Staying true to traditional IBM monitor design, the Lenovo ThinkVision L201P is a boxy, black model with some subtle flourishes, such as the wave-shaped control panel buttons, blue icons above the buttons, and a red logo. The monitor's large D-shaped base is unattractive but stable, and the thick neck heartily supports the panel. The ThinkVision L201p offers ample adjustability options, including: 4.5 inches of height adjustment and 45 degrees of swivel to the left and right, and a flexible neck hinge lets the panel pivot between landscape and portrait modes (particularly useful for vertical-oriented desktop publishing tasks) and tilt back 20 degrees. Unlike most other monitors, the panel of the Lenovo ThinkVision L201P doesn't tilt forward.
Placed in back of the monitor are DVI-D and D-Sub ports, and Lenovo includes cables for each. Unfortunately, Lenovo completely ignores cable management; we like to see at least one loop to thread the cords through, or better yet, three loops as found on the ViewSonic VP930b.
The wave-shaped onscreen menu buttons are well labeled with gray and blue icons that describe the main and secondary functions of each button. Though this layout is a bit busy, it makes the onscreen menu very easy to navigate; we like the dedicated enter, exit, and navigation buttons and the menu legends that further explain the buttons' functions. We also appreciate that the exit button doubles as a switch between the digital and analog inputs, so you can easily toggle between two computers. The Lenovo ThinkVision L201P doesn't include a USB hub, but Lenovo offers a ThinkVision USB Soundbar accessory that costs $29 and connects to your computer's USB port.
The Lenovo ThinkVision L201P shines when it comes to screen uniformity and displaying moving images. We ran CNET Labs DisplayMate-based tests at its native resolution of 1,600x1,200. The image quality was very sharp, with little noise fluctuation, and text looked clear, well-contrasted, and easy to read. Grayscale quality was average: the display produced a nice, even fade from dark to light gray, but there were some fluctuations in intensity along the way. Color test screens showed some hue shifting and a slightly muted quality overall. We were particularly impressed with the ThinkVision L201P's screen uniformity: the left side of the panel appeared slightly brighter than the right side, but very little light leaked through along the edges and corners.
Despite the display's slow, 16-millisecond pixel-response time, DVD playback showed very little streaking and ghosting and a high level of detail in dark and light areas. Game playback was also surprisingly sharp and revealed no ghosting or streaking and a similarly high level of detail.
The Lenovo ThinkVision L201P comes with an industry-standard three-year warranty that covers parts, labor, and backlight. Lenovo does offer a number of upgrades to the basic warranty, however, ranging in price from $60 to $285. Toll-free phone support is available 24/7, and the support Web site offers driver downloads, access to documentation, hints and tips, and ESC+, which is an onsite electronic support call request service. With ESC+, you submit a query or request online (after creating a user account), and a technician calls you back with an answer. We like this system as an alternative to impersonal e-mail support. It feels much more helpful to have a two-way conversation with a support rep; it also allows you to submit multiple requests and escape the hassle of placing a call, navigating a support menu, and spending time on hold.
(Longer bars indicate better performance)