One of many no-frills business-oriented monitors to hit the market, the HP L1706 delivers performance that's adequate for basic office tasks, but it has few extra features and limited adjustability. The $319 L1706 will serve office workers well, but for a few dollars more, the Sony SDM-S75AB provides better performance and a bit more adjustability; if you're pinching pennies, the less-attractive, more-adjustable, and better-performing Envision EN7220 sells for $250.
The L1706's matte-black base, stand, shell, and chunky silver bezel fit right in with an office environment. The nonadjustable stand holds the display less than 3 inches above your desk--about average--and most users will need a monitor riser. Though the base slides fairly easy on the desktop, it lacks a built-in lazy Susan as found on the Sony SDM-S75AB. The HP L1706 can tilt 20 degrees backward and 5 degrees forward--and that's it. The 8-inch circular base is very stable. Take note if you'll be moving the monitor around often: Connecting the provided analog signal cable proved difficult; the analog port is inset, so it's hard to access and doesn't offer much room for turning the screws. A small slot on the back of the base serves to corral the cords.
HP provides a very brief setup guide (which is all you need) and a CD with a long, detailed PDF manual, which covers the onscreen menu (OSM), the color calibration, and troubleshooting; also included is Display LiteSaver, a utility for scheduling sleep-mode sessions. The OSM is easy to navigate, with sensible icons and all adjustment options located on one main screen. Three large buttons on the display's bottom bezel take you through the menu: one button opens the onscreen menus; two more navigate the simple controls for brightness, contrast, color temperature, and so on. And, for those who don't want to mess with adjusting the settings, one of the navigation buttons doubles as an autoadjust button.
The L1706 performed satisfactorily on CNET Labs' DisplayMate-based tests, proving that it's suitable for general use. Still, we noticed shortcomings in text rendering and viewing angles. LCDs typically display clear and legible down text to a 6-point font, however the L1706's text was only clear as small as 9 points. When viewed straight on, the grayscales were good, showing a dark black and a bright white, but when viewed from a slight angle, pink and blue tints were evident. Viewed from straight on, colors showed no tracking issues, but when observed from an angle, again, the colors shifted.
On our DVD playback-tests, the monitor showed some ghosting. And with our gaming tests, we noticed some jerky movement and washed-out colors.
The HP L1706 comes with the industry-standard three-year warranty on parts, labor, and the backlight. You can call HP tech support 24/7 on a toll-free line during the warranty period. The company's Web site provides tech support via e-mail, driver downloads, and self-help pages.
(Longer bars indicate better performance)