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Samsung SyncMaster 770P LCD Monitor

Samsung SyncMaster 770P LCD Monitor

Supplied by Samsung


I’ve been using my trusty old 70 pound CRT monitor for several years now. I, like many others, have been waiting for the LCD market to mature and meet or exceed the performance of the classic ‘not-so-flat’ panels. All I can say is that a lot has changed over the last couple of years. Flat panel monitors are cheaper, quicker, sharper and bigger than ever. When Samsung offered to let me review their latest 6ms SyncMaster 770P, I couldn’t resist. Although not a terribly large monitor at 17″, the SyncMaster 770P boasts an impressive set of features, including 6ms Gray to Gray response time, a 1500:1 contrast ratio and a very unique stand.

770P_FRONTVIEW1

Specifications (from Samsung.com)

  • Size: 17″ Diagonal (43cm)
  • Contrast Ratio: 1500:1
  • Response Time: 6ms (G to G)
  • Viewing Angle: 178 degrees (V and H)
  • Brightness: 280 cd/m^2
  • Display Area: 337.92mm (H) x 270.336mm (V)
  • Pixel Pitch: 0.264mm (H) x 0.264mm (V)
  • Type: a-si TFT active matrix
  • Technology: Super PVA
  • Horizontal Sync: 30 ~ 81kHz (Analog/Digital)
  • Vertical: 56 ~ 75Hz (Analog/Digital)
  • Display Color: 16.7 Million
  • Optimum Resolution: 1280×1024@60Hz (SXGA)
  • Maximum Resolution: 1280×1024@75Hz
  • Input Signal: RGB Analog and DVI
  • Power Consumption: Less than 40W
  • Dimensions (WxDxH): 380x242x488mm
  • Weight: 6.0 kg

In the Box

The 770P came packaged in a colorful box, and was packaged fairly well. Although I am a big fan of avoiding wasteful packaging, it would have been nice to see a slightly larger box to keep the panel safe (especially one of this cost).

770P_BOX1

Inside the box, I found the following:

  • 1x LCD Monitor (thank goodness)
  • 1x DVI to Analog VGA (D-SUB) cable
  • 1x DVI to DVI cable
  • 1x Power Adapter
  • 1x Standard AC Power Cable
  • 1x Driver/Software CD
  • 1x Warranty Card

My first impressions while examining the 770P were in regards to the ergonomics. The stand dubbed ‘Magic Stand’ by Samsung allows for very flexible positioning.

770P_FRONTVIEW2

770P_SIDEVIEW1

770P_SIDEVIEW2

The flexibility that the ‘Magic Stand’ offers is unparalleled–the panel can be manipulated into just about any position imaginable.

At first, I was disappointed to see an external power supply with the 770P, but there are some definite benefits to this. There is a single cable running to the monitor via the stand. Keeping the power supply out of the monitor ensures a lighter, easier to manipulate panel as well as lower levels of electrical interference.

The included converter box allows the connection of both the power adapter and input source. Unfortunately, the converter box can not stray too far from the monitor. It would have been nice to see a slightly longer cable leading up to the box in order to keep clutter off of the table top. At only about 6″ long, it is difficult to hide. On a positive note, it is great not having to deal with cables hanging from the panel.

770P_EXTBOX

Another thing you’ll notice with the 770P is the lack of on-monitor controls and on-screen display. All of the settings are adjusted via software. I’ll talk more about the bundled software in the next section.

Tweaks

Generally, you wouldn’t expect to require software for a plug and play monitor, but the 770P comes with some essentials. It would have been nice to have at least some brightness/contrast controls available on the monitor itself, but all adjustments have to be made via software. To make matters worse, the software is not available for anything other than flavors of Windows. They are outlined below.

MagicTune: ‘MagicTune’ is required if you plan to perform even basic adjustments of the 770P. Variables like brightness, contrast, and color can be set within.

770P_MAGICTUNE1

Aside from the usual adjustments, there are some neat brightness presets as seen below. These can be adjusted according to taste, however I found the default to look best in just about all situations.

770P_MAGICTUNE2

There are some other presets in the ‘Color’ menu that can be adjusted. Again, I found everything to look the best when left as-is.

Magic Rotation: ‘Magic Rotation’ is a nifty tool that allows you to rotate the image on screen by 0, 90, 180 and 270 degrees. There are assignable hot-keys to allow for quick rotation of the image. ‘Magic Rotation’ sits in the system tray and unfortunately consumes a hefty 4MB of physical memory.

770P_MAGICROTATE1

Image Courtesy Of Samsung.com

Natural Color: ‘Natural Color’ is a color management system that provides color matching between any number of peripheral devices (digital cameras, printers etc.) Once you finish the initialization, an ICM file will be output for your use. This is a welcome feature for anyone who works in professional photo editing or something of that sort. I did hit a bit of a snag with ‘Natural Color’ as some of the adjustment screens ask you to use the controls on the monitor to perform the adjustments. As mentioned earlier, there are no on-monitor controls so I had to switch between ‘Magic Tune’ and ‘Natural Color’ to make each adjustment. This proved to be troublesome as the ‘Natural Color’ application is full-screen and switching back and fourth made the process less precise and take much longer than it should have. Despite this minor grievance, it is nice to know this feature is there, even though it will not be used by a majority of home users.

