessary to maintain the best viewing characteristics when switching applications.
A drop-down panel door conceals the five additional knob controls, used for adjusting horizontal and vertical size and position; a fifth knob adjusts the screen's geometry (pincushioning). I used all five of these knobs extensively to readjust the screen while switching between DOS-based applications, since the CM-5128 has no digital memory for storing preferred settings. Windows applications did not require further adjustment once I set up the initial preferences.
On this monitor, the video cable is detachable. It plugs into the rear of the monitor, along with the AC power input.
The characteristic of this monitor that I found most objectionable is that the image "runs uphill." Presumably, the CRT isn't mounted perfectly square in the chassis mounting cradle. Whatever the cause, I found it most disconcerting to see the text at the left side of the screen about one-eighth inch lower than that at the right.
The CM-5128 found several of the tests in the Video Obstacle Course to be tough going as well. The display screen exhibited a slight red tinge at the left side and a red and blue tinge at the right side. The screen's uniformity was less than perfect, with variations in brightness in several areas, especially noticeable against light background colors. The screen also displayed better focus at the center than at the edges, along with a tendency toward "blooming" at the center (this was very apparent in test 5 of the VOC--Horizontal Versus Vertical Line Thickness).
Screen flickering and moire patterns proved to be additional gremlins which made their presence known numerous times--not only during the VOC tests but also in 1024 x 768 mode when hires images with certain dot patterns (shaded gray backgrounds in particular) were being displayed. Streaking and ghosting were also noted, as well as screen regulation weaknesses and bouncing when I switched graphic modes.
Because of the "uphill" image and the problems encountered in the Video Obstacle Course, I cannot recommend this monitor.
MAG INNOVISION MX15F
If the monitors covered here were in a beauty contest, the MAG InnoVision MX15F would probably walk away with top honors. It is indeed a handsomely styled 15-inch monitor that pleases the eye in many ways.
Devoid of any nonfunctional frills, the cabinet perfectly complements the flat-screen design of the MX15F. A detachable tilt-swivel base provides a stable and easily adjustable support for the monitor, although the unit also has its own rubber feet, which will come in handy if you decide not to use the tilt-swivel base.
MAG's placement of the monitor's controls up front and within easy reach makes sense. Rotary dials at the left side just beneath the video display allow you to adjust brightness and contrast. A flush-mounted power switch with green LED power indicator flanks the right side in the same position under the display.
In the center, a drop-down door conceals the other adjustment controls and indicators, including a digital LED mode indicator. A smoked window in the drop-down door lets you see the numerical mode indicator, and four small "portholes" in the door facilitate your monitoring any of the four LED status indicators. If you don't want to see these displays, you can use an auxiliary panel door, which doesn't have any window or portholes in it--a nice extra touch.
Planning to take your monitor abroad? No problem. The MX15F comes with a universal autoswitching power supply, which permits you to plug it in and use it anywhere in the world (you might still need a converter for your PC and other gear, however).
Eight plus/minus push-button controls adjust the picture attributes. You'll use pairs of these controls to adjust vertical size, vertical position, horizontal phase (position), and horizontal size. Additionally, MAG furnishes a program set/recall push button and a slider switch for selecting any of either the eight preset timing modes or eight user-defined modes. Memory recall is automatic for the factory presets with manual override possible.
The illuminated digital display and four LED indicators keep you abreast of the monitor's current mode and status. A single digit (1-8) in the mode indicator identifies the monitor's current video mode. Without the red user indicator illuminated, a number represents a factory preset mode; with the user/preset switch in the up position, the user LED is activated, and the mode indicator reflects which user-programmed mode is active. A green LED labeled SOG indicates when the incoming signal has a composite sync signal, while an amber LED lights up if the input is a composite signal. (These signals are relevant to users of Macs only.) The fourth LED, also red, goes on if the input signal exceeds the monitor's frequency range and the monitor cannot display the image satisfactorily. These features are sure to find favor with users who like to know what's going on at all times with their PC system, but this information probably won't mean too much (if anything) to the average user. That's probably why MAG provides the extra no-window panel door.
The MX15F's image is bright and well defined with excellent geometric linearity and uniformity across the entire viewing area. The only flaws detected using the Video Obstacle Course were a tendency to show moires with some patterns, a minor bit of screen regulation deviation, and local distortion and some bouncing while changing video modes. Screen flicker, a weakness detected by the VOC on all the monitors covered here, was also present but not as pronounced or as objectionable as on some of the other monitors.
