While LG's product lineup includes some of the coolest LED HDTVs and 3D TVs on the market, the Korean company also developed, over time, certain hybrid products, designed specifically for those categories of users who either can't afford a large-size display, or lack the space required in order to properly enjoy one.
And, in fact, that's exactly the case with the subject of our review, namely the company's Flatron M2280D Full HD LED TV/Monitor, which offers a multitude of functions that will certainly make it a prime solution for a large category of users.
In theory, whenever someone goes shopping for a new HDTV, the size of the room where the respective device will be installed is quite an important issue, at least when talking about an ultra wide-screen TV.
However, there are certain cases when the available space is rather limited, and has to be shared with other types of displays (just think of a dorm-room for example), so you'll immediately see why the Flatron M2280D is an excellent all-rounder, since this thing can be used as a PC display, a TV set and even a multimedia player, need-be.
And although one might believe that cramming-up so many functions into a single device would ultimately affect its overall level of quality and functionality, the truth of the matter is that the Flatron hybrid monitor from LG managed to leave us a very good impression, since it carries out each of these functions in an equally satisfactory manner.
Aesthetics and design
Overall design features
In terms of design, the LG Flatron M2280D manages to leave a fairly OK impression, although its overall looks are not exactly what we'd call "award-winning" or "eye-catching".
That thicker lower-based and curvy lines do make it a tad different from all of the other similar devices available out there, and the same goes for the touch-controls (shinning blue in the dark), located on the lower side.
Following in the same general trend that seems to be dominating the market nowadays, LG's combo LED HDTV/PC monitor sports a glossy, piano-black case that's extremely friendly to both fingerprints and dust, a problem that, in the case of this particular device, might be a lot worse than in other cases, especially if you're trying out the touch-controls placed right on the monitor.
Otherwise, the Flatron is quite a discrete, nice presence in just about any room, its stylish design and top-notch finishing making it suitable for just about any type of environment.
Size and portability
Talking about portability in the case of a PC monitor/TV is sort of pointless, since these are not the type of devices you'll carry around with you from one location to the next on a daily basis, but we'll nevertheless do that, since you might actually do a bit of carrying around of the M2280D, given its extensive level of functionality.
So, this thing measures 505 x 190 x 394 mm and weighs roughly 3.7 Kilos, which means that you probably shouldn't have too much trouble moving it between various locations, although we strongly suggest that you don't make a habit out of this.
To be perfectly honest, the control area of the LG Flatron M2280D was the single biggest disappointment this device had in store for us, at least as far as the touch controls placed right on the monitor's front side are concerned.
Unfortunately, for some reason, the sample unit delivered to us lacked a remote control (probably got lost on the way), and for this reason, we had to rely solely on the aforementioned control elements, visibly marked on the right/lower side of the device, an experience that wasn't the best possible ever.
In fact, before getting used to it, we thought that the sample was damaged, that there was something very wrong with the controls (Input, Menu, OK, Volume and Program switching, as well as On/Off buttons are available), since we simply couldn't activate the desired functions, as if the touch controls didn't detect our fingers when placed onto them.
After numerous attempts, we've decided that some more drastic action is required, and that's when we've started tapping the buttons, instead of gently pressing the top surface.
At that point, we've started getting some reaction, and after a lengthy trial-and-error process, we've come up with a suitable way of accessing the desired functions, namely by tapping them rather hard with the thumb.
After getting used with the controls, we were able to browse freely through the available menus in the OSD, which is quite well developed, letting users tweak many of the display's functions and features (but we'll talk a lot more on this topic within the live performance section of our review).
We're quite sure that users won't come across such problems when using the remote control and there might have been something a tad wrong with the our sample as well, so it's quite possibly that most LG Flatron M2280D retail units won't have this problem.
Given the high level of versatility and multiple uses it provides, it should come as no surprise that LG's Flatron M2280D display packs quite a large number of connectivity options, all of which are located on the rear side.
So, from right to left, the first thing we see is a slot for inserting a PCMCIA card (now this is something you don't see everyday in a display), located on the top side of the display.
The rest of the connectors are concentrated in the lower/middle side of the device, starting with an antenna connector (used for connecting an aerial antenna's cable) and followed by a SCART connector, which enables users to hook up all sort of receivers to the M2280D, most such products still relying on this aging interface.
Next in line come the Component and Composite video inputs, as well as the separate audio-in and audio-out ports used for attaching a pair of headphones to the display, for private listening, or for inserting a 3.5-mm audio jack coming from some audio signal source, in order to take advantage of the M2280D's own speakers.
In the near vicinity of the aforementioned ports you'll be able to notice an SPDIF port, for outing digital audio to a home surround sound system, as well as an USB 2.0 port, used for accessing multimedia content stored onto USB storage devices, such as flash drives and HDDs.
