We had the LaCie 730 delivered to the Lab as a possible contender for our upgrading feature (page 25)—at $5,000 and change it’s certainly a comfortable fit at the high end of the price spectrum. Of course, it wasn’t just the price that intrigued us. The LaCie 730 includes a number of features that set it apart from other monitors we’ve reviewed—as well as one oversight that keeps it from attaining our highest praise.
While most monitors that come to the Lab sport 6- or 8-bit panels, the 730 has a 14-bit panel, which should greatly increase the color depth of this monitor. Additionally, the 730 includes an LED backlight rather than the more typical cold-cathode fluorescent backlight. An LED backlight should produce a truer black than a CCF because unlike the CCF, LEDs can switch on and off while a CCF is always on (for this same reason, an LED backlight should also reduce the amount of light seepage at the edges of a monitor). However, the first LED backlight monitor we reviewed, ViewSonic’s VLED221wm (May 2008), was able to create the darkest black we had ever seen but couldn’t differentiate the darkest grays in our grayscale test.
LaCie’s 730 had no such issues, displaying clear separation between shades at both the light and dark ends of the spectrum in our grayscale test. In our DisplayMate tests, the 730’s white and light grays weren’t as bright as those displayed by our current high-end Best of the Best champion, Gateway’s XHD3000 (reviewed December 2007), but when we put the monitors side by side for our digital photo comparison, there was no contest: The 730 produced the most vibrant, rich colors we’ve ever seen in our monitor tests. We noticed, in particular, that the 730 did a much better job of differentiating between shades of orange and red. In fact, this 14-bit monitor sports a 123 percent color gamut, well beyond the 72 percent standard for most LCDs.
Through our synthetic and real-world tests, the LaCie 730 seemed to be best in class, showing rich colors in photos and no evidence of banding or color-tracking errors; however, as we moved to our Blu-ray test, we discovered the monitor’s one true weakness: It lacks HDCP. While software fixes such as AnyDVD (www.slysoft.com) can alleviate this problem, the LaCie 730 cannot natively handle commercial high-def video. The lack of input options is also a small knock against the 730; the monitor includes DVI and USB, but neither HDMI nor DisplayPort.
If the boss-man purchased this monitor for your workplace, you’d be thrilled, but if you want a multipurpose monitor for photo and video editing as well as high-def movie watching, you’ll likely want to look elsewhere. If you’re willing to step down a bit in size, LaCie’s 24-inch 724 has the same 123 percent color gamut, supports HDCP, and will cost you just $2,650.
Produced the brightest, most vibrant colors of any monitor we have tested.