AG Neovo P-17
At a Glance
AG Neovo P-17
Pricey but unique unit offers touch-sensitive controls hidden in a speaker grille. An S-Video port is a nice extra.
The 17-inch AG Neovo P-17's control buttons reside out of sight under the mesh of the speaker bar, lighting up only when you can use them, which is when the menu is displayed. The button layout corresponds to the layout of the screen menu. Well-chosen icons explain the functions; for instance, a lighthouse represents the brightness setting. This is just one example of an efficient design that effectively crams audio and entertainment extras onto a small monitor.
With bass and treble adjustments, as well as a subwoofer, the P-17's bass sounded stronger than that produced by typical monitor speakers. Headphone and microphone jacks lie on the right side of the bezel. Four USB 2.0 ports--two on each side of the bezel--provide easy access for hooking up peripherals. In addition to analog and DVI computer inputs, the P-17 includes S-Video and component video inputs. With these, you could hook the P-17 up to a DVD player or other video device.
AG Neovo claims that the extra-hard NeoV Optical Glass achieves a rating of 6 on the Mohs scale of hardness. This would place it near the mineral feldspar in terms of scratch-resistance--much tougher than a typical LCD monitor.
You'd expect all these extra features to make the P-17 a smashing success in the specifications category, but sadly that's not the case. The unit skimps on physical adjustments, offering just tilt. The specs score takes a hit from the 8-hour-a-day, weekdays-only tech support policy. For a business monitor, that wouldn't be a great loss, but for a monitor that's otherwise a leisure-time model, the limited support hours could cause frustration.
On PC World's tests, the P-17 scored in the top half for recently tested 17-inch models; it handled the vivid colors and close details of our fruit tart photo test screen especially well. Though the P-17 didn't distinguish itself on other tests, it showed no weakness on any particular text or graphics test, always finishing in the middle of the pack.
As tilt is the P-17's only physical adjustment, you may need to set the monitor on risers to attain a comfortable viewing height. When working the stiff tilt adjustment, I had to press the stand against the work surface firmly to keep the heavy, 15-pound monitor from tipping.
The P-17's price tag is hefty, too. At $549 (as of 2/16/06), it ranks among the most expensive 17-inchers we've ever seen, albeit one of the richest in extras. Given its small screen size--unusual for feature-laden multimedia monitors--it seems best suited for a small studio apartment or other location where space is at a premium.