The MX15F has a lot going for it and makes a good choice if you're considering a 15-inch SVGA-capable monitor.
MITSUBISHI DIAMOND PRO 17
If you're interested in upgrading to a large-screen monitor that has all of the leading-edge technological bells and whistles in addition to a superb image with rock-steady stability, the Mitsubishi Diamond Pro 17 may be just the ticket.
All of the Diamond Pro's controls are conveniently located at the front of the display. A drop-down door occupying the left half of the apron under the display houses some of the controls, while exposed flush-mounted push buttons fill up the right half of the apron and complete the control section.
The controls normally concealed behind the panel door include a pair of push buttons used to select the desired function for adjustment; the choices include horizontal position and size, vertical position and size, horizontal static misconvergence, and vertical static misconvergence. Two more push buttons are used to increase and decrease the settings of the selected adjustment, and a memory preset recall switch is located next to them.
The exposed controls consist of a pair of flush-mounted brightness push buttons (an embedded LED on the minus switch lights up when either of these controls is touched), a pair of push buttons for adjusting contrast (again with an embedded LED in the minus switch which signifies adjustment activity with either of these controls), and a momentary-contact degauss switch. An illuminated LED power indicator and a flush-mounted power switch complete the lineup of controls. The overall appearance of the monitor is clean and contemporary.
You'll find three connectors at the rear of the monitor: an AC power input connector, a 15-pin D jack, and a special-purpose 13W3 connector, used for connecting the Diamond Pro to a dedicated CAD workstation. This monitor also works with a color Macintosh computer; just use the optional cable/adapter assembly available from Mitsubishi.
A small-footprint (about ten inches square) tilt-swivel base provides a stable platform for the monitor while making adjustments to the viewing angle effortless.
I found the image clarity and stability of the Mitsubishi pristine; color saturation and hue were vibrant and bright without a hint of ghosting, blurring, or streaking. In fact, the only flaws noted during some long sessions with the monitor were its tendency toward some slight barrel distortion (the sides of the screen are wider at the middle than at the top and bottom), with the toe-in appearance more pronounced at the bottom of the screen than at the top. And, as with every other monitor covered here, a screen flicker was also noticeable during two of the DisplayMate Professional tests in the Video Obstacle Course where high-resolution single-line raster images were displayed. The Diamond Pro proved to be unflappable in other VOC tests which were troublesome for other monitors (for example, screen regulation, local regulation distortion, and text-graphics mode switching).
The Diamond Pro is an excellent 17-inch monitor for virtually any type of work, from text to complete CAD design. Its image quality, ergonomic control placement, and extended-range video capabilities make it a good choice for the discerning PC user looking for a superior large-screen video display.
Another 17-inch Super VGA monitor to break the $1,200 price barrier, the Optiquest 4000DX is also one of the more lightweight 17-inch monitors.
Featuring a 32-mode digital memory (the largest capacity of all the monitors covered here), the 4000DX comes with factory presets for 16 of the major video modes. You can store 16 additional settings (defined by you), all ready to be automatically recalled when you run the particular applications associated with them. The monitor always detects and displays the last mode stored in the user setting area when you first turn it on, and it checks all of the other user-stored settings before selecting a factory-set default mode. This negates the need for a manual memory recall switch, so Optiquest doesn't provide one on the 4000DX.
All controls are front mounted and exposed on the monitor, which has an otherwise frill-free appearance. They reside just below the display screen in the apron area of the monitor. To adjust your viewing angle, just use the supplied tilt-swivel base. If you elect to bypass the tilt-swivel base, you can set the monitor, which is equipped with four rubber-tipped feet, directly on the PC or desktop.
The brightness and contrast controls are traditional rotary-dial units, located at the right front corner of the unit, next to the rocker power switch; a small green dot-shaped LED power indicator appears just above the switch. The other controls include four flush-mounted push buttons and five additional green-dot LEDs. The selector push button lets you choose among the five controls used to make adjustments; once you select, the plus or minus push buttons adjust the value. A reset switch restores the original (factory) default value.
In addition to the usual brightness, contrast, and horizontal and vertical size and position controls, the 4000DX also provides a pincushion distortion control to compensate for horizontal and vertical edge curvature, which may occur in some video modes.
