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CTX VL950ST

 

STANDFIRST

A 19-inch monitor for less than £400, sounds interesting, and that’s not all, the VL-950ST from CTX has a couple of other surprises in store

 

COPY

Judging by the cheapo sticker on the screen surround, the built-in USB hub on the CTX-950ST 19-inch monitor could be a late addition. Nevertheless it reflects a growing confidence in the universal serial bus standard, and the speed at which the market is developing. The five USB connectors (1 PC to monitor link and 4-downstream ports) on the back panel is one of the few distinguishing features, not that the design is in any way bland or uninteresting. Far from it, the styling is slick and unfussy, and the specification looks ideal for applications like desktop video.

 

The tube is billed as a short-length high-contrast FST and the screen is indeed flat with squared corners. It’s also very dark with low reflectivity it could almost pass for a Trinitron when it is switched off. Heading up the features list is a full range of PC and Mac display modes, up to a maximum of 1600 x 1200 (75Hz). Dot pitch is 0.26 mm and it supports all power management and plug-and-play protocols known to man. In other words it should be able to work with just about any hardware and software configuration.

 

The controls are grouped together on a gently curving panel below the screen surround. There are three groups of small buttons and one big on/off button.  This arrangement allows instant access to brightness and contrast adjustments, everything else has to be set through the on-screen displays. These are divided into three menus. The Picture menu covers position, size geometry and moiré cancellation. The Colour menu is initially set to four pre-set values but the red, green and blue levels can be changed to suit individual preferences or lighting conditions. The factory pre-sets can be recalled from the third Status menu. This also has options for setting the length of time the OSD remains on screen, OSD position, language and current display settings.

 

Two other buttons on the front fire up the degauss coil and exit the OSD (this button is also labelled BNC/D15 but since the only video connection option is a captive cable with a 15-pin D-sub connector, it’s largely academic.

 

The USB connection also allows the monitor to be controlled from the PC desktop via an applet in Windows 95/98 Control Panel. This effectively overrides the front panel controls. The USB monitor control program is supplied on a floppy disc; a USB to PC cable is included in the box, along with a simple to follow guide to setting up USB support on a Windows PC.

 

PERFORMANCE

There’s a narrow black border along the top and bottom edges of picture so the display never quite manages to fill the screen area. Adjusting and fine-tuning the size and position of the image turned out to be a bit of a palaver. A single zoom control would have made adjustment easier but once set – following a 30-minute warm up – the image never wavered. Focus and convergence checks revealed nothing untoward and the picture looked good at all settings up to our preferred settings of 1024 x 768 and 1280 x 1024. A tiny amount of smearing was evident at sharp black white transitions; however, this only showed up on test patterns and wouldn’t be noticeable in normal use. Power supply stability was satisfactory though the image ‘ballooned’ ever so slightly when fed with an alternating full-screen black/white raster. Again it was not enough to be concerned about.

 

SUMMARY

The VL-950ST has no significant flaws and whilst on screen performance isn’t going to set any new records, it’s well up to the standard required for DTV and most graphics applications. The USB hub is a bonus that doesn’t seem to have impinged unduly on the price and whilst you may not have much use for it right now, you almost certainly will be needing it in next year or two. Good value, well worth considering.

 

How Much?                  

£380 *

 

Tube size                     

19-inch

 

Visible display area     

365 x 270 mm

 

Dot Pitch                      

0.26 mm

 

Max Resolution 

1600 x 1200 pixels

 

Max refresh rate

160Hz

 

Dimensions                  

460 x 454 x 426 mm

 

Weight             

25 kg

 

CTX Monitors, telephone (01923) 810800, www.ctxeurope.com

 

CV RATINGS

Features                       ****

Performance                  ****

Ease of use                   ****

Value for money            ****

Overall Rating  93%

 

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ã R. Maybury 1999 3007

 

 


 

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