Dell Crystal Display

Dell used to be a lot like the Chevrolet of the computer world. Their computers were plain. Domestic. Affordable. They did what you needed them to, and that was about it, a lot like that old Impala. Maybe you wouldn’t lust over them in catalogs, but if you needed to fill a lab with computers that could handle spreadsheets and word processing on a budget, Dell had you covered.

But recently, the unassuming company seems to be breaking out of that sterile utilitarian niche and getting into sexier, more aesthetically appealing designs. The first Dell product to really drive home this new design ethic was the XPS One desktop, but since then, other eye-catching products have also been showing up in the company’s line up. Most recently, Dell’s 22-inch Crystal widescreen flat panel monitor shook up CES at its debut, and had even Apple aficionados eying it longingly. It’s quite a departure from what you might find on the Dell workstation at your local library.

Unlike Dell’s traditional big-screen panels that are rimmed with matte black plastic and dotted with unobtrusive silver buttons, the bezel on the Crystal display is designed to be a lot more than an end to a screen. In fact, you could say this display starts at the end of the screen area. A single 4mm-thick sheet of tempered glass sits over the LCD panel, extending past it on all sides and providing a transparent canvas of margins for Dell’s designers.

Dell Crystal Monitor
Image Courtesy of Dell

To the left and right of the display, four miniature speakers sit mounted in the glass, two on each side, with thin concentric rings etched around them in the glass. Running at rigid right angles, metallic traces creep out to speakers from the display to provide the necessary electrical connections. And down along the bottom right edge of the panel, similar traces loop out from the display in semi-circles, forming control buttons.

Even the base of the Crystal has been done up in an evocative style, with five outreached metal spokes splayed out to touch both the back of the LCD panel and the desk, providing support. Of course, they’re polished up as well.

As far as desktop monitors go, this one’s in another world entirely. Some home theater displays like Sony’s glass-edged LCDs feature similar classed-up bezels, but not many other manufacturers of desktop displays have taken their designs to this level. Apple’s old acrylic Cinema displays are the only ones that even attempt such a departure.

Of course, like all fine art, there’s a price attached, and at $1,199, we’re sure Dell has no illusions of pumping these monitors out to the masses like their business desktops. Savvy buyers could score a 1080p LCD screen with twice the size for the same money, but style is the name of the game here, and for those who want their monitors to look unique powered on or off, Dell’s Crystal should fit the bill.