Today we’ll be taking a look at a product from Samsung whom I’m sure you’ve all no doubt heard of. This is the first of what we hope, many reviews of a Samsung product and we’re excited as we have every right to be. You see, the thing is; Samsung have a knack for producing nothing but above average to pure quality products, whether it’s mobile phones, televisions, or home appliances you can be sure it’s a product of quality. Did you know a lot of memory manufacturers use Samsung chips for their RAM? It’s because Samsung are always pushing the edge with technology.
Very recently (at time of writing this review), Samsung have done it again by speeding up graphics memory with its new GDDR4 memory which is, according to Samsung, “66% faster than today’s fastest commercially available memory”. How’s that?
But enough praising and let’s get down to business. If you have a new monitor in mind for your home computer at great value then you may want to consider this offering from Samsung. The SyncMaster 204BW is a 20” widescreen LCD display which promises to deliver crisp clean images and colours at a decent price point. You can pick this display up for around £200.
- Manufacturer Part #: SYNCMASTER 204BW
- Type: Flat panel display / TFT active matrix
- Diagonal Size: 20 " Wide format
- Dot Pitch / Pixel Pitch: 0.285 mm
- Max Resolution: 1680 x 1050
- Max Sync Rate (V x H): 75 Hz x 81.1 kHz
- Response Time: 6 ms
- Interface: Analog, Digital
- Features: Three way adjustable stand, MagicTune, MagicColor, MagicBright 2
- Image Brightness 300 cd/m2
- Image Contrast Ratio: 700:1
- Image Max H-View Angle: 160°
- Image Max V-View Angle: 160°
Right out of the box you’ll get the instructional material as well as the SyncMaster software CD-ROM which contains programs like MagicTune, MagicColor and so on and so forth, a VGA cable, a DVI cable, and a power cable, oh, and of course the monitor itself. It’s nice to know the SM204BW retains a thin frame around the actual LCD panel itself, saving space and giving the display an overall minimalistic look. The black finish also adds to the sleek appearance.
The buttons are well placed and are small enough so that they are out of the way and don’t distract from the overall design of the display. They are elegantly found on the bottom right of the monitor.
The base on which this monitor stands swivels to a very large degree, so you can always position and turn the monitor to face wherever you want with minimal trouble.
It’s not the slimmest of the displays but the transformer is built into the back as well so it’s just a case of connecting the power cable to the back of the display.
The stand is height adjustable. Not many displays are height adjustable but this one is and you can have the display stand quite high up. There is a small pin located on the back to lock the stand in place and secure it. You will also notice the rear has a cable management ring.
Connectivity wise there isn’t a great deal of inputs but being a digital display you get the option of DVI as well as VGA. The main power supply switch is also located under the display right next to where the cable connects.
Testing & Performance
Aesthetically then, this display does live up to expectations as far as a decent looking monitor goes but it all comes down to performance and so now we’ll take a look at what this display has to offer for the £200 price point.
We’re going to use a program called “Monitor Test” to conduct the following tests.
Note: The following screenshots are for a point of reference only and do not in any way indicate the quality of the displays tested. Each image has also been downsized and optimized for viewing on the web.
Master Screen Test
The master screen didn’t present any noticeable errors. Everything seemed uniformly correct, fine grill patterns were perfect and grey shades spot on.
Solid Colours Test
The solid black test was absolutely fine, no dead pixels however, just barely, we did notice a very insignificant amount of white on the bottom edge of the screen. Nothing to be concerned with as it was very minimal. The solid red test screen presented no problems either. It was consistent from edge to edge. The same can be said for the green test screen. The colour was accurately represented all the way. Solid blue test screen was fine as well. Nothing odd was noticeable at all. The solid white screen was passed too. The solid colour tests didn’t present any problems and this display handled them well.
More challenging will be the next few tests of scaled colours. Which usually show very noticeable colour steps in the gradation scale on less capable LCD panels.
Keep in mind all LCD panels use hardware dithering to achieve their maximum displayable colours and so the scale tests usually present below satisfactory results with LCD panels of lesser quality. We can say however, the SyncMaster 204BW didn’t do bad at all. Colour steps were visible as expected of any LCD display but to a very minimal degree so we were quite pleased with how the SM204BW handled these tests.
Finally, the pixel persistence test which reveals just how fast this display can keep up with moving graphics is quite an interesting one especially for gamers. The pixels on this particular display are said to have a response time of 6ms which in gaming terms is good.
At 800 pixels per second this display coped fairly well which means it’s perfect for gaming too. If that’s what you have in mind.
You will find the power button illuminates a nice blue colour when the display is switched on.
As you can see above, it makes a very nice addition to your desktop, a very nice sleek looking display indeed. What’s more, when you hook this display up to an XBOX 360 as we did, you’ll notice that games are “a lot” more crisp than what you will find on other LCD displays. We have tested 4 different LCD displays on our XBOX in the past and none of them have reproduced images as crisp as Samsung displays.
Before we conclude this review we would like to point out one thing which lets this display down and that is its viewing angle. Now if you plan to use this display for image editing we’d tell you to give this one a miss however, if you usually sit staring at the screen dead on straight then it shouldn’t be a problem. What we found every time was when you move your head down or up only by 2 to 4 inches say, colours becomes inaccurate. This is especially noticeable with blues and greys. Having said that this problem doesn’t plague movies, games or general use but it does exist.
Overall we are extremely pleased with the SyncMaster 204BW, a max resolution of 1680 x 1050 sure is nice, especially since you have so much more space on your desktop to work with. Although this display cannot reach 1080 for high definition movies or games it can handle 720p scaling very well. In fact when connecting our XBOX 360 to this display via the VGA cable for high-def gaming, instead of 1080 we were able to run at 1380 x, maintaining the aspect ratio and still achieving pin-sharp images. This display handles both, up and downscaling very well and for around £200 we think this SyncMaster is a bargain.
A highly recommended product.
- Incredibly sharp images
- Fast, perfect for gaming
- Nice max resolution
- 20” at a good price point
- Analogue + Digital connections
- Height adjustable stand
- Swivel base
- Samsung’s MagicBright, a given
- A slightly bulky back
- Viewing angle (noticeable most when viewing photos and using graphics apps)