The menu is greatly different from the menus of Samsung’s junior models. It would fit an LCD TV-set better than a PC monitor. It is large, almost half the screen, and not easy to use. The first option is the input selection, and it takes some time before you reach the image-related settings. For example, you have to make as many as six presses if you want to adjust the contrast (not counting in the changing of the setting proper). The monitor doesn’t remember the last adjusted position and you have to make the six presses each time you want to change the contrast setting. The point of placing the input selection as the first menu option evades me because the Source button can do that without your having to enter the main menu. The size of the menu makes no sense, too. It would do if the 214T were equipped with a remote control, but it is not, and you have to come up to the monitor to access its menu.
Fortunately, the monitor can be controlled with the Windows-based MagicTune utility. It proves to be handier than the onscreen menu if you want to quickly adjust some settings.
Picture-in-Picture and Picture-beside-Picture modes are available for the video inputs. In PiP mode you can specify the size of the window (by choosing one of two possibilities) and its position (four variants).
Curiously enough, the menu offers the option of adjusting the tone and saturation by six coordinates. It’s not clear to me why a home monitor needs this, but anyway. You can also adjust the gamma compensation value with a step of 0.1 and use the MagicColor feature (it increases color saturation).
By default, the monitor’s brightness and contrast are set at 100% and 65%, respectively. To achieve a 100nit brightness of white, I chose 48% brightness and 50% contrast. Brightness is regulated by the backlight lamps.
Color gradients are reproduced without a flaw.
The gamma compensation value is set too low at the default settings, resulting in a pale image. To correct this issue, enter the menu and increase the gamma by about +0.2.
Otherwise, there are no serious defects. The monitor reproduces all the tones it should reproduce, also when the contrast setting is lowered.
The user is offered seven color temperature modes with a step of a few hundred degrees. You can’t make it look cold, however, as the maximum temperature is even below 7500K. This is not a great problem since most users choose a temperature within a range of 6500-7500K. Considering the rather small difference in temperature between different levels of gray, the quality of this setup is good.
Unfortunately, the backlight lamps flicker even at the maximum brightness (as I wrote above, brightness is regulated with the lamps, by means of pulse-width modulation). This affects the precision of response time measurements. I was altogether unable to measure the speed of the matrix on gray-to-gray transitions, and the precision was lacking even on black-to-gray ones.
Anyway, the diagram is still indicative of the matrix speed, which is rather high. What’s interesting, the monitor is based on a PVA matrix, and with that matrix type there is usually an upwards-bound tail in the left part of the diagram that is 50-70 milliseconds high. Here, we’ve got a small and low tail and this cannot be due to the low measurement accuracy. No flickering of the backlight lamps can distort the result by tens of milliseconds. Moreover, the higher the response time is, the lower the influence of the flickering on the measurement accuracy. Can it be then that Samsung has solved the eternal problem of PVA? Running a little ahead, I should say they did it! The new SyncMaster 215TW and the SyncMaster 940Fn do not have a big response on dark tones. The latter doesn’t have the flickering of the lamps, so nothing affected my measurements.
And subjectively – although I don’t like making statements based on subjective impressions – the 214T is indeed fast. I couldn’t see any fuzziness on it.
The RTC error is small, not higher than 5% on black-gray transitions. I couldn’t measure it on gray-to-gray transitions due to the above-mentioned reasons, but the error seems to be negligibly small on them, too.
The monitor has a superb contrast ratio even at the low brightness. The PVA matrix shows its best here.
To sum it up, the SyncMaster 214T is a very well-made product. The single drawback of this monitor is its very awkward menu designed in a TV-set style (despite its video inputs, the 214T is a PC monitor, but not a TV-set) and optimized for a remote control which the 214T lacks. You have the option of using the MagicTune program, though. I just had no choice but to use it, although I never launched MagicTune to control the above-described 20” models with their classic Samsung menu.
Otherwise, the monitor is very good, with good viewing angles, excellent contrast ratio, accurate color reproduction (the too-low gamma can be corrected in the monitor’s settings). It also has a superb response time in comparison with other PVA matrixes. The SyncMaster 214T is going to be a good choice for home as well as for work even for demanding users.