LG Flatron M2294 Wide LCD TV Monitor
LG's new Flatron M2294 Wide LCD TV Monitor is, as the somewhat ungainly name indicates, a 22in wide-format LCD display that can act as a TV as well as a regular computer monitor.
Digital TV Monitor is proclaimed, or rather whispered, in a tasteful black-on-black label on the front bezel. LG has built a digital receiver into the display, along with the kind of inputs that normally grace a regular media centre device.
Let's get the formalities out of the way. The resolution of this display is 1680 x 1050 pixels, providing a 16:10 widescreen ratio and pixel count that works well with HDTV, for 720p at least. (1080p or 1080i requires 1920 x 1080 pixels.) In a recessed panel on the back, the M2294D has two HDMI inputs (perfect for a PS3 or HD-capable DVD player, for example), two Scart ports, a quintet of phono sockets for composite video and audio, and a TV antenna socket for digital TV reception.
A PCMCIA slot accepts decoder cards for subscribed content. It also has ports for analogue VGA and digital DVI-D input; this is a computer monitor as well, remember. For audio from your computer setup, there's an audio minijack socket, and there's also an optical audio out for hooking up to a high-spec audio system. Finally, there's an RS-232 and a USB port, both for service-related control rather than normal use.
All this is fairly impressive, and the audio output is good news. (The device has a pair of 3W speakers built in, but those won't rock the house.) But none of this tackles the question of how well it functions as a display when put to work.
The screen quality was quite acceptable - better than many others we've seen. The contrast level was good from a face-on viewing position, but we couldn't help note obvious contrast shift with vertical changes in viewing position, but this wasn't worse than other displays in this price bracket. The colour wasn't actually all bad, once calibrated and profiled with a third-party device, although we wouldn't go as far as to put this up against a £1000-level prepress display.
The glossy black case is a curious choice. It looks fine, but the plastic isn't quite as rigid as we expected. There's also no Vesa mounting option, so you're limited to placing this on a flat surface. The stand is the most unimpressive part of the package; no height adjustment, minimal tilt, and swivel just by sliding it around. The on-screen displays are large and very clear, although you'll find yourself using touch and guesswork to figure out which buttons to press, as they're placed on the right side of the display. Switching between inputs is easy, although a remote control would have helped.
This kind of convergence, mixing computing with other kinds of display, is logical, although it isn't always done terribly well. LG's approach seems to make a lot of sense, as long as you don't mind not watching TV while you're using your Mac, or vice versa. If you want a single display that can work with a wide range of devices and switch between them easily, this is definitely worth a closer look.