As a small side-note, we think that the placement of the USB connector way back on the rear side isn't exactly a great idea, given the fact that users who want to benefit from the monitor's extensive multimedia playback features will have to reach all the way back in order to connect the storage drives (if they don't want to use an USB extender or hub, that is).
Next to the USB port you'll be able to notice 2 HDMI interfaces, as well as a VGA input plus a RS232C connector, used for control and servicing purposes.
Strange enough, there's no DVI interface, currently the standard interface on all GPUs released on the market, which means that users will have to purchase an extra adapter if their graphics unit doesn't happen to be equipped with a HDMI output, for example.
All in all, we'll have to admit that were pretty impressed with the number and diversity of connectivity options the LG Flatron M2280D comes equipped with, that will allow users to actually connect an absolutely huge number of devices to it.
Screen Size - 21.5 inch;
Technology - TFT active matrix;
Matrix Type - TFT TN;
Widescreen – Yes;
Screen Resolution – 1920x1080;
Screen Pixels – 2073600;
Color Support - 16.7 million colors;
Response Time - 5 ms;
Antiglear Screen – Yes;
Standards - Plug&Play, TCO'03, MPR-II, ISO 13406-2, Energy Star;
Brightness - 250 cd/m2;
Contrast – 1000:1;
Dynamic contrast – 5000000:1;
Max horizontal view angle – 170 degrees;
Max vertical view angle – 170 degrees;
Interfaces - VGA (D-Sub), DVI-D (HDCP), HDMI ,Composite video input, Component video input,
Speakers – Yes;
Speakers Power - 2x5 W;
Headphone Jack – Yes;Video
Horizontal Frequency Bandwidth (H-Sync Rate) - 30-83 Hz;
Vertical Frequency Bandwidth (V-Sync Rate) - 56-75 Mhz;
TV-tuner – Yes;
Power Device Form Factor – internal;
Operational Power Consumption - 35 W;
Power Standy - 1 W.Real-life performance
Setup and general operation
Before moving on to the image quality and overall level of functionality provided by the display from LG, we'll have to point out that the device is fairly easy to install and get in operational status, although one should pay a bit of attention to that screw used for connecting the base support plate to the main support element (a screwdriver is required, at least if you're interested in getting a solid and secure fit).
After attaching the base support plate you'll have to power up the device, which shouldn't pose any particular problems, given the fact that LG has adopted a small (notebook-type) power solution for their combo device, preferring to opt for an external power-brick (albeit a pretty slender one, all things considered).
After you're done with this step as well, you'll have to connect the display to your video signal sources of choice, whether we're talking about a PC, Blu-ray player, Cable/Satellite receiver, games console, etc. and select from the menu the appropriate source in order to get the images on the display.
Pretty fast, easy and seamless, all things considered.
As far as the general operation and menu navigation are concerned, we can't really say that we've encountered any serious problems, the M2280D from LG featuring a pretty user-friendly interface, that provides fast and easy access to all of the available functions, including the relatively numerous customization options, users being able to choose the display modes and tweak the various image-related settings as they see fit.
Another interesting detail we really want to mention here is the presence of a Disabled Assistance function, granting people with disabilities access to a set of features that will improve their overall experience when using LG's hybrid monitor.
Display and image quality
First and foremost, we'll have to point out that we're dealing with in the case of the LG Flatron M2280D is a Full HD LED display, which means, quite obviously, that the image quality is expected to be very good.
And sure enough, the M2280D manages to deliver a great experience in from this point of view, the images being very crisp and clear, with vivid, powerful colors and great level of detail.
Of course, users are encouraged to either choose the dedicated modes for the task at hand or customize the colors in order to best suit their needs, but even if you opt for the built-in modes, you'll be greatly rewarded.
We've also liked the fact that the Flatron M2280D offers some pretty wide viewing angles, as you can see for yourselves from the enclosed photos.
As far as the display itself is concerned, we'll only have to say that, in our opinion, such an advanced and versatile solution would have deserved a slightly larger display.
Practically, while 21.5 inches should prove to be quite enough as far as the PC monitor function is concerned, things are a tad different in terms of TV, the display size making this thing a good solution for a kitchen or office TV (not even secondary TVs, placed in bedrooms, are so small these days).
PC monitor function
While we can't say that we've noticed any particular differences, in terms of image quality and overall behavior, between the moments when the LG Flatron M2280D was connected to a PC or to another video signal source , there are some small details that we'll have to talk about here.
So, first of all, since this is an all-in-one solution, users shouldn't expect the device to be able to deliver the same level of efficiency as dedicated devices (such as gaming-grade monitors or professional displays for graphics artists and photographers), but if you're a mainstream user looking for a good all-round performer, that will allow you to enjoy a very rewarding overall experience, then the Flatron M2280D should prove to be a very good solution.
