If you have an ultraportable laptop with a small panel or simply want to have a more conveniently placed display, it pays to opt for a TFT monitor. The Philips 190CW (£160 inc. VAT) is a 19-inch widescreen display that comes with a native resolution of 1440 x 900 pixels, but will readily resize to suit the standard laptop widescreen size of 1200 x 800 pixels.
Philips has launched this monitor as a cost-effective widescreen panel, so don't expect too many features. It's not the most stylish of monitors either, having a plain silver bezel with four simple function keys on the front. However, looks aside, we found setting up to be straightforward, with the monitor sourcing our Windows Vista laptop instantly.
However, a disc of drivers is supplied if you find you're having difficulty getting the screen to source to the right resolution or colour. We were impressed with the quality of the image. It may not be the most high-definition panel, as we found video tests a little jagged and the contrast ratio of 850:1 isn't that high, but for an entry level monitor, either for a student or a small office, it's a good compromise.
Response times only become an issue for gaming and high-definition tasks, but for everyday tasks it's more than usable. With both VGA and DVI inputs supported, you'll be able to connect in either analogue or digital formats, depending on what your laptop has.
To keep costs down, you won't find any speakers built-in. However, the limiting factor is the mounting stand, which can't be raised or lowered, so you may end up having to place it on a stand in order to make straight-on eye contact with the screen.
It's not without flaws, but these are more to do with meeting a price point than actual design faults. The Philips 190CW is one of the most impressive widescreen budget panels we've come across and represents great value for money.