Short Takes: Samsung 570V 15", 760vTFT 17" LCD Monitors
Posted By Van Smith
Date: August 3rd, 2001
We are now in the 21st Century so it seems about time that we finally say goodbye to hulking, radiation oozing, electron swillin' CRT (Cathode-Ray Tubes) monitors and hello to svelte, Jetson-like, California-power-grid-friendly flat panel displays.
The Samsung SyncMaster 570V TFT
We purchased a Samsung SyncMaster 570V 15" LCD Monitor from CompUSA for $449 (the store did a price match with Best Buy) plus an $80 mail in rebate. Because of the way displays are measured, a 15" LCD monitor has roughly the same viewing area as a 17" CRT; however, LCD's have a pronounced advantage in image clarity.
The 570V is an economical, analog only, TFT (Active Matrix = good) LCD display. Being an analog monitor, the 570V connects to any display adapter with VGA output. The 570V is capable of a maximum resolution of 1024 x 768 at a 75 Hz refresh rate. Dot pitch is 0.297 mm.
We were generally pleased with the display quality, but we noticed a strange artifact. The left side of the screen was razor sharp and better than we thought possible with an analog input, but the image gradually faded into greater blurriness towards the right side of the display. No amount of fiddling with the controls could get rid of this either. Although this effect was a little distracting, it was minor. Even at the extreme right, focus was no worse than with CRTs.
Brightness was exceptional and could be elevated to harsh levels. Image stability was rock solid. Although the viewing angle, listed at 120 degrees horizontal by 110 degree vertical, was more than adequate for one user, the display was not very good for multiple people to view at once.
Blacks are not as black on this monitor as on CRTs. There is minor ghosting that is especially visible when an image is replaced by a black screen. Faint ghost images can last for several seconds under these conditions.
Auto Adjustment, a Samsung novelty, worked well scaling and placing the display image accurately, typically with no further adjustment necessary.
The unit consumes 25 Watts maximum which is about an order of magnitude lower than what comparable CRTs demand. A significant amount of the monitor's 12.6 pounds is taken up by the weight of the base, made heavy to make the monitor difficult to knock over.
Although some stores report this monitor as being able to pivot (pivoting monitors can be physically rotated 90 degrees so that the desktop can be viewed in either portrait -- tall -- mode, or landscape -- wide or normal -- mode) this is a physical impossibility with the included mount. Samsung's packaging states that pivoting is an option.
By removing a few screws the display can be disassembled from its desk mount and hung on the wall via an optional VESA compliant wall mount.
We have already mentioned the strange but minor focus problem but a gravely serious issue was that the monitor died. After about a week the monitor completely stopped working. The green power LED stayed lit and could not be turned off, but the display itself was completely dead.
The Samsung SyncMaster 760vTFT
When we returned our 570V, CompUSA did not have a replacement and would not match a sale on 17" LCD monitors at Best Buy. We obtained a refund and purchased a 17" Samsung SyncMaster 760vTFT Analog LCD monitor for $749 including rebates at Best Buy.
Our first unit had a defective pixel and the store exchanged the monitor without any questions. Our second unit also had a defective pixel but in an even worse location: close to the middle of the screen. Since we were tired of doing the Monitor Shuffle we decided to keep this display.
The 760V is better in nearly every respect that the smaller 570V. With a 17" viewing area it is comparable to 19" CRT monitors. The 760V has a maximum resolution of 1280 x 1024 x 76 Hz with a dot pitch of 0.264 mm. Viewing angle was also more generous at 150 degrees horizontal by 130 degrees vertical. This greater viewing angle together with the monitor's larger size make the 760V much better for use with multiple simultaneous viewers.
The base-heavy display weighs only 18.5 pounds. Like the 570V, the 760V supports VESA compliant wall and arm mounts. The 760V consumes a maximum of 40 Watts, compared with 120-240 W [Updated: corrected typo stating 250-300 Watts] for 19" CRTs.
The Auto Adjustment did not work as well with the 760V as with the 570V and always required tweaking of the Image Lock controls to avoid regular intervals of clarity and blurriness across the width of the display.
Once adjusted properly, however, the image is breathtaking and razor sharp from corner to corner. For text editing and web browsing used in its native resolution, no CRT can come close.
Brightness could be elevated to levels that were uncomfortable to view.
We had problems with all three Samsung monitors that we tested. The 570V died and had to be returned and both 760V's had bad pixels. A single bad pixel may not sound like much, but it can be distracting especially in gaming where dark backgrounds make the always bright pixel noticeable. Paying close to $800 for a new display can also make a bad pixel hard to swallow.
If Samsung's quality control routinely approves 17 inch displays with a tolerance of one bad pixel, then this should be stated plainly on the box. It isn't.
Update: Another issue with the 760V that has become more noticeable is a slightly discolored band that runs along the top 1/8 or so of the display. In a dark room and when using a black background, slight discoloration runs over nearly half the screen, appearing almost like a stain.
For text editing, programming, web browsing, etc., either of these TFT displays is far better than any CRT available when used in their native resolutions (scaling in other resolutions can cause artifacts). Focus and clarity are incredible.
In dark viewing conditions contrast is sometimes an issue since black is simply not very black if the viewer moves even a few inches away from directly in front of either of these monitor. Because of contrast problems under dark condition, these displays can sometimes appear slightly harsh with dark backgrounds.
Either TFT monitor is very good for games, although the contrast issues tend to make some games appear a little less vibrant than with much cheaper CRTs. On the other hand, clarity is exceptional and is evident when playing games at high resolutions. Ghosting, although easily demonstrated, did not appear to be a problem when gaming.
If at price parity with CRTs there is no doubt that either of these analog TFT LCD displays are superior in almost every application. Although both of these monitors are cheap for flat panel displays, they still cost about twice as much as their CRT counterparts. Bluntly, this price premium is worth it if you work with text, space is a consideration, or you are concerned about saving energy. TFT displays also produce very little electromagnetic emissions.
Also, if money is simply not an issue, go TFT.
Since we had quality problems with all three Samsung monitors, we strongly suggest purchasing them locally where immediate service is available. A scan of the Internet reveals that the prices we obtained were actually cheaper than anything we saw online.
We reported last month that IBM has developed 2 cm thick CRT technology that can enable flat panel displays at prices that may even be less than ordinary CRTs. This technology holds the promise that flat panels may soon become ubiquitous. However, it remains to be seen if such displays can provide the image quality of TFT LCD monitors.