The Proview LCD Flatscreen considered.
I've been happily looking at things on my Falcon with the help of an ancient
SVGA of indeterminate parentage, kindly donated by Felice some years ago. As
a display, the word "adequate" would quite easily spring to mind, when
describing it. It could do all the standard Falcon resolutions without
panicking. It was even tolerant of being pulled around when the question of
extended screenmodes came to be asked. But it was very senior, at about one
hundred and fifty in dog years, and ageing fast.
I've also been keeping an eye out for a replacement for some time as well.
Of particular interest, were the up and coming generation of flatscreen LCD
display monitors. After watching countless PeeCee Dadz greedily grab the
biggest CRT screen size they could (ill) afford, in a vain attempt to
impress the techno-ignorant, and then laughing at them struggling to carry
these huge-chassised beasts home, I thought that a bijou LCD screenette
would be the sensible route to go for things like hernia avoidance.
Only problem was, that a little flat screen carried a big price tag for a
long time. It was only towards the end of last year that the crucial 200
UKP/300 Euro barrier was broken. And it was thanks to despised mass market
retailers, 'PC World' or 'PlasticWorld', that that I decided that spending
two hundred pounds on a whim was a good idea!
The screen in question is a PlasticWorld cheapo no-name own brand special
called 'Proview' It retailed at 199 UKP (currently at 189 UKP), and weighs
in at a reasonable fifteen inches (very slightly less in reality) screen
size. I can answer the first question right away, yes, it does work with the
Falcon. (And other machines capable of supporting VGA screen modes.) If you
are nervously backing away because you think that these are hotwired to work
only with Windowze machines, then don't worry. Falcy and flatscreen are good
for each other! There is a 'plug and play' option if you do have one of the
'other' computers, but for the purposes of this review, we can safely ignore
Standard Falcon video modes need no work at all, there is a handy 'auto-
adjust' button for on the fly use, if your screen centering is all to cock.
Plus, there is an options menu for all the usual suspects, brightness,
contrast, H and V positions, even language settings, which is easy to get
to, if slightly fiddly in practice. Once played around with, you don't need
to worry about it again. There is even a pair of speakers built into the
sides, which remain untried, better means of audio output being to hand.
These are likely to be no worse or better than the Falcon internal speaker.
When it came to extended screen modes, in this case Centscreen generated, it
was time to bin what I had, and start again. It proved to be easy to
reproduce most of what I had previously, running under Centurbo 2, I was
able to replicate my normal working default 800 x 608 mode (256 and 16
colours), and a useable 640 x 480 in Truecolor. At this point in time, I
have been unable to reach the wilder shores of screen resolution that I got
to on the old 14 inch CRT. Getting much over 800 x 600 proves to be
difficult, and the 700-odd by 570-odd trucolor mode I managed previously,
also eluded me.
On the plus side, I had a bright clear display, much more so than before.
For my major working use, which is text-based stuff, the gains were
immediate, with even very small 6x6 font text coming up clearly visible,
when it required two or three good squints before. You could also see the
differences and imperfections in pictures when using lower colour modes a
lot more as well!
From a daily use point of view, the LCD was well up to scratch. But how
would it cope with the abnormal things I like to do, such as screening
The news here was *mostly* good as well, with the majority of VGA-compatible
demos running happily with it. The only glitch came with those productions
that demanded a 100 hz video mode, which then didn't display. This was an
expected problem, and it is lucky that the likes of 'Hmmm demo' also run on
an RGB screen. And yes, I do still have one of those around.
There is also the factor of screen refresh rate, and the fact that LCD's
tend to be on the slow and blurry side. I was fortunate to be able to give
mine the ultimate sideways scrolling test, when the Res Gods released
'Superfly'. There was a little bit of blurring and screen persistence, but
not much, not enough to interfere with my gaming enjoyment. Other
productions produced no blur at all.
The final point in its favour, and the initial reason why I was seriously
looking for a flatscreen, is the portability. With the weighted base, it
isn't much lighter than a standard CRT with the same screen size, but
collapsed down, it is a great deal easier to carry and store in a limited
space, which will come on especially handy on the forthcoming Error in Line
CiH's final prediction for the future of computing - Everything will be
flatter and smaller. This rules!
Now available at a sensible price!
No problems with VGA-capable Atari computers.
Clearer flatter picture. Seems to be 'bigger' than equivalent CRT.
Less bulky, easier to pack down, very useful in a limited space situation!
Auto-adjust button a good idea.
Seems to be okay with most games/demos.
Refresh rate better than expected.
100hz mode sadly missed for some demo's (Sniff!)
Not quite able to 'stretch' extended resolutions as far as with CRT.
Tinny speakers on side of screen superfluous.
CiH, for Alive! Mag,at the Pre-EIL meet, 2003.