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But where are the OSD control buttons? At first, I thought LG had gone down the same route as Samsung did with its SyncMaster 173P by offering an OSD controlled via the PC. This is not the case and although the fascia is devoid of any OSD buttons, there’s a slim row of four discreetly embedded buttons that run down the right-hand side of the bezel. Quite a tidy idea you may think, but operating these buttons is almost like using Braille.
For a start, each button comes with a label but to read those you’ll either have to stretch your neck around the side, or twist the whole display around. That said, things do get easier once you locate (by touch) the top and bottom buttons and have taught yourself the function of each one. As for available settings these are standard and include the usual adjustments for screen position, independent RGB channels, colour temperature and for clock and phase. There’s also a triple-stepped gamma control for boosting the detail in dark movie and game scenes.
In terms of function, the button sequence is as follows: Menu, Source (+), f-Engine (-) and Set/Auto. The Menu button gives you direct access to the OSD and the Source button trebles up as a signal source select, a scroll-up, and a settings increase button. As for the Set/Auto button, this acts as a sub-menu enter button and instigates the auto-adjustment feature for an analogue connection. Last but not least, the f-Engine button offers a scroll down and settings decrease function, and of course activates LG’s Flatron f-Engine chip.
Briefly the f-Engine, as discussed here, is designed to enhance the picture depending on the intended use of the monitor. You have options for optimised brightness and contrast for text work and displaying movies, plus a user mode for creating your own preferences by adjusting the RCM (Real Colour Management) setting to bring out vivid natural colours, and the ACE (Adaptive Clarity Enhancer) setting to enhance brightness and contrast for moving images.
In reference to the picture above, all these settings and their effects can be viewed over a split screen for assessment and then either set or aborted. Whether or not you’ll use the f-Engine very often is debatable, but in my experience it certainly offers a vibrancy boost for gaming and watching DVDs.
When it comes to the L1740P’s image quality our tests gave similar results to the L1730P. But before I go on to summarise those, I did find that a lot of initial tweaking was required to set up the display correctly. Straight out of the box, I found the picture too garish and bright with a distinct greenish tone. A slight drop in the contrast helped alleviate this, along with a reduction in the green level in the RGB sub-menu.
In our DisplayMate tests, the results were on the whole acceptable when using either an analogue or digital signal. Colours were very vibrant and the motion tests revealed only slight smearing thanks in part to a 12ms response time. However, both the greyscale and colour ramps showed evidence of some banding as they dropped to their lowlight ends. Now whether or not that’s because this TFT panel can handle 16.2million colours rather 16.7million (as specified on LG’s website) is difficult to say, but what I do know is that I’ve seen 6-bit panels handle these same scales with more finesse.
Moving on to the real world of static and moving images, the colours appeared accurate and skin tones were quite realistic. I could notice a certain graininess to our test DVD movie, but it's not as grainy as other LCDs I've tested. Accurately colour-balancing my images wasn’t too bad either, as long as the L1740P is set-up well initially and your eyes don’t wander off that head-on sweet spot. I say this because a discernable colour shift is observed as you raise your eye level up and down. In this respect the vertical viewing angles are narrow, although they are wider in the horizontal plane.
Overall, the LG Flatron L1740P isn’t perfect, but then so many monitors aren’t, especially for this price bracket. The picture has to be tamed a little, there’s a distinct colour shift in the vertical plane, and the controls are a tad tricky to use. But once they’ve been overcome, it’s really only the stand’s lack of adjustability that has to be weighed up against the L1740P's good looks. Personally, I’m swayed by substance over a style, but for the truly image conscious this could be the one.