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.
It’s a shame to test an LCD monitor that’s able to create sharp whites and rich blacks, only to watch it struggle to display common color gradients. And it’s downright frustrating given our benchmarking process. We first test a display’s ability to produce detail in blacks and whites. And in that race, NEC’s 24WMCX finishes toward the front—a noteworthy start.