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Samsung SyncMaster 930BF-Black LCD Monitor Review

Sagittaria    -   February 27, 2006


Testing
Samsung gives us all these fancy specs about this LCD, but it all comes down to how it actually performs. Can it live up to its expectations? Let’s have a look. Since this display is aimed towards the gaming crowd, I decided that I would try it out on: Half-Life 2: The Lost Coast, Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory and Need for Speed Most Wanted. A monitor can’t be strictly used for gaming, so it would only have been adequate to try a DVD (Lord of the Rings: Return of the King was close at hand) and Adobe Photoshop CS2 (since I draw/design as a hobby) as well.

Game Tests
Half-Life 2: The Lost Coast
Since Valve released their tech demo using HDR rendering, I was eager to try it on the 930BF. The reason being, HDR is supposed to use every bit of the monitor brightness to take full advantage of its true dynamic light range. That being said, I fired up the game and set the graphics to max and 1280x1024 resolution. I was amazed just how bright it was when the character was looking directly at the sun and HDR adjusted the image! I was impressed how crisp, sharp and luminous this display was. The 4ms response time made sure there would be no ghosting at all, just as I was expecting. Pictures can’t do it justice, but here it is below anyway:



Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory
I chose every game on my testing list with a purpose in mind. Lost Coast would test brightness and detail, NFS Most Wanted would test the response time, and Chaos Theory would test the dark color range. Since Sam Fisher likes the shadows, there would be a significant amount of pure black on the screen next to other cold shades. After playing the game 1280x1024 max everything for a few minutes on the Bank level, I noticed that the hue meant to be black wasn’t as it was supposed to be (mentioned earlier on as well). It seemed lighter than a really dark gray, looking like a semi-transparent piece of plastic with a white or blue cathode behind it. This might upset some gamers and serious graphic artists, but after a few more minutes of playing it ceased to bother me as I got used to it. You can see this at work in the picture below, notice the blue outline of Fisher’s black suit:



Need for Speed Most Wanted
NFS would test the response time of the monitor and make ghosting evident if there was any because of its fast paced racing nature. Running native resolution and max graphics, I was amazed at the level of visual detail and motion blurs of the game used together with this monitor. I can gladly say there was no ghosting whatsoever and I was very pleased with the results.



Other Tests
Photoshop CS2
I enjoy drawing/painting/designing with Photoshop and my Graphire 2 tablet, therefore I wanted to make sure this monitor would support my hobby. After 30 minutes of quick sketching I saved the file and took it with me to the other PC with an older but decent CRT monitor for comparison. I am pleased to say that there’s nothing ugly to see here.

Movie Test
My DVD of choice was Lord of the Rings: Return of the King. I watched for a few moments paying attention to details, and the only fault I found is the fact that it seemed a bit grainy. This was nothing major, since it took me more than a couple minutes focusing on the quality instead of the actual movie. I would say this monitor is perfect for watching videos otherwise.
 


Viewing Angle Test
I wanted to make sure it had a nice, wide viewing angle (even though Samsung’s spec sheet states 160*). The only one that impedes viewing quite a bit is if you look from about 20 cm below the monitor. Most people don’t have their display way above them, so I thought it was fine.


Conclusion
The moment everyone has been waiting for is here: the verdict. Coming in at around $450, not everyone would find the SyncMaster 930BF affordable. I have to be honest with you- I really had my doubts about the actual performance of this display at first, however after heavy scrutinizing I believe it has lived up to its hype. It had some minor flaws, but nothing’s perfect. This is definitely a product to look into if you have some bucks to blow and a hunger for a fast, sharp, bright and of excellent overall quality image.

Pros

  • Excellent response time and contrast ratio
  • Extremely bright
  • Sharp, crisp picture
  • Excellent overall build and image quality
  • Simple, elegant design
  • DVI-D connection, as well as Analog
  • Easy to use software

Cons

  • Non-rotating or height adjustable base, only tilting
  • Black is not true black on screen, but seems lighter then a really dark grey
  • The monitor interface makes it hard to find the right button in low light


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