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Alive 7

     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
roadkill marathon!

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.

Alive 7