The overall picture quality was good, especially when you consider the CRT's .31-mm dot pitch; this is a larger pitch (resulting in a larger pixel) than that of any of the other 17-inch monitors reviewed here. There was a noticeable red tinge at the left screen border and a less objectionable yellowish halo all along the right screen border, which may be indicative of the electron guns being slightly out of alignment. This hypothesis is borne out by the fact that the green alignment was off during two of the DisplayMate Professional tests in the Video Obstacle Course.
The 4000DX also exhibited a tendency to produce moire patterns whenever a tight, high-resolution pattern was displayed. Screen flickering was noticeable with hi-res patterns, and the focus at the outer edges and corners of the screen was not as crisp as at the center.
The 4000DX delivers digital memory and a large viewing area at a price that brings it within the affordable range of many PC users.
SAMSUNG SYNCMASTER 5C
If you're looking for a large, ergonomic monitor ready to handle a variety of applications, you'll want to consider Samsung's SyncMaster 5C 17-inch color monitor.
The 5C features a .26-mm dot pitch, which makes it capable of handling 1280 x 1024 resolution as well as every other VGA and Super VGA mode. With the built-in digital memory, you can switch between video mode screen settings and optimal positions when you switch applications. You can save these settings for instant recall whenever you run a particular application again. The monitor permits storing up to 12 modes, all accessible via the front panel controls.
Beneath a drop-down door, you'll find the front panel with eight LEDs indicating the active functions. These include horizontal image shifting, horizontal image stretching and condensing, horizontal concaving and convexing (barrel distortion), vertical image shifting, and vertical image stretching and condensing (pincushioning).
To select the function you'd like to set or alter, use the function button; up- and down-arrow buttons augment and diminish the settings. A save button stores the current mode and position settings in memory. To demagnetize the screen, ridding it of any residual static charge build-up, use the degauss button. And to choose between the D-15 and BNC input ports, use the output selection button next to the arrow buttons.
At the rear of the computer, you'll find four discrete BNC connectors (used with Macintosh computers and special-purpose video peripherals) and a 15-pin D connector, along with two slide switches. The first switch selects either the high or the 75-ohm termination setting, and the other selects the input signal level (either 1.0 or .7 volts). Since the cable connections and switch settings don't change once the monitor is installed, the rear of the unit is a good location for these items.
A flush-mounted power switch with a built-in LED indicator is conveniently located at the lower right corner of the monitor, and Samsung has also placed the brightness and contrast controls here within easy reach for making any desired viewing adjustments. Ergonomically, the monitor rates a 10 for its well-placed control layout and easily adjustable tilt-swivel stand.
During testing (see the "Monitor Test Lab Methodology" sidebar), a few weaknesses of the 5C became apparent. The monitor had a marked propensity to bow inward slightly at both the left and right sides of the screen, although the bowing at the left side was considerably more pronounced.
The monitor also exhibited an annoying flicker on the tight resolution (single-line) patterns of the raster visibility and corner resolution tests, which detracted slightly form its overall performance scores. It also exhibited bowing during the screen regulation and local distortion tests, and it was totally unable to successfully complete the text/graphics mode-switching test in the Video Obstacle Course, blanking the screen completely during the test. These weaknesses affected its overall performance score.
Aside from these flaws, this large-screen monitor is handsomely styled and provides an excellent display for virtually any type of textual, graphics, CAD, or design work.
Samtron packs plenty of good features into its SC-726V monitor, while keeping the appearance utilitarian and simple.
Samtron provides rotary controls for degauss, horizontal size, vertical size, horizontal shift, vertical shift, brightness, contrast, and power. These controls extend inconspicuously beneath the apron on the front of the monitor and are identified by a series of embossed icons. Although a novel departure from the push buttons and slide switches found on many other monitors of this size and class, the rotary controls are quite functional and easy to access, which is what really counts in the final tally.
Samtron places a switch for manually selecting either 110-V or 220-V operation at the rear of the unit, along with a nondetachable cable fitted with a 15-pin D connector. A socket for inserting the detachable AC power cord completes the list of items found at the rear of the monitor.
The SC-726V doesn't come with digital memory or the ability to store user-defined screen settings. The monitor is equipped, however, with autosizing circuitry, so the absence of digital memory won't be a major issue for most users. The autosizing worked just fine with all of the applications I ran during my evaluation.
