At a Glance
With physical adjustments including tilt, height, and swivel, ViewSonic's VP171b is comfortable to work with. Along with a pivoting screen--handy for scrutinizing full pages of letter-size text documents--the VP171b comes with Perfect Portrait, ViewSonic's version of Portrait Displays' $39 PivotPro screen rotation software. If you plan to use the pivot function often, this puts the VP171b's price on a par with that of the Dell UltraSharp 1704FPV, a PC World Best Buy whose price does not cover pivot software. Thanks to a thin bezel, the VP171b also works neatly in a dual-monitor setup.
In our display quality tests, the VP171b didn't stand out. It posted test scores in the low range of Very Good, and one member of our jury had trouble reading a line of soft gray type on our Microsoft Word test screen. A few testers noted a pink screen cast, which may have contributed to the display's so-so graphics rating of Good.
Despite ViewSonic's claims of an 8-millisecond response time--the fastest available--the VP171b earned a rating of Average on our motion tests. Many 17-inch monitors with slower vendor-specified response times (up to 25ms) received the same score. The menus are easy to navigate and full of advanced options; we wish, though, that ViewSonic would make bigger, easier-to-read screen adjustment buttons.
The extras add up, but the screen quality makes the VP171b one of ViewSonic's less impressive performers.