VX2245wm ViewDock Review

The ViewSonic VX2245wm ViewDock is a reasonably priced, feature-packed, 22-inch widescreen LCD that comes in a shiny black design. It sports built-in speakers, a USB hub, and a camera card reader. But its most noteworthy feature is, of course, its integrated iPod dock cradle that uses Apple’s Universal dock. And though the VX2245wm works well as a general purpose LCD, its audio performance is somewhat off-key.

Out of the box
Setting up the display took a little time. Because it aims to eliminate several individual peripherals from cluttering your desk, quite a few cables must be connected between your Mac and the back and base of the display. For instance, you can plug in the display with a standard power cable, but the base requires a separate connector to power the subwoofer and iPod dock. You connect one cable from the audio out port on your computer to the base of the display and another cable from the audio out port on the base to the display’s audio in port. You also need to connect a USB cable from the display to your Mac in order to use the iPod dock, the card reader, and the USB hub.

The display includes five dock inserts that accommodate most dockable iPods; newer iPods ship with their own inserts. When you place a dockable iPod in the display’s cradle – and the base is connected to a USB port on your Mac – the cradle functions just like Apple’s own iPod dock: it charges your iPod and syncs it with iTunes. Unfortunately, despite having the name ViewDock, you can’t watch video from a video-capable iPod directly on the display, and nor is there a video output on the display base.

The display includes left and right speakers just below the screen, as well as a tiny subwoofer in the base. Together, these speakers provide adequate, if somewhat tinny, sound; volume is controlled via your computer’s volume control. However, when listening to an iPod docked in the base, the behaviour of the display’s audio components is confusing: you can’t control the iPod’s volume via the iPod’s own controls – the control on the display base affects only the subwoofer – and the display’s on-screen menus let you adjust only the speaker audio.

So unless you want to adjust the volume in multiple places, you’re stuck listening at a set volume level. (Plugging headphones into the base headphone jack mutes the speakers, and there’s no volume control when listening to a docked iPod.) Making matters worse, we found the navigation buttons on the display hard to use. They are somewhat recessed, and in order to press them we needed to tilt our fingers down and use a fingernail to push.

Other features include an 8-in-1 flash memory card reader on the side of the display’s base as well as a four-port USB hub to connect devices. Three of the ports are conveniently located in the front on the monitor’s base.

How it looks
The display has both DVI and analogue video ports. When we connected the monitor using DVI, our Mac Pro recognised it correctly, and the monitor displayed its native 1,680 x 1,050 resolution automatically. The display looked a little washed out at its default settings, but calibration did improve its colour performance. Unfortunately, calibration couldn’t alleviate its limited viewing angle. Colour shifts are apparent pretty quickly, and the display loses contrast and brightness as you move your head left or right from the centre. However, text was legible, even at small point sizes, and colours – though not as vibrant as on other monitors we’ve seen – were fairly accurate as long as long as you sit directly in front of the screen.

OUR VERDICT

The idea of an affordable, multifunction display that includes built-in speakers, an iPod dock, a camera card reader, and a USB hub is very appealing. Unfortunately, the ViewSonic VX2245wm’s method of integrating these devices is confusing, and the display suffers from a limited viewing angle.

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