How much is a bigger Macintosh desktop worth to you? Whereas a 21-inch monitor can display two pages side by side, LaCie’s 24-inch electron24, with a maximum resolution of 1,920 by 1,200 pixels, gives you enough added room to open a column of palettes next to that spread (the viewable area is 22.5 inches). But you’d better need those extra pixels, because at any other resolution you’re getting what amounts to a 21-inch monitor with a wide frame on each side.
When you hoist this 90-pound beast out of its packing crate, you’ll immediately notice the wide aspect ratioseemingly perfect for showing letterbox movies. The electron24 displays an image measuring nearly 19 by 12 inches, compared with 16 by 12 inches on a 21-inch monitor.
The unusual aspect ratio is a mixed blessing. To have the monitor display the maximum resolution of 1,920 by 1,200 pixels, you need to install iXMicro’s ix3D Ultimate Rez graphics card (optionally included in the package). Unfortunately, the card doesn’t support any other resolution appropriate for the monitor, such as 960 by 600 pixels. Instead, you get a standard selection of high-resolution display options that are more suitable for a 21-inch display. If you pick one of these resolutions, the picture appears stretched across the screen. You can use on-screen controls to scale the picture horizontally, but then you’re left with a wide border on each side, defeating the purpose of a 24-inch displayand the extra $700 or so you shelled out for it.
The electron24 uses a Sony Trinitron aperture-grille CRT, and image quality is goodbut not greatcompared with image quality of the best of the 21-inch monitors we’ve tested (see “Think Big,” elsewhere in this issue). In Macworld Lab tests, the monitor received high marks for brightness and color reproduction but only average scores for sharpness. At the default resolution, 8-point text in one of our test documents looked a little blurry, but sharpness was otherwise acceptable.
A ten-button array on the front of the monitor lets you adjust color, picture size, positioning, and other settings. It’s a convenient arrangement once you get the hang of it, but the buttons are so closely spaced that it’s easy to hit the wrong one.
A plastic hood is included to block out ambient light. A nice touch, perhaps, but it doesn’t do much to enhance the viewing experience.
Macworld’s Buying Advice
The electron24 costs upwards of $700 more than the 21-inch Apple Studio Display with ColorSync and Mitsubishi’s Diamond Pro 2020uMacworld Editors’ Choice picks for best general-use 21-inch displaysand scored only average ratings for text sharpness. But if you really need those extra pixels, the image quality is more than adequate.