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Dell Crystal 22-inch LCD monitor

Dell's much anticipated Crystal display is here and ready for a spot on your desk. Priced at nearly US$1200 (as of 5/13/08), however, this monitor is primarily for people with deep pockets--or folks with a need to wow friends and colleagues.

At first glance, the Crystal looks like something designed by Apple. The innovative 22-inch panel encased in 4mm ultraclear tempered glass (with integrated speakers) sits on a chrome-plated zinc alloy stand for a floating-screen effect. It also features unique capacitive touch controls. Though the Crystal lacks height and swivel maneuverability, it does allow tilt adjustments.

Like all of the other models on PC World's current Top 5 22-inch wide-screen monitors chart, the pricey but sleek Crystal has a native resolution of 1680 by 1050. For such a steep price tag, though, this display should have the newer 1920 by 1200 native resolution, as Lenovo's $500 (as of 5/19/08) L220X does.

The Crystal has an integrated 2-megapixel Webcam that can capture video at 30 frames per second (fps) in 640 by 480 resolution, but at just 10 fps in 1600 by 1200 resolution. The Webcam also has a microphone.

The built-in speakers can get really loud, but in our tests they distorted the sound as the volume increased. A subwoofer output is included, and the speakers definitely need it: Without the external sub, the audio is flat and dull.

Instead of placing traditional ports on the back of the monitor, Dell decided to borrow another idea from Apple and use just a single cable that splits off into the display's assorted connection options, including HDMI, the subwoofer-out, USB, and power. The display has no VGA port, and you must use an included HDMI-to-DVI adapter for DVI connectivity. Among the monitor's other specifications are a fast 2-millisecond response time (grey to grey), a 2000:1 dynamic contrast ratio, and--through Dell's TrueColor technology--the stated ability to represent 98 percent of the NTSC color space.

With all of that great design and engineering--not to mention the hefty price--you might expect this monitor to outdo every other 22-inch display. In our PCW lab tests, however, we found that in overall image quality the Dell Crystal ranked fifth out of nineteen 20- and 22-inch displays in our database. That's far from a bad score; but considering its extreme cost, this display should be the best-performing 22-incher we've tested, and it clearly isn't.

Overall, this is a good-performing monitor with good integrated speakers and a breathtaking physical appearance--but its price is equally breathtaking. For the cost of just one Dell Crystal, you could buy four (yes, four!) of Dell's own 22-inch E228WFP, or two 24-inch Dell 2408WFP displays.