ViewSonic are the first to market with an all-in-one LCD monitor and iPod dock that is available from 19-inches to 24-inches. The unique feature about this is the integrated dock that helps to save space and USB connections on your computer since it allows you to connect other devices to the built in hub as well as sync your iPod with iTunes on your Mac or PC.
This stunning display can take your breath away when you’re watching HD content or playing the latest games. The built-in iPod dock at the base of the unit provides convenience to the millions of iPod owners out there but its not the only feature it includes, it also packs loads of features including a speaker system with sub woofer, USB hub, card reader, headphone jack and microphone. All that’s missing? A built-in web-cam but we can forgive this factor considering there’s so much tasty tech goodness built in already.
With the ViewSonic VX2245 your desk starts to become that little bit emptier since this piece of kit is designed to replace them all.
The 22-inch model that I reviewed (VX2245wm) features a 1680 x 1050 resolution with a 16:10 aspect ratio. Response time for those hardcore movie fans and gamers out there will be glad to know that this monitor really is a do-it-all unit with an impressive 5 millisecond response time, ensuring fluid and smooth on screen animation.
The 700:1 contrast ratio and 280 cd/m2 brightness panel was able to produce impressive colour reproduction for the photos, movies and games that I was running during the past 3 weeks of it sitting on my desk. With my 6 megapixel Canon camera, and more recently the Fuji camera that I had been reviewing, images on the ViewSonic were vivid and sharp, it made my photos look beautiful put simply.
At the rear you’ll find a DVI-D and VGA connections with both cables in the box. The display itself is powered separately to the base where the dock and extras are located so two power cords are needed to power this beast.
The LCD display itself is anti-glare, which I personally prefer as it has no reflection, just a smooth pure picture that is not interfered with by my ugly mug, which would otherwise get reflected on a glossy display.
With a multimedia hub sitting at the base of the ViewSonic, you can expect a significant number of jacks and ports available at hand. The rear of the dock reveals an upstream USB 2.0 port for connecting to your machine, a USB 2.0 downstream connection, power jack and audio in and out jacks.
The front and side of the iPod dock has a headphone/line-out jack, three USB 2.0 ports, microphone, power button, volume control, sub-woofer and to the side the 8-in-1 card reader.
A 2.1 speaker system has been integrated in to the monitor and base running at 2 x 2.5 watt stereo speakers backed up by a 3 watt subwoofer and can be used for playing back your tunes from your iPod without having the computer or monitor on or you can use it for audio playback directly from your computer or both!
The 8-in-1 card reader supports SD/MMC, MS, MS Pro, Smartmedia (who even uses Smartmedia anymore?), Compact Flash and MicroDrive memory. So for all those Fuji and Olympus camera owners out there, I’m afraid you’re not cool enough to be on an iPod-dock enabled display. It’s strange that the XD card reader slot has been missed out since it’s so common in so many digital cameras these days. It’s an unforgivable mistake considering they’ve put a Smartmedia and MicroDrive slot in the monitor instead. If you’ve got a camera that uses these cards, well lets be blunt, it’s time to get a new camera.
No matte what I did with the 2.1 speaker system it just resulted in being a complete disappointment. Suitable for only ‘system sounds’, you know, the beeps and bongs that your system throws out when something goes wrong, and ends up being a waste of time. My expectations weren’t high for a built-in speaker system but they were a lot higher than the results I got when I docked my iPod in to test out some new tunes from Timbaland, The Fray and Fratellis. These tests all left me with a sorrow empty barrel of hate for it and I ended up just not ever using the speaker system again.
USB hubs tend to sit separately to your system and often take up an extra power socket so it’s nice to see this included in the monitor base. Not only has this saved space, it’s saved me from having more cables behind my desk. On the whole this hub works very well, with one USB connection at the back and three on the front, I use it for my USB mouse and wireless USB adapter, which are permanently plugged in. The two remaining jacks I use for plugging in my USB flash drive and digital cameras. Having it right there in front of you offers brilliant convenience. Even with a USB hub, sometimes you still got to get up and fiddle around to plug the device in. The ViewSonic has a lot of grip, so you just push either the device or the cable in with minimal fuss and lots of elegance.
