HP breaks the mold with their new F2105 21-in. widescreen LCD monitor. This unique LCD looks like it belongs in outer space with its curved base and metallic design. While it looks like the F2105 should belong in your family room, don’t let its appearances fool you; this is strictly a PC monitor. Priced at around $700, the F2105 has quickly earned its way to one of our favorite monitors.
Features and Design
There are two reasons why this monitor will appeal to you. Either it’s the incredible design and look, or it’s the gorgeous LCD display. At first glance, we thought perhaps the F2105 was an HP LCD television, since it comes with built-in speakers. But really this LCD is meant for your PC. There are no S-video or component video inputs, just a VGA and DVI output. The design of the F2105 is borderline industrial and minimalistic. The silver bezel is really nothing special; it just looks like a normal LCD from the neck up. What really sticks out is the stand that it sits on. Shaped like a crescent moon (or a boomerang), the stand allows the LCD panel to fold flat against it when pushed down. You can move the display vertically, about 40 degrees forwards and backwards, but that’s about it. The neck of the display is double hinged, so it’s very easy to move the monitor position almost as if it’s floating, circa the 2003 Apple iMac (if you can remember). The panel does not come with any swivel or pivot capabilities. CAD designers will most likely be turned off by this lack. You can remove the base altogether if you decide you want to mount the F2105 on the wall.
As we mentioned, the F2105 comes with both VGA and DVI outputs. There are also three USB 2.0 ports on the monitor as well as an audio input that connects to your PC or any other source, with an amplifier for playback on the LCD’s speakers. Sound playback is nothing special, since the integrated speakers are only putting out five watts of power per channel. So, if you plan on using the F2105 with your Media Center PC or for gaming, do yourself a favor and buy some external speakers. For an office setting, the internal speakers do the job and will help keep your desk relatively clutter-free.
The controls for the monitor are located on the bottom right of the LCD bezel. They look fairly clean and rest almost flush with the monitor. Menu navigation is intuitive and easy to use. Our review unit came with the brightness set at about 75% and looked great right out of the box. You can turn up the brightness quite a bit, and colors still stayed fairly vibrant. The contrast is near perfect; it’s not too washed out when turned up high, and not very foggy at lower settings. There is a lot of travel with the color and brightness levels, so you should be able to find a setting that meets your needs. If you are using the analog VGA input, HP gives you an “autoadjust” setting that will adjust the window to the fit the screen and change the brightness and contrast settings for you.
HP includes a driver disc and every cable you will need to get the F2105 up and running, including an audio cable (which actually had a microphone connector on it, too, but with nothing to connect it to on the monitor side). The native resolution of the F2105 is 1680×1050, which is a wide-screen resolution, so if you are a big-time gamer, you might want to pass this monitor up unless you think your games will support this resolution. A standard 4:3 20-in. LCD should be capable to run your games at 1600×1200, which is the magic number for gamers.
The HP F2105 comes with a one-year parts and labor warranty, which is sub-average for this industry. Samsung and ViewSonic, for example, provide a three-year warranty on their LCD monitors.
Image Courtesy of HP
In our tests, the F2105 proved to be one of the brightest monitors we have seen. It even bested our favorite, the HP L2335, when it came to brightness and contrast. Because the F2105 displays grayscale and color gradients so well, this monitor looked great during our DVD playback tests. There was a very smooth transition from bright to dark scenes without any grey washout or pixilation.
Those who do a lot of writing will find that the F2105 does a great job at reproducing text. The text did not come across as blurry and the brightness level on a white background was not distracting at the right setting.
In our gaming tests, the F2105 did an outstanding job, especially during first person shooter games, thanks to a speedy 12ms response rate. As we mentioned before, widescreen displays are great for movie playback, but tend to be hit-or-miss with games, depending on the game and your video card’s resolution settings. Some games come across as being stretched if they do not support a widescreen mode like 1680×1050, so you might wind up playing the game at a lower resolution than you hoped for.
In all, the F2105 has a beautiful LCD panel that performed wonderfully in all of our tests. Still, with a price of $700, it would have been great to see preset modes for games, movies, web, etc. Feature-wise, the F2105 is pretty lacking; you are only getting a really cool design and a stellar LCD panel in this unit–but that’s what really counts.
We love the F2105 so much that we are going to give it an Editor’s Choice Award. There are a few strings attached, though, so make sure you read carefully. Due to the unique design of the F2105, you cannot swivel the unit, making it less than ideal for the workplace or CAD design. And although it has built-in speakers, an integrated microphone is missing, so you will have to connect that separately.
Still, the design is inspiring enough that you should be able to look past its shortcomings. The F2105 has a beautiful display that is vibrant and bright, perfect for movies or games. And if you have a Media Center PC, then the F2105 should look right at home with your setup.
– Unique design
– Built-in speakers
– Bright, colorful display
– Great for movies or games
– VGA and DVI inputs
– Cannot swivel or pivot
– No integrated microphone