LG Flatron L1960TR review
With the current clamour for larger, wider and better, it’s easy to see why the humble 5:4 aspect screen can be overlooked. With a 1,280 x 1,024 resolution, they don’t have the impact of a good widescreen TFT, you can only read a single document at a time, and they aren’t ideal for video given the prevalence of widescreen content.
But the fact remains that the majority of TFTs currently on desks aren’t widescreen, and many people have no desire for one cluttering up an office or study. LG has catered to the high-end market before with its elite Fantasy range of TFTs, and the L1960TR is from similar stock, with sleek black looks and good image quality.
The touch-sensitive power switch is discreet on the black bezel, and the remaining control buttons are placed a little awkwardly up the right-hand side. But crane your neck and you’ll see that as well as the usual navigational controls, one button also activates LG’s f-Engine technology.
This isn’t much different to most other TFTs’ modes: text and picture presets are as you’d expect, but you’ll find you spend most of the time without a preset enabled, as the standard mode gives the most natural colours. However, movie fans may be interested in the digital fine contrast (DFC), which kicks in when you select movie mode.
We’ve seen it before on the L204WT, and things aren’t much different here. The effective contrast is claimed to be 3,000:1, achieved by altering the dynamic range on-the-fly; dark scenes see the range lowered and light scenes raised in order to bring out more detail in the relevant areas. There’s no denying that outdoor scenes and digital still photos look vivid and sharp, although we found dark scenes turned a little bluish as the DFC kicked in.
Ironically, it’s the split-screen preview mode that allows you to see the disadvantages of DFC, as you can compare the result to the original colours and tones. Close-ups show the significant amount of additional noise generated by DFC, and rapid dark-light sequences become irritating as the LG swings up and down to keep pace with the current lighting conditions.
The LG L1960TR would do better to play on its other strengths, as it’s a competent TFT without the 3,000:1 DFC. The black level benefits from a slight reduction in the brightness, which also eliminates a minor amount of light seepage at the top edge, and once set up properly our test photos and videos produced good results. We found the maximum brightness to be a little dim compared to the blinding glare of the Acer AL2623W, but it’s fine for editing documents or looking at photos.
The main problem is finding the target audience: with a premium price only a little lower than the cheapest 22in widescreen TFT, it’s hard to see entertainment junkies rushing out to sample the delights of a 19in standard-aspect TFT, regardless of video-friendly effects like DFC. It’s a high-end, classy-looking monitor, so it surely won’t find a home in offices either. However, if you’re adamant you want to stick with a 19in TFT, the LG L1960TR is a decent-quality, if expensive, choice.