Japan-based EIZO is synonymous with producing high quality LCD TFT monitors that are just the ticket for design professionals. Sure they look like 80’s throwbacks thanks to their boring design and chunky bezels, and they lack the connectivity and multimedia features advanced home users and gamers demand, but as far as raw imaging performance go they are up there with the best. The wholly-black FlexScan S2242W (from £476) is another special monitor from Eizo, due to the fact that this 22-inch monitor offers the same native resolution as a 24- to 27-inch widescreen monitor, but occupies less desk space.

The S2242W is one of very few 22-inch monitors to offer a 1920×1200 native resolution and a 16:10 aspect ratio. Thanks to its 0.247mm pixel pitch and display of 103 pixels per inch, this results in around 30% more information displayed compared to a typical 22-inch monitor with a 1680×1050 resolution. The major benefit of the screen is that it’s ideal for workspaces where the resolution of a larger monitor is desired, but cannot be installed due to space constraints.

Configuring the S2242W is trickier than most monitors due to the clunky on-screen display (OSD) and raft of buttons littering the front bezel. The purpose of the 10 buttons is initially mysterious, presenting a jumble of icons whose purpose isn’t immediately apparent. The ergonomic stands offer height adjustment, tilt, swivel, and portrait mode viewing, and for installations that require frequent rearrangement of equipment, a quick mount attachment option allows the monitor to be mounted and dismounted with the pull of a lever. Connectivity is pathetic in these multi-tasking times – a single DVI and VGA port are your only options. Other features include a 2-port USB hub and a pair of 0.5W speakers, which are built into the display’s case, but sound quality is so poor that you’ll not want to rely on them. There’s also the ability to rotate between landscape and portrait orientations, which some users might find useful when viewing long documents and Web pages.

For optimum viewing the S2242W offers a lot more tweaking options compared to a regular monitor – including gamma, gain and colour temperature presets from 4000K to 10,000K. And for different kinds of content, EIZO’s Fine Contrast function includes modes for office applications (Text mode), video (Movie mode), graphics (Picture mode), Web browsing (sRGB mode), and user-defined settings (Custom mode). Modes switch automatically with the bundled ScreenManager Pro software, or manually with the press of a button. The OSD also shows the level of power savings in correlation with the monitor’s brightness to encourage environmental consciousness while working. When EcoView Index is fully illuminated, the monitor is operating at optimum energy efficiency.

Digital photographers will appreciate the S2242W’s colour gamut, which reproduces 92% of the NTSC colour space and 95% of the Adobe RGB colour space, so it can display most colours in a photograph taken in Adobe RGB mode and cover most of the CMYK spaces used in printing. The monitor is also compatible with the optional EIZO EasyPIX accessory, a colour matching package that includes EasyPIX software and EIZO’s EX1 colour sensor. With EasyPIX, you can measure and save the monitor’s settings to make colour profiles for easier monitor and photo print colour matching.

Eizo’s latest monitor has other neat features. The Auto EcoView sensor on the front of the monitor measures ambient light and optimises the screen’s brightness to levels akin to viewing a sheet of paper under typical office lighting conditions. Since the screen is never too bright, eye strain is reduced while power consumption is cut by up to 52% compared to operating the monitor with Auto EcoView turned off and set to the default factory brightness of 100%. The downside is that this feature is designed more to save energy than keep your display’s colours accurate, as raising or lowering the brightness can throw any calibration you’ve done out.

Eco warriors will also love the fact that when the monitor’s power save mode and off timer function are set, it consumes less than 1.5 watts of power, and when turned off via the main power switch, it consumes no electricity at all. And for businesses using multiple monitors, EIZO’s EcoView NET power management software helps reduce electricity consumption, providing long-term energy savings and a smaller carbon footprint. The software offers centralised control over network monitors’ power settings, including brightness adjustment and turning the monitors’ power and Auto EcoView on or off. EcoView NET features server and client software and is compatible with Windows XP, Vista, and Server 2003 and 2008.

Another unique feature which I’ve never seen bundled with a monitor is EIZO’s EyeCare utility. This software application sits running in the background and prompts you to take scheduled breaks, thereby promoting healthier work habits and preventing eye fatigue caused by prolonged monitor use. When it’s time to take a break, a little pop-up balloon appears reminding you to take a break and rest your eyes.

This new FlexScan display is great for editing still and moving images. Its performance is boasted thanks to true black-to-white pixel response times of 12ms and high static contrast ratio of 1200:1, and its image quality is well above most 22-inch monitors. Of course, to create this monitor, EIZO has essentially shoehorned a 24-inch monitor’s specifications into a 22-inch shell. The downside is that the S2242W’s pixels are closer together than its rivals, making it less ergonomic to use as you have to sit closer to it than you do to a larger display. The S2242W’s gamut was expansive considering the price, and overall there were few flaws.

Value will ultimately be decided by your needs. If you are an imaging professional wanting high resolution support, display performance, and the ability to rotate between landscape and portrait orientations, you should find the S2242W good value compared to larger high-end monitors. If image quality isn’t the ultimate priority, you can get a 22-inch screen for a lot less than this. General users wanting a versatile display that can work and play will be disappointed, and many will baulk at EIZO’s industrial design – the chunky rectangular unit that rests on a sturdy central pillar is hardly chic. But for a professional-level display that doesn’t break the bank, the FlexScan S2242W is a good choice.