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Samsung Syncmaster 2033SW LCD Monitor
We have reviewed quite a few Samsung TVs already this year, so I think it's time we shift focus to the more personal, more engaging product segment which is PC monitors. Samsung has a respectable name here too, and today we have something they term as ‘hot’ on their website! The model is Samsung Syncmaster 2033SW and it's a 20 inch LCD monitor...(not 21.5)
The unit has all the bearings of a typical Samsung design released in the past 3 years. The bezel is their regular high piano gloss finish, with a shiny surface going all the way down to the oval stand. The monitor is pretty light, weighing in at 4.45 kg. The back panel is fancier than the front. We have little flowers etched out, or rather magnified snowflake patterns all around. Why have they done this, I have no clue, as designs should be where the eye can see them, not at the back of a screen.
The bottom panel has the Samsung logo printed in the center, with a thick transparent hard plastic strip accenting on the bottom edge. This edge is curved too, and the center houses a thin blue LED strip that lights up when the power is on. All in all this section looks good, and reminds the user of the older TV models. They have this same design.
The build quality is overall pretty sturdy, there are no loose corners or weak joints. There is one thing I want to make a complaint about: the stand, at least in our package, did not come attached, and this model has a weird ball and socket style joint between screen and stand. Once fixed it is sturdy, though fixing it can be a pain as it is not well illustrated in the manual, and it takes a bit of trial and error. Also, the joint allows the screen to rotate on one single vertical axis (up to down), and not left to right which can sometimes be required in LCD monitors. In the package we get a CD with essential stuff like a user manual and drivers, plus Samsung has thrown in a nice soft blue cloth to the clean the unit. Overall the monitor is quite no frills, and that is a good thing as USB ports, speakers etc. are not really what make a good monitor.
Features and specs
This monitor is a 16:9 screen measuring 20 inches. Surprisingly Samsung rate ( on their site) that it's 21.5. The resolution is 1600:900, and the brightness is 300 cd/m2. Contrast is rated at 15,000:1 dynamic and 1000:1 native. Response time is at 5 ms (gray to gray). They have a name now for this feature, Samsung calls it Magicspeed. The features of the monitor are expectedly numerous, as is typical to the brand. There is proprietary stuff thrown in like Magicbright and Color effect, which actually is nothing but a set of presets, which we will go over in the performance section. Lastly the viewing angle is 170 degrees. Samsung has not mentioned it anywhere, but we are assuming that this monitor is a TN panel, as the viewing angles are not that hot when actually looked at from the side, and the cost is less. Samsung does state 16.7 million colors which would be 256x256x256 steps in the Red, green and blue parts of the pixel. 256 would then obviously mean 2x2x2x2x2x2x2x2 (8-bit). It is a fact that general TN panels are generally only true 6 bit, not 8 bit, meaning that the pixels cannot actually have 256 different levels of gray... but brands use something called frame rate control or FRC to dither their way into 8 bit color. Thus we are also assuming that the panel is an 8 bit one, albeit enhanced 8 bit. I wish Samsung and all brands provided this info directly to customer, so there are no assumptions to be made.
We connected via DVI to our HTPC. The menu pops up on the side bottom left corner perfectly aligned with the actual physical buttons on the right edge. Another good thing is that the menu itself has an illustration of the buttons, thus this makes it easier to navigate and tweak. The menu is in a good place to be actually, as it does not disrupt screen activity. Brightness can be directly accessed by the second button from the top.
There are quite a few presets available in the brightness/contrast section, for Movie, text, Game etc. There is also a Dynamic contrast option, that adjusts the contract according to the frame, but I noticed a slight lag when shifting from dark to light scenes quickly. This preset section is called Magic bright. There is a separate section for color presets called Color effect, and another optimizer option called Magic Color. Magic Color works well, though theoretically all hues are a bit oversaturated and contrast is increased in this mode.
Speaking of contrast and brightness, this monitor definitely is bright enough to impress. For black levels the verdict is a bit more subdued as the monitor barely passed the black level test we had, which comprises 2 blacker than black bars moving around on a dark background. We also had 256 level grayscale patterns; here the monitor smudges a bit on the ends if not calibrated perfectly. Thus the brightness needs to be reduced so the blacks can be discerned but at the same time not look washed out. What was great was there was no coloration like bluish tinge or anything. The grays were more or less set at 6500K, meaning they looked quite neutral.
For color we again had a nice response as there was a good amount of neutrality in all 3 primary shades. On basic settings in color tone in the menu, we got the best result as the colors in other modes get a little saturated and off the mark. It’s obviously not anywhere what a pro would need, but nothing looks cartoony. Motion and accuracy is probably where this monitor performs best, as the low rated response time comes out with very less visible ghosting and blur. We played Burnout Paradise and Prince of Persia on the PC to see overall performance, and here again we can say that motion wise this monitor performs very well. There is hardly any lag, plus the higher contrast setting games look very nice.
There is one iffy, and that is backlight bleed. Put one pure black screen and the side edges look a little cloudy as the black light is seeping through. Though this problem actually gets solved if you put the monitor in dynamic contrast mode, as in dark scenes the brightness is turned full down automatically, albeit with a slight lag.
At MRP 8,250, this monitor is reasonable as you are getting a 20 inch for below 9K. The blacks are not the best, but accuracy and brightness can impress. The colors too are quite good due to their neutral amounts. It’s a good monitor for budget multimedia guys, but stringent people who need that deep vibrant image might not get it here as dark images are not so dark.