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Late middle age is a time when "eye candy" stops meaning "curvy and cute" and starts meaning "easy to see." If you spend much time on a computer, consider the flat LCD displays now coming into the realm of affordability.

AOC sent its 17-inch diagonal panel, the LM729 along for review, and its a dandy that's nifty-looking and very easy to install and use. (It's also running at around $450 at various net retailers, but what's the point of growing old if you can't indulge yourself?)

The monitor supports resolutions from 640 x 350 through 1280 x 1024, the latter being AOC's recommended level. It may be theirs, but it makes the type on Windows XP icons too tiny for my taste.

Setting the resolution at 1024 x 768 produced a bright, clean display that even a person with bifocals could navigate.

The monitor is light at 11 pounds, and the screen is easily adjustable horizontally and vertically through 140 degrees.

Speakers are built into the base of the screen, so in addition to helping you view comfortably, it gets two more things off your work surface.

Installation involved hooking it to the computer and pressing a button along the side marked "auto." The monitor promptly centered the display, adjusted for brightness and contrast.

It supports VESA, SXGA, XGA. SVGA and VGA in the PC video standards derby, and will work with a Mac that has a VGA port.

In case you want to use it for languages besides English, it will also handle French, Italian, German, Spanish and Chinese.

All of that's nice, and the monitor certainly draws second glances from co-workers, but the reasons to consider the investment break down this way:

n Extremely easy adjustment to handle glare at different times of the day and or viewing angles for different tasks.

n Exceptional clarity when compared to traditional monitors, particularly those traditional monitors with curved screens.

There's more information at aocmonitor.com.

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