|RGB: The Q71 shows its true colors.|
ViewSonic manufactures and markets a wide variety of monitors sized diagonally from 15 to 21 inches, but its Q71 (part of their Optiquest line) is particularly interesting to any Linux user who wants to upgrade from a 15-inch model.
The Q71 is a standard-depth 17-inch monitor that delivers a lot for the money and is well-supported by the major Linux distributions. Red Hat 6.1, for example, correctly identifies the monitor’s make and model, and Corel Linux 1.0 and Caldera OpenLinux 2.3 both also install without a hitch and without prompting you for the monitor’s specifications.
Like virtually all monitors available today, the Q71 uses on-screen controls for adjusting the size, placement, and shape of the image in just about every way imaginable, as well as the color balance. The Q71′s menu system is particularly usable, even if you haven’t worked with it for a while, something that can’t be said for all monitors today. The four buttons on the monitor’s front are MENU, ENTER, and up and down arrows. The arrow buttons are used to scroll through menus and choose settings, while you use the MENU and ENTER buttons to navigate between menus. You can even configure the language used on the menus.
Optiquest Q71 $219 mail order
Viewable Size: 16.0″ diagonally
Contrast, brightness, H/V position and size, pincushion, trapezoid/parallelogram, tilt, color, control position, memory recall (resets factory settings), H/V frequency received from video card.
Standards: Energy Star, FCC-B, MPR-II
Input: RGB analog
66 Hz @ 1280×1024
87 Hz @ 1024×768
106 Hz @ 832×624
110 Hz @ 800×600
120 Hz @ 640×480
Maximum Resolution Supported: 1280×1024
Dot Pitch: 0.27 mm
Warranty: Three years parts and labor
The “Viewmatch” color balance lets you choose between preconfigured settings for 9300K, 6500K, and 5000K temperature light, as well as a user-configurable setting. The latter has a fixed green level, plus red and blue levels that you can adjust over a wider range than virtually anyone should need. Viewsonic says that the factory color setting of 9300K is most often used for rooms with fluorescent lights. We found this setting to be the most natural-looking one available under indirect daylight as well as incandescent bulbs, and the 6500K and 5000K settings seemed conspicuously red.
One particularly handy feature built into the on-screen menus displays the vertical and horizontal frequencies the monitor is receiving from the video card, as well as the monitor’s internal configuration number for the current settings. These values are displayed within the on-screen controls, and they disappear when the controls are dismissed. You probably will not need this option often, but if you have ever done extensive hand-editing of your X configuration files, you know how welcome it can be to make sure the hardware really is following your wishes.
Thanks for the Visuals
Controls are important, but they’re meaningless if the monitor isn’t easy on the eyes. The good news is that the Q71′s image is noticeably solid and crisp, particularly for the price. We ran it under a variety of resolutions with a graphical desktop and were always pleased with its performance. In fact, it wasn’t tiring even after long hours of working with the Q71 at a resolution of 1280×1024.
One very minor drawback is the Q71′s color rendition. Comparing it side by side with a Dell 1028L and a ViewSonic 17PS shows its colors to be just slightly less vivid and pleasing, even after considerable fiddling with the custom color balance adjustment. We do not expect this to be a factor for any but the most picky of users; the difference was subtle enough that most people won’t find anything wrong with the image at all.
If you’re in the market for a 17″ monitor, and your desk is deep enough to accommodate a typical screen of that size, the Q71 is a solid choice, at least until flat panel displays drop another few hundred dollars in price.
* Cheap, excellent image
* Well-supported by major distributions
* Slightly weak color