Plus, while not particular fast in terms of refresh rates (5 ms), we must not forget that we are nevertheless talking about a Full HD display, absolutely great for watching 1080p video clips, not to mention basic, day-to-day activities, such as web-browsing and even gaming.
TV set function
As mentioned right from the start, one of the main selling points of the LG Flatron M2280D is the fact that, beside being an excellent Full HD LED Monitor, it also doubles as a LED HDTV, which, from a technical point of view, wasn't a particularly difficult function to implement, since it only involves the addition of TV tuner (in this case, a DVB-T HD tuner, that enables users to enjoy a wide array of cable programming and even aerial-broadcasted HD programs).
Setting-up the Flatron as a TV shouldn't take too much, at least not after you've completed the initial auto-search, which automatically identifies all of the available channels and stores them accordingly.
In fact, from the point of view of the setup options, the device from LG is actually not that different from a basic TV set, and although it doesn't provide as many functions and tweaks as one of the company's dedicated HDTVs, it should prove to be good enough for most users.
Browsing through the programs is also fairly easy (naturally, a lot easier when you've got a remote control, but it will work fairly OK also when using the touch-enabled front-side controls), while the device from LG also offers a very user-friendly program management interface (you'll require the remote for this to work properly, though).
Naturally, the Flatron hybrid solution will work best when HD programming is available, but even when that's not really the case, the results are actually pretty OK.
Media playback function
One of the things we particularly loved about the LG Flatron M2280D is the fact that it also provides a built-in media player function, that allows it to play content stored onto USB storage devices connected to the built-in USB 2.0 port.
While the level of functionality provided by this application doesn't match the one we'd come to expect from HD media boxes and players (such as the ones we've already reviewed on other occasions, coming from ACRyan or Egreat, jut to give you a couple of basic examples), it's actually surprisingly versatile, managing to easily play music and videos stored in a variety of formats (most of which are extremely widespread across the Internet), as well as view photos.
In fact, with just a couple of clicks, the device will turn into a large-size digital photo frame, while the self-contained media players also enables you to add a musical background to your photos.
Plus, as a bonus, it also supports several subtitle file types, which should also come in handy in certain situations.
Also notable is the presence of a preview window, that lets users take a very quick look at the file they've selected, without actually leaving the browser menu.
All in all, we'll have to say that the media playback function represents one of the coolest features the LG Flatron M2280D has to offer, and, in certain cases, an actual deal-maker, since we're pretty sure many customers will favor the M2280D when learning that this thing can actually play multimedia files and display photos even in the absence of a HD media player of computer.
Although in terms of power, the speakers installed on the LG hybrid monitor are not exactly what we might call fantastic (after all, we're only talking about 2x5 W speakers), the truth of the matter is that they'll do the job they're required to do just fine, especially since the Flatron M2280D delivers an extensive set of audio tweaks, letting users set the treble and bass levels, as well as activate and de-activate the built-in Surround X function, that sort of simulates (with the help of software) a surround-sound system.
As we pretty much expected, the sound delivered by the display from LG will certainly not match the most demanding users' expectations, but it's good enough for most of the monitor's uses, whether we're talking about watching TV, a movie on the media player or playing some game on the TV.
However, if you do want to enjoy a more powerful, encompassing sound, nothing's stopping you from purchasing a more advanced audio system, the M2280D packing the necessary connectors (SPDIF, audio-out) for hooking this thing up to an external speaker system.
The LG Flatron M2280D Full HD LED TV/Monitor is, without a doubt, the most complex display solution we've ever had the chance of testing, the device providing a very high level of functionality , as it can be used both as a PC monitor and Full HD TV, while in the same time packing a built-in multimedia player.
Since LG crammed up so manny different functions in this thing, the Flatron M2280D targets mostly the mainstream segment, although even these categories of users might have some trouble with such issues as the placement of the USB connector and the lack of a DVI interface.
In fact, as a final conclusion, we believe that the LG Flatron M2280D would behave absolutely outstanding as the display solution of choice for people who have very little room to place multiple displays or a larger TV, such as college students living in dorms or people living in a small apartment, who would benefit greatly from its enhanced level of versatility.
- features a full HD LED display;
- provides great image quality in almost all usage scenarios;
- packs a built-in multimedia player;
- features numerous built-in connectivity options (including USB for the media player);
- slim and attractive design, easy to place anywhere around the house;
- fingerprint friendly, glossy paint job;
- not very responsive touch controls;
- USB port placed on the rear side, in a difficult to access position;
- no DVI interface;
- speakers are slightly under-powered;
Although the contents of the sales package might actually varry from market to market, there are certain elements that will most likely be found in the box just about anywhere this thing might be sold, including here the following:
- LG Flatron M2280D;
- power adapter (brick) and cable;
- remote control;
- user's manual.