ViewSonic VT2230 Melds 1080p HDTV and PC Display

By Frank Ohlhorst

Those looking for crystal clear images are turning to 1080p, a resolution that is perfect for HDTV, Blu-ray content and even PCs. On the PC front, 1080p brings 1,920-by-1,080 resolution, which offers plenty of screen real estate and still keeps images sharp, icons viewable and windows usable.

On company embracing 1080p is ViewSonic, as evidenced with the VT2230—a monitor that doesn’t know if it’s a PC display or an HDTV.

ViewSonic’s marriage of 1080p HDTV to a PC display gives the company a leg up on the competition—most vendors default to 1080i/720P for their native resolution, which is fine for most video content but comes up short on a PC—thanks to a native resolution of just 1,280 by 720.

With the VT2230, ViewSonic is looking to capitalize on the dual-purpose market by designing a unit that can be a great PC monitor and a good HDTV.

Building a great PC monitor was obviously the easy part for ViewSonic, which has years of experience manufacturing LCD displays that have become PC industry standards. Here, the VT2230 does not disappoint. The unit offers a native resolution of 1,920 by 1,080, which proves to be very agreeable on a 22-inch display. Integrated speakers are another plus, while a dual-mount capability (wall or stand) makes it a fit for most work environments.

The VT2230 offers multiple connectors for PC use, including VGA, HDMI and component. Regrettably, you cannot use both the HDMI and VGA connectors; you must choose one or the other as there’s no way for the monitor to switch between those two inputs.

Because of the display’s 16:9 display ratio combined with its 22-inch diagonal size, PC users will find it easy to work with two side-by-side application windows, yet still have a low desktop profile. Images on the monitor proved to be crisp and clear when tested with Displaymate, an application that displays complex images for monitor testing.

Although the monitor is capable of scaling and displaying different resolutions, PC users will want to make sure that their video cards support a 1,920-by1,080 resolution. In some cases, a display adapter upgrade may be in order to get the best picture possible, which makes for an attractive sales bundle for most resellers.

ViewSonic has incorporated a digital tuner into the VT2230, and that is where the display gets its HDTV capabilities. The digital tuner connects via a coax cable and can tune in digital broadcast signals (both HD and Standard), digital cable (clear QAM), analog cable and NTSC (scheduled to end in June) broadcasts.

Once a coax cable is connected, the unit can search out all available TV transmissions. We tested the unit on a Cablevision cable TV feed. The VT2230 identified 51 analog channels, as well as 67 digital channels. The digital channels consisted of clear-Qam and ATSC-HD channels, while the analog channels amounted to a basic cable feed. One nice thing about the VT2230 is that you can flip through all of the discovered channels without having to switch between analog and digital formats or having to change inputs. 

While the VT2230 proves to be a decent HDTV, there is room for improvement. The setup screens, menus and documentation leave a lot to be desired. The included documentation only covers the basics and does not explain many of the settings, while the on-screen menus offer no context-sensitive help or even basic explanations in some cases. For example, the setup menu has a choice for "DCR on or off" with no explanation for what the choice does. Another example is the "Audio only on or off" selection, in which nothing can be found in the manual or Quick Start guide that defines what that is all about.

The unit offers several other inputs for HD and SD sources, including HDMI, Component, S-Video and AV. That allows a variety of devices, ranging from cable boxes to DVD players, to be connected to the unit. The integrated 3-watt stereo speakers offer very good sound quality, and the remote control can perform any function needed. Users can adjust both video and audio settings, including brightness, contrast, bass, treble and so on. There is also a quick set mode for video that offers settings such as "vivid, movie, standard" and so on.

Picture in Picture would be a nice option to have on the unit in dual-use environments, allowing a user to watch a small TV feed while using his or her PC—great for news junkies or those keeping an eye on the markets. Perhaps ViewSonic will add that capability down the road.

While the VT2230 may not make HDTV watchers throw out their current sets, the unit does prove to be a great choice for dual-purpose needs and would work great in a den or a kid’s room. For businesses, the unit may be a good fit for a reception area or other public areas that only need to use a PC occasionally, such as a meeting room.

With a street price of under $340, the VT2230 is not a cheap 22-inch LCD, but when one considers you are getting a full-fledged HDTV to boot, the price doesn’t seem too bad.

Solution providers may want to consider selling the monitor in a bundle that includes a video card, wall mount and integration services to maximize their margins. With analog TV coming to an end in the near future, the VT2230 may be a good choice for those upgrading home PCs, as well as televisions—creating another market opportunity for VARs.

This article was originally published on 2009-04-14