capsule review

Silicon Graphics 1600SW

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At a Glance
  • Silicon Graphics 1600SW

Flat-panel displays are wondrous -- their small footprints, compared with those of CRT monitors, open up vast areas of space on your desk. The 17.3-inch Silicon Graphics 1600SW provides a wide, high-resolution display with vibrant colors, and it offers a host of useful features, but its aspect ratio might be a bit too constraining for some.

The 1600SW has two native resolutions, 1,600 x 1,024 and 800 x 516. At the higher resolution, this monitor is clearly at its best: fill the entire screen with a single photographic image, and the 1600SW's brightness, saturation, and detail will astound you. But screen objects are tiny, and the consensus at our office was that the text was too small for everyday work. In the lower native resolution, 800 x 512, objects on the screen are big, but icons and text look blocky. Unfortunately, there is no happy medium-selecting another resolution places a window inside the available screen real estate, defeating the purpose of a large screen. You can magnify the screen image at the touch of a button, but this, too, results in big, chunky screen objects.

This is the only flat panel with adjustable color temperature -- it has both a red and a blue backlight, and you can adjust the brightness of each for a variety of hues.

Overall, the display is uniform and sharp. Unlike humbler LCDs, such as the ones that grace PowerBooks, the 1600SW has a clear picture when viewed from many different angles. However, when viewed from above, it washes out slightly.

The 1600SW comes with Silicon Graphics' MultiLink Adapter, a small external box that converts the monitor's LVDS signal to analog (for use with any Mac but with even fewer resolution choices), or to DVI, a language that the latest G4 towers can understand. But you'll need a $48 adapter from Belkin ( ) to convert the latest G4's ADC port to DVI. At press time, the 1600SW does not operate at its native resolutions when used with pre-ADC G4s. If you have a Mac with an open PCI slot, you can also purchase the 1600SW with a Formac Proformance 4 card, instead of a MultiLink adapter, for the same price.

At a Glance
  • Pros

    • High resolution
    • Brilliant color
    • Adjustable stand
    • Color-temperature controls


    • Images wash out slightly when viewed from above
    • Resolution choices are too limited
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