FlexScan L66: A sound choice in flat-panel displays

How many times have you thought to yourself, "If I could get rid of this monster monitor, I would have so much more room to work?" Well, the answer is here: flat-panel displays.

Eizo Nanao Technologies Inc. has made the thought of getting rid of that hulking old CRT monitor even more enticing with the introduction of the FlexScan L66 flat panel.

This 18.1-inch LCD is available in a desktop or free-mount design. The display requires no special graphics board or dedicated controller and connects in the same manner as a standard CRT. For the aesthetically conscious, Eizo provides a choice of two colors, beige and black, although the black monitor costs $100 more.

The display's resolution, brightness and contrast will please most users who are accustomed to CRT displays. However, the 0.28mm dot pitch and 1,280-by-1,024 dots per inch resolution result in some graininess.The FlexScan L66 is equipped with dual-input connectors and an input priority function, which allows for two computers to be connected simultaneously using standard video inputs. A single button on the front of the display enables a user to switch between computers easily.

The desktop version of the FlexScan L66 includes an integrated Universal Serial Bus hub on the rear of the stand, which con tains one upstream port for connecting a second computer via USB and four downstream ports for peripherals. Both the desktop and free-mount versions include a slot in which the user can install a safety lock device for security.

The FlexScan L66 offers two optional features. One is a protective panel that clips onto the display, protecting the LCD surface and providing an anti-reflective coating.

The other is a speaker unit that easily attaches to the bottom of the panel, providing two speakers, a microphone, and speaker in and out ports. This eliminates the need for external speakers and further helps with the desk clutter problem.

Setup is simple, and Eizo includes ScreenManager, a software program that guides the user through the monitor controls.

However, we noticed after we set up the display and went through the ScreenManager adjustments, the refresh rate was extremely slow.

FlexScan has 18 common preset display modes that require no screen adjustment. We selected 1,280-by-1,024 dpi in ScreenManager, which automatically should have set the refresh rate at 75 Hz. But we had to set the refresh rate in the Display Properties window of Microsoft Corp.'s Windows. Once we made this change, the refresh rate improved dramatically.

Eizo has produced a very good flat-panel display in the FlexScan L66. However, while flat panels eventually will be the display of choice, these devices still cost almost 10 times as much as an average CRT, so agencies have to be pressed for space to justify the price.

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FlexScan L66Eizo Nanao Technologies Inc.(562) 431-5011www.eizo.com

Price and Availability: The FlexScan L66 is available on GTSI's General Services Administration schedule for $2,999. The black version costs $3,099. The i-Sound Optional LCD Speaker Unit is available for $89 and the Protection Panel for LCD is $209. For more information, call (800) 999-4874.

Remarks: The 18.1-inch display is great for easing eye strain, and the option of desktop or free-mount designs help free up room on your desk. However, the prices on flat panels need to come down significantly to justify the average user buying one.

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