Compaq flat panels prepped for future

In some government workplaces, space is at a premium. One way agencies can

stuff more technology into tighter spaces — aboard a submarine or a mobile

command center, for example — is to use flat-panel displays.

These slim displays use the same thin-film transistor (TFT) technology

used in notebook computer screens. We took a look at two new flat-panel

monitors from Compaq Computer Corp. — the TFT5010, a 15-inch display, and

the TFT8020, an 18-inch model.

Both monitors support the analog display signal used with most current

computers, as well as optional digital connectivity based on the new Digital

Visual Interface (DVI) standard. The TFT5010 offers one port that supports

both digital and analog interfaces, while the TFT8020 has two ports, one

digital and one analog. Both ports on the TFT8020 can be used at the same

time for dual-PC input, and both units come with an analog cable pre-attached

and a digital cable included in the package.

One other major difference between the two models is that the TFT5010

can be purchased with an optional touch screen while the TFT8020 cannot.

Compaq designed the monitors with the present and the future in mind.

Agencies can use them with today's analog-equipped PCs. Alternatively,

if you need digital capability right away, you can buy a Matrox Graphics

Inc. DVI video card from Compaq to ship with the monitor.

The TFT8020 we reviewed offered a luxuriously large display but took

up only 9.7 inches of depth with the base attached. Without the removable

base, the unit is only 3 inches deep, which makes it possible to mount on

a moveable arm or a wall.

Setup is a breeze with Compaq's automatic setup feature. A built-in

image processor detects the computer's signal and automatically calibrates

the monitor to that signal for optimal performance. An auto-adjust button

on the front of the monitor enables you to hot-plug the monitor into different

sources and use the automatic setup feature without rebooting.

The base swivels and the screen can be tilted vertically, but users

may not even have to adjust the angle, thanks to Compaq's 140-degree wide-angle

viewing. We were able to view the screen from any angle and still see everything

on it. The image did dim slightly when we viewed it from extreme angles,

but it was still entirely visible, unlike many LCD panels we've seen.

The TFT8020's image is bright and clear, supporting 16.7 million colors

and 1,280-by-1,025 pixel resolution and featuring a dot pitch of .28 millimeters.

Both models feature a Universal Serial Bus option. For about $50 extra,

you can purchase the monitors with four USB ports built into the back of

the base for connecting perpherals such as speakers.

Full-screen scaling on the TFT8020 will size any image to fit the screen.

E-Color Inc.'s Colorific software is included with both monitors for accurate

color matching on screen and in print.

Settings are easy to adjust with Compaq's three-button navigation. Both

displays are available in opal (off-white) and charcoal (black), so you

can match them to various computing environments. Just beware of the still-high

prices of flat panels. The TFT8020 will set you back $3,337 and the TFT5010




Score: A

Compaq Computer Corp.

(800) 345-1518 monitors

Pricing: The TFT8020 is available on the GSA schedule for $3,337. The TFT5010costs $1,226 on the GSA schedule. Both units can be purchased with a four-connectionUSB hub for an extra $47.

Remarks: The TFT8020 offers a lot of flexibility as well as the ability to adjustto the changing needs of an agency. The dual analog and digital connectivityensures the unit's compatibility with present and future computing environments.

For the latest on new products and technologies, visit the FCW Test Center, and click on the news in the upper right column.


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