Color professionals such as photographers, graphic designers, and prepress technicians traditionally use CRT displays for their work because CRTs more accurately display a wider range of colors. But when tradition, hardly a cherished value in the tech world, means keeping an ugly, space-and-energy-hogging behemoth on your desk, the appeal of a svelte, high-performance LCD is undeniable. The LaCie 319 is built with color pros in mind. It offers a CRT-grade color gamut, 10-bit gamma correction, its own hood, and the option to add color-calibration software and a colorimeter. Its color performance is excellent, but with a price of $999, it costs twice as much as a layperson's 19-inch LCD; only graphics pros should consider this monitor.
The LaCie 319's design is inoffensive, but it isn't attractive either. It is black, its bezel is less than half an inch wide, and its adjustment buttons are simple, clearly labeled circles. The neck and the base make a squat, stocky L shape that would look right at home in an office, but the boring design allows the neck to telescope smoothly between 1.5 and 6.5 inches high. The LaCie 319 swivels easily 90 degrees right and left, thanks to a lazy Susan embedded in the square base. The monitor rotates very easily between portrait and landscape modes (the display comes with Pivot Pro software). The screen also allows for some forward and backward tilt; however, the very stiff ball-and-socket-style joint on our test unit required two hands and a lot of arm strength to adjust.
On the back panel, which is easily accessible if you pivot the display, reside VGA (analog), DVI-I, and DVI-D connections. The LaCie 319 ships with VGA and DVI-D cables. The cable-feed system is a clumsy plastic panel that you clip onto the back of the monitor's slablike neck. The metal hood, which keeps out ambient light while you're calibrating the display, attaches easily; there's a little hook in the center from which you can hang a colorimeter ($349 from LaCie ) or, if you prefer, a protective crystal.
The straightforward and easy-to-navigate onscreen menu (OSM) lets you adjust basics such as brightness and contrast. It also has a sharpness adjustment and seven color-temperature settings (most consumer LCDs have three or four). If you want to perform more advanced calibrations on the white-point temperature, the gamma, and the brightness, you have to buy the LaCie 319 with Blue Eye Pro color-calibration software for a hefty $1,249.
The LaCie 319 did an excellent job on CNET Labs' DisplayMate-based tests. It displayed a wide range of colors that looked very rich and didn't shift in tint as they progressed up and down the intensity scale. Grayscale performance was also good, with only slight introduced color--a reddish tint--in the midlevel grays. The only display we've seen lately that does a better job on grayscale and color is the Eizo FlexScan L997, which is also bigger and easier to adjust. DVD and gaming are not the LaCie 319's strong suits. It'll do for watching movies, as long as you're not a stickler for a completely smooth picture, but our Labs technician found the game performance jerky and blurry.
LaCie covers the 319 with a three-year warranty on parts, labor, and backlight. Phone tech support is available Monday to Friday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. PT, but you'll have to pay for the call. LaCie's Web site offers basic features such as FAQs, drivers, e-mail, and fax support.
(Longer bars indicate better performance)