Price: £849 plus VAT
The F520 is the most stylish professional-level CRT monitor we’ve ever seen. As you’d expect from Sony, it’s sleek, matte silver and guaranteed to garner respectful stares from clients and envious glances from your co-workers. However, it’s also good enough to keep most graphics arts professionals happy for a long while to come. The silver veneer is not the only thing that the F520 has over the well-respected F500 it replaces (which was awarded 4.0 in Digit #35’s monitor round-up). It has what seems to be an even flatter Trinitron screen – the F500 was considered the flattest of the flat – and includes focussing technologies to make sure you get perfect colour and geometry even at the very corners of a screen. There are even two automatic beam correction systems to dampen warping that can occur due to temperature or magnetic fields. The combination of excellent controls and electronics delivers an image quality that’s hard to beat. The F520 sits quite happily at its top resolution of 2,048-x-1,536 – and with a refresh rate of 85Hz at this resolution, you’re not going to get a headache through using it. At a more modest resolution of 1,600-x-1,200, the refresh rate of up to 110Hz will keep you going through the night. Other nifty features include dual inputs (VGA and BNC), an easy-to-use, on-screen control system, a USB hub with one upstream port and four downstream, and a picture effect button. The button lets users switch between standard, dynamic and professional modes. These can be very useful for not being blinded by bright white Web pages when flipping from a video editing tool or Adobe Photoshop. The F520’s main competitor is the LaCie Electron22blue. Sony’s monitor has a flatter screen, more vivid colours and spot detail, and is much easier to setup in Windows – though there’s no colour management software as standard. LaCie’s has much better colour management, along with the option of the (Mac-only) BlueEye hardware calibrator, comes with a hood and is £50 cheaper to boot. The choice is yours.