Review: Eizo flat panel thick with new features

Eizo Nanao Corp. has put together a good package with its new flat-panel

monitor. It keeps a thin profile but provides a roomy display and a rich

new feature set.

At 18.1 inches, the FlexScan L661 monitor may not seem like a big screen,

but remember that, unlike with CRT monitors, flat-panel measurements are

an accurate representation of the viewable area.

Eizo is introducing several features with this flat-panel unit, including

1,280 pixel by 1,024 pixel native resolution, an integrated power supply,

full-screen scaling and an image-smoothing feature that helps lower-resolution

images display more clearly on the screen.

Indeed, we found the L661's true-color (16.7 million colors) image to

be clear and bright with no visible flicker, and the roominess of the screen

was positively luxurious.

Setting up the monitor was easy, and the manual is refreshingly thorough.

If you are using the monitor with Microsoft Corp. Windows 95/98 you must

install a utility that ships with the unit on a floppy disk, but it's a

quick and simple process. The monitor also is compatible with Macintosh,

Unix and Linux with integrated USB.

You can mount the FlexScan L661 on a wall or arm stand. Both are convenient

options with this unit, which is only 3.4 inches deep without the base.

Even with the base, the unit is only 8.6 inches deep, a reasonable amount

for a panel this large.

The viewing angles are 140 degrees horizontal and 140 degrees vertical. The tilt range is 18 degrees down, and swivel range is 15 degrees to the left and right — not especially remarkable, but it should be plenty for typical use.

The FlexScan L661 offers the usual monitor features along with a few

special additions, such as the One Touch Auto Adjustment feature. Simply

hit a button on the front of the bezel and the size and placement of the

image automatically adjusts to optimal settings. This is possible thanks

to Eizo's proprietary application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC), which

checks the input signals and digitally processes them.

The proprietary ASIC also enables the unit to display images in three

modes: full-screen, which expands the image to full-screen format; enlarged

mode, which enlarges the image to near full-screen format (a border will

appear); and normal mode, in which the image is displayed as it appears

in the selected resolution. The FlexScan L661 also includes a standby button,

which turns the monitor off without fully powering down, saving wear and

tear that comes with constantly turning off and starting up the monitor.

It also eliminates monitor warm-up time, because the screen image returns

instantly.

Another new twist is Eizo's smoothing feature. When a lower-resolution

image is displayed on the screen, this feature mitigates the fuzziness of

text and other images, although it does not eliminate it.

The FlexScan L661 features digital signal processing that enables automatic

contrast adjustment for more accurate color reproduction. It also features

digital image control that incorporates a customized brightness function

that adjusts the fluorescent backlight to maintain a high brightness level

through a range of adjustments.

An integrated USB hub contains one upstream port for connecting the

monitor to a PC or another hub and four downstream ports for peripherals

such as a digital camera, a printer, scanner, mouse or keyboard. The power

supply is integrated too, thereby eliminating the external power brick.

The unit offers dual video input with a convenient priority button right

on the front of the bezel.

The menus were fairly easy to use, although we found one annoying quirk.

The screen size adjustment is not under the "screen" section of the main

menu. Instead, it is under the "others" section. Needless to say, we had

trouble remembering where to find it, and we wonder why Eizo did not put

this function in the same section as adjustments for screen position, resolution,

contrast and other screen adjustments.

Other than that, we can't find much to criticize about this flat panel.

It offers unique features that increase the unit's functionality and ease

of use, not to mention the bright, roomy display.

The FlexScan L661 is available in beige and black. Eizo also offers

an optional detachable speaker unit that fits around the bottom of the panel

console. The unit features jacks for headphones or CD players, two speakers

and a microphone powered directly from the monitor.

Pricing for the FlexScan L661 is reasonable, falling well within the

price range of 18.1-inch flat-panel displays from other major vendors.

REPORT CARD

FlexScan L661

Score: A

Eizo Nanao Corp.

(800) 800-5202

www.eizo.com

Pricing and Availability: The FlexScan L661 is available on the GSA schedule for $2,920 for beigeand $3,000 for black.

Remarks: This flat-panel display is luxuriously large and offers several unusualfeatures that enhance usability and convenience. The One-Touch Auto Adjustmentfeature sizes and places the screen image optimally, and integrated USBports allow a host of peripherals to be used with the unit.

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