Dell W1700LCD TV/Monitor Review


Key Specifications

  • Review Price: £549.00

The name Dell is synonymous with PC technology whether in desktop, server or notebook arenas. I was therefore a little surprised when Dell informed me that I was to receive an LCD TV for review.

This is pretty new territory for Dell, but it’s obvious that a lot of thought has gone into the design of the W1700LCD. Taking the device out of the box, the colour scheme is instantly recognizable. The silver and black finish will complement Dell’s PC systems perfectly, as well as looking quite stylish in its own right.

Once I’d set the W1700LCD up in the office it seemed impossible for anyone to walk past it without stopping and staring for a while. For many potential buyers, this alone will be reason enough to invest.

The LCD panel is surrounded by a reasonably slim sliver bezel. This is flanked on either side by a pair of stereo speakers. The stand is well designed and reminiscent of the Viewsonic VP range of monitors. The stand has a crescent shaped footprint with a central column on which the screen is mounted. The column is telescopic and though not as smoothly damped as Viewsonic’s stands, slides easily up and down to ensure the perfect vertical viewing position. Pushing the screen down to the bottom results in it locking into place. It can then be lifted by the top-mounted carrying handle and transported easily. The screen also swivels about 160 degrees left to right and will angle up and down. All in all the range of movement is excellent and it’s easy to find the perfect viewing angle.

The panel itself is a 17in widescreen TFT with a native resolution of 1,280 x 768. This is actually a lower resolution than a standard 4:3 17in TFT screen, but the widescreen aspect is to accommodate the TV/DVD side of the equation.

Putting the W1700LCD through its paces using DisplayMate highlighted a few issues. The 64-step greyscale test showed a definite green tint in the mid-range. This was evident in the majority of greyscale graduations. There were also some severe stepping issues in the 256-intensity level colour ramp test. Definite blocks could be seen rather than a smooth graduation. In the colour scales test the W1700LCD struggled to maintain a uniform display at low intensity.

Now, before you get too worried about the issues highlighted by DisplayMate, you have to remember that this panel has a dual purpose. Unlike a standard PC monitor the W17000LCD is also supposed to be used for watching video and, it has to be said, in this area it excels.

Screens with integrated TV tuners often produce questionable image quality, but the terrestrial TV image from the W1700LCD was breathtaking. When I connected an aerial and fired it up the whole office came to a standstill as everyone stood transfixed to the Dell. That’s quite an amazing state of affairs considering we were watching mindless daytime television. This is definitely the best quality LCD monitor/TV I’ve encountered, at least from a TV watching point of view. Things are no less impressive when you’re watching DVDs. I connected up a Pioneer DV-737 via component video and the image quality was superb. Strangely, when viewing the player’s menu without a movie playing there appeared to be some interference, but this disappeared completely when a disc was inserted. So if you’re planning on using the W1700LCD as part of a media PC setup you won’t be disappointed. That said, it’s only really suitable for personal use since a 17in widescreen image is still pretty small by TV standards.

The sound from the built-in stereo speakers is adequate but lacks bass. An integrated subwoofer like the one in the Elonex eXentia Media Center PC would have been a great addition, but would of course have bumped the price up and potentially spoil the design.

Below the TFT panel is an extensive array of buttons. From here you can select the input source, change the TV channel, adjust the volume, enter the OSD and power the unit on/off. The channel buttons also double up as up and down controls when in the OSD. To the left of the buttons is the receiver for the supplied infrared remote control.

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