Price: £1,195 plus VAT
The photon20vision isn’t LaCie’s first LCD display. The company launched the photon18blue in 2001 for a whopping £1,800 – though that was an appropriate price back then. It’s still available (as the photon18vision), albeit for a much lower price, and with its age very much apparent. The photon18blue claimed to be good enough even for print designers to use, a task that the photon20vision comes much closer to fulfilling. LaCie’s 20-inch display is a huge improvement on its 18-inch model. The 20.1-inch screen has a native resolution of 1,600-x-1,200 pixels, a combination that gives users a large enough desktop area for most applications – even allowing two A4 pages to be seen at 100 per cent – without the user having to squint at fine detail or having their desk overwhelmed. The company has also upped the performance of the photon18vision over its 18-inch cousin. Though the contrast ratio specs are the same for both monitors (350:1), we saw an unprecedented level of colour gradation on view. The case around the display is almost as good as the screen output. The display is surrounded by a thin bezel in LaCie’s classic dull matte dark-blue, which allows the picture to stand out without requiring the user to over-egg the brightness. The monitor also ships with a horizontal metal hood, which has the same effect. This isn’t as effective as the traditional three- sided hoods, but is less of a hassle in dual-monitor set-ups. A useful and appealing-looking desk clamp is also included, as is a conventional base. There are ten buttons on the lower part of the bezel for controlling the monitor’s set-up. The OSD menu system is one of the best we’ve seen – clear and easy to navigate with single-purpose buttons for source selection and automatic set-up. Only OS-based controls such as those offered by Eizo’s DesktopViewer software are better, though these are always Windows-only. There’s also a Light View button, which allows users to swap between seven modes for different purposes. These are Text (high contrast), Movie (high brightness) and Photo (colour clarity), each in Day or Night modes for different lighting conditions – plus a user mode. There are a few disappointments with this monitor – the price is high, there’s only one DVI input, and it’s lacking in genuinely innovative functions such as Sony’s dual USB input system, which allows two computers to share not only the monitor but a single keyboard and mouse. However, it handles the main functions of a monitor like a pro, providing the best colour reproduction from an LCD display we’ve seen so far.