If you’re on the lookout for a monitor to accompany your laptop, the Lenovo L2230x is a display that may well catch your eye. After all, a 21.5in widescreen display with a native resolution of 1,920×1,080 for just £139 certainly seems like a great deal, especially from a big-name brand like Lenovo.
Wot no DVI?
But the Lenovo L2230x is an odd beast. When we first unboxed it, we were surprised to find no DVI or DisplayPort connector at the rear – an absence we haven’t seen for some time.
There is method in this seeming madness, however. The Lenovo does have a digital connection – in the form of DisplayLink, a technology that lets you hook the monitor up to a PC or laptop via USB, with no need for a dedicated video out port. Not only that, but the L22330x has USB ports, Ethernet and audio sockets built in too – enabling you to use it as a complete input/output hub for your PC or laptop Just plug in your PC via USB and you’re ready to go – making it very quick and easy to hot-desk with a laptop.
It’s a great idea, but naturally there are some compromises along the way. Starting with its basic design. The L2230x has an actual viewable diagonal of 21.5in. Some might find this a touch too small for the monitor’s native 1,920×1,080 resolution – though we had no problems with this.
The display is finished in matt black, save for the glossy bottom bezel, which features a large power switch in the middle. This lower bezel tapers inwards and its sharp angles are matched by the stand. At the rear, an angled piece of plastic helps to keep your cables in place. Looks-wise, it’s professional looking rather than inspiring.
Round the back you’ll also find two holes for a Kensington security lock. On the left-hand side are three USB ports. When plugged into your computer via the upstream USB, it can act as a hub for other devices such as printers, or USB sticks. Above these are a headphone jack and mic port. When you plug in the screen via USB, sound output is switched to the display. The monitor has no speakers built-in though, so you’ll have to use headphones.
The monitor is quite lightweight, so it’s easy to transport – and while it has no height adjustment, it can be tilted slightly back and forward. This is necessary, as the display is based on older TN technology. this means it suffers from poor vertical and horizontal viewing angles – though at this bargain price, a TN display is to be expected.
Quality and performance
The Lenovo’s picture quality is nothing to write home about. The specifications of 250cd/m2 brightness, 1000:1 dynamic contrast ratio and 5ms response time are all decidedly average. Running through the LCD monitor calibration tests available at www.lagom.nl, we found the Lenovo struggled. The Quick Contrast and Black-level tests revealed crushed blacks at the low end, and we couldn’t make out the last three squares in the white saturation tests at all. Colours weren’t a strong point either, with red appearing particularly out of kilter. Image sharpness, even of smaller text, was acceptable – especially over the DisplayLink connection.
But our major issue with the Lenovo was the fact that, when connected via DisplayLink, we observed a notable jerkiness while scrolling up and down documents of web pages. The problem became very marked when we moved windows around the desktop. The DisplayLink technology also struggles to play back video smoothly, with standard Flash video such as YouTube playing at an average of between 15 and 20 frames per second. The problem is simply the lack of bandwidth available via USB 2.0. When you perform intensive USB-based tasks, such as syncing your iPhone with iTunes the problem is compounded, as you’ll find the everything start to slow down – even with the relatively speedy Core 2 Duo system we used to test.
Another downside we found when using this monitor is that you can’t daisy-chain two L2230w screens together via USB – so if you want to run two along with your laptop, you have to run one via USB and the other via VGA.
- Great for hot-desking, with only one USB lead to connect.
- Image quality isn't great, and it struggles moving pictures.
In many ways, the Lenovo L2230x makes a lot of sense. With built-in Ethernet, USB, audio and DisplayLink, you can hook up your laptop via a single cable making, hot-desking very quick and convenient. Image quality isn't the best, however, and the video performance over DisplayLink can struggle at times. As such, the Lenovo really isn't suitable for anyone looking to do photographic work, watch video or play games. For standard office-based tasks, used to view for mostly static tasks such as email, the L2230x gets the job done.