Out of the boxThe box contains the monitor itself, one power cable, one VGA and one DVI cable to attach to the computer, and two CDs with drivers and color profiles. Neither CD works in Mac OS X. There is no need for drivers to have the display function on any computer, since itís all plug and play, but there are some issues that could have been eliminated if there had been software for it.
To even get the monitor on the desk, you need to physically remove it from the box first, but this might not be as easy as it sounds. The display lies embedded in two pieces of protective foam plastics, making it impossible to just lift the display out of the box. Instead you will have to drag the whole package out of the box and then remove the plastic around the display. After that you need only to clean the desk space, place the monitor, connect all necessary cables and start it up. You can actually connect the display to more than one computer thanks to the multiple connections on the base of the display. Thereís one DVI and two VGA ports, making it possible to connect it to three machines at once. Switching between the different inputs seems to be easy, but since I only have one machine in my office, I havenít been able to test this.
The first time I started up my computer I was almost blinded. The default settings on the screen were so bright I could hardly see the dock. Here an easily accessible predefined color profile for OS X would have been a great help, but instead Iíve been forced to calibrate it by myself. There actually is a ColorSync profile on one of the CDs included, but that was just as bright as the default settings. It took ten times to get a decent profile the first time, since an LCD is extremely hard to calibrate. The colors are dependent on what angle you view the display from, you seldom think about this during normal work, but it gets extremely apparent when trying to finely tune the colors. The view angle also affect the thickness of thin objects, like text, but you only have to adjust the monitor to a good angle, and then it's easy to forget.
Once I got a decent picture I realized how extremely clear the image is. My 19Ē CRT standing next to it has the same active surface and the same resolution, and looking at both monitors at once, I can easily say that the doubly expensive LCD looks more than four times as good. The image is sharper, colors are clearer and the screen is completely flat. My old CRT was a budget model and to be honest, a piece of crap, but it have served me well - and until now I have never thought of how bad it actually is. There is no turning back for me when Iíve finally seen an LCD connected to my Power Mac. The only color that is having problem is true black. This is because the backlight of the LCD still shines through the black pixels, especially noticeable along the edges. Unless you have large areas of black on the screen, you won't even notice it. This is one of the few areas my CRT is better, since black is indistinguishable from a powered off screen.
The fact that the VP171b itself looks extremely nice doesnít make matters worse either. It has a 0.67 inch black frame around the display area, and is about two inches deep, leaving the old bulky CRT looking like a candidate for liposuction. The only thing that is oversized on the display is the base. Itís thicker than the actual display, but looks and feels extremely solid and doesnít give any indications of instability or wobbliness. One reason for the huge base is the adjustability of the display. You can easily adjust the height and tilt angle on the display. While not as easy as on an iMac G4, some spring mechanism in the base definitely aids the task of changing the vertical position a lot. You can also turn the viewing area 90į to get the screen in a portrait position. Now this last feature would be great since it would allow you to see a full page on screen at once, if it wasnít for the fact that the drivers to support this are Windows only.