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LCD - Hercules Prophetview 920 Pro

Hercules has a reputation for producing high-performance graphics cards, but it also has a range of flat panel monitors on which to display the video signal from said graphics cards.

The Prophetview 920 Pro is the latest screen from Hercules although it looks very similar to the outgoing model as far as aesthetic design goes. That's not a bad thing however since the 920 Pro has a pretty futuristic look to it, which is probably what Hercules was shooting for considering this display is aimed at the gaming market.

Like all the monitors in this group test the Prophetview 920 Pro sports a 17in active matrix TFT screen with a native resolution of 1,280 x 1,024. But unlike most of the other displays, the Hercules doesn't sport a digital DVI input, in fact it doesn't even have a separate D-SUB cable. Instead Hercules has fitted the 920 Pro with a captive D-SUB cable that does limit ultimate flexibility, but also helps to keep the cost down. With the video cable hard wired into the monitor, the only port at the back is for power which comes courtesy of an external power brick.

It's always a shame to see a flat panel monitor without a DVI connection since the image quality is always going to suffer. Basically it means that the digital video signal created by the graphics card is going through an ADC to convert it to an analogue signal, it’s then sent up the D-SUB cable after which it goes through a DAC to convert it back to a digital signal so the screen will understand it. Obviously all that pointless switching between digital and analogue degrades the signal and the ultimate image quality of the Prophetview is a little disappointing compared to the rest of the pack. That said, if you were looking at this screen in isolation, instead of next to six other flat panels using DVI connections, you'd be very happy indeed with the quality.

Working with the 920 Pro is by no means an unpleasant task, and if you're switching from a CRT monitor you'll probably be overjoyed at the image you're presented with. From a comparative point of view, the Hercules lacks a degree of sharpness shown by some of the DVI equipped competition. The colours are also a little washed out and in no way exhibit the vivid environment of the ViewSonic screen for example.

On the plus side, there is a complete lack of motion artefacts when viewing video on this screen, thanks in part to its impressive 20ms response time. We would have been worried if the Hercules had not excelled in this area since the 920 Pro is being pitched at the games market. In fact, in the field of fast motion video and 3D gaming the Hercules out stripped some of the far more expensive competition.

The bezel surrounding the screen area is quite wide but it doesn't detract from the aesthetics too much. We're not sure why this is, but its matt black colour might have something to do with it, as well as its beveled edges. Along the right hand side are five silver control buttons. The top button is the power switch, while the other four pertain to the monitor setup. There's an auto adjust button that is imperative for a monitor that only connects via an analogue source. The results are pretty good and after a lengthy process you should be left with a well configured image. The plus and minus buttons will control brightness when the OSD is not activated, while the final button will take you into the OSD.

The stand is solid metal and has an attractive matt silver finish to it. As a result the monitor sits very stably on your desk. There isn't a lot of movement offered from the stand, but the screen can tilt forward and backwards, while it's pretty easy to twist the entire unit to either side.

The rear of the display could look great with a brushed aluminum panel bolted to the screen and sporting an embossed Hercules Logo. Unfortunately the lack of any cable routing spoils the effect a little.

So, what you have here is a reasonable TFT screen with analogue only connection and an attractive design. But, what sets the Hercules apart is its amazing price. At only £299 the Prophetview 920 Pro is an absolute bargain and consequently wins a Recommended award.

Verdict

Features may be limited but the incredibly low price of this flat panel display from Hercules makes it a winner. If you’re a games player on a tight budget this screen is a must.

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