IBM's T56A flat panel offers new view

One of IBM Corp.'s latest offerings is a flat panel monitor with a twist — literally.

The 15.1-inch IBM T56A flat panel monitor is the first from IBM that

pivots to allow viewing of the screen in either landscape (horizontal) or

portrait (vertical) orientation. Portrait viewing lets users see entire

World Wide Web pages at once, and e-mails and documents require less scrolling,

if any. For many users that means a workday spent in front of a computer

will be less tiring to the eyes.

Best of all, the T56A offers a set of controls that is the most flexible

and easiest to use we've seen in a flat panel display. For starters, it's

a snap to rotate the image for quick switching. Once you install the included

Pivot Software, made by Portrait Displays Inc., it's a simple matter of

pressing a hot key combination or clicking on a system tray icon to instantaneously

rotate the display.

The monitor also is physically easy to turn. There is no need to stand

up and struggle with parts that are difficult to move. The screen turns

smoothly and easily, and you can do it from a sitting position.

The T56A is adjustable in many more ways than pivoting, however. It's

also the first monitor from IBM to slide up and down as well as to offer

150-degree swivel capability. The monitor offers a large tilt range as well

(30 degrees backward), so users can adjust it to achieve the optimal viewing


The unit is wall-mountable and, in response to customer feedback, IBM

has relocated the control buttons to facilitate mounting of multiple units

flush with one another. Previous models featured control buttons along the

bottom of the bezel, while the buttons on the T56A are incorporated into

the front of the bezel. In addition, the bezel is slightly narrower than

those of previous models.

The monitor is optimized for 1024 x 768 resolution at 60 Hz and projects

a bright, clear image without the flicker usually seen on CRT monitors at

this low refresh rate. Black text on a white background is visible from

any position, but some colors degrade when viewed at an angle.

Setup is easy but the user's manual jumps around a bit, making it a

little more confusing than a monitor setup should be. The setup procedures

themselves, however, are simple. You need to install drivers, run the Auto

Setup procedure, which optimizes your computer's display settings for the

monitor, and then install the Pivot software.

The monitor's control buttons are easy to use and the menus are intuitive.

A manual setup feature is offered for users who want to fine-tune their

settings. There are even three preset color palettes, or users can create

their own.

The unit is compatible with the following operating systems: DOS, Windows

3.1, Windows 95/98, Windows 2000, Windows NT 3.5 and Windows NT 4.0. It

is available in Stealth Black and Pearl White.

If you need monitor flexibility, take a look at the IBM T56A. It can

turn and tilt in any direction most users would ever need, and the pivot

capability offers a viewing dimension you can't get with most monitors.


T56A Flat Panel Monitor

Score: A

IBM Corp.

(800) 426-7255

Price and Availability: The IBM T56A Flat Panel Monitor is available at an estimated reseller price of $1,179. Government pricing is lower and determined on a case-by-casebasis.

Remarks: Pivot capability sets this monitor apart. Viewing the screen in portraitallows users to see entire Web pages at once, and larger portions of e-mailsand documents can be viewed at one time. The unit also tilts, swivels andslides up and down for maximum flexibility.


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