By Kristina Blachere
The word on the street is that LCD prices have stabilized, so now is the time to upgrade your whole office to flat panels. For regular employees, check out some affordable 15-inch LCDs. But for VIPs or spreadsheet jocks who need to stare at long rows of figures all day, a 17-inch display is the better bet. Compaq's TFT7020 offers great quality and a slick look at an affordable price. Click here to check the latest prices.
Spacey yet earthy
The $779 Compaq TFT7020's two-tone, carbon-and-silver casing is trim, with a space-aged design as well as a sturdy swivel base that's easy to adjust and won't tip over when you change the screen angle. The LCD offers a decent 1,280 x 1,024 (SXGA) resolution and a tight .26mm dot pitch. With slightly above-average (150 degrees horizontal, 140 degrees vertical) viewing angles, the display is good for presentations, and Compaq offers movable swing-arm and VESA wall-mount options. Just under the bottom edge of the unit, there's a headphone jack and a volume dial for the two small speakers embedded in the front panel.
|Compaq's TFT7020 LCD monitor received a CNET Editor's choice award and was rated 8 out of 10.|
Setting up the TFT7020 is easy because the plastic panel on the back of the display flares at the bottom, leaving more room for the signal, audio, and power cables. The TFT7020 has both analog and digital connectors, and both super-VGA and DVI-D cables come in the box.
The TFT7020 is targeted at Compaq's business users, so the included CD-ROM has some useful, business-oriented software. Compaq LCD Display Test helps you optimize picture quality, and Display LiteSaver enables sophisticated low-power and sleep-mode settings. Thanks to Compaq Management Agents, the display is compatible with Compaq's Intelligent Manageability software, and a user guide offers setup instructions, troubleshooting tips, and onscreen display (OSD) information.
Comprising three buttons on the front panel, the OSD controls are minimalist but perfectly usable. The OSD menu, which looks somewhat like the interface of a Palm device, is organized with submenus of settings that you scroll through and select. In addition to the usual controls, such as brightness, contrast, and color, advanced options let you lock your settings as well as adjust the menu's position and transparency.
LCD vs. CRT
As the quality of LCD monitors continues to rise and their cost falls, more and more enterprises are making the switch from traditional CRTs. But what are they really gaining? It's true that LCDs are smaller and lighter than CRTs, but are there any other practical benefits, or does everyone just want to have the coolest monitor in the office. If you've switched to LCDs, we want to know what benefits your organization has realized. If you've decided to stay with CRTs, what was the deciding factor? Post a comment to this article and let us now where you stand.
The TFT7020 has an extremely bright rating of 250cd/m² and a high, 400:1 contrast ratio. These are generally desirable features, but they undermined the Compaq's otherwise excellent performance in our DisplayMate-based tests. Focus was crisp and clear when we viewed text pages, Web sites, and all types of digital images on the TFT7020. And Web colors were vibrant and rich after we lowered the factory-preset contrast. Unfortunately, high-quality Photoshop images betrayed uneven color and pixelation in skin tones, and certain hues looked muted until we jacked the contrast back up, making the screen too bright for normal Web and text viewing. Thanks to a fast, 25ms pixel-response rate, there was no visible ghosting with DVD movies.
Support for the TFT7020 is comprehensive. The three-year warranty covers parts, labor, and on-site service. Toll-free phone support is available 24/7 for the length of the warranty, and Compaq's Web site offers the latest drivers and user forums, as well as an intelligent search engine for support questions.
These days, you can find 17-inch LCDs that cost less than the Compaq TFT7020, but chances are you won't get the same picture quality, comprehensive service and support, or corporate-friendly features. The TFT7020 is one of the better display buys we've seen lately; it's an all-around strong product for an affordable price.
LCD image-quality test
|Longer bars indicate better performance.|
0-50 = Poor, 50-60 = Fair, 60-70 = Good, 70-80 = Very good, 80-100 = Excellent
The bright, high-contrast Compaq offered some excellent and some not so excellent images in our tests. Focus was crisp and clear when we viewed text pages, Web sites, and all types of digital images on the TFT7020. And Web colors were vibrant and rich after we lowered the factory-preset contrast. In Photoshop, certain colors looked muted until we jacked up the contrast, making the LCD too bright for Web and text viewing.
Click here to check the latest prices on the Compaq TFT7020 LCD monitor.
This review was originally published by CNET on May 3, 2002.