At less than $450, Hewlett-Packard's L1702 is remarkably affordable for a 17-inch LCD. HP endowed it with all the important attributes, save one. This LCD's mediocre image quality, while good enough for light use, will probably wear on designers, spreadsheet jockeys, and others who spend too much time staring at a computer screen.
The L1702's wide, black base holds the panel firmly and pops off to make room for a VESA-standard arm- or wall-bracket mount (not included). Set upon a short neck attached to the base, the screen tilts forward about 5 degrees and backward about 30 degrees. A little indentation on the upper back of the display serves as a handle. You may be picking the L1702 up fairly often; the base doesn't swivel, and despite the panel's listed viewing angles (160 degrees horizontal, 140 vertical), it's still difficult to read the screen from the side or when standing.
The L1702's connections are conveniently designed, if not especially versatile. Like most low-cost LCDs, the display has only an analog input (cable included), but the signal cable is permanently attached to the back of the panel, so you won't have to break a fingernail hooking it up. The L1702 is Mac compatible, but HP does not include an adapter.
Four clearly labeled buttons for operating the onscreen menus run along the bottom edge of the L1702's stylish, silver bezel. The onscreen menus are easy to navigate, but we wished they could be set to stay open for longer than 30 seconds at a time. Half a minute of menu time is fine after you know your way around, but it's a bit too quick at first.
The L1702's image quality is mediocre, but it will work acceptably for light, basic computer use. The display looked overexposed, with bright but not lively colors. It did a poor job of distinguishing between similar shades of color, especially toward the darker end of the scale. More troubling was the fuzziness of text. We tried dimming the brightness setting (excessive brightness can cause text to blur), but that didn't help. Also, adjacent blocks of color tended to bleed into each other. Pickier users should consider the NEC LCD1765, which offers better performance for an additional $100 or so.
HP backs the L1702 with a three-year warranty that includes prepaid shipping for repairs and 24/7, toll-free tech support. The company also takes a magnanimous stance on defective pixels: three stuck pixels or five dead pixels are grounds for replacement. That's a commendable policy for a low-priced flat-panel display and one more reason why we think LCD shoppers with basic computing needs might still consider the L1702.
CNET Labs DisplayMate tests (Longer bars indicate better performance)
Brightness in nits (Longer bars indicate better performance)