I found the overall image quality and display resolution surprisingly good for a monitor with such a low price tag. Aside from a tendency to produce moires on high-resolution screen patterns, the image definition and clarity were certainly acceptable. The DisplayMate Professional Video Obstacle Course detected a slight misalignment of the blue gun registration on two of the tests. Local screen regulation and distortion are other areas that caused the SC-726V to receive less than perfect scores.
Samtron produces two varieties of the SC-726V. The standard version is the one supplied for this review, but the company also produces the SC-726VL, which is the low-radiation model. The VL model features very low magnetic fields of less than 25 milligauss when measured 20 inches from the screen. This makes the VL model compliant with the Swedish MPR-II emission standards. Excessive radiation emissions are a significant concern for many PC users nowadays. Spending the extra dollars for the VL model, you can buy affordable peace of mind.
If you're itching to move up to a 17-inch monitor that is capable of running all of the current and emerging video display modes but the bottom line is a major factor in you purchasing decision, the SC-726V (or VL) may be the monitor you seek. It's certainly worth a look!
The names Trinitron and Sony have become synonymous in the public mind in the 20+ years since Sony introduced its first Trinitron TV. Over 40 million Trinitrons have been sold worldwide since then, which might lead you to believe that Sony is doing something right. The dazzling display and excellent performance of the Sony CPD-1604S, which is based on Trinitron technology, provide solid testimony that Sony is, indeed, doing something right.
The 1604S has a flat screen diagonally measuring 17 inches. For its CRT size class, it boasts the narrowest dot pitch in the industry, an impressively fine .25 mm, delivering a crisp, finely resolved image approaching photographic quality in the Super VGA modes.
Mounted atop a highly stable tilt-swivel platform base, the 1604S puts the power switch, illuminated power LED, and rotary brightness and contrast controls at the front of the unit within easy reach just beneath the display itself. This gives the monitor a very clean, uncluttered look.
The automatic sizing switch and controls for adjusting horizontal and vertical size, horizontal shift, and vertical centering all reside in a recessed well at the left side of the monitor, about midway between the front and rear. Any adjustments to these controls will require either getting up and going over to the side of the monitor or, if space and cabling permit it, rotating the monitor on its swivel base 90 degrees to gain access to these controls. While these controls shouldn't normally require adjustment, it would be nice to have them up front at arm's reach should the user wish to do some tweaking. In fairness, however, the automatic screen-sizing circuitry worked well for all of the applications I ran during the review process; I found no reason to override the monitor's automatic control.
The rear of the 1604S houses the AC input connector jack as well as the video signal cable fitted with a 15-pin D connector. No degauss or memory setting or recall functions are included in this model.
The display of the monitor is truly outstanding, thanks to the ultrafine dot pitch and the black matrix backgroud, a standard feature of the Trinitron technology. Virtually every type of image, from straight text to the most complex CAD drawing or 24-bit color TIF file, looks superb when viewed on this monitor.
The Video Obstacle Course in DisplayMate Professional once again proved to be a tough proving ground, especially in mode 105(1024 x 768 with 256 colors). In this mode some flickering became evident on two of the tests which use very high-resolution one-line raster segments. During the screen regulation and local distortion tests, I noticed some bowing and bouncing as the test image blinked, and there was also some bouncing as video modes changed from text to graphics and back again during the last test in the series.
If you're thinking of moving up to a 17-inch Super VGA monitor, the 1604S should look really good to you. After all, it's a Sony.
A 17-inch display, noninterlaced resolution as high as 1280 x 1024, and a 26-setting digital memory are just a few of the ViewSonic 7's attractive features. Mounted atop a small-footprint (ten inches square) tilt-swivel base, the ViewSonic 7 is attractively styled in a two-tone beige and putty color scheme. The manufacturer front-mounts all the monitor's controls for easy access, starting with a flush-mounted power switch and LED. Just below the power switch, you'll find plus and minus push buttons for adjusting the brightness, along with another pair for adjusting the contrast setting.
A drop-down panel door to the left of these controls conceals the remainder of the display controls. These controls consist of a pair (augment and diminish) of push buttons for horizontal position, a pair for horizontal size adjustment, a pair for vertical position, another pair for vertical size adjustment, and a single push button for memory.
The rear of the unit provides access to the AC power connector and to a 15-pin D connector for attaching the video connector cable. Since this monitor is a multi-frequency unit, you can also use it with color Macintosh computers and special-purpose CAD workstations simply by substituting the appropriate connector cable.
