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Gateway FPD2275W LCD Monitor

by Drew Dunn

The beginning of the review is where I usually talk about how I bought something years ago for a whole lot of money that did a fraction of what the new thing does now. Like, for instance, the gorgeous 19 inch Hitachi monitor that I bought about 10 years ago for around $500.00. Oh, it still looks great, but it's luster is tempered a little by its enormous size and weight. And the screen real estate that seemed so expansive in 1996 has become claustrophobic.

Still, I haven't sat still while technology marches on. I've got a couple of LCD monitors in the house, so the old Hitachi monitor actually spends time gathering dust as the monitor for a fileserver in the back bedroom. And, though I'm not a slave to the latest and greatest technology, I decided recently that it was time to upgrade to a nice, large, widescreen monitor. That monitor turned out to be the Gateway FPD2275, a 22 inch, flat panel LCD.

I spent quite a bit of time researching monitors in the Gateway's price range ($399.00 MSRP). Without going into the grueling details of it all, the summary is this: In the sub-$500 price category of 22 inch LCD monitors, performance variations are virtually negligible across brands. I suspect that this is because there are an extremely limited number of LCD panel manufacturers. Every monitor that I found used the same LCD technology; Twisted Nematic, or TN. It is a low cost technology that produces relative fast displays, although the viewing angle is somewhat more limited than more expensive technologies and the color reproduction is not as accurate.

Because there are an extraordinarily large number of 22 inch LCD monitors on the market, it appears that manufacturers have two ways to differentiate their products: Price or features. Monitors in this class can be had for under $300 if you shop around - that price will purchase a monitor with analog and DVI inputs and not much more in the way of features. On the other end of the price spectrum, you'll find displays with an array of inputs, speakers and other accessories (one manufacturer even includes an iPod dock!)

I chose the Gateway FPD2275 because its price was at the midpoint of the spread and it had useful features. In a side by side comparison with similar models from Viewsonic, Acer, Samsung, HannsG and others, I could tell no difference in the display performance, so price and features were really all that were in play.

The monitor is rather attractively framed in black, matte on the front and glossy on the edges next to the LCD panel itself. It's a very minimalistic design that is complemented by the touch sensitive controls on the right side of the display. The monitor has an impressive array of inputs: HDCP DVI, analog VGA, component video, composite video and S-video. It also has four USB 2.0 ports, two on the side and two on the back. The monitor has no speakers, although Gateway does sell a USB "speaker bar" that is designed specifically for the monitor.

The monitor's base is tilt adjustable, but has no height adjustment. An optional, height adjusting, swiveling stand is available from Gateway. I use a stand that is roughly four inches high and found that the monitor was perfectly positioned. It has a display angle of 160 degrees horizontally and vertically, typical for TN technology LCDs. The monitor is VESA wall-mount compatible. It weighs about 14 pounds, is 20 inches wide, 17.5 inches high and 8 inches deep.

Out of the box, the monitor was a snap to assemble. The base screwed onto the mounting arm with a captive bolt. The package included analog VGA and power cables, but no DVI cable. Simple, but complete, instructions and a CD with drivers and a Windows-based software package were also included.

I tested the monitor with a tried, but true, BFG Technologies Nvidia 6200-based AGP video card. I used the DVI output of the card through a Monster Cable two meter, single link cable. The computer automatically switched from VGA to DVI when it booted and Windows XP displayed the correct resolution (1680x1050) when it started. I installed Gateway's "EzTune" software, then went through the rather easy configuration of the display to set the brightness, contrast, color and white temperature. I found that the on screen menus and the clever buttons were quite easy to use.

In fact, the adjustment controls deserver some special mention. When the monitor is operating normally, two illuminated, touch sensitive buttons are visible - Power and Menu. Everything else is off and completely invisible. When making adjustments with the on screen display, only the relevant buttons illuminate. It's all quite use friendly, logical and, frankly, quite attractive.

In operation, the monitor works quite nicely. I found no dead pixels. The monitor uses Genesis video controller and proudly trumpets that it contains Faroudja DCDi edge processing. The Genesis controller (I think that it is the FLI5962H) is a very versatile piece of silicon. Besides the edge processing (which removes the "jaggies" from interlaced video content), it also enables picture in picture, HDCP (which allows the monitor to play high definition content), the on screen display, inverse pull-down for standard definition TV and HDTV at up to 720P, along with some somewhat more esoteric features.

I tested the monitor with an array of software packages and evaluated it fairly subjectively. I didn't run benchmarks - my goal was to evaluate it with the only set of tools that I always have with me: my eyes. The display was very crisp and clear with standard office applications. At 1680x1050, very large spreadsheets were quite easy to view. Likewise, two word processing pages could be viewed side by side with no problems. Video looked very nice, particularly when viewed directly from a DVD player through the component video inputs. In fact, the picture in picture feature, which I thought was somewhat gimmicky at first got quite a bit of use. The display window can be sized up to 640x480 and positioned anywhere on the screen. At a touch of a button, the main display and the PIP display can be swapped.

I played World of Warcraft (for hours and hours and hours!) Admittedly, this is not the last word in graphics, but, with most settings set to their highest values, I was quite happy with what I saw. There was no ghosting, banding or streaking. The monitor was easily fast enough for the game.

Photo editing may be where this (and other TN technology monitors) will come up against a wall. Compred to my tried and true Hitachi monitor, the color display was clearly not as accurate. Black levels and saturation just were not up to par with the CRT. This isn't an area of much interest to me, however, so, although it is a deficiency, it's not one that caused me much concern. If, though, this is something that you do with any degree of precision, you'll probably want to look at a more expensive LCD technology, such as S-IPS...just expect to pay substantially more. Without comparison to the CRT monitor, the Gateway monitor's color performance was satisfactory.

There is one other issue that does need to be addressed, again, one that is common to all TN technology monitors that I looked at. For some reason, there is a rather high amount of backlight bleedthrough on the top and bottom of the display. It manifests itself as a glow when displaying dark images, such as the horizontal bars on a DVD movie. Some monitors are worse than others, but all of them seem to have the problem. Monitors with LED backlights (like the Gateway) seem to suffer from it more than those with fluorescent lamp backlights, although the FL backlighted displays are, overall, somewhat dimmer. For me, the bleedthrough was not enough to dissuade me from purchasing the monitor - again, this is something that S-IPS monitors tend to not suffer from, but the price is much higher.

Overall, the Gateway FPD2275W is a fine example of the latest low-cost, large, widescreen monitors on the market. It's not the cheapest one, but it makes up for that with a nice feature set. It supports virtually every video input that there is, includes a powered USB hub and packs some very nice video processing. It's by no means perfect, but achieves a very nice balance between performance and price.


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