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Samsung SyncMaster 971P

19” LCD monitors have stepped down into the low-end market segment and are currently dominated by TN matrixes, yet there are still some models that offer matrixes of other types. I don’t have anything personal against TN technology, but viewing angles of 178 degrees measured by the honest method (i.e. by a reduction of the contrast ratio to 10:1) are instantly recognizable. This monitor’s contrast ratio is as high as 1500:1 without your enabling dynamic contrast mode while the declared response time is only 6 rather than tens of milliseconds thanks to Response Time Technology.

We’ve actually got two versions of the Samsung SyncMaster 971P. The old version is widely available in shops and the new one has been offered by Samsung for us to test. So, we’ve got an opportunity to compare the two. The newer monitor looks exactly alike to the older one, but features a dynamic contrast mode and has slightly different settings. Anyway, the two versions of the 971P model are very much alike to each other, so I’ll discuss them and their test results all together.

The monitors are indistinguishable externally except for the color of the case (we’ve got one black sample and one white sample). The 971P looks good, especially in the milk-white coloring. It’s got a sleek glossy case that is connected to a U-shaped stand by means of a complex “leg”. The older Samsung 970P model used to have this kind of design, but it would come with a simpler and somewhat awkward square stand. Besides that, the hinges in the 970P stand would slacken after half a year of use and the screen would sag down to the bottommost position of the stand. Samsung assures us that the 971P is free from this problem.

The SyncMaster 971P’s stand permits to change the tilt as well as height of the screen (from 50 to 105 millimeters). Portrait mode is available, too, and the good viewing angles of the PVA matrix make this mode much more pleasant to work in as compared with TN matrixes. So, Samsung’s engineers have once again managed to combine an eye-catching appearance and beautiful exterior with excellent functionality and ergonomics.

They’ve done good job on the connectors, too. There are only two small connectors at the back of the stand: a connector of the external power adapter and an input for the built-in USB hub. The video connector is hidden inside the stand and is only visible from below. There is a groove made in the bottom of the stand for the video cable. This groove begins between the two connectors at the back and ends in a universal DVI-I plug. The monitor can be connected to your graphics card’s DVI output via an ordinary DVI-D cable or you can use an analog connection using the included adaptor cable. Besides all this, there are two USB ports on one side of the stand.

This solution leaves the monitor’s case absolutely free from any elements while all the cables attached to the monitor are hidden out of sight as much as possible. This emphasizes the overall elegance of the 917P even more.

The control buttons are designed in a curious way, too. There are only two of them here (the monitor is set up from the PC using the MagicTune program) and you can find them in easily accessed locations. On the other hand, they don’t interfere with the monitor’s overall design. The Power button is in the right butt-end of the stand and is highlighted with a blue LED at work. With the button positioned like this, the light from the LED does not shine into your eyes. It is just visible. That’s a very lucky solution of the matter that often becomes a problem for manufacturers and users.

Opposite this button, on the left butt-end, there is a second button whose function is defined in the MagicTune program. By default, it is set to switch between the MagicBright modes. This is the button we had long wanted to see on “button-less” monitors from Samsung because it is logical to have quick access to switching between the preset modes on a monitor that offers them. But again, you can use MagicTune to redefine that button.

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