What's special about this LG IPS231P monitor is its e-IPS technology and yet the price is still the same as the conventional TN type monitors.
It's awful to edit photos on a a conventional TN based monitor. The color and contrast shift when my head moves a couple inches from right to left, and I could never be sure what the image really looks like. It's especially worse when viewing a photo on a larger screen, since the corners look darker and warmer than the middle of the screen. IPS type monitor can fix this viewing angle problem, but I couldn't afford the cost that usually runs double to triple the conventional TN monitor price. That's why I had been using the old humongous CRT monitor that took up half of my desk. Everybody laughed when they saw that beast.
Within the last year, several makers started producing cheaper IPS monitors, using e-IPS, with the "e" probably stands for "economy". This monitor has the same advantage as true IPS, meaning the color and contrast don't shift depending on viewing angle. The cheap price comes with a couple of set backs, compared to true IPS:
1. The wide angle isn't as wide as true IPS. But it's still much better than TN. I can see a huge difference between the TN monitor at my office and the IPS231P monitor in this test: [...] (replace the underscore with the dot to see the page)
2. The color depth isn't true 8-bit. It's actually 6-bit that's extended to 8-bit. While I can see all the color shades here www_lagom_nl/lcd-test/contrast.php, the gradient test www_lagom_nl/lcd-test/gradient.php shows some minor banding.
If you're looking for vibrant colors, this monitor isn't it. Vibrant color is not the same as true colors. Look around and you'll see that true colors in the real world are actually more subdued. The problem with using an artificially vibrant monitor is that your photos look worse when you print them out or when other people view them on their screens.
One overhyped feature is the colors. While the colors are accurate, a good quality TN monitor will be just as accurate. Some newer TN monitors actually do better. The real advantage over the TN monitor is that the colors remain accurate when viewing angle changes, and stays accurate from one edge of the screen to the other. The IPS231P only covers the sRGB color space, not the extended AdobeRGB color space. This is why professional graphics editors should look for true IPS monitors. Being an armature graphics editor, sRGB is good enough for me, mostly because everything else in my workflow use sRGB, like printers, cameras, editors and browsers.
The pixel response time is slower than TN monitors, but in practice it doesn't matter much. Tests show that it's more like 15ms lag rather than the 5ms in the specification. However, during action and sport movies, I could not see any ghosting even if I tried to look for it. Only hard-core gamers need to worry about this.
Another thing that doesn't matter much, and yet attracted most of the complaints is the light leaks in the corners due to the new LED lighting. The leaks are very faint, and only visible when the entire screen is completely black.
While lacking HDMI port, this monitor supports HDCP encryption via its DVI port, so that you can still watch blu-ray on your computer. There's a cheap DVI to HDMI converter that you can buy if necessary.
You should also look at these competing models: Asus ML239H, NEC EA232WMi, Dell U2312HM. They have about the same graphics quality, with differences mainly in the features. The Dell and Asus have better pixel response time and have HDMI port, but the Dell is more expensive, and the Asus doesn't have adjustable height. The NEC adds 4 USB ports and costs more.
The bottom line is that this monitor is much better than the conventional TN type, but can't match true high-end IPS type. The affordable price compared to true IPS type is what makes it attractive.
-- Update May 22nd 2012 --
I understand now why people think the color from this monitor is more vibrant. It's because of the deeper black. It makes colors look more saturated and also increases the contrast. In other words, cheaper TN-type monitors don't have enough black, which make darker colors look pale.
The built-in speakers sound worse than those on my laptop. It makes movies hard to understand. Only good enough for software beeps and dings. If you watch movies or hear music from your computer at all, you'll need real speakers.
I measured power usage with a Kill-A-Watt device. The monitor only consumes 20 watts on the lowest brightness (which is still a little too bright for my dark room).