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What’s big, flat, and colorful?

Hitachi’s CML170B 17-inch flat panel LCD monitor is expensive but worth it. Hardware review hed: What’s big, flat, and colorful? dek: Hitachi’s CML170B 17-inch flat panel LCD monitor is expensive but worth it.

I recently read where some computer pundit referred to his “big” 17-inch monitor. I hate to be the one to break it to this guy, but as CRT prices have dropped, really big monitors have gotten cheaper and cheaper. Fueled by the popularity of LCD flat-panel displays, CRTs fought back by cutting prices. But there are so many advantages to using flat-panel LCD monitors that this may be a losing battle.

Let’s start with size: LCD monitors are actually the size they say they are. A 17-inch LCD screen like Hitachi’s CML170B actually measures 17 inches, while a 17-inch CRT is 16 inches diagonally. The Hitachi CML170B takes up less than one-third the desktop volume of a 17-inch CRT, while delivering a larger on-screen image, which means you can have the Favorites panel open in browsers such as Internet Explorer or Opera without losing screen real estate. I like working with flat-panel displays on my Windows Millennium computer because it’s subject to window glare and the CML170B’s matte-surface screen almost totally eliminates reflection problems. This makes it easy on the eyes, which can be a consideration for business users concerned about creating a healthy working climate for their employees.

Hitachi’s CML170B 17-inch flat-panel LCD monitor is part of its “Black Cabinet” display series that also includes 19- and 21-inch flat screen CRT monitors. The monitor’s housing is an attractive midnight gray color that focuses your attention on what’s on the screen rather than what’s on the monitor itself, and features built-in speakers and a headphone jack. The monitor has a native resolution of 1,280-by-1,024dpi and setting it there will produce the best results. At this setting, some computer users might find text a bit small–although it looks good–at the Small Font (96dpi) setting, so I changed it to large fonts (120dpi) and this works well for entering text in my e-mail client.

If you’re used to working with glass CRT monitors, you will discover that LCD panels need to be set up somewhat differently. With flat-panel monitors larger than 15 inches, text can look choppy if the monitor’s clock and phase adjustments aren’t set correctly, but the parameters are easy to adjust by selecting (but not confirming) Shut Down in Windows’ Start menu, and leaving the window active. If you see “bars” across the screen, make the necessary adjustments to the monitor’s clock and phase On Screen Display controls until they disappear. Contrast could also be set too high, so be sure to check that too. Once tweaked, the CML170B’s on-screen resolution is impressive, and both text and photographs are crisply and colorfully displayed. Screen redraw is fast, and it doesn’t ghost when dragging windows around.

At $1,299, Hitachi’s 17-inch flat-panel LCD monitor costs more than anybody’s (even its own) 21-inch glass CRT monitors, but the CML170B remains the sharpest, most colorful 17-inch LCD monitor I’ve ever tested, and it’s ideal for computer use in home or office environments.

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