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LG Flatron M173WA

In one of my previous article called Closer Look at 17" LCD Monitor Features. Part VI I described LG’s 17” LCD TV-set Flatron L172WT and was greatly disappointed with it. Having a terrible color reproduction setup, the monitor could only produce an acceptable image at the default settings, but as soon as you changed its contrast or brightness, either dark or light tones would disappear. Judging by the name, the Flatron M173WA seems to be the result of further development of that model. It is an LCD monitor with an integrated TV-tuner and a set of video inputs.

Although the monitor’s outline has remained unchanged – it is a typical LG design – its appearance is completely different. The glossy chromium-plated base is now replaced with a matte silvery-black one (I like it because too many shiny elements on the monitor may be distracting). There is now a black bezel around the screen that makes it larger visually. The main feature that distinguishes this model from the L172WT as well as from many other monitors is that the speakers are placed right on the front panel and their cones are not even covered with some kind of decorative grid. This solution surely looks odd, but it’s a matter of taste after all. I personally hold an opinion that it’s better to have as few visually obtrusive elements on the monitor’s case as possible, so I’m rather negative about this design.

The monitor is large and massive. The base is not tall and allows to adjust the tilt of the screen and in a very narrow range, too. If you tilt it too far backwards, the monitor will just tumble over.

The monitor offers D-Sub and DVI-D connectors for connecting to a computer, and an RF antenna input, SCART, Composite and S-Video inputs for video sources.

The control buttons are located in the bottom left of the front panel. Unlike on the L172WT, they do not “simulate” a joystick – this is just a row of buttons as usual.

The M173WA has the same onscreen menu as its predecessor had. The functionality is the same, too, including that the M173WA, like the L172WT, cannot automatically determine which input is receiving the video signal and you have to switch to the necessary input manually. The monitor supports Picture in Picture mode and permits to change the position and size of the additional window (by offering to choose from a few preset values) as well as to adjust the brightness and contrast parameters for it, which may be quite handy in some cases.

By default, the monitor’s brightness and contrast are set at 64% and 100%, respectively. Brightness is adjusted through the matrix rather than by means of the backlight lamps. When the brightness setting is over the default value, the onscreen image looks whitish. That’s why I measured the response time of this monitor at 64% brightness rather than at 100% like with all other monitors.

The M173WA uses an S-IPS matrix which means excellent viewing angles, much better than any existing TN+Film-based model can offer. It is actually a very singular thing for a 17” monitor to have a matrix of that type because S-IPS technology is but seldom used even in 19” monitors today, having been replaced with cheaper TN+Film, MVA and PVA matrixes. Moreover, the L172WT claimed a response time of 25 milliseconds on black-white transitions, which was quite a normal speed for an S-IPS matrix, whereas the L173WT is declared to have a response time of 12 milliseconds, but on mid-tone transitions (to remind you: in the first case the total time it takes to switch a pixel from black to white and back again to black is measured and in the second case the average time of switching from any color to any other color is measured, but not including the time it takes to switch the pixel back).

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