Review: 21″ TFT Flat Panel LCD Color Widescreen Monitor was so kind as to send me the TS-21F5-R, a 21-Inch TFT Flat Panel LCD Color Widescreen Monitor (it is a de-branded HP LCD monitor) for review. At USD 245.99, that is a whole lot of screen real estate. Read on for my findings.

[Buy this LCD monitor]

The specifications of the monitor are as follows:

  • 21″ TFT active matrix display
  • .270 mm dot pitch
  • 1680×1050 at 60 Hz maximum/native resolution
  • -5 degr. to 30 degr. tilt (up and down)
  • 30-94 kHz horizontal frequency scan
  • 48-85 Hz vertical frequency scan
  • The monitor has a silver casing and foot, as well as built-in stereo speakers. It also features a two-port USB hub, a standard VGA as well as DVI video port, a stereo headphone jack, and audio in/out ports. The monitor does not have an external power brick, it is all built-in, so you do not need to worry about making space for yet another power brick. In the box you will find the monitor, VGA and DVI cables, an audio cable, an USB cable to connect the internal USB hub, and of course a power cord. You will also find the usual warranty leaflets and a manual inside.

    I enjoy a clutter-free workspace...
    Yes, I really enjoy a clutter-free workspace…

    The first thing you notice when you take the LCD monitor out of its box is how heavy it is. Contrary to what I thought, it was the stand that added the most weight; not the monitor itself. I find this a definite advantage, as the sheer size of this monitor would not have been done justice by a flimsy stand that you see on all too many monitors today. On the sides of the stand, there is space to tuck away the cables. The stand can be removed, and a standard VESA 100mm can be attached to it if needed.

    Sadly, the stand does not allow for much in the way of vertical adjustment. I require my monitors to be at eye level (I have a tilted shoulderblade) and this is something this monitor cannot do. Now, in all honesty, I rarely see a monitor these days that does allow for proper vertical adjustment. In addition, the stand does not allow for horizontal adjustment at all; which can be annoying, as I regularly want to show something to friends who are sitting on the couch. With my other TFT (an excellent 17″ Dell), I could adjust it in any possible way (even tilt it), and I really miss that functionality with this LCD monitor.

    The back.

    The monitor has a sleek look, but as always, different people, different tastes. I especially like the ‘fold’ which runs across the front, underneath the screen. A few things break the clean lines: there is a sticker which reads “SVGA Color Display” at the bottom right corner, and a weird globe logo where the HP logo used to be. These two stickers do not fit into the design at all, and I will most likely remove these, and clean the remaining sticker glue with some sticker remover. The power key (bottom right) is illuminated blue when active, and orange if the monitor is in sleep mode.

    At the bottom right there are also the control buttons. Volume up/down keys, a menu key, a down key, an up/input key (to switch between VGA and DVI input), and an auto adjust/select key. The automatic picture adjust works perfectly. The on screen display is easy to use, despite the fact that the Dutch translation has some minor spelling errors here and there. The OSD allows you to set just about any setting you could wish for in a monitor, including things like a sleep timer, positioning/colour settings, and even things like the menu timeout and menu transparency.

    I hooked the LCD monitor up to my PowerMac G4 Cube (the Mac did not autodetect it properly, I had to manually set it at its native resolution), and the first thing I noticed as soon as the Mac had powered on, was the brightness. Just like Eugenia, I was baffled by it at first. My first thought actually was that the device was… Defective. When browsing through the OSD, I even found out that the brightness was only set to 85%! It appears the flat panel technology has not really been resting on its laurels. Response time is excellent too, although I must say I personally never quite notice the difference between faster and lower response timed monitors.

    Artsy side shot.

    Björk’s “It’s Oh So Quiet” together with “Army Of Me” is always a good test for speaker quality, and as was to be expected, the internal speakers are not really that good. Very high notes (“It’s Oh So Quiet”) are distorted, and so are the deep base sounds in “Army Of Me”. If you only use the speakers for interface sounds, they will probably suffice, but if you want to listen to music or play movies, I suggest to use better, external speakers. Then again, I may be spoiled by my Creative i-Trigue 3200 2.1 speaker set.

    The biggest gripe with the monitor, however, is the fact that it takes its time to wake from sleep; where that Dell TFT wakes instantly (no delay) this monitor takes about 3-4 seconds to wake, and that is really annoying if you are like me and make a fuss out of insignificant things.

    All in all, this monitor gives you a whole lot of screen real estate for just USD 245. The speakers may not be all that, and the wake from sleep takes too long, but for the rest, this is an excellent LCD monitor, and yet another piece of evidence showing that you absolutely need not spend wheelbarrow loads of money in order to get a decent widescreen monitor.

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