At a Glance
A 4-port USB 2.0 hub is the high point of this monitor; its image quality is the low point.
The Philips 170P6EB offers a number of unusual features that could endear it to business users. The Perfect Panel policy lets you return any unit marred by a dead pixel. When enabled, the SmartBright feature reacts to ambient lighting, lowering its own light in response to a dark room. The LightFrame DR software, included on CD, updates the previous viewing modes with new modes and new functions. And its lead-free design will (at least in some states) make it easier to dispose of at the end of its life. Unfortunately, the quality of the actual display somehow got lost in the shuffle.
Our jurors were unimpressed with the 170P6EB's performance in PC Worlda??s image quality tests. When we tested this monitor at its default settings, jurors found screens of text and graphics dim and pinkish. On our test screen of a group photo, flesh tones seemed artificial; on the same screen, a white sweater lost its ribbing details. Overall, the 170P6EB earned the lowest scores of any recently tested 17-inch LCD. It received a rating of Good for text and a lackluster Fair for graphics.
A button simplifies switching between the three most commonly used LightFrame Digital Reality modes. Though I appreciated the convenience, I'd have liked more choices than the three modes available. The graphics mode looked all right, but I thought the Internet mode made our Web page screen appear oversaturated and over-softened. The text mode, on the other hand, made our text screens look excessively sharpened. When you open the program itself, you'll find additional modes: TV/video, SRDB, games, and photo (which did make our group photo look much better). The niftiest thing about LightFrame DR is its ability to segment windows; you can select an area on which to apply a mode. This is handy for things like surfing the Web or viewing documents without changing the normal appearance of your toolbar. A large speaker bar resides at the bottom of the bezel. I detected quavering and a slight hiss in music played through the speakers. If you find this monitor on your desk--due to an IT department decision, most likely--you'll probably want to listen to music through the headphone jack instead.
Though many of the Philips 170P6EB 's features are appealing, substandard image quality makes it a poor choice.
17-inch screen, 1280-by-1024 native resolution, 12.3 pounds, one analog input and one digital input; height, pivot, and tilt adjustments; TCO'999-compliant. Three-year warranty (including backlight); 16-hour weekly, 14-hour weekend tech support.