LG L204WT review

£213
Price when reviewed

LG Electronics’ new 20in widescreen offering doesn’t come with the same gloss and polish as the beautiful Asus PW201, but it’s every bit the match for it in terms of quality. And the L204WT comes with several deft touches that make it a far more suitable all-round choice than its brasher counterpart.

For a start, the image it produces is much more appropriate to office work, with text appearing crisp even on an white background. The 300cd/m2 brightness is enough for a strong white level, yet the black level remains impressively untarnished by the light. The Desktop is clear, crisp and a pleasure to work with, and there’s a useful Text mode that raises the contrast for this purpose.

But before anyone gets carried away with the claimed 2,000:1 contrast ratio, it’s important to point out that this figure is artificial. To achieve it, LG’s Digital Fine Contrast (DFC) is activated when you switch to Movie mode and dynamically adjusts the range depending on the scene. So a predominantly dark scene sees the dynamic range lowered to offer more detail in the blacks, and light scenes see the opposite effect. In practice, this leaves you with a constantly shifting dynamic range, particularly during dark scenes. We soon found this disquieting to watch and switched it off.

But even without this mode activated, the contrast is still good, so it can safely be avoided. Dark areas showed a respectable level of detail, and skin tones had none of the artificially warm or cold hues that affect many monitors. We saw a fair amount of grain in certain scenes and a bit of a dull tinge in some white areas, so it’s nowhere near perfect, but for most uses it’s good enough. Gaming is a viable option, as the 5ms response time meant we saw no problems in fast-action games. Colours looked fairly vivid too, even against the glossy Asus.

To make the necessary changes, we were pleased to see the OSD is straightforward to use. The buttons are on the back of the TFT, but with the labels on the front they’re easy enough to locate. As for other features, it can’t match the Asus for ports – or for build quality either – but if you can cope with a stand that only tilts, it’s perfectly solid and durable. Unlike the Asus, there are no built-in speakers or USB ports.

Compared to the PW201, the LG L204WT may seem plain and under-featured, but look closer and you’ll find a good-quality display. However, what really pushes it out in front is the price: £213 puts it firmly into bargain territory and makes it simply one of the best-value monitors available today. The previous A-List entry, the Philips 200W6, was a solid office worker recommended mostly for its stunning price, but the L204WT is more of an all-round performer and costs even less. Unless your heart’s set on one of the premium glossy models like the Asus, you simply won’t find a better deal than this.

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