Thursday

LG Flatron IPS235V review


Specialized needs not withstanding, most monitor shoppers can boil their needs simply down to this: They want performance at a reasonable price with the ability to calibrate the display as they see fit.
If a vendor can offer that, then most of their job is done. With the LG Flatron IPS235V, LG offers just that. The IPS235V is one of the best budget monitors I've ever seen, and while there are some design quibbles, it definitely addresses those near-universal monitor needs.




Design
When a company attempts to do something different with a monitor from a design perspective, it's not difficult for someone, like myself, who's been on an almost steady diet of black monitors for the last four years to easily notice said differences, however subtle they may be. While the LG Flatron IPS235V is yet another black monitor, LG added a bit of design panache to the bezel. Typically, bezels on monitors are either of the glossy or matte variety. LG goes for black wood grain here instead. It's subtle and most wouldn't even notice it, but as a connoisseur of both fine and not-so-fine monitors, it stands out to me.
The bezel itself is quite narrow, measuring only 0.6 inch in width on the sides. The monitor's full width is 21.5 inches and the distance from the bottom of the bezel to the desktop is 3.3 inches. The foot stand is wide, measuring 10.3 inches wide and 7.6 inches deep; if the thumb screw on the bottom isn't tightened, the monitor will wobble when knocked from the side.
The IPS235V isn't the thinnest monitor, but is probably thinner than most IPS displays. It measures 0.75 inch deep initially, followed by another 1.5 inch to include the ventilation system and connections, for a total of 2.25 inches in depth. The monitor includes a 10-degree back tilt and a 5-degree front tilt, but no other ergonomic options.
Connections include VGA, DVI, and HDMI. Unfortunately, these are recessed into the back of the chassis and face downward. While downward-facing connections are typical of most monitors, some vendors are, thankfully, moving toward more TV-like configurations where connections face back instead. Back-facing connections are much easier to access, making connecting and disconnecting less frustrating. The included headphone jack is a welcome addition.
The onscreen display (OSD) array is located in the bottom right corner of the bezel and includes six buttons: Menu, Mode, Dual, Auto, Input, and Exit. These sit on the underside of the bezel to the left of the power button, which is highlighted by a bright blue LED.
Pressing any of the OSD buttons brings up a menu that labels each with a different function. Under Menu are the usual suspects: Brightness, Contrast, Sharpness, and RGB controls. Also included are three color temperature presets: Warm, Medium, and Cool. When connected via HDMI, we get very limited black-level control with a low and high setting. This setting darkens or lightens the screen, independent of current backlight luminance. Mode gives access to five different presets: User, Movie, Text, Photo, sRGB.
Deep in the OSD's recesses is a Super Energy Savings feature that lowers the screen's brightness when switched on. It also tracks your current power savings in watts per hour and, over time, will track your Total Power Reduction and Total CO2 reduction as long as the feature is turned on.
While I appreciated the options included with the OSD, its navigation interface takes some getting used to. There's no enter button, and in order to alter attributes you simply arrow down (you can't arrow up) to the desired attribute and arrow right or left to make changes. Even after several hours of practice, though, this still felt clunky at times.
From a build-quality perspective, the monitor's chassis feels plasticky, hollow, and as if it could easily shatter if I squeezed it too tightly. While I'm not in the habit of hugging my monitors, I do like for them to feel well-built. This one doesn't.
Feature highlights
Connectivity:DVI, HDMI, VGA
Ergonomic options:10-degree back tilt, 5-degree front tilt
Resolution:1,920x1,080 pixels
Aspect ratio:16:9
Audio:Headphones jack
VESA wall-mount support:Yes
Included video cables:HDMI
Backlight:LED
Panel type:e-IPS
Screen film:Matte
Number of presets:5
Overdrive:No
Picture options:Brightness, contrast, sharpness
Color controls:RGB and 3 color temperature options
Gamma control:Yes
Additional features:None

