Comparison of 15" LCD Monitors - Part II

Solarism LM 1503 [UPDATED]

Twenty-one! This is the number of 15" LCD monitors tested on our site since last December.

The number one position in the quality ratings is held by the LM 1503. However you look at it, the Solarism LM 1503 the best 15" LCD monitor on the market.

To do this, Solarism combined one of the best screens around, the Chungwa (cf. tested here) already used in the Belinea 10 15 35, with their ABT system, a proprietary technology which redefines backlighting and pixel control to give a much brighter display. The result is that the LM 1503 has much better qualities than its rivals, higher even than those of LCD TV screens.

With brightness of 800 cd/m² (versus 220 cd/m² for a conventional LCD monitor and 400 cd/m² for LCD TVs), its colors come out much livelier and truer than is usual.

The LM 1503 succeeds where nearly all the others fail: its white is really white and its black really black.

The response time claimed (40ms) might seem slow if you compare it to its most recent rivals. But this is not actually so. Like the Belinea 10 15 35, the image lag is much less than on those claiming 25ms. Unlike them, the LM 1503 has no failings, be it in light or dark colors. The move from red to blue, or white to black and vice versa, is made with no trouble and without the least trace of lag on screen. You can perfectly well surf or game on this monitor, provided you stick to 1024 x 768 pixels.

When it comes to color chart tests, the LM 1503, like the Belinea 10 15 35, finds it a bit hard to differentiate the darkest shades. Remember that a perfect monitor should be able to display 256 grays from 0, the darkest, to the lightest at 255.

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Though, like the Solarism LM 1711 17", the screen of the LM 1503 has fewer shades than the very good Philips 170B2, the colors it displays are truer and more pleasing.

Likewise, this monitor's ergonomics have no need to envy the best of its rivals. The base can pivot the screen smoothly round to another user and there are plenty of connections. There are S-Video inputs at the back to plug in a DVD player or a console, the ones called RCA or cinch for composite video and analog audio signals. There is a headphone input at the front, and the base can be removed if you want to hang the monitor on the wall. The only thing it doesn't have is a DVI input. The OSD menu could have been simpler. It would have been nice to have a button like the one on the LM 1711 to change different preset degrees of brightness according to the lighting.

In the end, this is the first LCD monitor we can recommend equally well for games, word processing, retouching photos, medical image display or intensive surfing. In short, we reckon this monitor is as good as many CRT ones.

Note: You will have already realized the LM 1503 is our favorite. Trouble is, Solarism is only distributed in North America, China and Russia. In Europe we have only found the German distributors and . So to buy it, you have either to be on location or on the Web. Yahoo lists a number of online sellers here. The usual price is $550, plus 19.5% VAT (about $108) and shipping costs are around $17 to $18, depending on the kind of shipment (UPS, standard post, etc.). For Europeans, this means a total cost of $675 to $738 (745 to 815 euros).