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Despite the clever styling, I do have a number of gripes. The first concerns the height of the stand. I personally found it to sit a little low on my desk, and without any means of height adjustment it’s going to stay that way unless you stick it on top of some kind of platform. Secondly, and more obviously, there’s no way to swivel the screen from side to side – not a huge issue in itself however.
The other niggles concern the close proximity of the back chassis panel to the ports, especially the DVI-I port. What I mean by this, is that connecting a typical DVI cable to this port is hindered by the casing. In fact, I couldn’t plug the cable in all the way, nor fully tighten the connectors integrated securing screws. As a result, the cable end would sit at a slight angle. That said, I could push it in far enough to ensure that a digital signal was received by the monitor. Last of all, I’m not a big fan of external power supplies as they tend to find themselves kicking about under your desk or sitting in the way on top of it. It also means that you’ll be carrying this together with the display on your journeys, although Shuttle do offer an optional carry bag called the PF50.
Speaking of ports, the XP17 like so many LCDs these days comes with dual connectivity – a D-SUB and the aforementioned DVI-I one, the latter of which can accept either a digital signal, or an analogue one with an appropriate converter. Both cable types are also included in the box.
Ok, you’ve now read and looked at its styling and features. But what is the XP17 like to use? Well let’s fire it up and find out. Ah! I’m greeted with a glowing Shuttle logo – a nice touch for the show-offs, but perhaps a distraction for those that work in the dark. Still, at least Shuttle hasn’t played sheep and followed other manufacturers with their ubiquitous blue lights.
On the whole, I’m reasonably impressed. The screen is bright, sharp and not as reflective as I though it might have been. The AR part of the XP17’s TempAR label stands for Anti-Reflective and it definitely seems to cut down on reflections. Furthermore, I should add that this monitor is in no way as reflective as those that employ the high-black, glossy coatings, we’ve seen in the past. However, what I do notice is a pinkish/purplish cast to some reflections, especially where overhead lighting is concerned. This is probably a result of the multi-layer coating and unfortunately it seems to add a pinkish tone to bright whites too. Upon tweaking the independently adjustable RGB colour controls with the vertically mounted OSD controls I was able to minimise this although to the trained eye it’s still noticeable.
As for overall picture performance I was on one hand satisfied with the richly saturated and vibrant colour scales within the DisplayMate test screens, but on the other was a little disappointed when it came to fine picture editing. You see, the XP17 is one of those LCDs that uses a 6-bit panel and some clever algorithms to dither the colours up to 16.2million. This is often a technique that goes hand-in-hand with a fast response time, but regularly introduces some spurious coloured tonal affects, particularly when assessing skin tones. A favourite real world test of mine is to compare the skin tones in one of my test shots (a well-exposed portrait of a cello player) on a 6-bit monitor with an 8-bit one.