Though designed for corporate use, the dignified Philips Brilliance 190P6 will please home and business users alike with embedded speakers, a USB hub, and a high degree of adjustability. The snazzier LG Flatron L1981Q costs less than the $559.99 Brilliance 190P6, but it lacks speakers and a USB hub, and its image quality isn't as good.
Like most business-oriented 19-inch LCDs, the Brilliance 190P6 won't turn heads. Only a thin, dull stripe of chrome around the control panel interrupts the monitor's square shape and dark-gray coloring. At 16 pounds, the 190P6 is heavy, but a large, oval-shaped base keeps it from wobbling. Despite its plain design, this LCD is exceptionally adjustable. Its telescoping neck provides 7 inches of variable height. The panel tilts forward 25 degrees and backward 5 degrees. It swivels 65 degrees in both directions. It also pivots back and forth between portrait and landscape mode; curiously, it doesn't come with software to reorient the image, so you'll need a graphics card that can. Two plastic loops on the neck keep cables organized.
The Brilliance 190P6 includes both analog and digital ports, plus one upstream and four downstream USB 2.0 ports. Also onboard are an audio input, a headphone jack, and a pair of embedded 2-watt speakers. The speakers offer good sound quality but not enough volume. Philips provides cables for everything, including one USB 2.0 cable. The company will provide a free adapter for Mac users on request.
The Brilliance 190P6's eight control buttons are set into in a chrome strip. One of them activates Philips's LightFrame DR technology, which lets you quickly toggle through presets for Internet, text, and graphics. Once you've installed the included LightFrame DR software, the button switches between full-screen mode and multiwindow mode. Using the software, you can enhance the brightness and contrast of photos or graphics while keeping other windows at their normal settings. The panel has an autoadjust button and volume and brightness controls. The SmartBright setting automatically adjusts the display's brightness to changing lighting conditions. Philips also provides the SmartManage tool, which gives IT departments the ability to track and service displays over a LAN.
The 190P6 performed well across the board on CNET Labs' DisplayMate-based tests. At its native resolution of 1,280x1,024, the 190P6 displayed black and legible text, though small serif fonts lacked sharpness and clarity. Like many large LCDs, the 190P6 was unevenly lit, with areas of extreme brightness along the inside edge of the bezel and a dark band stretching horizontally across the top quarter of the screen. The 190P6's bright primary colors looked good, though lighter shades of secondary colors appeared blotchy. DVD playback on the 190P6 was acceptable; some solid-color backgrounds suffered from digital noise and ghosting. The panel performed well with games, exhibiting few movement flaws and a good level of detail in the backgrounds.
Philips backs the 190P6 with an excellent warranty: three years of free parts and labor plus one year of free onsite exchange, during which Philips will exchange a defective monitor for a working one 48 hours after notification. If your monitor fails during the second or third years of the warranty, Philips will repair it and return it to you free of charge within five days; however, you have to ship it to the service center yourself. Philips also covers the 190P6 with its one-year Perfect Panel pixel policy, which states that Philips will repair or replace your panel if it has one or more stuck pixels. Toll-free phone tech support is available for the duration of the warranty, Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. ET and on weekends from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Philips's Web site has a comprehensive troubleshooting section for the 190P6 as well as links to drivers, manuals, and product information.
(Longer bars indicate better performance)