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ViewSonic VP171b 8ms LCD monitor

More to it than a fast response time?

Review Right, let's make this clear from the start: the ViewSonic VP171b has been upgraded from a 16ms panel to a faster, 8ms one. This should be good news to folk who claim that they can notice differences in response time when gaming and watching movies. Myself, I'm sceptical - surely you should be concentrating on taking out the villains rather than measuring the miniscule motion trails left by your targets? asks Jalal Werfalli.

ViewSonic VP171b 8ms LCD monitorRight now there are still plenty of 16ms monitors available in stores, so be sure to verify with the vendor that you want in the 8ms version. If the seller isn't sure, there are a number of ways to determine this. I'd ask them to confirm the model number, which can be found on the box. If the last two characters are either '4W' or '5W' then it's the 8ms display. If they are '2W' or '3W', it's the 16ms display. For those who have already bought one, you can always check out the model number by navigating your way to the 'Information' menu in the on-screen display (OSD).

With that cleared up, let's take a closer look at this reasonably priced (£240) TFT monitor. The design of the chassis is always an important consideration when purchasing a new LCD, and I have to admit that ViewSonic's familiar double-toed base with a telescopic neck is among the best around. Not only does it confer good stability to the whole unit, it also employs a dampened, spring-assisted mechanism within the neck that allows it to be raised by up to 11cm with minimal effort.

Furthermore, the triple jointed interface between the panel casing and the top of the neck lets one swivel, tilt and pivot the screen through 90, 25, and 90 degrees, respectively. The latter mode is one of my favourite LCD features, ideal for when you want to display as much of a portrait-format document as you can. It would have been impressive if ViewSonic had built-in a sensory function that informs the pivot software that the screen has been rotated, but that would probably hike up the cost. That said, at least the company has ensured that the OSD rotates automatically, something some manufacturers neglect.

As for the bezel, at 15mm along the side, and 17mm along the top and bottom, this is one of the slimmest around. This really helps minimise the gaps in a multi-panel setup and consequently the perceived interruption to a picture stretched over more than one display.

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