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ViewSonic VP231wb

When you first fire up this screen and start using a resolution of 1,920 x 1,200, you realise just how limiting a native resolution of 1,280 x 1,024 really is. The amount of windows that you can have open at once, and keep an eye on, is pretty amazing. The general image quality is also very good, and running everyday applications is a joy on the VP231wb.

I was surprised to see that the LCD panel has a response time of 16ms, which should keep hardcore gamers happy. That said, it’s unlikely that you’re going to be able to play your favourite games at the native resolution – finding a graphics card powerful enough to play Doom3 or Half-Life 2 at 1,920 x 1,200 won’t be easy, unless nVidia gets SLi working and you can afford two GeForce 6800 Ultra cards. Video playback was also first rate, and with the widescreen aspect ratio, you can get the best out of anamorphic DVDs. If you are going to watch movies on this screen you’ll also be happy to know that the viewing angle is superb in both the horizontal and vertical planes.

But as is often the case, firing up DisplayMate highlighted some image quality issues. Just like the ViewSonic VX910 that I reviewed recently, the VP231wb has some trouble with the 256 Intensity Level Colour Ramp – the transition from maximum to minimum intensity was not a smooth graduation and there was a significant amount of banding towards the lower intensity scale. The greyscale 256 Level Intensity Ramp showed more pronounced problems, with the banding extending right through to the high intensity end. However, the VP231wb didn’t suffer in the Colour Scales test like the VX910 did – here there was a uniform transition from high intensity to low, with the image dropping off in the last block of colour as it was supposed to . This shows that there is little compression going on, and that you shouldn’t be losing detail in images at either high or low intensity.

Unfortunately, the problems with tonal graduation means that the VP231wb might not be best suited to heavy image editing work – and to be honest that’s exactly the type of work you’re going to want to do on a 23in high-resolution monitor. That said, I did use the VP231wb to view and edit some images under Photoshop and I didn’t feel that the image quality was compromised in any way. Ultimately, DisplayMate is designed to make life as difficult as possible for monitors, so you might find that in real world use you won’t encounter any problems. I would however, recommend trying out a VP231wb before buying if you’re an imaging professional or a keen digital photographer.

Now I fully expected this screen to be expensive – after all, the last 23in widescreen monitor I looked at (the LG L2320A) cost £2,399. However, things have moved on since then and the price of these screens is far more realistic, with the ViewSonic undercutting the hp by around £80. But with a street price of £1,379 you’re still going to need deep pockets to be able to reach the upper echelons of desktop displays.

Verdict

The ViewSonic VP231wb is a great screen with an awesome resolution and sleek and stylish design. But much as I love the VP stand, the omission of a pivot option is a disappointment, while the large, external power brick makes the solution somewhat inelegant. On the plus side, the 16ms panel will please some gamers, and the integrated USB 2.0 hub is worth having. Ultimately though, the VP231wb is slightly eclipsed by the hp 2335, which offers a stronger feature set.

Note

The ViewSonic VP231wb has not yet been officially launched, but it will be available soon.

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