The 19" LCD fits now represents outstanding value for money, and is so much nicer to use than a 17" screen. We round up and test the best.
Although 17in is still the most popular size of LCD, the prices of 19in models are now falling low enough to be a realistic option for everyone to opt for a bigger display. If you currently squint at images in Photoshop or can’t cram enough of an Excel spreadsheet onto your existing monitor, you can breathe new life into your apps for as little as $306.
We’ve lined up seven of the latest 19in LCDs and put them through our usual rigorous obstacle course of tests. The results were more surprising than ever: even the cheapest LCDs offer perfectly acceptable image quality. However, quality isn’t the only factor to consider; there are features like interfaces, speakers, adjustable stands and warranties to factor in too.
In this roundup, you’ll find everything from budget models right up to high-end displays from manufacturers such as Eizo and a $1285 professional alternative from LaCie.
In terms of features, there are pivoting screens, adjustable stands and a decent variety of designs to choose from. For office use, there are plenty of matte-finish displays, but those wanting a display for games may prefer the glossy coatings of the Acer and NEC offerings or the widescreen BenQ. Others offer USB hubs and ambient light sensors for automatic brightness adjustments.
We also comprehensively test every onscreen display by pressing every button and trawling through each menu option. Ease of use varies widely, and this alone can be the deciding factor in whether an LCD wins an award or not. On the feature table, you’ll find the full details of each LCD’s specifications, including whether cables are bundled and the width of the side bezels for those who want to mount two monitors side-by-side. Whatever your needs and budget, you’ll find the ideal display here.The Professional Alternative
We almost baulked at the Eizo’s $995 price, but for professional designers and photographers there are even better quality — and more expensive — options. The LaCie 319 (part code: 130732) costs a whopping $1285 from www.digitalyes.com.au
, but comes with extra features that you simply won’t find in a standard sub-$1000 LCD.
For a start, it's bundled with a quick-release light-shielding hood. This allows a calibrator — such as the $325 LaCie blue eye pro — to optimise the colours onscreen without having to consider variable ambient lighting conditions throughout the day.
Then there's the S-IPS panel, which uses a 12-bit look-up table (LUT) for smooth gradations, meaning each primary colour has 4084 possible tones. Most monitors use an 8-bit LUT, which gives just 256 tones per colour, while the Eizo’s 10-bit LUT means each colour has a potential 1021 tones. Technically, then, the LaCie 319 is 16 times more precise than an 8-bit LCD.
The big question is whether this makes a difference to the naked eye, and the answer is an emphatic yes. The 600:1 contrast ratio can be tweaked by several increments in each percent (offering three times the granularity from most monitors), and the colour reproduction it produces is flawless. It gives a good compromise between a dark black and bright white (the brightness is rated at 270cd/m2), and our digital photos looked exactly as they should. Had we included the 319 in the Labs, it would have coasted through the technical tests with full marks.
The real-world tests would have brought it back to earth, as the 18ms response time isn’t conducive to gaming or videos, but no-one considering the 319 should be watching videos or playing games on it. The Eizo is a better-value alternative for most people and is a fine choice for editing photos, but if accurate colours are vital to your job it’s worth splashing out more on a professional LCD like the LaCie.
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This Group Test appeared in the March, 2007 issue of PC & Tech Authority Magazine