- Review Price: £240.00
If one is to go by the name of a product, then this latest 17in TFT monitor from LG appears to be the follow up model to the company’s LG Flatron L1730P I reviewed last year. However, it is not and instead the 40 Series replaces the 20 and 50 Series. As you can see, this new addition has seen quite a radical change in terms of aesthetics, and first impressions are very good for this “Premium Artistic Series LX40” monitor as LG likes to label it. The 17in panel is framed attractively in a matt black bezel, whereas the curvaceous lower part and rear of the chassis is constructed from plastic with an iPod-esque white lacquered finish. This and the chromed base give an end result that’s certainly pleasing to the eye, if somewhat reminiscent of some of Sony’s designs, but if you’re after a great-looking monitor for your desk then LG has got off to a great start.
However, one could argue that the L1740P is a case of style over substance once you take a look at the functionality of the stand. Unlike some of the company’s other models, the L1740P lacks a USB hub altogether and is limited in its range of movement. For instance, after unpacking the unit the first thing I tried to do was pivot the display. Unfortunately this was met with stubborn resistance as was the attempt to swivel it from side to side. This respectively means you won’t be able to work in a portrait view or smoothly turn the display for the benefit of the person sitting next to you. Furthermore, the L1740P can not be raised or lowered, which basically makes it a tilt-only (five degrees back and 25 degrees forward) display. However, if you a need a wall-mounted display, the L1740P accepts a VESA-compliant mounting interface.
There are other issues that didn’t sit well with me either. First of all, I found the display to sit a little too low for my liking and with the aforementioned lack of height adjustability, you may find your self slipping a couple of books under the stand. Secondly, hooking up the display to the DVI-D port was far from easy. Using the supplied DVI cable, I found that inserting this into its respective port was hindered by the design of the stand’s stubby neck.
In fact, the cable has to be bent to one side at almost a right angle in order for the plug end to comfortably fit in its vertical orientation. Of course, with the D-SUB port sitting further toward the side of the chassis, this problem shouldn’t be encountered if you decide to go for the analogue signal option. Nevertheless once the video cable has been seated, along with the power cable for the L1740P’s internal PSU, all the leads are kept out of sight when the removable panel is refitted in order to maintain the chassis’ flowing lines.
With the monitor all hooked up, it was time to switch it on using the very clever touch-sensitive button. Do I need to tell you what colour light I was greeted with? Well if you haven’t seen from our product shots, it’s that ubiquitous blue light that seems to adorn most of today’s products, although in the L1740P’s defence, it is at least contoured to the shape of the button which makes a refreshing change from a circle of glowing aquamarine.
With the drivers supplied on CD, I installed these next. As with most monitor manufacturers, the driver is also supplied with a colour profile which can be used to help calibrate the display. However, in this case the profile didn’t agree with Adobe Photoshop as indicated by the Window (below) that popped up when I started the program.
A defective monitor profile didn’t fill me with a great deal of confidence, so I created my own using Adobe’s Gamma Utility which can normally be found in the Control Panel under Windows. It’s best to save the new profile under a different name to the one supplied by LG to avoid the same error popup when you restart Photoshop. Now that the monitor was loosely calibrated I turned my attention to the OSD controls in order to make some much needed adjustments that I’ll mention a little later.
But where are the OSD control buttons? At first, I thought LG had gone down the same route as Samsung did with its SyncMaster 173P by offering an OSD controlled via the PC. This is not the case and although the fascia is devoid of any OSD buttons, there’s a slim row of four discreetly embedded buttons that run down the right-hand side of the bezel. Quite a tidy idea you may think, but operating these buttons is almost like using Braille.
For a start, each button comes with a label but to read those you’ll either have to stretch your neck around the side, or twist the whole display around. That said, things do get easier once you locate (by touch) the top and bottom buttons and have taught yourself the function of each one. As for available settings these are standard and include the usual adjustments for screen position, independent RGB channels, colour temperature and for clock and phase. There’s also a triple-stepped gamma control for boosting the detail in dark movie and game scenes.
In terms of function, the button sequence is as follows: Menu, Source (+), f-Engine (-) and Set/Auto. The Menu button gives you direct access to the OSD and the Source button trebles up as a signal source select, a scroll-up, and a settings increase button. As for the Set/Auto button, this acts as a sub-menu enter button and instigates the auto-adjustment feature for an analogue connection. Last but not least, the f-Engine button offers a scroll down and settings decrease function, and of course activates LG’s Flatron f-Engine chip.
Briefly the f-Engine, as discussed here, is designed to enhance the picture depending on the intended use of the monitor. You have options for optimised brightness and contrast for text work and displaying movies, plus a user mode for creating your own preferences by adjusting the RCM (Real Colour Management) setting to bring out vivid natural colours, and the ACE (Adaptive Clarity Enhancer) setting to enhance brightness and contrast for moving images.
In reference to the picture above, all these settings and their effects can be viewed over a split screen for assessment and then either set or aborted. Whether or not you’ll use the f-Engine very often is debatable, but in my experience it certainly offers a vibrancy boost for gaming and watching DVDs.
When it comes to the L1740P’s image quality our tests gave similar results to the L1730P. But before I go on to summarise those, I did find that a lot of initial tweaking was required to set up the display correctly. Straight out of the box, I found the picture too garish and bright with a distinct greenish tone. A slight drop in the contrast helped alleviate this, along with a reduction in the green level in the RGB sub-menu.
In our DisplayMate tests, the results were on the whole acceptable when using either an analogue or digital signal. Colours were very vibrant and the motion tests revealed only slight smearing thanks in part to a 12ms response time. However, both the greyscale and colour ramps showed evidence of some banding as they dropped to their lowlight ends. Now whether or not that’s because this TFT panel can handle 16.2million colours rather 16.7million (as specified on LG’s website) is difficult to say, but what I do know is that I’ve seen 6-bit panels handle these same scales with more finesse.
Moving on to the real world of static and moving images, the colours appeared accurate and skin tones were quite realistic. I could notice a certain graininess to our test DVD movie, but it’s not as grainy as other LCDs I’ve tested. Accurately colour-balancing my images wasn’t too bad either, as long as the L1740P is set-up well initially and your eyes don’t wander off that head-on sweet spot. I say this because a discernable colour shift is observed as you raise your eye level up and down. In this respect the vertical viewing angles are narrow, although they are wider in the horizontal plane.
Overall, the LG Flatron L1740P isn’t perfect, but then so many monitors aren’t, especially for this price bracket. The picture has to be tamed a little, there’s a distinct colour shift in the vertical plane, and the controls are a tad tricky to use. But once they’ve been overcome, it’s really only the stand’s lack of adjustability that has to be weighed up against the L1740P’s good looks. Personally, I’m swayed by substance over a style, but for the truly image conscious this could be the one.
Score in detail
Image Quality 7