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21-inch monitors used to be for rich kids and serious users only but as CTX proves, they’re rapidly becoming an affordable option for all of us



If you’re at all concerned about the toxological effects of the materials used in the construction of PC equipment you need look no further than the instruction book for the CTX EX1200 to confirm your worst (waste) fears. The gist of it is that you shouldn’t eat computers or peripherals or bury them in your vegetable patch since they can contain lots of poisonous substances…


The good news is the EX1200 ‘executive series’ monitor meets all of the current environmental requirements so it’s off to a fair start, at least as far as toxicity is concerned. Head on it looks fairly normal, but from the sides it does seem to be a tad deeper than usual so watch out if your desk is positioned close to a wall. Staying with the backside for a few moments longer, in addition to the usual 15-pin D-Sub video socket it has a set of BNC sockets for Mac hook-ups and it has a built-in USB hub with one upstream (to PC) and two downstream connectors.


Apart from the USB hub the spec is fairly routine. The EX1200 automatically configures itself and supports all commonly used IBM PC and Mac display standards and resolutions up to 1600 x 1200/75Hz. The tube is an FST type with a 0.26mm dot pitch and it is compatible with all current power management protocols. Power consumption is a respectable 120watts


There’s an unusually large number of buttons on the front panel; these days most manufacturers seem to be going for concealed or combined controls, which admittedly does look neat, but sometimes they can be a swine to get at. No such problem with this one, there’s a big on/off switch and nine buttons, split into three groups. The first three call up the main on-screen menus (picture, colour and status), the next cluster of four adjusts contrast and brightness and makes selections on the on-screen menus and the last two select input (D-Sub/BNC), exit the display and invoke manual degauss.  


The Picture menu covers all of the usual size, position and geometry adjustments, there’s also the facility to tweak convergence settings and cancel moiré patterning. The Status menu shows what the monitor is up to and has options to specify off-time, power saving options, recall factory settings, change the OSD position and language. The Colour menu has four colour temperature presets, which can be overridden by the user.



The instruction book boasts that the tube has special anti-reflection and anti-glare coatings; heaven only knows what it would look like without them because our sample proved most effective at reflecting every light and window in the room. In short it wasn’t very good and, depending on where it to is to be used, will probably require careful siting and positioning.


Our usual sequence of test patterns didn’t show up any glaring picture faults or abnormalities though focus was ever so slightly soft in the top right hand corner of the screen. The contrast range is not quite as wide as we would have liked, brightness and contrast had to be set at near maximum to get a decent picture in a well-lit room. Colour fidelity is okay, noise levels are low and it was possible to achieve a reasonably natural balance with a bit of fiddling around. Moving video looks good and it is able to resolve fine detail but subtle shades tended to look just a bit heavy-handed



There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with the EX1200 but let’s just say it’s not going to win any beauty contests or prizes for technical merit. Picture performance is unexceptional, though it’s fair to say that its shortcomings are less apparent in DV applications involving moving video. Nevertheless the screen reflectivity can be a real nuisance. It is fair value but if you’re willing to trade off things like the USB hub there are 21-inch monitors around with crisper displays for comparatively little more money.


CTX EX1200


How Much?                  

£652 (inc. VAT)*


Tube size                     

21-inch FST


Visible display area     

390 x 290mm


Dot Pitch                      



Max Resolution 

1600 x 1200 pixels


Max refresh rate




510 x 506 x 544mm





CTX Monitors, telephone (01923) 810800,




Features                       ****

Performance                  ***

Ease of use                   ****

Value for money            ****

Overall Rating  83%



* Dabs Direct




ã R. Maybury 2000 2912




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