If you've been eyeing-up big LCD monitors with envy, but never quite had the funds to ditch your CRT monitor, the new CTX range might be just what you've been waiting for. The latest 19-inch LCD screens look a million dollars but are amazingly cheap at under £500 including VAT.
The low-budget screens don't have the all-singing, all-dancing features you might find on a more-expensive model, but the basics are all there. For example, there's no digital connection available. Digital connections are a good thing, but by no means an essential feature. The differences are more a matter of user friendliness that final image quality.
LCD screens are by their nature digital, while CRT screens are analogue. Because older computers have only an analogue connection, the first LCDs had to decode the analogue signals coming from the Mac and turn them back into digital information. This digital-to-analogue-and-back-to-digital process means that the resulting image needs to be adjusted to get the best results. Digital output fed into LCD screens with digital inputs need no adjustments.
Having an analogue connection means that this monitor needs adjustment, but there's an auto-adjust feature that makes it easy for the user. Once the adjustment is done, the results should be on par with a digital model.
Despite having the auto-adjust feature, the monitor doesn't have a control for it on the front - so you need to go through some menus. If you can cope with that, then this screen is a bargain.
The resolution is 1,280-x-1,024 pixels and the visible screen area is 19 inches across the diagonal. This will compare favourably with a 21-inch CRT, and the results from LCD screens are always sharper than CRTs.
The colour and contrast also need adjusting, which you wouldn't expect from more-expensive models, but once done it shouldn't need much more adjustment in the future. So while the initial setup is fiddly, you only have to do it once.
The screen belies its bargain basement price. It's available in three colours - black, beige and silver - and the prices correspond to the colours. The beige model is the cheapest (and ugliest) at £469, black is £479, and silver £492. It does seem a bit much to charge extra for the black and silver models, but presumably, CTX is working on low margins and every penny counts.
If you can't stretch to a Cinema Display, the CTX 19-inch range is great. Setup isn't perfect, it's no big deal in the long run.
Min specs: VGA output.