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A screen to be seen

Radius’s RAD-23 analog/digital LCD display.

Just about the time I got my new Apple Power Macintosh G4 computer, my old 21-inch CRT monitor expired in a flash of pink and black. It was replaced by a miniscule Apple 15-inch LCD Studio Display, which, while bigger than a 15-inch CRT monitor, was much smaller than the big screen I’d gotten used to. To my rescue came the seriously large RAD-23 LCD monitor from KDS.

For $4,148, you expect a pretty good monitor, and the RAD-23 may be the best LCD available for any computer. While side-by-side comparisons to Apple Computer’s own 23-inch Cinema HD LCD monitor were not possible, the RAD-23 is physically larger. It has a real 23-inch diagonal measurement with the same screen ratio as a traditional monitor, unlike Apple’s widescreen format.

With a native resolution of 1,600-by-1,200 (which the G4 set automatically on boot-up), text was crisp and sharp, lacking the color “fringies” often seen on large LCD monitors. The RAD-23’s onscreen color wasn’t bad, and included the requisite onscreen display controls. I never touched them. Instead, I hooked up a Pantone ColorVision Spyder and used its bundled Optical software to calibrate the monitor. The software is easy to use and following on-screen instructions, the display went from very good to spectacular within a few minutes. Interestingly, the same hardware/software combination was unable to produce acceptable color on the Apple 15-inch LCD Studio Display, which is fabulous out-of-the-box using Apple’s preprogrammed settings. All of the Mac OS consultants I discussed this anomaly with verified my experience.

The monitor has a pair of built-in audio speakers that, because of the amount of internal space available, are of a sufficient size and acoustic design to sound pretty good for built-in speakers. They don’t hold a candle to the Monsoon flat panel speakers connected to my G4, but will be useful in workspaces that don’t have room for another desktop peripheral. Surprisingly, the RAD-23 lacks additional USB ports the way that even the least inexpensive CRT monitor provides. In a final indignity, 3M Post-It notes will absolutely, positively not stick to the textured surface. Oh, they stick initially, but not for long.

Depending on your video card, you can send analog or digital input, and if the screen looks this good with an analog signal, it should be spectacular in multimedia design applications with a digital signal. Working in Adobe Photoshop, I was able to scatter palettes and dialog boxes across the screen while looking at full-sized images. Better yet, I was able to place 8×10 images next to one another to compare before and after enhancements. The Radius RAD-23 is not just for graphics; it also lets you see two full and two partial letter-sized pages of text. It’s an amazing way to do PowerPoint presentations. At 60 pounds it weighs more than an LCD projector but the display quality is stunning for small group presentations where image quality is critical.

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