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Samsung SyncMaster 172S (SDS)

This was the first model from Samsung to use the original “folding” design with a Z-shaped (side view) base. It was actually one of the first 17” models I tested, but our testing methodology has changed since then, so I decided to give it another try.

I discussed the advantages and shortcomings of the “folding” case many times. On the one hand, we have an original and artistic exterior, we can change the height and tilt of the screen and the position of the connectors in the base, and we can hang the monitor on the wall, or fold the base up altogether. On the other hand, such monitors cannot work in the portrait mode, so the second letter in the marking (Z or D) now stands for availability or absence of base-integrated speakers.

Unlike the above-described 171B, this monitor features a 25msec TN+Film matrix. So its viewing angles are just normal: they have nothing in common with the 170° of PVA matrixes. In other words, the screen is dark when viewed from below, and the colors are distorted when you look at the screen from aside.

The menu offers four color temperature settings: “User Adjusted” (corresponds to 5850K white and 7840K gray), “Reddish” (5740K white and 7280K gray), “Bluish” (6360K white and 9800K gray), and sRGB (this should mean 6500K, but in reality corresponds to 5870K white and 7920K gray).

By default, the brightness control is set to 90%, the contrast to 50%. Screen brightness of 100nit is achieved by setting 10% brightness and 25% contrast. By the way, 172S doesn’t have the MagicBright feature (quick switching between different brightness presets), which has now become standard in monitors from Samsung.

The color curves are far from the theoretical ideal. There is too much green in light tones, and too much blue in dark tones and in the middle of the range. The dark tones are reproduced incorrectly – they are much brighter than should be.

At 100nit screen brightness, the curves get smoother, although blue is still too intensive in the middle of the range.

The full response time of this monitor is 25msec, exactly like the specifications say. The pixel rise time grows on black-to-gray transitions, but never goes above 30msec. This matrix behaves better than PVA ones on black – dark-gray transitions: the response time doesn’t grow up, but rather falls down to 18msec.

It’s all very bad with the contrast ratio. The level of black fluctuated around 2nit and never made it to 1nit. It means that whatever the operational mode is, this monitor displays dark-gray instead of the regular black. So, the contrast ratio was only 135:1 at best.

SyncMaster 172S seems to be using a relatively old matrix: I can’t find another explanation for the low contrast ratio. If you fancy the original and functional design and like the responsiveness of this monitor, you should be aware that the too high level of black may be discomforting when you set low screen brightness and work in a dim room.

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