Average looks are not necessarily a bad thing in an LCD, especially when they're combined with a solid, functional design. The LL-T17D4 comes in black and ivory (we reviewed the black version), and its 0.75-inch bezels on the top and the sides are in keeping with the industry-wide shift toward svelte design. The speaker is embedded in the 1-inch bottom bezel so that all you see are two rows of grid squares, with the rest of the speaker holes nestled discreetly on the underside of the bezel edge.
The base is your standard-issue rectangle, but it's very stable and wobble-free, and it incorporates a lazy Susan that gives the display 45 degrees of swivel to either side. The neck hinges where it joins the base and the display panel, which allows you about two inches of height adjustment. Two inches is better than nothing, but chances are you'll still need a monitor riser. We actually had to stand up (perish the thought!) and firmly grip the panel with both hands in order to raise it. The panel also tilts about 5 degrees forward and 20 degrees back, and you can attach it to a VESA-compliant wall mount. We generally prefer telescoping necks that pivot, such as the one found on the Dell 1703FP.
The Sharp LL-T17D4 has DVI and analog inputs, as well as a sound jack for connecting the speakers to your PC or Mac (analog and sound cables are included). The bottom bezel contains six buttons for navigating the onscreen menu (OSM) as well as a headphone jack. Among these buttons is one that serves as a hot key for switching between three preset brightness and color-temperature modes. The OSM is fairly easy to navigate, though there are a couple of anomalies in the system. First of all, the submenus are not organized in the traditional drill-down configuration. Instead, you scroll through various submenus, such as Adjustment or White Balance, by repeatedly pressing the Menu button, then drilling down into specific functions. The main problem with this is that because there's no dedicated Exit button, you have to scroll through all the submenus to get out of the OSM or wait for it to time out. Second, with this display, you can adjust brightness, contrast, and black level, and unlike with some displays where there's little difference between zero and 100, the LL-T17D4's gain controls are highly sensitive.
|Measured with the Minolta CA-210|
The Sharp LL-T17D4's image quality is acceptable for basic use, but high-end-graphics types will want a better LCD or even a CRT monitor. As with most LCDs, text is crisp and legible. In our DisplayMate-based tests, the LL-T17D4 produced nice pure whites and dark blacks. However, in between these extremes, we saw significant color-tracking errors, with the display looking bluish on the bright end of the scale, greenish in the midrange grays, and ecru at peak white. The Sharp's screen uniformity also leaves something to be desired. The bottom half of the screen is much brighter than the top half, with the exception of the very bright top edge. Web colors are decent, but they show less warmth and nuance of shade than on better-performing LCDs and CRTs. As for the speakers, even with the volume all the way up, they are quite faint and have a distinctly metallic, trebly quality.
The Sharp LL-T17D4's three-year warranty covers parts, labor, and the backlight. Sharp's Web site offers a searchable knowledge base and e-mail tech support. Live, toll-free, phone tech support is available 24/7.