Do you wish your monitor could show DVD movies in wide letterbox format and display a legal-size page of text? If so, the Philips 170W4P may find its way onto your shopping list. This 17-inch flat screen, with its unconventional 1,280x768 resolution, rotates from Landscape to Portrait mode; and with one mouse click, the bundled Portrait Displays' PivotPro utility spins the image accordingly.
Set on a sturdy, rectangular base with a lazy-Susan swivel, the 170W4P rotates almost 360 degrees, and the panel tilts 5 degrees forward and 35 degrees backward. The panel's viewing angle in the 1,280-pixel Landscape direction is plenty wide, but it's less so in the 768-pixel Portrait direction. No matter--the 170W4P is so adjustable, you can see the screen clearly from almost any position in either mode. This versatility also makes it easy to attach cables; just turn the panel out of the way for unfettered access to the ports.
A big hole through the middle of the unit's wide neck serves as a handle. An optional $69 base will give you the ability to raise and lower the panel by two inches and features built-in speakers (CNET did not test this base). Four slim, labeled buttons that operate the intuitive onscreen menus run along the bezel's bottom edge in Landscape mode and contribute to the display's nice design. The 170W4P works with PCs and Macs, and Philips ships it with a Mac adapter. It also has both analog and DVI inputs, and a button on the face of the display lets you toggle between the two. Philips includes only an analog cable, so that's what we used for testing.
The 170W4P's image quality is adequate, but for $600-plus, we expect better. Colors look OK but lack intensity, and the display's focus seems slightly soft, especially on text. The panel has difficulty distinguishing the subtleties between similar shades of gray at the lighter end of the scale. We took an informal look at the image quality using the DVI signal, which improved the appearance of text but didn't help much with the color and shading issues.
Philips provides a three-year warranty with prepaid shipping and lifetime, 24/7, toll-free tech support. The company also offers a generous replacement policy on pixel defects.
For office users who give a lot of presentations, the 170W4P's adjustability will be a blessing. Users who need to go from Portrait to Landscape mode but want better image quality (and a cheaper price) should consider the $500 Dell 1703FP.
CNET Labs DisplayMate tests (Longer bars indicate better performance)
Brightness in nits (Longer bars indicate better performance)