Up until recently, large LCD screens were mostly for multimedia applications, and they had more to do with consumers watching TV than they did with actually doing real work.
This started to change a few weeks ago, as a new class of LCDs began to enter the market. While not as inexpensive as their predecessors, these flat-panel displays sport faster refresh rates, much higher resolutions and more accurate colors.
This class of product is for people who create things. Whether its Web page design, photography/movies/art, or advertising and print layout work, this is what the working creative professional has been waiting for in an LCD product.
Throughout this year we will see a major push by a number of vendors into this class. This competition will drive down prices, but technology will continue to advance, further increasing the performance of this high-end class and continuing to justify the premium prices it commands. Heres a look at a few of the products.
One of the first high-performance products out was the Sony PremierPro 23-inch wide flat-panel LCD. With a wide 16:10 aspect ratio and an incredible 1,920 x 1,200 resolution, this monitor could be used for content creation much more successfully than the TV LCDs that preceded it. This product was released at a $3,000 price point and has already dropped $400, showing the price pressure on this class of offering as well as the entry of powerful competitors.
One of the most powerful of those competitors is Hewlett-Packard Co., which entered the market last week with a very similar product, the HP F2304, which is priced nearly $500 below where the Sony now is at: $2,199 if you take the $100 mail-in rebate that is available with this product today.
While clearly still not cheap, the HP display maps to the Sony in virtually every critical area and provides one of the better values in this high-end segment—at least, until someone else picks up the gauntlet and lowers prices once again.