Although design frills are nice, the true measure of a professional monitor is its accuracy with colours and shading. And the LaCie 321 is a stunning performer -- one of the best LCDs we have seen.
It nailed various tests for colour consistency in our DisplayMate-based diagnostic software, which translates to strong, accurate colour for graphics -- even for challenging material. One photo we viewed, for instance, shows a bronze statue with parts in very bright sunlight and other parts, such as the face, in shadow. The 321 was able to display clear detail in the dim face, while capturing the brilliant look of metal in sunlight. It also beautifully rendered a picture of a child in a stroller. The little girl's fair skin appears nearly translucent, with just a hint of pink in the cheeks, but not the artificially warm cast that some faces take on with lesser monitors.
Colour and detail benefit from the monitor's brightness, which was quite evenly distributed across the screen. Text was legible at a tiny font size of 6.8 points, but started looking crisp at about 9 points, which should suffice for most documents.
The monitor also impressively maintains colour and brightness consistency through generous horizontal and vertical viewing angles. Our hands-on tests show that even fine gradations are reliably presented through the normal range of motion for someone spending long hours in front of the screen.
Predictably, the LaCie 321 didn't fare too well in DVD viewing -- but again, this display is for working with high-end graphics, not watching video. The company has clearly focused on elements other than fast pixel response time.
One disappointment was a smattering of defective pixels. We counted five that stood out with the wrong hue in various colour patterns. All were at the periphery of the screen, in the upper-right quadrant. This level and location of defects falls within the industry-standard ISO 13406-2 guidelines that LaCie follows and is therefore not designated as defective by LaCie, although we don't usually see LCDs with this many. Unfortunately, the perfect LCD panel is still a rare find, especially in this large screen format.
Service & support
For its high price, the LaCie 321's lack of a printed manual seems skimpy. It does, however, come with a CD containing a PDF version of a handy manual that provides basic setup and adjustment instructions, specifications and troubleshooting advice. LaCie offers a three-year warranty covering parts, labour and the backlight. There is no telephone support, but customers can send a help request via a form on LaCie's Web site and can expect an email response within 24 hours; the Web site also provides FAQs, drivers and project tutorials.
Edited by Charles McLellan
Additional editing by Nick Hide