Belinea s.display 5_22″ wide review

£544
Price when reviewed

We’ve seen monitors with protective glass before, but this 22in TFT from Belinea adds another feature to the mix: pen tablet functionality. Not only can it withstand the knocks of regular use in a public location, but it comes with its own stylus with which you can write directly onto the screen.

Belinea s.display 5_22

Setting it up is a simple case of connecting the USB cable and installing the drivers from the bundled CD. Choose between VGA and DVI, and set up the screen however you wish – it can be flipped right back to a horizontal position to use while standing, or stood upright, just like a normal TFT. The stand feels sturdy and, importantly given its function, doesn’t give much under pressure.

Once setup is complete you can get straight to work: click the top of the pen to switch it on, then use it with Vista’s Tablet PC functions (XP isn’t supported) just as you would an external graphics tablet. Now, people aren’t exactly falling over themselves to buy tablet PCs these days, so Belinea is very clear about who the TFT is aimed at: from architects and graphics designers, to boardroom presenters.

We can certainly see the latter going for it – being able to annotate PowerPoint slides on the fly could breathe life into dull presentations, and allow for a flexibility that slides don’t usually offer. To this end, Belinea has cleverly included a VGA output, so you can run your laptop into the TFT, then directly out to the projector.

But we can’t see graphical professionals being so keen, as the Belinea is bog-standard in its image quality and colour accuracy. Our DisplayMate tests showed a distinct purple hue, something we’ve seen on other protective glass monitors, while contrast towards the top end was a little disappointing, with the last few shades of grey indistinguishable on a white background.

Colour transitions and overall detail were generally good, though, with Crysis looking colourful and sharp, if lacking somewhat in vibrancy.

There are a few other weaknesses. The Vista calibration tool did its best but we never quite got it to a level of accuracy that allowed for easy selection of menu options and small window buttons with the stylus – opening the wrong application from the Start menu starts to grate after the third time in a row. And the glass screen covering was coated with fingerprints within minutes of setting it up. It’s great having the ability to flip the screen back to horizontal and use it standing up, but you’ll need to wipe it clean every time you do.

And then there’s the price. Although this may fall when it arrives with retailers, Belinea’s suggested price is a hefty £544. Considering even the finest standard 22in TFTs cost less than half this amount, that’s a big premium for the tablet functionality.

That means that though this niche product may find its place in the boardrooms of larger, well-off companies, for most others the cost will far outweigh its usefulness.

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