Selling on the street
for around $600, the PV720 is an impressive display. In hooking it up, I was
disappointed to find that there was no DVI input, but after living with it
for a while, I am beginning to wonder if it could offer much improvement.
I had planned to connect it to the new Matrox G550 dual DVI graphics card (reviewed recently
by TPC), but wound up testing it as the main display on an older G450. Since my
focus is not on gaming, 3D performance is of minor concern. The testing system
was a 1.33MHz T-Bird on an Iwill KK266R with 512
megs of ram.
The monitor was delivered
with an optional speaker set that attaches neatly to the bottom of the monitor.
This amplified module also features a headphone jack, and is exactly what
you’ll get if you order the PV720A (I assume the ‘A’ suffix stands for ‘audio’).
rotation software from Portrait Displays is also included. This allows the
ability to use the monitor in ‘portrait’ mode – that is, on it’s
side. This feature could be quite useful in page-layout and poster illustration,
plus it offers an aesthetic alternative when arranging multiple windows on
the desktop. It can also save a few precious inches of width on a crowded
Sharpness is a Virtue
There is no doubt about
the supremacy of the LCD display over the CRT in terms of sharpness, and the
PV720 is no exception. My everyday setup includes two monitors – one Trinitron
model for the bright, vibrant colors, and one shadow mask model known for
its crisp text. The PV720 is beyond compare in sharpness, providing a bright,
high-contrast, even-toned display seemingly impossible to reproduce on any
CRT I’ve seen.
Whiter Whites, Brighter
Casual use of the PV720
reveals an image quality that simply pops off the screen in brilliant color
– and that may be as much of a weakness as a strength,
in terms of absolute color fidelity. Television manufacturers have long known
that the brightest set in the store will draw a customer’s eye – no matter
how inaccurately it reproduces color. People are drawn to vibrant displays
of color, and that’s okay – but if you’re trying to accurately reproduce a
photograph or make sure your client’s logo is the exactly the same color on
his print materials as it is on his product packaging, it’s another story.
I spent hours sampling
and comparing colors between the PV720 and other monitors, as well printed
samples. The color rendition was very good, but I found my trusty Trinitron
to be much more accurate, particularly in the blue ranges. However, it delivers
enough additional benefits to tempt one to learn to live with it.
For critical color proofing,
it is essential that a CRT monitor be warmed up for several hours, and adjusted
in that state. It is also necessary to check and verify these settings frequently,
as CRTs are massive but vulnerable things, shifting color and focus with time
and changing conditions. These frequent adjustments should be unnecessary
with LCD panels. If I could eliminate the time spent on keeping monitors in
line, I might save an entire workweek or more over the course of a year. That’s
something to think about.
The PV720 springs to life
almost instantly with a ‘perfect’ image, whether it’s been in sleep mode for
an hour or powered off for a day. In contrast, my CRT doesn’t light up until
long after the bios screen has passed. I don’t know that there’s any great
value in it – but the cool factor is definitely there when you tap your mouse
from a long sleep and a clear, bright image pops on the screen. It helps give
your entire system a snappy, responsive feel – something techno-geeks will
The Color of Night
An inherent weakness in
LCD display technology–perhaps it’s greatest weakness—stems from the fact that the display
is backlit. A bright white light shines between the pixels, and those that
should appear black are, at best, a dark and often muddy gray. Given the contrast
against the extreme brightness of the whites displayed, the PV720 does a credible
job of reproducing ‘black’ until large dark areas are displayed. However,
until there is a display technology (‘digital ink?’) that does not require
anything more than ambient light to view, we will never achieve true black,
although some CRTs come close.