Review: ViewSonic VA2626wm 25.5-inch LCD monitor

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Short Version: At well under $600, the 25.5-inch ViewSonic VA2626wm is a good monitor for those of you who want to get into the huge LCD game at a reasonable price. While considered to be somewhat inferior to the comparable Samsung 2693HM, the ViewSonic carries an enticing $50 mail-in rebate until the end of November. Also, it’s good as a computer monitor but it’s even better hooked up to an Xbox 360.

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Overview and Features:

  • 25.5-inch widescreen LCD at 1920×1200 resolution
  • 450 cd/m2 brightness
  • 800:1 static contrast ratio, 6000:1 dynamic
  • 170° horizontal, 160° vertical viewing angles
  • 5ms response time
  • Connections: 15-pin VGA, DVI-D, and HDMI
  • Two 2.5-watt speakers
  • Only 3.6-inches thick (not counting the stand) and 22 pounds (including stand)
  • Three year warranty
  • MSRP of $586, although it can be found for less than $500 in many places

It’s good for…

…people who want to get into a huge monitor at a relatively low price. The best deal I’ve found is $429.99 after a $50 mail-in rebate at MacMall, which includes free shipping. That rebate is good until the end of November (click here for the PDF file).

The VA2626wm is plenty big, yet thankfully it’s relatively easy to move around. It’s only 22 pounds and less than four inches thick, which makes getting behind it to hook stuff up a painless process. Brightness is above-average, too, at 450 cd/m2. You’ll find that most monitors in this class hover around the 300 to 400 cd/m2 range. Also, going from a 19-inch LCD to a 26-inch LCD is like seeing color for the first time. I can finally have both CrunchGear and my fave Jonas Brothers fan site up and at full-width all day long.

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I’m also happy to report that sitting five feet from a 26-inch monitor and playing Xbox 360 games is way more fun than sitting 15 feet from a 26-inch LCD TV in my living room. If you haven’t hooked your Xbox 360 up to your HDMI-enabled computer monitor, go ahead and treat yourself. Playing Madden on this thing is unbelievable. This monitor would make a great addition to a game room or a den or whatever it is you kids have as your own area to play video games without disrupting TV time.

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This is a hook-up-and-go monitor. There aren’t a whole lot of frills here. You just plug it in, hook it up, and start using it. I’ve futzed around plenty with the on-screen controls and options and ultimately ended up resetting everything to the default settings.

Not so good for…

…the discerning monitor snob or people who expect great audio out of LCD speakers. Images and text always seem to be a tad bit washed out and colors don’t really “pop” as much as they do on a couple of my 19-inch LCDs (a Gateway and an Acer). So this is more of a “I need a big monitor so I can spread out all my files and folders” than a “I need a big monitor to watch movies, look at photos, and play games” type of deal. The color isn’t bad, it just won’t blow your hair back like that Maxell guy. It’s fine, though.

The audio out of the 2.5-watt speakers sounds just like what you’d expect from 2.5-watt speakers. It’s underwhelming and a bit tinny. That should be no surprise, though, as speakers on an LCD monitor aren’t really a selling point any more. It’s nice that they’re there and they work fine for system sounds and YouTube videos.

The on-screen display is like solving a puzzle. You have four buttons: 1, 2, Up, and Down. Don’t press 2, or you’ll switch video sources! Press Up to go straight to brightness and contrast settings. Press Down to adjust the volume (whaaa?). Press 1 to access a list of all the functions, then press 2 to choose that function. You’ll know whether to press 1 or 2 because the on-screen tip shows the 1 button as a door with an arrow pointing to the right and the 2 button as a door with an arrow pointing left. Huh? Luckily, you don’t have to change the settings all that much (if ever).

If you’re just looking for resolution and don’t care about the actual size of the screen, keep in mind that you get 1920×1200 standard with 24-inch monitors and even some 22-inch monitors now. Both sizes generally cost far less than the 25.5/26 inchers. This monitor is big. Not heavy, but big. It takes up a fair amount of desk space.

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Finally, do a search for this monitor and you’ll find numerous comparisons to Samsung’s 25.5-inch 2693HM – mostly ending with “the Samsung is better and cheaper.” I can’t comment on that since I haven’t used the Samsung but I can tell you that the current $50 rebate actually makes the ViewSonic less expensive for the next few weeks. As for quality, I have no idea which one is better. I just felt the need to report that there’s an inordinate amount of comparisons between the two monitors.

Recommendation:

If you can get the VA2626wm for less than comparable models, it’s a good choice – anything in the low $400’s seems to be a great deal. It works especially well when connected to a next-generation video game console via HDMI, so consider it as a gaming monitor. If you’re looking for a high-end 26-inch LCD or simply for something with a 1920×1200 resolution, you’d likely have more luck with something different or smaller depending on your needs.

VA2626wm [ViewSonic.com]

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