Not only do LCDs take up less space and consume less energy than bulky, antiquated CRT displays, they're generally more attractive too. Still, we see our fair share of LCDs with dangling cables, exposed inputs, and poor overall design. The NEC MultiSync LCD1770VX, however, maintains a sleek appearance without sacrificing adjustability. But as much as we like its looks, its image quality fails to impress, especially for a 17-inch LCD that costs $345. For better image quality, check out the less expensive Sony SDM-S75AB or upgrade to the 19-inch Dell UltraSharp 1905FP for the same price.
The NEC MultiSync LCD1770VX has a minimalist black design, but a few simple flourishes caught our attention. The bezel measures a mere 0.5 inch wide along the sides and 0.75 inch wide along the top and the bottom; rectangular menu buttons hang off the bottom so that they don't mar the bezel's line. The back of the display contains the digital and analog connectors and three plastic hooks through which you can thread the cables. A detachable plastic cover hides the cords, leaving the back side of this display tidy enough for even the poshest home or front-desk environment.
In addition to its good looks, the LCD1770VX is also quite flexible. Where other panels have a hinge joint, this one has a parabola-shaped track that gives it a slightly wider range of motion (about 10 degrees forward and 30 degrees back instead of the usual 5 degrees forward and 20 back) and allows it to move very smoothly. The neck is a wide, sturdy rectangle with a column-in-column design that offers 4.25 inches of height adjustment. The perfectly circular base is pleasing to the eye, and the lazy Susan embedded in the bottom rotates nearly 360 degrees with much greater ease than those on some other LCDs we've evaluated, such as the Sony SDM-S75AB.
Even the onscreen menu buttons add to the display's attractive look. The four rectangular buttons handle the usual functions, such as launching and exiting the menu and toggling between analog and digital inputs, but in the middle there's also a small, multidirectional joystick (NEC calls it a NaViKey) for navigating the OSM. The NaViKey makes tweaking the display's settings incredibly easy, and the necessary Select and Exit buttons are conveniently located right next to it. NEC's downloadable NaViSet software makes adjusting the onscreen menu even easier by allowing you to change the display's settings with a keyboard and a mouse.
Despite the monitor's appealing external attributes, the LCD1770VX's image quality is merely average. The text was sharp, as it generally is on LCDs, but we noticed lots of colors in CNET Labs' DisplayMate-based grayscale-test screens. Also, gray levels were very compressed at the dark and light ends of the spectrum. LCDs typically show some compression, but this one could not reproduce very dark or very light grays; instead, those shades faded abruptly to black or white. The display's viewing angle was not very good, either; slightly tilting the panel would noticeably change the color or the brightness of the image. On the positive side, the LCD1770VX's DVD playback was acceptable, with minimal digital noise or ghosting, though colors looked a bit washed out.
NEC backs the MultiSync LCD1770VX with an industry-standard three-year warranty on parts, labor, and the backlight, and you can tack on another year for $50 or two more years for $80--reasonable prices for extended warranties. Toll-free phone tech support is available 24/7; NEC's Web site also provides access to driver downloads, manuals, live tech-support chat, a tech-support e-mail address, FAQs, and recycling information.
(Longer bars indicate better performance)