L680 monitor delivers high-quality images at a high price

L680 monitor delivers high-quality images at a high price

But Hi-res mode must match pixels to image evenly, otherwise text becomes jagged

By Carlos A. Soto

GCN Staff

The $3,500 Eizo Nanao L680 LCD monitor has no problems in image clarity. It outperformed two other high-performance monitors I placed next to it in testing.

Nor did I see any image residue when I suddenly closed a window of black text in many sizes, some highlighted, that had been running against a white background for 20 minutes.

On other LCD monitors, closing the window would have left an image residue that took five to 20 seconds to fade. But I saw no afterimage on the L680.

A slight shadowing did appear when I viewed several Motion Picture Experts Group-compressed images and assorted moving pictures of different sizes and lengths. Shadowing was barely noticeable.

Looking good

An all-black design makes the 17-inch monitor's appear bigger, but it interferes with using the well-camouflaged controls.

The Eizo L680 has a 170-degree viewing radius, thanks to Hitachi Home Electronics America Inc. technology known as super in-plane switching. In-plane switching is common in flat, thin-film-transistor monitors larger than 15 inches. It maximizes viewing angle and quality by changing the angles of the liquid crystals in the screen.

The problem with this is that adjusting the angle causes ghosting and slow response. But Hitachi's Super IPS eliminated both deficiencies in the L680.

Sharp text, however, was another matter.

To get clear lines of text, I had intensify the resolution to 1,280 by 1,024 pixels. At any lower resolution, text and script looked blurry and undefined.

Blurry text is still an unsolved problem in flat-panel screens. A pixel in an LCD is either on or off; there's no fuzzy ambiguity. In contrast, CRT monitors have much smaller dots and can electrically adjust their brightness.

The L680 has one LCD pixel for every dot only at 1,280- by 1,024-pixel resolution. When the resolution drops to 800 by 600 pixels, the L680 tries to fill in the image by emulation.

Box Score

Eizo L680

17-inch LCD monitor

Eizo Nanao Technologies Inc.; Cypress, Calif.;

tel. 562-431-5011


Price: $3,500

+ High-quality images with little or no ghosting

'Poor design of buttons and speakers


Real-life requirements:

Windows 9x or Mac OS, floppy drive, 32M of RAM, 2M of free storage

If you do the math, 1,280 divided by 800 is 1.6, and 1,024 divided by 600 is 1.7. The LCD cannot light up those partial pixels and instead tries to emulate them, causing jagged text.

The Eizo L680 could have been easier to set up and use.

The power button was the same size, shape and color as the other seven closely spaced buttons. Many monitors highlight their most-used button at the center or side, but the L680's power button was small, black and not easily seen on the right side of the all-black, 17.9- by 16.9- by 1.4-inch frame.

Likewise, the labels printed beneath the buttons were small and camouflaged in black.

The L680's sleek black design gives the illusion of larger images on screen, but no illusion is necessary'this is a big monitor. Eizo should make the layout friendlier and easier to understand.

I accidentally turned the power on and off several times when I tried to adjust the optional speakers; they sounded good but had another design problem.

Mounted at the bottom of the screen, they were awkward to put on and take off. The test speakers arrived broken. When I found the left speaker didn't work, I switched wires. No sound. When I jiggled the wires, the left speaker kept going on and off. That was when I noticed the cable connected to the speakers in an awkward, difficult-to-reach spot.

But when it worked, the sound was marvelous'not high-pitched like that of most internal speakers. Volume could go up very high, too.

Overall, the image and sound quality would make this a fantastic monitor if the price tag were lower.


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