Twelve factory-present timing modes are stored in the digital memory, and VeiwSonic reserves a 13th memory position for custom timings in 1280 x 1024 resolution. You also have blank memory areas for storing 13 additional user-defined modes, and, if you like, you can override and reprogram all of the factory presets.
The memory recall is autosensing, which means that the monitor's sensing circuitry analyzes the signal coming from the video card and then compares it to its memory listing of preset (both factory and user) modes. When the circuitry finds the matching setting for that signal, the monitor displays the image according to those settings. Each memory storage area can contain data regarding the horizontal and vertical frequencies, horizontal and vertical polarization, and horizontal and vertical position.
Creating a custom memory setting is a simple procedure that merely involves adjusting the picture size and position exactly the way you like it and pressing the memory button to register the current mode settings. The next time you run that application, the autosensing circuitry will retrieve the settings and set up the display according to these preferences.
For a monitor with such laudable specifications and features, the ViewSonic 7's display was somewhat disappointing. While color, focus, and geometric linearity were all excellent on the monitor's bright, large screen, the screen exhibited a pronounced tendency for generating moires with many high-resolution images and screen backgrounds. The ViewSonic 7 was also prone to flicker on tight-resolution patterns. This was particularly noticeable along the horizontal scroller bar in Microsoft Works and other Windows applications running in 1024 x 768 256-color mode using a Renoir Ultra-SVGA card. The monitor didn't rapidly make smooth transitions from text to graphics modes and back again either, producing more than a slight bounce and generating video "noise" on the screen during that segment of the Video Obstacle Course. Otherwise, it's a nice monitor that's handsomely styled and fully compliant with all of the current low-radiation standards.
ZENITH DATA SYSTEMS ZCM-1790
Zenith Data Systems (now a Bull company and no longer part of Zenith Electronics) presents its ZCM-1790 monitor as an ideal display play for multimedia, CAD/CAM, and other high-resolution graphics applications.
The 17-inch monitor is housed in a very large cabinet that provides a 2-inch border on all four sides of the display, making it look larger than it actually is. This illusion is furthered by the monitor's tilt-swivel base, which occupies a good amount (approximately 12 inches x 13 inches) of desktop real estate itself. Size aside, the styling of the ZCM-1790 is functional, if somewhat Spartan.
Zenith places all of the controls within easy reach at the front of the monitor, just below the display screen. All controls are exposed and visible at all times; there's no drop-down panel to conceal them on the ZCM-1790.
All of the adjustment controls, including brightness and contrast, are push buttons rather than the wheels, knobs, or dial controls more commonly used. These push buttons are almost flush mounted. In addition to an LED power indicator next to the rocker On/Off switch, the manufacturer provides five other LEDs to designate which function control you've selected with the function-selector push button. Each of the adjustments is represented by an icon just above its corresponding LED, and the controls include vertical and horizontal size and position, in addition to brightness and contrast. An adjustment reset function resets all display adjustments to their default settings.
The video cable, with a standard 15-pin D connector, attaches permanently to the rear of the monitor, although the AC power cable is detachable.
The ZCM-1790 uses a flat screen based on flat-tension-mask technology, which, according to company literature, provides "excellent linearity." Using the tests in the DisplayMate Professional Video Obstacle Course in mode 105 (1024 x 768 with 256 colors), I found that the ZCM-1790 did not appear to live up to these claims, producing a noticeable bowing at the top of the screen. The display adjustment controls were unable to eliminate or compensate for it.
The review unit also displayed a reddish area (which can best be described as a rouge spot) about three inches in diameter at the lower left quarter of the screen. Again, I found no way to eliminate this problem using any of the monitor's controls. While this didn't seem to affect the performance of the monitor, it was somewhat distracting and was noticeable, even to the casual observer. I suspect that this rouge-spot phenomenon has something to do with the alignment of the monitor's red electron gun; I base this suspicion on the fact that the horizontal color and blink registration proved less than optimal in the Video Obstacle Course.
The screen gives the illusion of being slightly concave, although it's absolutely flat (I put a metal straightedge against the screen to check it). Apart from the slight bowing at the top of the screen and the rouge spot, the ZCM-1790 provides a bright, colorful display, and the CRT's .26-mm dot pitch provides excellent image resolution.