Samsung SyncMaster S24B750V £249.99
29th May 2012 | 15:02
Samsung's stylish monitor can mirror your smartphone's display
After several stagnant years in PC display tech, things have been really hotting up recently with much improved LCD panel quality and lower prices. The latest warrior to enter this busy battlefield is the Samsung SyncMaster S24B750V LED monitor.
It's part of Samsung's Design range of screens, and that means cutting a dash on your desktop is probably as important as serving up quality visuals. But that doesn't mean the Samsung Series 7 S24B750V LED monitor - priced at £250 - is all show and no go.
In fact, it sports a number of intriguing new technology as well as further more familiar but nevertheless welcome features. First up is Mobile High-Definition Link (MHL). We'll get to the details momentarily, but the basic idea is outputting an image directly from a high-end smartphone.
An LED backlight also bodes well for both image quality and power efficiency. Decent quality integrated audio is another part of the Samsung S24B750V's particular remit. Very few PC monitors can claim much prowess in that department.
However, what it doesn't get is a high quality PCD panel. At least, the underlying technology used is TN, which is the cheapest and typically poorest performing of the commonly used LCD types. Samsung itself tends to use either PVA or its new PLS tech, the latter being Samsung's take on the high performance IPS panels seen in the latest tablets and smartphones.
Problem is, IPS has also begun to pop up in affordable PC monitors. The AOC i2352Vh, for instance, can be had for just £130 or $200. OK, the AOC is only 23 inches, not 24 like the Samsung 7 S24B750V LED monitor, and its chassis and enclosure is cheap and cheerful at best.
But it offers the same 1,920 x 1,080 full-HD native resolution and a quality IPS panel for a lot less money.
On the other hand, the Dell U2412M very much is 24 inches and even higher resolution and it's yours for around £225 or $310. Samsung has its work cut out, that's for sure.
If the Samsung SyncMaster S24B750V LED monitor is going to have a problem, it'll be its LCD panel. It's a TN panel and that normally means substandard colours, contrast, black tones, viewing angles and more.
Some evidence of that can be seen in the basic specifications, particularly the relatively narrow 170 and 160-degree horizontal and vertical viewing angles. IPS panels are usually rated at 178 degrees in both planes. To be honest, even that doesn't capture the dramatic difference in view angle capability between TN and IPS technology.
The same goes for the rest of the image quality specifications. The 250cd/m2 brightness and 1,000:1 contrast don't reveal much. That said, 2ms response bode well for games and motion video.
The LED backlight might help compensate for the pedestrian panel technology. At the very least, it will reduce power consumption and ensure a long operating life. Old school CCFL backlights tend to lose their visual pop more rapidly than LED.
Resolution-wise, we're talking Full HD or 1,920 x 1,080 pixels and therefore an HD TV-aping 16:9 aspect ratio. That's pretty much par for the course for affordable PC monitors these days. However, there are a few exceptions - including the Dell U2412M - that stick with 16:10 and therefore offer 1,200 vertical pixels. For PCs, we think that's more useful.
As for video inputs, you get a pair of HDMI ports and a VGA connection. In theory, that's just fine since nearly all modern PC graphics cards are compatible with HDMI. In practice you may find AMD video cards give problems. NVIDIA and integrated Intel graphics are almost always fine.
Elsewhere, the Samsung Series 7 S24B750V LED monitor is a bit of a mixed bag. There's absolutely no doubting the swoopy, asymmetric stand and chassis look absolutely stunning. If we were judging on looks alone, it would probably be the best screen we've ever seen.
The problem is, adjustability is sacrificed at the altar of showbiz looks. So, the stand is tilt-only.
Still, with any luck, that consumer electronics vibe will translate into decent sound quality. The 5W, two channel audio setup isn't exactly tub-thumping on paper. But it doesn't need to be to beat almost every PC monitor out there for sound quality and volume.
Arguably even more novel is the MHL (Mobile High-Definition Link) feature. With compatible smartphones (quite a few current Samsung models, such as the Galaxy S2, and other brand handsets), you can hook up via HDMI and mirror the handset's interface in full, both in portrait and landscape modes, across the full 24 inches of screen.
