iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






Hercules Prophetview 920 LCD Review

Today we will examine one more monitor which belongs to a very popular category of 17" models. This is not an ordinary model - like its junior brother, the Hercules Prophetview 920 is really stylish: nothing extraordinary from the technical standpoint, but the design is super! Moreover, in this respect this model bests the previous one; besides, the technical characteristics have also improved, that is why it goes on a par with its competitors (the 720 had a response time lower than the average in the group).

Well, let's start with the characteristics.

Prophetview 920 and 920 DVI: technical data

First of all, take a look at how the models in the family are enumerated. As a rule, manufacturers code a diagonal in the model's number (5 - 15", 7 - 17" etc.). Guillemot uses a similar approach, but a little different: the figure means a CRT display the given LVD panel corresponds to. I.e. the 720 is a direct competitor for 17" CRT models, 920 for 19" ones, and what will be later is not clear yet. I don't like such system. There were a great deal of attempts to persuade manufacturers of classic models to stop confusing users and indicate a visible surface of the tube, not its full diagonal which means nothing (for example, 17" monitors have a real diagonal from 15.7 to 16.0 inches, though price-lists persistently indicate 17"). This company decided to conserve the old errors instead of getting rid of them.

Now let's turn to the family which includes two models. The 920 is a simple LCD monitor with the 17" diagonal. The 920 DVI model is more interesting. Its usual analog video-in is replaced with a DVI-I which allows connecting the monitor both to usual video cards via a standard analog interface and to those with a digital-out using a special cable. Digital-out becomes more and more standard for modern video cards. It is evident that digital connection is better than analog: LCD is a digital device at default, a video card also works with discrete information that is why in this case we easily get rid of a DAC in a video card and an ADC in the monitor. In short, we lose two signal converters which do not improve quality at all. But how useful a DVI is for relatively small monitors and whether it is worth paying extra money is a more complicated question (especially considering that the image quality of modern video cards is quite high anyway). We won't argue whether DVI is so necessary - I just want to note that Guillemot tries to satisfy everybody's needs, that is why it has released a usual model (920) for most potential customers and a more modern one (920 DVI) for more demanding clients.

By the way, the 920 DVI has one more input meant rather for home equipment than for computers - this is a usual composite video-in. What is it for? Imagine you have come home with your video camera and now want to see what you had shot. But you don't want to turn on your computer. So, you can just connect the camera to a monitor to display images - why not? Another example is to buy a video recorder and connect it to a monitor. Thus, it will replace a TV set: there is a tuner in the recorder and you can play video cassettes. The composite video-in can also be used in office. Well, this component is really useful everywhere. And the fact that the number of such monitors grows means that they are in great demand.

When used according to their main purpose and with a usual analog cable, both monitors are completely identical because both are based on the same matrix and control boards (they differ only in extended settings of the 920 DVI).

The new matrices have the following specs, as compared with that used in the 720 (except the diagonal):

  • 4 backlights (two before)
  • Brightness: 250 cd/m2 (230 before)
  • Contrast: 350:1 (o 300:1)
  • 16M colors
  • Response time: less than 25 ms
  • Refresh rate: up to 75 Hz

Well, the main parameters have improved. And while the matrix of the Prophetview 720 was a little worse than wide-spread Samsung matrices, both 920 models have panels identical to those of this company. In other words, the new Hercules monitors do not yield to most competitors in technical parameters and excel in design.

Note that contrast has increased much greater than brightness. Why do I focus on that? The matter is that although quite old LCD monitors outperform their tube analogs in brightness, contrast remains their weak point. What is contrast? It is a white to black ratio. In most monitors it is rather a ratio of white to dark gray. It's possible to increase contrast by making either black color more black (which is quite complicated with the current technologies), or white color brighter (which is simple - it's necessary to use more powerful backlights). The second approach is used quite often. Just take two models of NEC - 1550V and 1550M: the contrast of the first one is 300:1 at the brightness of 200 cd/m2, the second has 450:1 at 300 cd/m2. Linear dependence. As you know, contrast is measured by manufacturers at the maximum brightness, but nobody uses it in practice. And the higher the absolute brightness, the lower relative one has to be set manually. It's clear what happens to contrast in this case. There is nothing terrible in this "figure race", but you should remember about it. Especially when comparing two different monitors: you should never compare contrast ignoring brightness.

However, there is one more thing that might be improved - it concerns the electronic part. Unfortunately, it's impossible to change a scaling mode. Probably Guillemot didn't consider operation in non-rated modes at all, and they developed the device mostly for office use (note that the menu contains "Office" item apart from standard presets of 6500K and 9300K). But it is not so, because the Prophetview 920 DVI also allows watching video, where the most popular side ratio is 4:3, while the matrix of monitors of 1280x1024 pixels has a ratio of 5:4. That is why just one scaling mode is an unfortunate drawback.


No considerable changes here. This models come bundled with almost the same accessories as before. Only the 920 DVI has a DVI-VGA adapter in addition for connecting to an analog-out of a video card. But there is one more pleasant change: the power unit now has a standard connector. And you can be sure no problems will occur with your network cable :) Besides, now you can connect the monitor to a UPS without any problems.


At fight glance, the monitor looks like a big Prophetview 720: it measures 435x338x28 mm and weighs 5.6 kg. The case is also made of steel, and the color is also the same - a silvery base and a dark blue top. However, earlier the label of Hercules was drawn on the front panel, now it is made of plastic, which looks more beautiful.

The base and its mounting have undergone crucial changes. First of all, the base is not solid: the stand and "horns" are screwed up together. So that it will be convenient to store them, separately from the monitor. Unscrew 4 bolts behind and you will be able to detach the stand and the "false-panel" under which you will find three mounting holes meant for wall mounting.

All other things remained the same. But it is not surprising: the junior model could be referred to pieces of arts :)


Well, the technical parameters have improved considerably (especially in the Prophetview 920 DVI model). The design, which was really remarkable before, is made more brilliant. That is why at the expected price of about 800 euros (for the 920; 920 DVI will be a little more expensive) the monitor will find its customers indeed :)

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