Hewlett-Packard's L1502 15-inch flat-screen is a low-cost LCD that offers pretty good image quality and a streamlined design without a lot of unnecessary frills. While the company intends it primarily for businesses, at around $300 it's a good buy for a home user as well--especially if you don't need the Harman Kardon speakers that come with its consumer-oriented sibling, the HP L1503, which costs $25 more.
The L1502 has a pleasing, understated design. The soft, curved edges of the sleek and silvery bezel run a half-inch along the sides and just about an inch along the top and bottom. The four buttons that control the HP's clean-looking, easy-to-navigate onscreen menu are also curved, and they resemble a handful of silver Mike and Ike candies.
The display sits on a short, stumpy neck. The neck elevates the screen only about two inches off the desktop, so the very tall will probably need to boost the display with a phone book or another prop. The neck also has a limited range of motion. You can tilt the screen back and forth a bit, but you can't raise, lower, swivel, or pivot it between Portrait and Landscape modes. Users who need a more-adjustable LCD should check out the HP L1925 or the ViewSonic VP191b. The L1502 will work with VESA wall or swing-arm mounts.
The L1502's most glaring concession to its low price is the lack of a digital (DVI) connection for the crispest-possible image quality. Most users in this price range, however, will have only analog (VGA) connectors on their graphics cards anyway (and HP includes a VGA cable with the unit). The signal and power cords feed straight out of the back of the L1502's display panel. There is no cable-feed system, but the unit's short neck makes cable clutter a nonissue.
The L1502's image quality was fairly good, but only after we tweaked the settings. Out of the box, the display showed a pronounced yellow streak through the middle of CNET Labs' grayscale test screens. To correct the problem, we had to change the color setting in the onscreen menu to Custom Color and fiddle with the individual red, green, and blue levels. HP sent us a second unit, and while the problem was less pronounced, we still had to make adjustments.
HP includes a full range of documentation, including a quick-start pamphlet, a hardware warranty guide, and a reference and software library (with drivers) on a CD. It is backed by a standard three-year parts-and-labor warranty.
The L1502 is among the better deals you'll find for a 15-inch LCD. Despite its limited adjustability, home and office users will appreciate its good looks and decent image quality.
CNET Labs DisplayMate tests (Longer bars indicate better performance)
Brightness in nits (Longer bars indicate better performance)
|Note: Measured with the Sencore CP500.|