LaCie 324i review: LaCie 324i

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MSRP: $1,449.99

The Good The LaCie 324i provides accurate color, deep blacks, and a host of ergonomic options.

The Bad The LaCie 324i takes some tweaking to minimize its green push. Also, for its price and size it offers less value than other monitors in its class.

The Bottom Line The LaCie 324i is a decently priced pro monitor that performs well but unfortunately can't compete in bang-for-buck terms with offerings from Dell and NEC.

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7.8 Overall

For about $1,150, the LaCie 324i offers performance and ergonomic design you'd expect from a professional monitor. It includes sRGB and Adobe RGB presets, a black-level control, and color temperature, RGB, and gamma options. The 10-bit panel exhibited a deep black level and accurate and vibrant color (once calibrated). It can't quite compete with the HP DreamColor LP2480zx in color performance or the NEC MultiSync PA271W in useful OSD features. Also, compared with the Dell UltraSharp U2711, the LaCie 324i can't match its lower price and has a smaller screen. The LaCie 324i is a very well-designed, excellently performing monitor that just doesn't come close enough to offering as much value as its contemporaries.

Design and features
The 24-inch LaCie 324i looks like a typical performance monitor; a monitor focused on color accuracy and gamut, black level and contrast. So, yes, by "typical," we mean a thick, hefty panel and a dark chassis. Pretty much par for the course when it comes to performance monitors these days.

Delving into the details, said panel measures 1.9 inches in depth initially, extending another 1.6 inches for the connection options, bringing its total to a substantial 3.5 inches. The panel sits on a 12.2-inch-wide oval footstand, with a depth of 9.8 inches.

The left and right bezel measure 0.8 inch in width and the dark gray chassis has a smooth finish all around. The full width of the panel is 22.2 inches, about the same as the HP DreamColor LP2480zx.The display includes a full range of ergonomic support, featuring screen height adjustment, 35-degree back tilt, 45-degree left and right swivel, and 90-degree pivot to the right. The distance from the desktop to the bottom of the panel is 2.4 inches at its lowest and 6.7 inches at its highest. All of the adjustments were simple and easy to make, save possibly for pivoting, which requires the screen be in its highest range before properly functioning.

The LaCie 324i stood its ground quite well when knocked from the sides or from behind, as long as the screen was at its lowest height. Pull the screen up a few inches and you'll find a very wobbly monitor when knocked; however, thanks to its hefty 23-pound weight, it never seemed to be in any real danger of toppling.

Connection options include DVI, HDMI, DisplayPort, and Component. There are also two USB upstream ports and one downstream port. All connections are located on the back of the panel, facing downward, making them difficult to access unless you pivot the monitor or at least raise its height.

The lower right-hand corner of the bezel holds the onscreen display (OSD) array, consisting of five buttons aligned horizontally. Navigating the OSD took only a short time to get used to and we were soon able to easily browse through its extended offerings. These include Brightness, Contrast, Black Level, Color Temperature, and Gamma. Presets include User, sRGB, Adobe RGB, Calibration, and Grayscale. Also included is a feature that adjusts the monitor from a 4:3 to a 16:10 aspect ratio. There are also many options for customizing the OSD, including controls for its position, transparency, and duration on screen.

While the OSD offers some useful options, there's nothing here approaching the depth of options the NEC MultiSync PA271W provides.

The OSD buttons have a strong tactile and audible response with each button press and felt soft enough that our fingers didn't sting after using them for extended periods.

Design highlights:
Connectivity: DVI, HDMI, DisplayPort, Component
Ergonomic options: 35-degree back tilt, 45-degrees swivel, 90-degree pivot, 4-inch screen height
adjustment range
Resolution: 1,920x1,200
Aspect ratio: 16:10
Audio: Audio In ports
VESA wall-mount support: No

Feature highlights:
Included video cables? DVI
Backlight: CCFL
Panel Type: P-IPS (10 bit panel)
Screen film: Matte
Pixel-response rate: 6ms
Number of presets: 5
Overdrive: Yes
Picture options: Brightness, Contrast, and Black Level
Color controls: Direct color temperature control, RGB controls
Gamma control: Yes
Additional features: Optional cover and colorimeter

We tested the LaCie 324i through its DVI input, connected to a Windows Vista PC, using the included DVI cable. The display posted a composite score of 97 on CNET Labs' DisplayMate-based performance tests, one point lower than the HP DreamColor LP2480zx. The 324i faltered a bit in our Color Tracking test, compared with the LP2480zx. Unlike the LP2480zx, the 324i showed a green tint at default settings; however, with a bit of RGB tweaking, we were able to minimize this effect. The 324i also delivered deep blacks in our black-level test, displaying down to a level-two gray--which is two levels above true black. And while the LP2480zx delivered a very small amount of backlight bleed-through, clouding was obvious in the upper middle edges of the 324i's screen when displaying a dark screen. As with the LP2480zx, we saw little evidence of color banding in our color ramp test, which tests a panel's ability to render gradations of primary colors in a smooth and consistent manner.

Text: We saw no color problems with black text on a white background. Fonts were clearly visible down to a 6.8 size and looked slightly clearer than the same fonts on the HP DreamColor LP2480zx.

Movies: We tested the LaCie 324i using the Blu-ray version of "Avatar." In the movie, we saw accurate color and deep color in the User preset with only a slight green push, which we were easily able to alleviate with only a small tweak of the green and blue values. Blacks were impressively dark without missing any of the detail of the Na'vis' hair during the nighttime bonfire scene.

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