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      29.06.2010 17:20
      Very helpful



      Nobody wants CRTs nowadays, but if they did they'd want this one

      "Daddy, what's a CRT monitor?" I can imagine some children already asking their parents. Admittedly the sort of children who are too young to remember CRTs but already asking questions like that are probably precocious enough to be designing their own monitors anyway, but never mind. Anyway, this is an old-fashioned monitor, the sort that's the same shape as a television. Only... televisions don't have CRTs either nowadays, do they? So, let's just say that it's a hulking great beast of a unit that until a few months ago was plugged into my desktop PC, and to be fair to it did sterling service for several years.

      The LG brand has built up a pretty good name for itself over the years (and indeed my replacement screen is one of theirs, too) and the 700S doesn't do much to sully that reputation. I didn't buy it new, so I don't know how it was originally marketed, but the "Studioworks" branding that appears on the front perhaps suggests that it was aimed at people in the creative industries, rather than those who just needed to stare at spreadsheets all day. After all, it's easy to forget now, but not that many years ago a 17-inch screen such as this thing has was seen as being quite large; 15 inches was considered the standard size well into this century.

      As I mentioned a minute ago, this is not a small piece of equipment by any means, and you can't move it about anything like as easily as an LCD, so it's best to decide on a location first and only then move the thing. It's quite possible for one person to carry it, but they won't be able to manoeuvre very easily whilst doing so, so it's best to be certain that your route is clear before starting. The CRT design means that the unit sticks out backwards for a long way, and you'll need a fairly substantial desk in terms of front-to-back space if you're to allow enough space at the back for proper ventilation. It's also much heavier than a modern flatscreen monitor, so make sure your desk is a substantial one!

      The monitor plugs into a standard VGA port on your graphics card (if yours only has DVI outputs, you'll need an adapter) and turns on pretty quickly - it's about a couple of seconds from pressing the power button to seeing the screen image properly. You may need to "degauss" if you haven't used it for a while; this is becoming one of those forgotten rituals as CRT screens die out, but I think that's rather a shame as it's actually fun. From the on-screen menu you select the appropriate option, press the OK button, and... *sproinnggggg* - with a frankly worrying noise and wobble that you're never *quite* sure is going to settle down and work properly, the picture returns, hopefully with any unwanted magnetic field influences removed.

      The picture is very good, and in truth was probably better, at least until the monitor began to fail in its latter days (making strange clicking noises for a minute or so after it was turned on) than my LCD screen is today. Colour is *definitely* better on the 700S, but that's only to be expected: most cheaper LCD monitors, including mine, only offer 6-bit colour (18-bit if you count red, green and blue separately) meaning that others have to be interpolated or dithered. The CRT screen offers full 8/24-bit colour, and black shows as *black*, not "oh well, very dark grey, that's close enough". The irritating problem of non-native resolutions looking blocky doesn't arise either, since CRTs, being analogue in nature, don't have a native resolution. Certainly, in everyday use, I found the 700S's screen very comfortable to look at even for quite long periods.

      Talking of resolution, the 700S *can* display screens, at least in Windows, at 1280 x 1024 resolution, but it doesn't like it very much. For one thing, that's a 5:4 ratio, whereas this screen - like most CRTs - is designed at 4:3. It's a lot happier showing 1024 x 768, which is the resolution I'd recommend running it at, especially since it can manage a nice steady 85 Hz refresh rate at that level, whereas right up top it can only cope with 60 Hz, which I find a bit flickery. The screen has no major problems with lower resolutions, except that you may find yourself doing a bit of adjusting in the on-screen menu to get the picture to exactly fill the screen.

      Strangely, given that the monitor in general gives an impression of quality, the on-screen display looks absolutely dreadful, almost as though it were designed for a rock-bottom no-name brand. It's perfectly usable, and the control buttons have a decent feel, but the text is awful, with much use made of a hideous bright pink. You get the usual controls to centre the picture on the screen, change the colour temperature to give a warmer or cooler appearance, and so on. To be honest, I tended to get it looking how I wanted, then leave well alone, other than for the aforementioned degaussing or centring when I changed resolution.

      How unloved CRT monitors now are is well illustrated by the fact that a 700S listed recently on eBay for £12.49 *including* postage (a very substantial consideration for a CRT monitor!) failed to attract a single bid. It was relisted... and again there was no interest. I actually find that rather sad, since although I well understand the attractions in terms of both size and practicality of the modern widescreen LCD, there's no doubt that the 700S could still do a job for many people, and that in some areas (most notably colour definition) it outdoes just about any cheap flatscreen model. Make no mistake, this is a good monitor, and I have no compunction about awarding it four stars.


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