Although Apple's displays continue to surpass all others in our image-quality tests, the Formac Gallery 1740 comes close, and in other ways, it's actually better than the Studio Display. The Formac is less expensive for what you get, and it's a good buy for PC or Power Mac users who want more connectivity and flexibility--plus a tad more screen real estate--than Apple's Studio Display offers. Although Apple's displays continue to surpass all others in our image-quality tests, the Formac Gallery 1740 comes close, and in other ways, it's actually better than the Studio Display. The Formac is less expensive for what you get, and it's a good buy for PC or Power Mac users who want more connectivity and flexibility--plus a tad more screen real estate--than Apple's Studio Display offers.
The Gallery 1740 is better than Apple's displays in a number of ways. For starters, at 17.4 inches (diagonal), it's bigger than Apple's 17-inch Studio Display. The Gallery 1740 has the same 1,280x1,024 native resolution as the Apple Studio Display, but it surpasses the Studio Display in brightness, contrast ratio, and pixel-response time (a faster pixel-response time makes video look smoother). The Gallery 1740 is also more friendly to legacy and cross-platform hardware. Apple's current displays can be used only with newer Macs that have an ADC connector. The Gallery 1740 has an ADC connector, but it also offers a DVI version (which we tested) with an ADC-to-DVI converter for only $50 more--about one-fourth of what you'd pay elsewhere--so you can use the display with any DVI-connected PC or older Mac. With all these additional benefits, it's still less expensive than a Studio Display--$949 with the DVI converter, $899 for ADC only.
Picture-frame design emulates Apple's
So how can Formac give you a bigger screen with some better specs for a lower price? Branding may have a lot to do with it, but Formac also seems to have cut some corners in the frame construction. The Gallery 1740 emulates the Studio Display in its physical design; a clear, plastic picture frame surrounds a gray or white border and is supported with a rear arm. The monitor looks nice, but compared to traditional, pedestal-mounted flat-panel displays, it uses more desk space and isn't as adjustable. Our bigger concern, however, lies in the sturdiness of the Gallery 1740's frame. It feels a bit thin and flimsy overall compared to the Studio Display's, and the Formac wobbles a bit, though it seems in no danger of tipping. More worrisome is the flexibility of the frame surrounding the display. Press the On/Off button or anywhere on the frame, and the screen image distorts temporarily, as any LCD does when you press on it. This may not be a real problem, but we were concerned about the cumulative impact of pressing the On/Off button every day.
Luckily, the flimsy-feeling construction is one of our very few complaints about the Gallery 1740. In most other respects, it's a well-designed monitor that's easy to use. Setup is simple: plug it in, turn on the computer, and it works. The three controls along the bottom of the display's frame control power and brightness; there are no complex onscreen utilities to master. The 16-page paper manual is adequate, covering system requirements, installation and configuration, maintenance, and troubleshooting.