The line between the computer monitor and LCD TV has once again been blurred with the introduction of Gateway’s latest 21-inch monitor, the FPD2185. While the FPD2185 isn’t exactly a full-blown television, it fortunately carries some of the best qualities you will find in a high-end LCD TV like component video inputs, picture-in-picture and HDTV support.
Priced at around $599, the FPD2185 appeals to a very broad audience, but Gateway could have polished the overall package a tad bit more to make this monitor a must-have item.
Gateway has come along ways in regards to the way their products look. Gone are the days of the gold trim, and the FPD2185 is a step in the right direction, but improvements could be made. We like that everything is black on the monitor and the new Gateway logo is a nice touch. The oval base looks and feels a little cheap but its large size helps keep the monitor feeling stable while you pivot or swivel the screen. There are controls for accessing the menu, PiP, input selection and an auto setting button, located on the right side of the monitor as well as two USB ports. Putting the controls on the side help to give the FPD2185 a very clean look. Gateway chose to go with a faux carbon fiber pattern on the sides of the monitor which sort of remind us of an 80’s Pontiac, we could certainly go without it, but since it’s a dark pattern it thankfully doesn’t really stand out much.
The edges of the FPD2185 are smooth and rounded with very thin bezels which help give an upper-scale impression. We like that the bezels are thin because that means you can set multiple monitors side-by-side for added workspace without having too large of a gap between them.
We found the FPD2185 to be a very flexible monitor – literally. You can adjust the vertical height to a little over 4-inches and the screen tilts back about 20 degrees and swivels about 40 degrees in either direction. The screen also pivots into portrait mode, which is great for graphic designers and those that use CAD programs. In fact the FPD2185 can even tilt back while the LCD is in portrait mode, and that’s not something you see from most monitors.
What really makes the FPD2185 a unique monitor is the inclusion of DCDi technology by Faroudja. This technology helps with video smoothing on the composite/RCA and S-Video inputs. So if you plan on hooking your satellite or cable TV up to the FPD2185 you can expect a better looking picture. There are a number of inputs on the back of the FPD2185 which should appeal to a large number of people. They include: S-Video, Composite, Component Video, Analog VGA and Digital Video Interface (DVI). One major caveat to be aware of though; Gateway does not ship the FPD2185 with a DVI cable, so expect to pay around $35 or more for a nice quality cable. Component video cables are also missing.
If you decide that you do not want to add huge speakers to your system setup, Gateway sells a speaker set which latches on to the under carriage of the FPD2185 while still maintaining a nice clean look.
The FPD2185 comes with a standard resolution of 1,680 x 1,050 and supports an HDCP compatible DVI input for high definition signals like what you would get from an up-converting DVD player, or an ATSC tuner.
The FPD2185 comes with a 1 year warranty which is pretty skimpy compared to the 3-year warranties you would find from others like HP or Samsung.
image Courtesy of Gateway
Unpacking and setting up the FPD2185 turned out to be a very simple process. Gateway ships the FPD2185 with their EZ Tune software which gives you a control panel right on your desktop. This same software also controls the pivot function so that the desktop changes automatically when the screen is switched to portrait mode. The software is easy to use and lets you change the brightness, contrast, balance and even the color temperature and gamma settings. You can still control these using the buttons on the side of the monitor if you want to.
Colors are very vibrant without any sort of bleeding effects. The black levels and grayscale levels are exceptional and look great during the dark scenes of a DVD movie for example. We did not notice any sort of motion blur during fast moving scenes or games, although text that scrolls on the bottom of the screen still looks a tad bit blurry (think CNN), but we have yet to see an LCD TV or monitor that was perfect here; you will have to wait for the new 4ms and 2ms displays to help correct this.
Games look awesome on the FPD2185 thanks to its fast response rate. Because the native resolution of the FPD2185 is 1,680 x 1,050, you might be a little disappointed that you cannot play your games in the traditional 1,600 x 1,200 setting. And because some games do not accurately support wide-screen displays, you might be a little flustered if the image looks abnormally stretched. Keep in mind that a lot more wide-screen monitors are being sold though, and most newer games do support the wide aspect ratios.
One cool feature we wish the FPD2185 had was memory settings for each input. That way you could program the Component Video input to have different brightness and color settings than say the DVI input. We have only seen this feature on the high-end LCD TV’s out there unfortunately (hopefully Gateway is paying attention to us).
Gateway’s FPD2185 might seem like a steal at $599, but there are some hidden costs associated with it. First of all, if you plan on using the Component Video or DVI inputs, you can expect to spend upwards of $35 per cable to use those interfaces. And with a 1-year warranty standard on the FPD2185, you will have to fork out even more money ($30 dollars) to get a longer 3-year warranty which should have been standard in the first place. So expect to pay close to $75 dollars or more on top of the base price should you want the extras.
Even so, there is no denying that the FPD2185 is a killer monitor. Colors are vibrant and thanks to its 8ms response rate, games look incredible. Those that plan on using the FPD2185 for both HDTV viewing and regular computer use will be hard-pressed to find a better monitor out there for the around the same price. Multimedia buffs will love the FPD2185 for its wide-screen display, but keep in mind that the FPD2185 supports a 16:10 aspect ratio and not a true 16:9, so its not perfect – but its darn close.