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It's flat and it's flash but are LCD monitors like the ADI 6L suitable for computer video? Rick Maybury has been looking in to the matter…



LCD monitors have now reached the stage where they can compete with conventional tube-based models on almost every level, with two notable exceptions: they still lack the absolute clarity and precision of top grade CRTs and they're just too darned expensive! Prices are coming down but it's a slow business, the fact is you can still expect to pay between three and four times as much for the privilege of a flat screen, but is there any way it can be justified?


On the evidence of the 15-inch ADI Microscan 6L we would have to say a reluctant no, for desktop video applications at least. However, having lived with one for a short while we must say that it is very difficult to go back to using a CRT for bread and butter PC applications, like word processing and general office work. Flat panels make a lot of sense. They occupy between a third and quarter of the space of a CRT monitor, they consume significantly less power, emit negligible levels of radiation, they don't suffer from flicker and they look great!


The Microscan 6L is a very fair example of the breed. The casework is relatively restrained, there's an occasional curvy line and the tilt stand is an unusually bold design (it also comes with a wall-mounting bracket) but there's nothing about the cosmetics that draws attention to itself, which is good because it’s the screen you're supposed to be looking at.


When ADI say it has a 15-inch screen, (measured diagonally) that's precisely what you get. With LCDs there's no weasly small print about screen measurement referring to the exterior dimensions of the picture tube. The screen is a TFT active matrix type with a visible display area of 304 x 228mm or close to some 17-ich CRTs and about 10% bigger than some so-called 15-inch tube monitors. It is capable of XGA resolution and can handle all standard VESA and Mac resolution modes up to 1024 x 768. The power management systems are compliant with all currently used protocols, in normal use it consumed 34.2 watts and 3.4 watts in standby.


There are just four front panel controls, a concealed on/off switch, on/standby button and three buttons for the multi-lingual on-screen display. Pressing any of them brings up a drop-down menu; selections are made using a pair of +/- buttons. In addition to all of the usual picture and position adjustments there is a set of manual colour adjustments and a series of test patterns. Around the back there are three sockets, a standard 15-pin D-sub for the video and two power sockets (DC input and output) for the external power supply. The connectors are mounted vertically which helps keep things neat and tidy and reduces the overall depth. It doesn't come with any driver software, not that it needs any as set-up and installation is fully automatic on most PCs and operating systems.  



Viewing angles on LCDs are always a lot shallower, compared with CRT displays but for solo desktop use that's not a problem. Screen reflectivity is low and it can be used in brightly-lit areas without any problems. The brightness and contrast ranges of the 6L are in the same ballpark as CRT though it is evident there is not as much subtle graduation. Picture geometry is spot on, as it should be with a LCD display. Colour rendition is one area where LCDs have improved a lot in recent years and skin tones look natural but rapid movement still looks blurry. The most obvious difference, however, between CRT and LCD – even one as good as this – it the depth of the image. It's an almost indefinable quality but when viewed alongside a good tube monitor the image appears a little flat, almost dull. That's not a problem if you're staring at word processor or spreadsheet desktops but moving video lacks the life and vibrancy of a CRT.    



For everyday use, especially where desk space is at a premium and cost is not a prime consideration then the Microscan 6L is worth considering. However, for the time being at least, CRT monitors are still our first choice for any kind of work involving video and you can get a helluva lot of monitor for the price of a LCD…




How Much?                  


Screen size                  

15-inch diagonal TFT active matrix LCD


Visible display area     

304 x 228mm


Viewing angle               

110 degrees vertical, 120 degrees horizontal


Max Resolution 

1024 x 768 pixels (XGA)



410 x 429 x 213mm





ADI, telephone  0181-327 1900



Features                       ****

Performance                  ****

Ease of use                   ****

Value for money            ***

Overall Rating  85%







ã R. Maybury 1999 0706



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