When it comes to the screen you're looking at these days, you would think that size is everything. In other words, the bigger the screen...

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When it comes to the screen you’re looking at these days, you would think that size is everything. In other words, the bigger the screen, the better.

Bigger means you get more desktop space to spread your virtual sheets to the maximum. A bigger desktop means more open windows with less overlapping to let you see more data at the same time. Bigger screens with higher resolutions yield more pixels that are closer together, letting you see finer details on the images displayed. Of course, several other important specifications such as contrast ratio and response time contribute to the overall quality of what you’re seeing.

A new monitor introduced at the Consumer Electronics Show is not the biggest monitor on the block, but it looks absolutely amazing even when it’s turned off.

The Dell Crystal is a gorgeous video-display screen unlike anything I’ve seen in that the 22-inch widescreen flat-panel monitor is seemingly suspended within a pane of clear tempered glass that extends past the perimeter of the viewing area. Also floating within the glass frame on both the left and right sides of the viewing area are the Crystal’s speakers.

Each side has two circular speakers vertically suspended directly above each other. The only thing indicating they are electronically connected to the system are the distinctive twin lines suspended in the glass at sharp right angles.

Below the viewing area are five round touch-sensitive controls that connect via suspended curved lines within the glass. These power on the screen and allow for visual and audio adjustments. The entire screen is mounted on a highly polished tripod-leg arrangement that contributes to the impression that the display is levitating in front of you.

As for the other more mundane specifications, the Crystal offers a 22-inch WXGA 1680-by-1050 resolution, 2000:1 Dynamic Contrast Ration for darker blacks and sharper images and a 2-millisecond response time, which reduces ghosting in anything that’s animated, making it good for game playing.

Another nice feature is an inconspicuous, built-in flush-mounted 2-megapixel Webcam positioned at the top center of the screen. And, finally, there’s Crystal’s single-connection cable management. Just one cable supplies the power, Webcam, audio and video connections, keeping it in line with the rest of the completely clean design.

While the Dell Crystal really isn’t totally transparent, it leaves you with that impression. If nothing else, it’s a glimpse into how monitors of the not-too-distant future might appear to be.

Science-fiction movies such as “Minority Report” typically show computer screens of the future to be entirely transparent. Think how cool those screens will be sitting there on your desk looking like a completely clear pane of glass when they’re turned off and having their images seen on both sides when they’re turned on.

The Dell Crystal certainly is a step in the right direction toward owning that techno-fantasy some day.

The Dell Crystal sells for $1,199 and is available directly from the Dell Web site, www.dell.com.