Review: 6 HD displays, from midsize to massive

We look at 6 HD displays, from 21.5 inches to 46 inches, to see whether size matters when looking for a great monitor.

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Lenovo L215p Wide

(21.5 inches)

Nothing brought home the concept of how small a world it is as when I first replaced my usual 26-inch display with this 21.5-inch model. It's a difference of only 4.5 diagonal inches, but the juxtaposition of size was sufficient to give me the feeling that I was looking at life through the wrong end of a pair of binoculars. It took about an hour for the shock to wear off.

Highlights: The L215p Wide has a native resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels and supports both VGA and HDMI connections. (Its sibling, the L215 Wide version without the "p," is VGA/DVI.) It includes an integrated Web camera and microphone, and can be used as a USB hub thanks to three USB 2.0 ports along the side and bottom of the bezel.

HD displays
Lenovo L215p Wide

The Lenovo doesn't offer any kind of height adjustment; given the small size of the screen, if you're sitting in a standard-height office chair in front of a standard-height desk, you might feel the need to slide a hardcover book or two under the pedestal. It does tilt up and down (a little).

From an ergonomic point of view, Lenovo gets points because its otherwise invisible "black-on-black" on-screen display controls on the right side of the lower bezel light up if you brush your finger across them.

Test results: The L215p Wide passed the barrage of DisplayMate tests without a problem. All of the visuals were within the range of what you'd normally expect from a reasonably good consumer display, including no apparent blur. Neither its 1000:1 contrast ratio nor its 300 cd/m² brightness is exceptional among LCD monitors, but they work. The response rate was 5ms.

The color was excellent and visibility good from center head-on to about 45 degrees from center. When staring at the L215p Wide beyond that angle I noticed a yellow tinge starting to appear in what were gray areas. Black type, up to about 12 points, appeared fractured when displayed over a gray background.

Picture quality: Despite its diminutive size, the L215p Wide presented me with a spectacular HD picture when paired with my Blu-ray player via its HDMI port. The colors were brilliant, images were sharp, and there was no color shift when viewed from wide angles as there was when the monitor was attached to a computer. There was no apparent blur, either, and the darker scenes in Dark Knight and Serenity showed no loss of detail.

The only thing missing was sound, but Lenovo does have an optional sound bar for about $30.

Conclusion: The L215p Wide functions well as both an HD monitor for your Blu-ray player and, via its VGA port, as a computer display.

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