Finished with a glossy exterior and silver trim, the design on the whole is classy yet not overdone that it becomes silly and difficult to keep clean, however you do have battles from time to time in removing dust from it. A nice arc where the buttons are located in the centre and where the speakers blend in on the monitor portion adds a nice finish to the design. The monitor base is again decked out in black with silver centre for the iPod dock.
I have to admit, it’s not the most attractive looking monitors on the market, especially when sitting next to my Apple Cinema Display it’s far from the design elegance with quite a bulky chassis, it would be nice to see future revisions streamline the design with a thinner bezel and smaller base yet maintain the functionality and features it holds in this model. Just about everything else about is perfect.
The buttons on the front of the monitor are difficult to use. It’s the classical mistake of putting form over function, making it difficult at best to access these buttons with anything but a finger nail push. The buttons themselves are nearly flat against the bezel of the screen and are really thin to boot so it’s quite difficult to push these buttons. The central power button for the monitor lights up blue when pushed or orange when in standby. The four surrounding keys allow access to the menu functions as well as the preset settings like Cinema and Text modes.
Perhaps the most important aspect to this product is whether the display is any good. So far everything I’ve said about this ViewSonic is pretty mediocre, so let me enlighten to you to the results of my experience in using this display for my daily activities from photo management/editing, watching videos, playing games and browsing the web.
I watched “Click” in 720p HD resolution as well as a multitude of 1080p movie trailers in QuickTime. Quality of the visual aspect was phenomenal, with amazing colour reproduction that wasn’t expected with the 700:1 contrast ratio. The brightness of the display, sharpness of the picture and the colour tones were really quite incredible, especially when you’re watching a video of this quality. Skin tones for on screen characters appeared very accurate and natural and dark/light tones were represented very well with rich and vivid blacks.
Response times helped when playing games like Quake 4 and the recently released Command and Conquer 3. Likewise with the video playback, I experienced no ghosting or lag with fast images, instead I get a fluid-like motion and smooth transitions from dark to light. The ViewSonic really does excel when it comes to display quality and although this isn’t touted as the ultimate gaming monitor, it would certainly be adequate for most of us with the 5 millisecond response time.
Using the ViewSonic with Windows XP wasn’t as inspiring as the more colourful Windows Vista that I have stored on a second hard drive in my system. So after I booted in to Vista, you can start to see what Microsoft intended us all to see. By the way, this monitor is Vista certified and at 22-inches with a 1680 x 1050 resolution, it certainly meets the display standard that Microsoft recommends for running Vista. For those not content with that then you can get the 24-inch model with a 1920 x 1200 resolution. The stunning background wallpapers really work well with this monitor, you just have to make sure you get the widescreen ones on and you’ll even be impressed with the photographs that come pre-shipped with Vista.
One of the best prices I found for the VX2245wm from ViewSonic was at Amazon for about Â£320, which is an absolute bargain when you compare it with the likes of the Apple Cinema Display and other rival brands. Not only do the others not have as many USB ports or card readers built in, this has the iPod dock as well, which makes it a no-brainer if you want a good display at a crazy price for such a feature packed product.
The few criticisms that I have for this display is mainly reserved for the base portion. I expected to be able to play back my videos from the iPod when it’s docked and although can do this, you need to have your computer booted up first. You can’t just dock the iPod and play a video from your iPod straight on to the display. The speakers do work but they’re just about useful enough for playing the Vista start up sound because it’s certainly no match for the sound quality of the speakers built in to my notebook – and that doesn’t even have a subwoofer.
With a 5 millisecond response time, fantastic colours and some nice ‘kinda-gimmicky’ features I do recommend this monitor not for its genius innovations but for the space saving factor that it brings to the so many tech-cramped desks out there. The range of different ports, jacks, and connections is quite stunning but it seems that ViewSonic could have spent a bit more time in working it all out, for instance the lack of an XD card slot and the poor iPod dock integration.
However, at a price far less than the Cinema Display from Apple, with display quality that rivals more expensive brands, the VX2245wm comes highly recommended, but its flaws make it fall short of receiving the TechCast Recommended Award.