We spend countless hours in front of our monitors, yet it has been quite a while since we last reviewed a new display aimed at color-critical applications. So we were quite excited when Lenovo recently sent us its top-of-the-line ThinkVision LT3053p, a beautiful 30-in. widescreen backlit in-plane switching (ISP) LED display.
When set to picture-by-picture (PBP) mode, two separate video sources display side-by-side, but leave black bands of wasted space above and below the images. Images courtesy of David Cohn.
The monitor arrived neatly packed, with the display itself wrapped in a cloth bag. In addition to the power cord, Lenovo also includes a plastic shading hood and five cables — DVI, DisplayPort, VGA, USB 3.0 and USB 2.0. It took less than five minutes to assemble the two-piece stand, attach the display to the stand, connect the cables, and slide the shading hood into place. The entire display weighs just over 25 lbs., and measures approximately 23.5 x 27.5 x 14 in. (HxWxD) at its full height in landscape mode and with the shading hood in place. The panel without the hood is just 2.5 in. deep. Cables can be routed through a red plastic cable management ring located near the top of the stand shaft. A small button at the rear base of the shaft unlocks the vertical height adjustment mechanism. The hood has a small door on the top to accommodate a color calibrator.
When set to picture-in-picture (PIP) mode, you can view images from two video sources at the same time, but the smaller secondary image is too small in which to actually work.
The included stand provides stable support, but a standard 100mm VESA mount allows the display to also be wall-mounted or attached to other supports. The stand enables a tilt range from -5 ° to +30 °, with 90 ° of swivel and a height adjustment range of 4.33 in. When raised to its maximum height, the panel easily pivots from landscape to portrait mode.
The LT3053p has some pretty impressive specs. The wide-screen aspect ratio (16:10) panel has a native resolution of 2560×2600, with a 0.251mm pixel pitch, a brightness of 350 cd/m2, and a contrast ratio of 1000:1. Lenovo claims a dynamic contrast ratio of 3 million-to-1. Because the monitor uses an IPS display, it has an impressive viewing angle of 178 ° in both the horizontal and vertical planes; the 6-millisecond response time reduces image smearing to a bare minimum. The monitor supports 99% of the Adobe RGB color gamut, and is capable of displaying up to 1.08 billion colors (vs. 16.7 million colors in more traditional panels).
The Lenovo ThinkVision LT3053p also provides plenty of connections. A downward-facing panel on the lower rear of the display provides a total of 10 connections, including five different video input ports: VGA, DisplayPort, dual-link DVI, Mobile High-definition Link (MHL), and HDMI. There is also a DisplayPort output port so that you can daisy chain the display to a second monitor.
Lenovo ThinkVision LT3053p
Price: $1,499.99 MSRP
There are also two separate USB input ports, one USB 3.0 and one USB 2.0 and USB output ports labeled specifically for keyboard and mouse. Another panel on the left side of the monitor provides three more USB output ports that connect to the USB 3.0 input port, with the topmost port able to charge USB devices up to a maximum 2 amps. The side panel also includes an audio jack for connecting headphones or external speakers. This audio port only works with the DisplayPort, HDMI or MHL video input sources, however, which support both video and audio signals; there is no separate audio-in jack for use with the VGA or DVI inputs.
This is the first monitor we’ve encountered that supports MHL, a relatively new standard that enables connection to mobile phones, tablets and other portable consumer electronics. The MHL standard supports up to 1080p high-definition video and 7.1 surround sound audio while simultaneously charging the connected device. We did not have any MHL-capable devices available to test this feature — but we certainly tested just about every other aspect of this ThinkVision display.
We were particularly anxious to try out some of the exclusive features the ThinkVision LT3053p has to offer, including the ability to view images from two different video sources at the same time. The monitor supports both picture-in-picture (PIP) and picture-by-picture (PBP) capabilities. With PIP, the image from one video source takes up the majority of the display, with the image from a second source displayed in a small window located in one of the four corners. With PBP, the two video sources are located side-by-side, with both images taking up half the screen or one filling one-third and the other two-thirds of the panel. After using the on-screen menu to select the mode and determine the primary and secondary video sources, you can then quickly switch between them using a dedicated front panel button or via software supplied on the driver disc.
While PIP and PBP could be handy in some circumstances, we doubt it will find much use in engineering applications. The smaller PIP image has three possible sizes, but even at its largest setting, users would be hard-pressed to actually do any work inside the small window. PIP could be nice, however, if you wanted to keep up with sports action or the news in the small secondary window while you were working in the primary window.
We found PBP to be even more limiting. Because the monitor maintained the aspect ratios of the two digital video sources, the resulting display filled a more limited area centered across the width of the display, with black bands above and below the two images — sort of like the letterbox display of movies on older 4:3 aspect ratio television screens. For serious use, we’d likely fill the entire display with the image from one computer and switch between systems when necessary.
The LT3053p also provides capabilities similar to a keyboard, video and mouse (KVM) switch, so that you can connect two separate computers to the monitor and use a single keyboard and mouse. To do this, we connected the USB 3.0 input cable to one computer, the USB 2.0 input cable to the other, and then attached a keyboard and mouse to the appropriately labeled USB ports on the rear panel. We could then press one of the buttons on the front panel of the monitor to quickly switch the keyboard and mouse between computers. You must press another button to switch video sources, however. This arrangement gets even more confusing when using PIP or PBP, because the mouse and keyboard only control one of the video windows.
We used DisplayMate from DisplayMate Technologies to help evaluate the visual quality of the monitor. The Lenovo ThinkVision LT3053p displayed excellent color and grayscale, and showed no pixel defects. We were able to read text down to 6.8 points, even at different intensity levels. The ThinkVision display’s fast response time resulted in no image smearing when viewing full-motion video.
Lenovo backs the ThinkVision LT3053p with a three-year warranty with customer carry-in or mail-in rapid replacement service. While the monitor carries a suggested retail price of $1,499.99, that’s on par with other 30-in. IPS displays. You could purchase two smaller monitors (24- or 27-in.) for the same or less cost, which would give you even more display real estate. But that sort of arrangement would take up more desk space as well.
For CAD and graphics applications, I cannot stress enough how nice it is to work at high resolution on a 30-in. display. While I found some of the PIP/PBP and one-touch toggle features to be less useful than they initially seemed, the Lenovo ThinkVision LT3053p is one monitor I would love to stare at all day long.
David Cohn is the technical publishing manager at 4D Technologies. He also does consulting and technical writing from his home in Bellingham, WA, and has been benchmarking PCs since 1984. He’s a contributing editor to DE and the author of more than a dozen books. Contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit DSCohn.com.