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Samsung SyncMaster 171B (SSN)

This is an example of the ordinary appearance of older models from Samsung: a big case with a wide framing, and a tall and bulky base that allows adjusting the tilt and height of the screen and rotating it around the vertical axis. The portrait mode is unavailable as the marking tells you – only SAN-rated models feature it.

The case of the monitor I’ve got for my tests has a small drawback: the case parts don’t fit tight together in the control buttons area. If you grasp the edge of the monitor when pressing a button, you hear a click. I hope this is only a defect of this particular monitor, though.

Note that SyncMaster 171B is connected with a cable featuring a non-standard connector, so if you lose it or need to connect the monitor through the UPS, you may find it difficult to find the necessary cable.

The excellent viewing angles indicate that the monitor uses a PVA matrix. The matrix is really a treat for the eyes – your line of sight can be nearly parallel to the screen, which is a real pleasure after those popular 16msec TN+Film matrixes with their classical problem of the dark top and light bottom.

The menu follows the Samsung menu-making standards. It offers three color temperatures: “User Adjusted” (default, it corresponds to 5370K white and 5830K gray), “Reddish” (5270K white and 5470K gray) and “Bluish” (5420K white and 6100K gray). So, the range of the color temperature is rather limited: there is no mention of 9300K or even 7500K. On the other hand, the small difference between the temperatures of white and gray is really good. The color reproduction has a visual drawback of having too much of green (the image has a strong greenish tincture), but this is easily amended by simple adjustment of the monitor settings, without any color calibration.

By default, the brightness and contrast controls are set to 80% and 50%, respectively. By setting them to 25% and 20%, I achieved a screen brightness of 100nit. Brightness is regulated by power modulation of the backlight lamp with a frequency of 530Hz or thereabouts.

The color curves are nearly perfect, with one reservation: the level of green is really too high as my eyes told me beforehand. The same curves also suggest that green is high along the entire range proportionally to the signal level. It means you can correct this deficiency by simply reducing the level of green in the monitor menu; there is no need for color calibration here.

The response time is typical for a PVA matrix: it easily goes above 50msec as the difference between the initial and final states of the pixel diminishes.

The contrast ratio is good, although SyncMaster 171B couldn’t break the record set by its predecessor (I reviewed a SyncMaster 171T in my previous article and it showed a fantastic contrast ratio of 900:1! See our roundup called Closer Look at 17” LCD Monitors Features. Part II). Brightness couldn’t make it to the specs, too. It was about 200nit, while the specs said it should have been 240nit.

SyncMaster 171B is an illustration of all advantages and shortcomings of the PVA technology. It suits excellently for working with text or in CAD/CAM applications thanks to its widest viewing angles: if its clumsy case doesn’t bother you. But if you are a hardcore gamer, the PVA matrix is absolutely not for you. The high response time on transitions between halftones would make your favorite scene in Counter Strike into a gray smudge, spoiling all the fun. On the other hand, practice suggests that such matrixes are all right for less dynamic games or for watching movies, so SyncMaster 171B can become your home LCD monitor, especially if wide viewing angles matter much to you.

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