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Comparison Of 15" LCD Monitors - Part I

Samsung SyncMaster 151MP [Update]

More than a conventional LCD screen, the SyncMaster 151MP is at the crossroads between computer monitor and video - your TV and PC could soon be one and the same thing. The built-in connectors at the back of the screen already allow you to link it to a DVD player, VCR, camcorder or digital camera via RCA and S-Video cables, which you must buy yourself. These interfaces, which have become increasingly common over the last two years, make the screen compatible with about 80% of all external video equipment. Furthermore, as of March, an optional set-top box ($55) will be available for viewing cable TV channels. So there will be two SyncMaster 151MP models: the standard version (which we test here), and a version with an integrated tuner for transforming the monitor into a TV screen.

And the cherry on the cake is that all these functions are operated conveniently with the remote control supplied.

The 151MP is designed to deal with a range of applications where two sources coexist. TV and PC already live quite happily side by side, so why not unite them for good? Beyond this, Samsung also targets professionals who work closely with digital images, such as TV studios, control rooms, exhibitions, etc.

So much for the novel position of this screen on the market.

However, it is still a monitor and should be tested as such. It will come as no surprise to learn that its panel is a Samsung, but it is surprising to realize it is the same panel as the one on the Hercules ProphetView 720, because its specifications are all different from the Hercules screen. It's not easy, in fact almost impossible, to judge the quality of a panel just by reading its specifications. Everyone has their own method of measurement, and it's time to have this all standardized. The 151MP claims a response time of 25ms, versus 30ms for the ProphetView 720. Likewise for the contrast ratio (330:1 and 300:1 respectively), brightness, viewing angles, etc.

The same panel will have the same qualities and the same defects. The response time is exact. But as on the ProphetView, the 25ms indication is deceptive. The impression is more like 40ms than the one given by the Eizo L365. And we must also point out a few shortcomings. As usual with Samsung panels, we found a predominance of blue, which is due to the panel's weak color spectrum for this component. The test charts reveal that the panel is unable to distinguish between the lightest and darkest shades of blue. This also leads to a definite loss in the number of colors displayed, resulting in far less than the 16 million they claim. However, the panel is one of the latest and of good quality overall. It is bright and colorful, which makes it comfortable to use when browsing the Web or playing games.

In the end, the SyncMaster, like the ProphetView 720, can be rated more highly for its ergonomics than for its somewhat disappointing panel. If you are planning to use this exclusively with a PC, then forget it. Other much less expensive monitors will match your requirements just as well, if not better. The 151MP really only comes into its own if you use it instead of a TV screen, for example. All the more because, though the 151MP is costly as an LCD monitor, as an LCD TV it is stylish, compact in size and relatively inexpensive ($800).