Performance

Quite a few LCD reviewers objectively measure performance using specialized tools. Since I don’t have these tools at my disposal, I will be looking at the 770P in a more subjective sense. I will be trying to look at the monitor from the perspective of an everyday consumer, and commenting on performance categories accordingly.

Sharpness: The 770P produces an incredibly sharp image. Text is very easy to read and detail is very evident at the native 1280×1024 resolution. As with most LCDs, lowering the resolution below native results in a significant loss of detail. I enabled anti-aliasing while gaming and greatly improved the appearance at below native resolutions

Brightness: Right out of the box, the brightness level of the 770P is excellent. I did not need to adjust it whatsoever, and found it to make the 770P very easy on the eyes.

Contrast: This is perhaps one of the biggest advantages the 770P has over its competitors. Black reproduction is fantastic, and amazingly deep and realistic. This really helps to enhance the contrast of the panel. This is a real gaming strong point as well, and helps to make dark environments feel very realistic.

Color: I found color reproduction to be excellent right out of the box without any adjustment. A friend of mine considered the panel to be a little ‘warm’ but it can be fine tuned to individual taste.

Viewing Angle: The 770P has fairly wide viewing angles (as do most PVA panels). At 45 degrees left/right the image is still quite good with some minor color fade. The panel is much more sensitive in the up/down direction and the colors begin to inverse just a little beyond 45 degrees.

Backlighting: Back light uniformity is excellent and there is almost no visible bleeding at the corners. Again, this really helps to make dark gaming environments and movies very realistic. I tried to take several pictures of the panel in the dark, but the bleeding is so low that it can not be seen in the digital photographs.

Response Time: Being a big fan of FPS gaming, this was not a difficult category to test. I would consider the response time of the 770P to be excellent. Considering my daily use monitor is a CRT, I had no issues moving to the 770P. I played a nice long HL2 session, and I saw almost no ghosting whatsoever. I could only see very faint ghosting when looking closely for it. I had to stare at stationary objects and move the mouse around quickly to pick up on anything at all. This is without a doubt a very quick monitor.

Movies: The excellent black reproduction of the 770P made watching movies a pleasurable experience, however there was a very noticeable ‘twinkling’ effect at times. This is a commonly seen issue on some of the ‘Super-PVA’ panels.

Gradient Banding: I saw very smooth gradients using both the DVI and VGA inputs, and there were none of the banding issues plaguing some of the new panels.

770P_GRADIENTBAND

770P_HL2

Cost and Availability

Great performance does not always come with a great price, unfortunately. The 770P is not a cheap monitor–weighing in at almost $500CDN. Many higher end 19-20″ panels fall into this price range. Considering the top-notch performance and unique ergonomics, this is not your average monitor and one can argue that you get what you pay for.

Availability for this monitor is currently pretty scarce. You can find it in the UK, Australia and Canada but it is nowhere to be found in the US market. I get the impression that Samsung may be testing the waters with this rather expensive panel before widely deploying it.

Conclusion

The Samsung Syncmaster 770P is arguably the best performing 17″ LCD monitor on the market. I can confidently say that even hardcore CRT lovers will have little difficulty moving to a monitor like the 770P. With a very fast response time and superb black reproduction, I’d consider the 770P to be an ideal gaming panel. I personally will never look at LCD monitors the same after using the 770P. The ‘Magic Stand’ also provides excellent ergonomics, and the monitor can be manipulated into just about any position imaginable.

It unfortunate that Samsung decided not to use an ‘on screen display’ and controls on the monitor. Non-Windows users will not be able to adjust even the most basic brightness/contrast settings. A monitor of this cost really should have both software and OSD menus available.

Shortcomings aside, if you are looking for a no-compromise, high performance 17″ panel, the 770P is for you.

A big thanks to Samsung, Canada for their continued support of this and other technology oriented communities around the net.

Design/Layout
10
The MagicStand feature is one of a kind and provides the best monitor ergonomics I’ve seen to date. This panel can be manipulated into just about any position imaginable.
Software
6
The 770P allows for a wide variety of adjustments via software, including ICM profile creation. I was not impressed by the bundled software and found it to be unnecessarily resource intensive (especially a simple application like Magic Rotation). The lack of non-Windows OS support was also unfortunate–especially considering MagicTune is the only way to adjust even basic settings. Samsung really should have included on-monitor controls and an onscreen display.
Performance
9.5
Aside from a slight twinkling effect in movies, the 770P is the best performing LCD monitor that I have ever used. Quick responding, excellent contrast and very deep black reproduction.
Presentation/Packaging
8
Packaging was good, although the panel sits a little too close to the side of the box. A little bit of extra packaging would allow online buyers to sleep a little easier.
Price
7
Although a very expensive 17″ panel, it can be argued that you get what you pay for. Taking into account the unique ergonomics and excellent performance, I would consider the 770P to be a good (but not great) value.
Total Score
40.5/50
A total percentage of 81%

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