Many of our fears regarding the Samsung SyncMaster S24B750V LED monitor's TN panel evaporate as soon as we fire her up. This is one of the good 'uns, as TN goes. The basic colour balance and vibrancy isn't a million miles away from a modern IPS screen, which is very good news indeed.
We're also pleased to see really consistent backlighting with no evidence of backlight bleed around the panel edges, which is a common TN bugbear. Subject contrast levels and the depth of black tones are further strong points. In short, it's a pretty nice looking LCD panel.
But it ain't perfect. Subjectively, it's clear the viewing angles aren't up to IPS standards. Courtesy of our suite of test images, it becomes even more obvious.
As does the amount of compression and lost image data in white tones. Again, this is typical for TN. The problem is that TN is no longer the only option at this price point.
That said, one benefit that usually comes with TN tech is fast response, and you certainly get that here. In fact, Samsung provides three switchable levels of pixel response in the OSD menu via the SmartResponse setting.
In truth, the difference between them isn't dramatic, but we can confirm that even the most aggressive setting doesn't incur any of the usual downsides of overdriving pixels, such as inverse ghosting or input lag.
If the image quality is a mixed bag, the sound quality is more consistent. It's not going to worry a half decent sub-and satellites setup. But it is better than the vast majority of PC monitors and it is usable for gaming and video playback.
If you're very short on space, the built-in sound is a tolerable solution. The only slight snag is that adjusting the volume means digging a few levels into the OSD, which is extremely tedious.
As for the MHL smartphone mirroring feature, it works effortlessly. There's no set up, just plug the phone into the screen and bang, the interface is immediately visible. In portrait mode, much of the display is left blank, but twizzle round to landscape and it fills the screen fully.
When viewing the main smartphone interface or apps, the image quality is a bit soft. That's because the relatively low smartphone resolution is being scaled up. However, with compatible handsets, Full HD 1080p video content can be sent from phone to screen, and we can confirm it looks great.
If your phone has enough storage capacity, you really could use it as a device to supply HD content. It's very impressive.
The problem for the Samsung SyncMaster S24B750V LED monitor has much to do with timing. If it had been released a year ago, it would be an extremely attractive proposition. As it is, so much has happened in the PC monitor market in the past 12 months, it's been rendered somewhat redundant.
The number of genuinely stylish PC displays are vanishingly few. On pure aesthetics alone, the Samsung SyncMaster S24B750V LED monitor is painfully desirable. We doubt there's anything out there that can match its futuristic but minimalist design, especially for the price.
As TN panels go, it's also up there with the best. The colours are relatively rich and bold, the contrast is strong and the backlighting is commendably even. Like all TN screens, pixel response is excellent, too. Gamers looking for a serious stylish screen could do an awful lot worse.
The MHL smartphone mirroring feature is another strong point. It's completely effortless in operation and works much better than you might imagine. It's particularly good for viewing HD video content stored on a smartphone.
Having a screen that can provide half decent sound will also be handy for some. We don't want to overstate this one, since even a very cheap speaker kit would be preferable. But as integrated speakers for PC monitors go, the sound quality is good.
At this price point, expectations have move on dramatically of late. Thanks to a big push by Apple on IPS screen technology, especially in its iPhone and iPad products, awareness of screen technology and quality among the buying public has improved significantly. Monitor makers have been responding, and the result is a new generation of affordable IPS displays.
That leaves the Samsung S24B750V and its TN panel in a tricky position. As TN screens go, it's premium priced. That puts it into direct conflict with the latest IPS screens, with which it can't compete on most metrics of image quality.
The lack of DVI or DisplayPort connectivity also compromises the Series 7 as an out-and-out PC monitor. HDMI should be good enough for most purposes, but compatibility issues do sometimes arise, especially with AMD video cards.
Finally, as stunning as the chassis and stand are, they offer limited adjustability and no support for VESA mounting. There's a price to be paid for that unique style.
Despite one or two interesting features - notably the MHL smartphone mirroring capability - and decent image quality for a TN screen, the Samsung SyncMaster S24B750V LED monitor is a case of style over substance. There are better IPS screens available for the money.