Like the LaCie 321, the Eizo FlexScan L997 is designed for graphics professionals who use desktop publishing software or applications such as CAD/CAM. Typically, graphics pros would want a high-end CRT, such as the Sony GDM-C520K, but the FlexScan L997's performance is close to that of its CRT counterparts. Eizo's 21-inch LCD offers stunning image quality, the ability to fine-tune individual primary and secondary colors, and a picture-in-picture function that allows you to simultaneously display images from two computer sources. Features such as these don't come cheap, but for around $1,700--slightly more than the LaCie 321--the Eizo FlexScan L997 offers more calibration options in a sturdier, better-designed package backed by a long five-year warranty.
Available in matte black or light gray, the Eizo FlexScan L997 presents a simple, sober design, which is just as well because flourishes in an LCD usually fall flat (see the Envision EN7220). The bezel is a thin three-quarter inch on all four sides, and the adjustment buttons are plain squares that sit flush with the bottom bezel. The somewhat distracting blue power light on the bottom bezel can be turned off in the onscreen menu (OSM). The panel sits on a sturdy Y-shaped base, and the neck features an innovative cable-management system: a false back with a little spring-loaded flap along the side, into which you can easily push unsightly cables. Getting them out again is a little trickier, but this design beats the clumsy plastic loops we usually see. The display has two DVI connectors in addition to one upstream and two downstream USB 2.0 ports. The L997 comes with a USB cable, a digital cable, and for those who have an analog graphics card, an analog-to-digital conversion cable. There's plenty of room to attach the cables, even for those with chubby fingers.
The FlexScan L997 is as adjustable as you'd expect an expensive LCD to be. The neck raises and lowers about 3.25 inches, and the panel tilts back 40 degrees, swivels 35 degrees to the left and right, and pivots 90 degrees into Portrait mode. The L997 is the first LCD we've seen that automatically rotates the picture when you pivot the display panel.
Through the onscreen menu, you can access the standard LCD tweaks, such as brightness and contrast, but Eizo takes the fine-tuning several steps further for graphics pros. You can adjust the gamma correction by decimal intervals, set color temperature in 500-degree increments, adjust the general hue and saturation levels, or set different hue and saturation levels for each primary and secondary color. You can also launch the picture-in-picture function to view images from a second computer source.
Thankfully, Eizo includes its ScreenManager Pro software on the install disc, which lets you use your mouse to perform all the adjustments listed above. We found it easier to make adjustments this way because the monitor's menu structure and buttons are poorly organized. Of all the eight buttons along the bottom bezel, not one serves as an exit button, so you must scroll around to the exit icon in each submenu to get out of it. Also, the left and right arrow keys flank the up and down keys rather than being grouped together, which makes for awkward scrolling and adjusting.