LaCie delayed getting into the LCD market for a while because early screens didn't offer the kind of colour fidelity that its customers had come to expect. Indeed, there's still some debate as to whether an LCD screen will ever be able to take the place of a CRT for colour-critical work. One thing is for sure, though: the current crop of screens are miles better than early LCD offerings.
The Photon20vision (above) is the latest screen from LaCie, and joins the 18-inch model in the company's LCD range. It's a pivot screen, which means that you can spin it to a portrait aspect, but software support for that feature exists only in Mac OS 9 or Windows. The resolution is a healthy 1,600-x-1,200 pixels with a 20.1-inch viewable area. This is as big as most big CRT monitors, and will be able to display that resolution without distortion, which is common in traditional glass screens.
While LCD may never match the colour accuracy of CRT screens, LaCie has made every possible effort to make the Photon20vision top-notch. The familiar LaCie hood is included to cut down glare and reflections, though these are minimal anyway thanks to the totally flat screen. There is also an option to use the LaCie Blue Eye Vision colour calibrator - though this would cost an extra £328 including VAT.
Connectivity is taken care of by VGA and DVI ports, and there's a DVI to ADC adaptor for Macs with ADC connections. LaCie also supplies a desk clamp instead of the normal stand, which gives you more desk space and looks pretty spiffy into the bargain.
The L767 (bottom left) is an inch smaller than the LaCie display, and has a smaller 1,280-x-1,024-pixel resolution. However, the price is a mere £739 - more than £400 cheaper than the Photon20vision.
It doesn't have the fancy colour-management options of the LaCie, but colour fidelity is only mission-critical for a minority of users.
Connectivity is through DVI-I or VGA ports; ADC users will need an adaptor. There are also dual one-watt speakers, which sound decent, considering their low power.
There are some features that are available only to Windows users, which is annoying. Features such as WindowMovie mode change the settings for the portion of a window that is displaying a movie. This is linked to the software running the movie, which is why it doesn't do anything on a Mac.
The L985 is a big beast of a screen, yet still manages to appear quite dainty and light on its feet. The 21.3-inch visible screen is bigger than the visible area boasted by 22-inch CRT monitors.
It has a 1,600-x-1,200-pixel resolution screen, which is big enough to get two A4 pages side by side.
Like its smaller sibling, the connectivity is through DVI and VGA connections. It also has some nifty software features that are reserved for Windows users, but it isn't worth getting bent out of shape about. The fact is that this is a top screen, and the features that you miss out on aren't anything terribly important.
The NEC 20-inch screen is similar to the LaCie model in many ways. It has the same 20.1-inch viewable screen, and all the DVI and VGA connections. However, it lacks the adaptor for Apple's ADC connection that LaCie includes. It's slightly heavier than the photon20vision, though this doesn't really matter unless you carry your screen around a lot.
One particularly nice feature is the non-touch auto-adjustment. This is only relevant to an analogue connection, as digital connections don't need any adjustments. With analogue connections, the original digital signal is translated to analogue and then back again. This creates timing and interference issues that need to be adjusted. For a while now, LCD screens have been able to do this with a single-button auto-adjust. The NEC screen goes one step further by doing this adjustment continuously, meaning you don't even have to press the button any more.
This smaller display (above) is the cheapest we looked at, but it's still a fine screen. This is the little brother of the LCD2080UX. It's just an inch smaller with a 19-inch viewable screen, and a resolution of 1,280-x-1,024 pixels. It has DVI and VGA connectivity, and costs only £750.