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LaCie 324i review: LaCie 324i

LaCie 324i

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Eric Franklin
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Eric Franklin

Senior Managing Editor / Mobile

Eric Franklin leads the CNET Reviews editors in San Francisco as managing editor. A 20-year industry veteran, Eric began his tech journey testing computers in the CNET Labs. When not at work he can usually be found at the gym, at the movies, or at the edge of his couch with a game controller in his hands.

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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.

LaCie 324i
7.8

LaCie 324i

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.

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

Performance
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.

Games: Because of our intimate familiarity with World of Warcraft (WoW), it remains the best tool for judging color quality and vibrancy in games. The 324i delivered a picture with a high level of color saturation in the default User preset. This gave the colors a vibrancy typical of larger IPS monitors like the Dell UltraSharp U2711 and NEC MultiSync PA271W. We also used DisplayMate's Motion tests and found that the 324i, with its 6-millisecond G2G refresh rate, produced as much movement streaking as the LP2480zx, which also has a 6ms G2G refresh rate. Both monitors displayed more streaking than the Samsung PX2370 in the same test.

Photos: The 324i delivered high-resolution photos with deep and accurate colors that were not quite as good as what the HP LP2480zx delivered. We had to jack up the blue and tone down the green before they no longer distracted us.

Viewing angle: The optimal viewing angle for a monitor is usually directly in front, about a quarter of the screen's distance down from the top. At this angle, you're viewing the colors as the manufacturer intended them. Most monitors are not made to be viewed at any other angle. Depending on its panel type, picture quality at nonoptimal angles varies. Most monitors use TN panels, which get overly bright or overly dark in parts of the screen when they are not viewed from optimal angles. On the other hand, IPS panels usually show only minimal color shifts with angle changes. The LaCie 324i has a 10-bit LG P-IPS (Performance-In Plane Switching) panel, and when viewing it from the sides, we perceived the screen as darkening about 15 inches off from center--more than twice as wide a viewing angle as a typical TN panel has.

Recommended settings and use: During general use or when playing games, we found the User preset, with the following attributes, to be the 324i's optimal setting:

 Brightness   Contrast   Black Level   Gamma   Red   Green   Blue 
28 50 50 2.2 50 50 50

When watching movies or viewing photos, we still preferred the aforementioned settings, augmented with the following attributes:

 Red   Green   Blue 
50 40 60

As with most IPS-based monitors, LaCie gears the 324i mostly toward professional use where accurate color reproduction is required; however, the monitor is also great for watching movies, playing games, viewing photos, and general use. One of its trump cards is its 10-bit panel, which allows for much more accurate color by increasing the amount of gradients of the colors the display is capable of producing.

Power consumption: The LaCie 324i achieved poor power consumption, with a Default/On power draw of 68.6 watts, compared with the HP DreamColor LP2480zx's 62.6 watts in the same test. In our Sleep/Standby test, the 324i costs 2.67 watts and the LP2480zx pulled a lower 1.97 watts. Based on our formula, the LaCie 324i would cost $22.32 per year to run, compared with the HP DreamColor LP2480zx's $20.05 per year. Although their respective default power draws didn't have a huge delta between them, it's the consumption during sleep/standby (the state the monitor is in most of the time) that really hurt the 324i. During that time, the 324i drew 26 percent more power than the LP2480zx did in the same state. Still, not much of a difference in price.

Brightness in cd/m2
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

Contrast ratio
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

DisplayMate tests
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

Juice box
LaCie 324i Average watts per hour
On (default luminance) 68.6
On (max luminance) 111.1
On (min luminance) 47.8
Sleep 2.67
Calibrated (200 cd/m2) 68.4
Annual power consumption cost $22.32
Score Poor

Find out more about how we test LCD monitors.

Service and support
LaCie backs the 324i with a three-year parts-and-labor warranty that covers the backlight, which is the same great deal other vendors, such as HP and Dell, provide. It also offers 24-hour Web-based support and phone support limited to 10 hours a day, five days a week. LaCie provides free shipping and will admirably send you a replacement unit before actually receiving your defective unit. To top that off, it also pays for the shipping of both the unit shipped in and the one shipped out.

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