8 Best Buys for Essential Gear

Monitor

Monitor shopping can present you with Goldilocks' bed conundrum: too small, too big, or just right. The 22-inch category feels "just right" to us: At this size, a monitor provides plenty of viewing flexibility--for crunching spreadsheets, editing photos, or watching movies--but at the same time it won't overwhelm your desk.

Our favorite display in this category is the $350 Hewlett-Packard w2207h. The w2207h stands out for several reasons, but we especially like its thin (1-inch), contoured, glossy black bezel, which doubles as a clip-on spot where you can easily attach optional accessories to the monitor's frame.

The w2207h has a native resolution of 1680 by 1050 pixels, and it did well in our tests overall, producing attractive-looking images and sharp text. The unit's base provides tilt, pivot, swivel, and height adjustments; the monitor also has easily navigable menus, two side-mounted USB ports, HDMI, and VGA inputs.

This model's only major weakness is a very common one across all the monitors we've tested: The unit's built-in speakers generate weak bass, which translates into flat, tinny audio.

Bottom Line: The HP w2207h is a nicely priced, full-featured LCD monitor with pleasing image quality for text and graphics, plus useful physical-adjustment options.

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