HP L1940

The HP L1940 is an average-priced 19-inch LCD with decent image quality and so much adjustability that it's a tad unstable.

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We love adjustable displays, especially those destined for business use, so we were happy to see the HP L1940 and its double-hinged neck and its base that swivels 360 degrees. Unfortunately, this particular design may be a case of too much of a good thing, because the L1940's flexibility borders on instability. The L1940's image quality, especially with text, is good, which makes it worth a look, but if you're willing to spend a bit more, you should consider the Samsung SyncMaster 193P, another highly adjustable monitor that has even better image quality, more stability, and bundled pivoting software, an item HP fails to include with the pivoting L1940.

The HP L1940 manages to be both elegant-looking and clunky at the same time. The 12-by-15-inch viewable panel is framed by a sleek-looking, matte-finish, faux-aluminum bezel that measures 1.5 cm around three sides and 2.5 cm along the bottom. The panel is supported by a wide, black, folding neck piece that rises out of a graceless molded plastic base. The L1940's base contains a large junk tray for corralling loose items. More notable is the lazy-Susan-style rotation device built into the bottom of base that swivels the entire display 360 degrees; this is nice, but it makes the monitor wobble back and forth at the slightest touch.

The most interesting feature of the HP L1940's design is its double-hinged neck. The two hinges -- one at the base of the neck and one at the top -- allow the top of the display to rise almost 50 cm above your desk or lower it until the bottom edge sits a mere 3.8 cm above your work surface. In addition to tilting forward 5 degrees, the panel can tilt all the way back until it's parallel to the ceiling (which is not terribly useful, except for shipping or storing purposes). All this makes for an extremely adjustable display, but it's so fluid that it moves all by itself, especially when tilted forward in Portrait mode at low heights. Rotating the L1940 from Landscape to Portrait mode is more difficult -- the joints don't move as easily. The L1940 is also VESA compatible and can be removed from its base entirely and securely bolted to a wall or arm mount.

The HP L1940's front-panel controls consist of a line of five slender buttons, with the main menu and directional arrow scrolling buttons sandwiched between an autoadjustment button on the left and the power button on the right. The onscreen menus are easy to read and navigate.

At the back, the HP L1940 has single-power VGA and DVI-D ports alongside one upstream and two downstream USB 2.0 ports. Plugging in the cords from Portrait mode is a breeze, and they can be gathered in place by the sturdy plastic clip at the base of the neck.

HP does not include pivoting software with the L1940. If you're planning to pivot, make sure that your graphics card can do it or that you have a spare US$40 for PivotPro pivoting software.

The L1940 ships with a USB cable and a VGA connector cord. If you prefer using a digital signal, you'll have to buy a DVI-D cable. The L1940 doesn't feature integrated speakers or a headphone jack, either.

We tested the HP L1940 at its native resolution of 1,280x1,024 pixels using the analog cable, and the results were favourable, especially with text. The L1940's sans serif text was legible, dark, and clear, and serif fonts such as Times New Roman looked sharp. Colour and greyscale performance was less impressive. Our CNET Labs' DisplayMate-based greyscale tests revealed the L1940's affinity for the dark end of the greyscale; instead of smoothly progressing from dark grey into black, the L1940 jumped abruptly to black. We also saw a good deal of colour in the greyscale, an indication that the red, blue, and green channels were not making the progression to black at the same rate. This was confirmed in our colour test screens where the blue and the red had an especially hard time moving smoothly and evenly from light to dark, although green traversed the scale with aplomb.

On our DVD-playback test, the HP L1940 showed an unexpected knack for displaying accurately coloured flesh tones in a performance that was otherwise average.

CNET Labs DisplayMate tests
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
ViewSonic VP912b
HP L1940

Brightness in cd/m2
ViewSonic VP912b
NEC MultiSync 1960NXi
HP L1940
Note: Measured with Minolta CA-210

NOTE: Products in this test are for comparative purposes only and are not necessarily available in the Australian market.

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