Samsung raises the bar for LCD displays

If we could select only one brand of LCD flat-panel monitor, it would be by Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. In our roundup of large-format LCDs (20 inches and larger) that we ran Nov. 4, 2002, Samsung's SyncMaster 240T earned top honors thanks to its sharp, large-format display and attractive design. In fact, we continue to use the 240T in our lab for testing display-related software and applications.

With its SyncMaster 172W, Samsung has also raised the standard for medium-size LCD displays. Even before we turned it on, we were struck by its clean black-on-silver design. The 172W also has the same wide format that the 240T employs. As a result, the 172W offers about 25 percent more work space than a standard 17-inch monitor.

That means, of course, that the display is well-suited for watching DVD movies in their original widescreen format. But the wide format also makes it easier for those who have business on their minds. It lets users see two pages at a time in a word processing program, or view one page and still have on-screen room for another application.

The display is unusual in another respect. Apart from being extraordinarily clear and distortion-free, it includes three preset brightness modes, which Samsung says were configured with PC use, Internet use and entertainment uses, such as movies, in mind. You can switch among the modes quickly and simply by pressing a button on the front of the display.

The 172W breezed through our display quality tests in both Digital Visual Interface and VGA modes. Using DisplayMate Technologies Corp.'s suite of tests — DisplayMate for Microsoft Corp. Windows — we found, as we generally do, modest distortion in VGA mode, but not enough to be noticeable in actual use. And in DVI mode, the monitor showed no distortions at all.

The 172W case's physical design is classy. The 1-inch-thin panel is attached to a dual-hinge stand that can also serve as a wall-mount bracket. The stand has serviceable built-in speakers, which helps mitigate the clutter of wires and speakers on your desktop. The sound isn't the best we've heard, but it is certainly up to the challenge of most office uses.

Samsung's 172W lacks USB ports and other extras, but offers excellent image quality, with a maximum resolution of 1,280 x 768. If you seek a stylish display that works great and looks great, you'll want to consider the 172W.

Backed by a three-year warranty, the 172W is reasonably priced at $649.

Return to introduction: New visual expteriences

REPORT CARD

SyncMaster 172W

Grade: A

Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd.

(800) 726-7864

www.samsung.com

The SyncMaster 172W costs $649.

Samsung builds the most stylish displays we've seen, and the SyncMaster 172W is no exception. This wide-format display is a strong competitor to standard 17-inch LCDs.

We tested the display on a Hewlett-Packard Co. xw5000 workstation with a 2.8G Intel Corp. Pentium 4 processor, 1G of system memory and a Matrox Graphics Inc. Parhelia-512 graphics adapter with 128M of memory.

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