Performance
I tested the LG Flatron IPS235V through its DVI input, connected to a Windows Vista PC with my own DVI cable. The display posted a composite score of 93 on CNET Labs' DisplayMate-based performance tests.
The merits of antiglare (AG) screen coating are much debated these days. Some viewers prefer the coating not be applied at all, while others favor only a limited amount. And others are completely indifferent. AG coating doesn't adversely affect a monitor's quality, and its benefits or lack thereof are strictly a question of preference.
That said, there is a light AG coating on the IPS235's screen, reducing potential reflections while keeping some of the pop that glossy screens enjoy. A full glossy display can increase the perceived contrast of a monitor screen -- which some people prefer -- but can also be difficult to see in direct sunlight.
Display
 The IPS235V had no problem displaying light gray up to level 254. Level 255 is considered white and every level between it and 1 is a variation of gray, so 254 is the highest score it could have achieved. The IPS235's performance here indicates the display will likely not be prone to washing out light colors. As for dark gray, the IPS235V displayed down to level 4 while still maintaining a deep black, pointing to the display being capable of a low (but not reallylow) black level.
The IPS235V handled color tests with aplomb, displaying mostly accurate colors in tests. Color scales displayed linearly and uniformly pointing to the display's ability to easily distinguish similar colors.
In our Dark Screen test, the monitor showed only minimal clouding along the top middle of the screen.
Text: Black text on white looked clear, without any obvious color tint problems. Fonts were clearly visible down to a 6.8 size. I mean really, if a monitor can't handle text well, then it should probably give up its day job.
Movies: I tested the LG Flatron IPS235V using the Blu-ray version of "Avatar." The Movie preset provides a good experience, displaying a high contrast and vibrant look, but there was a slight green tint push. The is especially apparent when looking at faces with fairly light complexions; they looked to be suffering from slight nausea. Switching back to the User preset and taking the Green down to 62 balances the colors almost perfectly.
Dark detail in dark scenes is noticeable, to a point. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get the IPS235V past that point without severely compromising the contrast balance.
Games: When evaluating the look of games on a monitor, the two most important features to consider are vibrancy and color. If the monitor can display games with a bright and vibrant cleanness, this goes a long way. If colors also pop with fullness and depth, games can usually look great.
Dragon Age II on the IPS235V doesn't look as deliciously vibrant as it does on the PX2370, but it's close. And although some dark detail is lost, the game on the IPS235V sported a much more balanced and accurate color temperature.
To test refresh rate, I used DisplayMate's motion graphics tests and stared at a number of colored blocks as they moved around the screen at various speeds. The IPS235V displayed slightly more noticeable streaking than the Samsung SyncMaster PX2370 during the test.
Photos: For faces and light-colored hair, the IPS235's colors sometimes dip ever so slightly into a greenish hue compared with the PX2370, but the bright colors of clothing and environments pop vibrantly. Luckily, the colors can be adjusted, and I found that turning the Green down to 62 worked best for viewing photos.
Viewing angle;The optimal viewing angle for a monitor is usually from directly in front, about a quarter of the screen's distance down from the top. At this angle, you're viewing colors as the manufacturer intended. Most monitors aren't designed to be viewed at any other angle. Depending on the monitor's panel type, picture quality at suboptimal angles varies. Most monitors use TN panels, which get overly bright or overly dark in parts of the screen when not viewed from optimal angles.
The IPS235V uses an e-IPS panel and delivers viewing angles much wider than what's typical for TN panels, especially when viewed from the bottom.
Power consumption: The LG Flatron IPS235V achieved fair power consumption, with a Default/On power draw of 34.3 watts. The Samsung SyncMaster PX2370 drew a lower 25.01 watts in the same test.
In our Sleep/Standby test, the LG Flatron IPS235V drew 0.75 watt and the PX2370 pulled a much lower 0.27 watt. Based on our formula, the IPS235V would incur a few dollars more in costs compared to the PX2370, with a per-year pull of $10.75 per year and $7.65 per year, respectively.
Find out more about how we test LCD monitors.
Service and support
LG backs the Flatron IPS235V with a one-year parts-and-labor warranty, which covers the backlight for only one year. That's two years less than other vendors such as Dell or Samsung offer. During the first year of warranty, LG offers repair service in two working days and pays freight shipping both ways for one year. During the second and third year of the warranty, customers pay to ship the monitor to LG and LG pays the return freight to the customer. LG provides live Web and e-mail chat as support options, as well as toll-free phone support.
Wrap-Up
For $230 it's difficult for a monitor to completely screw up. As monitors go, that's a pretty low price. Luckliy, the IPS235V goes beyond "not completely screwing up" and actually delivers impressive performance with enough useful OSD features to be the best budget monitors currently available.