Articles: Monitors

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Let’s now turn to the tests. The monitor is declared to have a response time of 6 milliseconds, i.e. 2 milliseconds smaller than that of the SyncMaster 193P+. My measurements prove that the RTC mechanism of the 970P is really set up more aggressively:

The monitor is still rather slow on the darkest tones, but its speed improves quickly towards the lighter colors and doesn’t change much on them. Compared with the 193P+, the SyncMaster 970P is obviously faster.

Alas, the speed increase is accompanied with an increase of the RTC error. Below you can see the 970P’s RTC error graph which shows how brighter than necessary the pixel becomes during a transition from black to a level of gray:

I don’t say the error is big. The peak is at 17% only. Yet, there are errors and the RTC artifacts are going to be more conspicuous on the 970P than on the 193P+. This is the price for the lower response time.

I also took the response time graph at 75Hz refresh rate as a kind of experiment (in the rest of the cases the reviewed monitors worked at 60Hz refresh rate) and was greatly surprised to find that the shape of the graph differed much from the above one:

This graph looks more like the SyncMaster 173P+’s. The monitor has become considerably slower and the decrease of the response time from the darks to the lights is now less abrupt. The shape of the graph resembles a graph of an ordinary PVA matrix without response time compensation (well, an ordinary PVA is still much slower than that). Most of RTC errors have disappeared, too, because the overdrive impulse is obviously too weak, so where could the errors come from? I want to note that the monitor was attached to the digital output of the graphics card during the tests.

Apart from response time, the SyncMaster 970P proved to be much alike to its predecessor. Like on the 193P+, the gamma compensation exponent is too low at the default settings, and the image looks pale and faded.

This can be corrected by increasing the gamma in the monitor’s settings.

The backlighting is uniform, and the viewing angles are typically wide as they are with all PVA matrixes: almost 180 degrees as far as contrast is concerned, but with noticeable distortion of colors on a deflection of 40-45 degrees from the normal. The monitor reproduces smooth color gradients perfectly at the default settings, but there appear cross stripes on them as soon as you step down the monitor’s brightness or contrast setting.

The color temperature measurements produce almost the same results, except that the image is generally colder on the 970P than on the 193P+. The difference is negligible, about 200-500K, so you can hardly spot it without special tools.

The contrast ratio of the 970P is unfortunately even lower than that of the 193P+ and is as low as the typical contrast ratio of TN+Film matrixes. If the monitor displays a black background, you can see even in daylight (not to mention working in darkness!) that it is actually dark-gray rather than true black.

So the 970P differs from the 193P+ with a more aggressive RTC mechanism and with the new design of the case, so if you are satisfied with the looks and the speed of your 193P+, there is no sense in replacing it with a 970P. But if you are shopping for a new monitor, you should consider the 970P first – the 193P+ is probably going to leave the market soon.

Among the monitor’s drawbacks I would name some design solutions I could not quite comprehend, the rather low contrast ratio (for a PVA matrix), and the stronger RTC artifacts (if compared with the 193P+). The artifacts are not so strong as to cause any discomfort, though. And despite the noticeable reduction of the average response time, the monitor is still very slow on transitions between the darkest tones.

The users of the SyncMaster 970P should also take note of the difference in the monitor’s reaction at different refresh rates. In my tests the monitor proved to be considerably faster at 60Hz than at 75Hz. On the other hand, if you don’t want the maximum speed, but want to get rid of the RTC-provoked artifacts, you may even want to set the refresh rate at 75Hz.

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