- Review Price: £180.00
There’s no denying that one of the greatest advantages of a TFT monitor is the small desktop footprint. But wouldn’t it be great if that slim and sexy flat screen had no desktop footprint whatsoever? Well that’s where the LCD ViewMaster from Abbiecomp comes in.
The idea of mounting a TFT screen on some kind of arm is nothing new, and finding a screen that doesn’t have a VESA mount at the back is pretty rare these days. But the question is whether it is worth investing in a mounting arm in the first place, and whether it will really make your monitor viewing experience that much better.
Now, with TFT monitors becoming more and more common, the design and functionality of the stand has started to be the point of differentiation. Looking at the ViewSonic VP range of monitors, the stand plays a large part in creating the overall high-end look and feel of the unit. Features like dampened vertical movement and the ability to pivot the screen helps set the VP range apart from the competition. However, the ViewSonic VP range will take up a decent amount of space on your desktop, and despite the great stand, you are still somewhat limited to the extent to which you can position the screen.
The LCD ViewMaster takes away the need for a smart monitor stand, and gives you a completely free and empty desktop. The ViewMaster can be either clamped to the back of your desk or mounted onto a wall. The former will take up a very small amount of desk space, while the later will take up no room at all, although you’ll need to have your desk facing a wall in the first place.
Constructed from solid aluminium, the ViewMaster ships in three sections. The bottom section is the part that clamps to the desk or wall, while the central part is an optional extension arm. The third part is the clever bit – this is the gas dampened section that can be tilted up and down while the VESA mounting plate is connected to a ball and socket joint for infinite position adjustment.
When you get all the parts out of the box setting it all up does look like a pretty daunting task. However, there is a very detailed manual also supplied. In true techno-junkie style, I made no attempt to read the manual and jumped straight into the construction. Even without referring to the manual I had no problem constructing the ViewMaster and I soon had it clamped to a small desk in the labs.
With the optional centre section installed you can add extra height and length to the arm, as well as providing an extra pivot point. The main part of the arm incorporates gas assisted movement. The tension of the gas assistance can be adjusted to match the weight of the screen that you attach to the arm. The same goes for the ball and socket joint. When I first attached the 17in Samsung LCD TV to the arm it hung straight down like a dead flower. After a little investigation though, I found that at the back of the ball and socket there are four tensioning screws – after a bit of screwdriver action the screen was sitting happily upright.
Once the ViewMaster is constructed and a screen is attached, finding the optimal position for your display should be simple but it’s not. Well, that’s not entirely true, because it is very easy to position the screen at almost any angle in pretty much any position. What I mean is that you have such a massive range of positions and angles, that you could find yourself spending ages trying to find that perfect position.
The best way to set the display position is to hold either side of the screen and manoeuvre and manipulate the arm until the screen is exactly where you want it. If you like to work in portrait mode, you can simply grab the screen and twist it around. It really is difficult to describe in words how easy it is to position a screen using the ViewMaster, and even the pictures don’t really do this device justice.
But it’s not just the infinite range of movement and potential positions that makes the ViewMaster such a great device, it’s also the build quality and attention to detail. One of the best features is the cable routing – under both the centre extension section and the main arm are cable tie mounts. You simply place the cable inside these mounts and then slide a cable tie through the two small loops and pull it tight. Anyone who’s into mountain biking will have seen very similar cable tie mounts on bike frames for securing hydraulic hoses – and let’s face it, if these things hold hoses in place when riding off road, they’ll have no problem keeping your DVI cable tidy.
The ViewMaster is supplied with both 75 and 100mm VESA interface plates, so you should be able to fit practically any screen to it. The desk mount comes as standard, but the wall mount is an optional extra at just under £25. If you’re worried about whether the ViewMaster will be able to support a large screen don’t – it will support anything up to 11kg and if you have anything heavier than that, it’s probably not the kind of screen that needs positional flexibility.
So, there’s no denying that the ViewMaster is a fantastic device for anyone that spends a lot of time in front of a TFT screen, but can you justify the cost? Well, at £179.99 including VAT this is not a cheap option, and I imagine that most personal users would learn to live with the stand that their TFT monitor shipped with rather than pay that kind of money.
But a product like this isn’t really aimed at the personal user, it’s more of a corporate tool. For financial institutions where employees need to have two, three or even four screens on their desk, a product like this can turn an ergonomic nightmare into a dream workstation setup. And for any large corporate organisations where desk and floor space make up the largest cost, being able to fit each employee into less space will definitely justify the purchase cost of buying multiple ViewMaster arms.
That said, TrustedReviews is a pretty small company, but I would consider having a ViewMaster on my desk a pretty sound investment. When you spend as many hours looking at your screen every day as I do, the ability to position it perfectly is a very valuable commodity. Of course, in an ideal world I’d have two 21.3in TFT screens both mounted on ViewMaster arms in a dual display configuration – guess I better start saving then.
The ViewMaster may not be the kind of product that many computer users think is important, but once you’ve had one on your desk for a while you’ll wonder how you lived with that old monitor stand. The price is high for a consumer, but from a corporate point of view it makes good ergonomic sense.