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Bigger Really Is Better

By David Cohn

A 15-inch CRT might be fine for many business purposes, but it’s just too small for most CAD applications. And until recently, large LCDs have been quite expensive, yet there’s a trend among mainstream monitor manufacturers who have begun to introduce new, larger LCD monitors tailored specifically for CAD and graphic illustration needs.

One such monitor, the HP LP2465, showed up for an evaluation not long ago. This 24-in. (measured on the diagonal) LCD has a native resolution of 1920 x 1200 pixels and a suggested retail price of just $849. The monitor arrived in two parts—the LCD panel and pedestal base—that connect in seconds. Should you ever need to remove the panel from the base, you simply rotate a mounting clip and lift. The monitor has standard VESA 100mm mounting holes for other mounting options.

Once on its stand, you can raise and lower the panel over a 5.25-inch vertical range. The panel also tilts from -5 to +25 degrees, swivels 90 degrees, and rotates to a portrait or landscape orientation.

The panel itself measures 22 x 14.5 x 2 inches. Once on its base, the entire assembly weighs just 23 pounds, considerably less than the 100 pounds of a typical 24-in. CRT. The active matrix TFT panel has a contrast ratio of 1000:1 and a brightness of 500 nits, far brighter than most LCD displays. Although the 0.270mm dot pitch is a bit larger than some other LCDs, we really didn’t notice the difference. With horizontal and vertical viewing angles of 178 degrees, we were able to view the image on the monitor from virtually anywhere in the room with no discernable reduction in brightness or clarity.


The HP LP2465 LCD Monitor

In addition to its native resolution, the LP2465 supports all common lower resolutions thanks to 24 preset display modes, any of which can be adjusted, and four additional user modes that can be entered and stored. The monitor accepts power in a range from 100 to 240 volts and 50/60 Hz, making it usable virtually anywhere in the world. Accessory rails along all four edges on the rear of the monitor accept optional mounted devices, such as HP speaker bars.

Four buttons in the center of the bezel below the LCD panel enable you to navigate through the On-Screen Display (OSD) to adjust the monitor using controls in English, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Japanese, or Spanish. A small button in the lower-right corner turns the monitor on and off while an adjacent LED glows green when the monitor is fully powered, amber when in sleep mode, and flashing amber when in sleep timer mode.

Two DVI connectors support both analog and digital input signals. The monitor comes with two DVI-to-VGA analog cables and two DVI digital cables. There’s also a built-in four-port USB 2.0 hub, and HP supplies an upstream USB cable to connect the hub to the computer. Unfortunately, the USB ports are located on the rear of the panel adjacent to the DVI connectors, an inconvenient location if you frequently need to change USB components. You may also have to adjust all the cables when rotating the panel between landscape and portrait orientation.

We used DisplayMate from DisplayMate Technologies  to help evaluate the visual quality of the LP2465. DisplayMate uses a series of test patterns to help users fine-tune the image and picture quality of their displays and to help discover any picture quality or video artifacts that might otherwise go unrecognized. We’ve regularly used DisplayMate over the years both to test monitors and to help us adjust our own monitors for optimum performance.

Performance Findings

LCD monitors differ from CRTs in many respects. In the past, we used DisplayMate to help identify focus, color tracking, geometric distortion, and other issues that affect CRTs. LCD monitors don’t suffer from any of these problems. LCD images are generally sharper and show no geometric distortion at their native resolutions. They also take up less space on your desk, consume much less power, produce little heat, are brighter than CRTs, and have fewer electronic emissions.

But LCDs have issues of their own. They generally have difficulty producing black and very dark grays, show fewer than 256 discrete gray-scale intensity levels, and usually lack color accuracy. The biggest problem facing LCDs, however, is bad pixels.

Because an LCD panel consists of individual pixels—each made up of individual red, green, and blue subpixels—there is always the possibility of a defect in one or more of these elements. For example, an entire defective pixel may remain always on, producing a bright spot when viewed on a dark background, or always off, producing a dark spot on an otherwise bright background. These types of defects are quite noticeable. Subpixel defects are much less apparent. Because they only affect one of the three colors, they only become visible when viewed on specific backgrounds. HP claims that the LP2465 will never have more than three bright dots, five dark dots, or a combined total of no more than five defects, and that the panel will never have more than two adjacent pixel defects.

We detected absolutely no pixel defects in our evaluation unit. Other DisplayMate tests showed excellent black levels, smooth gray-scale, and excellent contrast. Our only criticism involved motion artifacts. LCD panels typically react more slowly than CRTs, producing image smearing when viewing rapidly moving images. HP doesn’t publish the response time for the LP2465, and we did detect some smearing when watching DVDs.

In addition to cables, HP also provides a CD with several useful programs, including HP Litesaver to place the monitor into its low-power sleep mode at pre-defined times, a utility to adjust the monitor without having to use the OSD, and Pivot Pro from Portrait Displays to switch the on-screen image between portrait and landscape modes.

HP backs the LP2465 with a three-year warranty that covers parts, labor, and on-site service. While this monitor doesn’t approach the ultra-high 2560 x 1600 resolution of dual-link displays such as the 30-in. Apple Cinema HD Display or Dell 3007WFP, you could buy two of these HP LCDs and still not equal the cost of one of those monitors. The HP LP2465 is a perfect monitor for CAD.

David Cohn is a computer consultant and technical writer based in Bellingham, WA, and has been benchmarking PCs since 1984. He’s a contributing editor to Desktop Engineering, an applications engineer with The PPI Group, the former editor-in-chief of Engineering Automation Report and CADCAMNet published by Cyon Research Corp., and the author of more than a dozen books. You can contact him via e-mail at david@dscohn.com or visit his website at www.dscohn.com. Send your comments about this article through e-mail by clicking here. Please reference "HP LP2465 Review, November 2006" in your message.


HP LP2465 At a Glance

Houston, TX

> Price: $849
> Size: 24-inch (diagonal)
> Display type: active matrix TFT (thin film transistor)
> Measurements and Weight: 22 in. x 17.3 in. x 9.1 in.  (WxHxD) assembled on base
> Weight:  23 pounds
> Native resolution: 1920 x 1200 pixels
> Horizontal frequency range: 30-94 kHz
> Vertical refresh rate: 48-85 Hz
> Display brightness: 500 nts
> Contrast ratio: 1000:1
> Dot pitch: 0.270mm
> Response time: unavailable
> Connections: two DVI (each supports digital or analog)
> Power range: 100-240 volts, 50/60 Hz
> Power consumption: 110 watts max, 75 watts typical, 2 watts in sleep mode
> I/O ports: self-powered USB 2.0 hub with one upstream, four downstream ports
> Other features: tilt/swivel base, portrait/landscape pivot, two DVI cables included, USB upstream cable included, software included, optional speakers available

About David Cohn

David Cohn has been using AutoCAD for more than 25 years and is the author of more than a dozen books on the subject. He’s the technical publishing manager at 4D Technologies, a contributing editor to Digital Engineering, and also does consulting and technical writing from his home in Bellingham, WA. Watch for his latest CADLearning eBooks on AutoCAD 2015 on the Apple iBookstore, at Amazon, and on the CADLearning website. You can contact him via email at david@dscohn.com or visit his website at www.dscohn.com.