First Look: LG Monitor Lands on Its Feet

LG Flatron L1980U
When was the last time technology did backbends for you? LG's dual-hinged Flatron L1980U LCD can bend backward and rotate up to 270 degrees, all while keeping your images right side up. The shipping 19-inch L1980U includes Portrait Displays' ForteManager software, which employs Auto Pivot and the unprecedented Auto Mirror feature to keep your images oriented in the proper direction automatically.

If you select 'Enable Auto Pivot' in the ForteManager software (which you need to install from the accompanying CD), the software notices when you move the screen and automatically rotates or flips to show you a right-side-up image. Much like Samsung's MagicTune (also a Portrait Displays product), ForteManager also lets you adjust screen settings like brightness and color with a mouse instead of with buttons.

With such improved ease of use, you can pivot at whim--to see more of a document, perhaps, or to read a Web page with minimal scrolling. Flipping the screen comes in handy at a two-sided desk; to share the information on screen with the person across from you, simply bend the screen backward and wait a moment for Auto Mirror to rotate the image 180 degrees. Previous pivoting software, such as Portrait Displays' PivotPro, required you to rotate the screen and then dive into the software menus to tell the image to catch up with the physical changes.

The L1980U sports a professional, streamlined appearance, and all of the cords plug in at the back of the bright silver, ring-shaped stand. The buttons sense heat, not touch, which I didn't mind once I got accustomed to it. Although the L1980U's protruding teardrop-shaped, blue-lit power button looks chic hanging below the bezel, it can get in the way. I accidentally turned off the L1980U several times while flipping or pivoting the screen (LG plans to release a related model called the L1981U with a flush power button). A ruler-straight edge would also let dual-monitor aficionados line up two pivoted monitors side by side. Other upcoming models will use the same interface and will speed up the response time from 12ms to 8ms.

My only cause for hesitation: Although the L1980U's screen looks pleasing, we've seen sharper text and more realistic flesh tones on recent monitors such as the Dell UltraSharp 1905fp and Sharp LL-191A. The reasonable $549 price is nothing to complain about, so if you're itching to get your hands on the Auto Pivot and Auto Mirror functions, the L1980U can ease the pain of waiting. For my part, I'm willing to hold out for a monitor with all these bonuses plus a klutz-proof power button.

LG Electronics Flatron L1980U

If you need a monitor that keeps up with your every move, give this sleek stunner a whirl.
Street: $549
Current prices (if available)
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