Though it's not a major television brand name, ViewSonic might still be recognizable to you from their history as makers of LCD computer monitors. Technically speaking, the only difference between an LCD TV and an LCD monitor is that the former has a tuner which allows it to obtain television signals, while the latter requires a direct video input from a video source. It wouldn't take much to transform a standard LCD computer monitor into an LCD TV capable of displaying high-definition television content, and the ViewSonic VT2430 is clearly a product of such a thought-process. This 24-inch LCD TV is something of a hybrid; part TV, part computer monitor, the VT2430 is aimed at consumers interested in conserving space by combining two screens into one. Because of its small size, its potential usefulness is limited.
The VT2430 isn't going to be the centerpiece of anyone's living room or den. It's a TV made for kitchen countertops, small bedrooms, college dorms, or studio apartments. It's a TV you'll sit three to five feet away from, perhaps even closer when using it as a computer monitor. ViewSonic isn't going to shake up the HDTV market any time soon, so moving into these small sized convergence displays is a sound move on their part, addressing a segment of consumers who are small but have specific needs. While big-name manufacturers concentrate on the meat of the HDTV market, the big-screen size ranges between 40 and 50 inches, ViewSonic can quietly pick off casual shoppers interested in saving money on a secondary TV.
Unfortunately for those shoppers, the VT2430 is neither a very good television nor a very good monitor. It's the kind of display that might do in a pinch, but if you can afford to spare an extra $50 to $100 for a more reliable, better designed model, it's worth the expense.
From a design perspective, there isn't much to say about the VT2430. It's an unobtrusive, black rectangle, with very little in the way of style. It's a simple, straightforward display. It has integrated QAM, NTSC, and ATSC tuners, making it fully capable of receiving unscrambled cable signals, over-the-air digital, and the now obsolete over-the-air analog TV signals. There is a single HDMI port for best-quality video, and of course, the 1080p resolution.
The VT2430 has a screen resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels, better known as 1080p. That's another indication that the VT2430 comes from a lineage of computer monitors. For a television of this size, 1080p is excessive, but for a computer monitor of this size, it's actually quite good, as it allows for more workspace on the desktop. Even though you won't see the benefits of 1080p when watching video on this display, that doesn't make it a bad buy. Usually consumers will want to avoid 1080p on sets below 46 or 50-inches because of the extra cost involved over a 720p set. With the VT2430's already low price tag, that's not much of a concern. It's still cheaper than some 24 and 26-inch 720p models.
ViewSonic's press materials claim that the VT2430 has "super-fast video response and advanced image processing" ensuring "extreme clarity in all your HD entertainment." While HD signals looked alright, "extreme clarity" is something of an overstatement. First off, the VT2430 had a particular problem properly rendering edges. Edges would appear jagged and broken very often, and in some cases would buzz and vibrate as if animated, giving the image a weird pulsating aura. Dark portions of the screen were saturated with speckles and image noise, contributing to the vibrations. The screen appeared to be in constant motion despite the stillness of the scene being displayed.
Another irritating vestige of the VT2430's computer monitor past is its start-up splash screen. Rather than just turn on immediately like a television, the VT2430 first presents a splash screen image with ViewSonic's logo of three brightly colored birds, which is something common on computer monitors but unheard of with TVs. This isn't something that can be turned off in the options, either. It's a silly, poorly thought out behavior that doesn't fit the role that the VT2430 is intended to play, and delays the television signal from popping up for a few seconds. It's a minor inconvenience, but one that subtly reveals that not a lot of effort has gone into making the VT2430 a real TV.
Because of the middling performance in TV mode, I half-expected the VT2430 to be an adequate computer monitor. When I hooked it up to my Dell desktop, however, the problems seemed to be amplified. Colors were washed out and thin, while the same vibrating edges were present, making it very difficult to concentrate on anything. This kind of thing should be a no-brainer, but the VT2430 wasn't prepared to handle even simple tasks.
In the case of the VT2430, bargain-hunting consumers need to accept that the lowest price is not necessarily the best price. Even though it may be difficult to pass up such a deal, for a few dollars more, shoppers can get televisions from more reputable brands that won't be full of troublesome problems.
If you're interested in finding a high-quality, small screen HDTV, you should check out our top picks for small-screen LCD HDTVs. There are three affordable, well-reviewed sets ready for your perusal.