With its monster of a 21.3in LCD winning our critical claim, ViewSonic has also entered this group test with a similarly styled 17in model. Like its larger cousin, the VP171s comes with a well designed stand featuring two elongated bird-like toes that provide a solid platform from which the panel can perch.
Thatâ€™s not all. Built into the neck of the stand is a dampened, spring mechanism that makes raising and lowering the screen through its 11cm vertical range an effortless, almost addictive pleasure. In addition, you can swivel the panel from side to side in a 90 degree arc, as well as pivot it through 90 degrees for a portrait view. However, to work in this orientation youâ€™ll also have to rotate your desktop. You can do this by installing the PivotPro software that ViewSonic provides, or if you have one of the latest graphics card drivers, the likelihood is that you can change it from there.
Styling is rather attractive too. A very thin bezel measuring 1.7cm along the top and 1.5cm around the sides frames the display beautifully, and allows more than one screen to be lined up side by side for a corporate multi-panel setup. Having said that, the VP171sâ€™ silver-coloured bezel doesnâ€™t quite enhance the picture in the same way as the black version.
Around the back youâ€™ll find all the connectors consisting of a power socket for the integrated PSU, and no less than three video ports - two D-SUBs, and one DVI-D. A cable for each type is provided too, and these plug in vertically so that you can trail the unsightly leads down and around the back of the standâ€™s neck, through a series of cable tidies. Unlike some models on test, you donâ€™t get any USB ports, and there are no speakers, but the VP171s makes up for that by having one of the brightest and most vivid pictures weâ€™ve seen here.
When using one of the D-SUB ports the picture is well illuminated, and all the scales whether grey or coloured are tonally differentiated. Our photos also looked warm and realistic, and DVD playback was smooth with not a hint of smearing thanks to a full response time of 16ms. Much the same can be said when switching over to a digital signal, apart from the fact that the whole display looks a tad brighter and cleaner making the colour purity test even more impressive.
However, itâ€™s not all a bed of roses and although the horizontal viewing angles cover an arc of 140 degrees before the contrast and brightness drop off, the up and down viewing angles are quite narrow. You can notice this when you pivot the screen for a portrait mode and sway your head from side to side.
The lower part of the bezel sports five slim and unobtrusive buttons consisting of the power button, a main menu button labelled â€˜1â€™, up and down scroll buttons and another button labelled â€˜2â€™ (which also acts as a signal select). The reason behind the labelling is clearly displayed on most of the OSD menus, in that by pressing â€˜1â€™ you exit, and â€˜2â€™ you select. This makes for an intuitive OSD that also carries settings for auto image adjustment, contrast, brightness, colour temperature, and picture position. To finish, you can choose the input priority if you use more than one PC. To top things off the OSD even rotates automatically when you pivot the screen.
If you donâ€™t sit at your desk swaying your head from side to side while working in portrait mode, then the VP171s is a first rate 17in LCD monitor with splendid overall image quality. At Â£440 itâ€™s a bit pricey too, but considering the quality panel and feature set the VP171s comes Recommended.