The Touch of Color series uses the standard onscreen menu of Samsung’s recent models. However, I will discuss its options at length because I only provided a brief description of it in my previous reviews. I want to remind you that I gave my advice on setting any LCD monitor up in the Lenovo L220x review.
So, the onscreen menu offers six tabs. The first tab provides the most frequently used options, Brightness and Contrast. A list of MagicBright modes is also available here. These are factory-set image modes optimized for different applications. For example, you can set the monitor up manually for low brightness but switch into a brighter MagicBright mode to watch a movie or play a game. And then you can quickly get back to the manual settings. This is all much more convenient than just changing the Brightness setting every time you need to make the screen brighter or darker. You don’t even have to enter the onscreen menu to select a mode – this can be done “on the fly” with the Down button.
The Dynamic Contrast mode listed among the MagicBright ones does not just set specific values of Brightness and Contrast. When this mode is turned on, the monitor is automatically adjusting the intensity of the matrix backlight depending on the current image. The brighter the picture, the higher the backlight brightness is, and vice versa. I guess Dynamic Brightness would be a more appropriate name for this technology.
The Dynamic Contrast mode is meant to increase the dynamic range, i.e. the distance from the lightest and darkest color, in movies. Of course, increasing the brightness of the backlight makes both lights and darks brighter, but one peculiarity of the human eye (like the dynamic contrast system, it evaluates the picture at large) makes this drawback insignificant.
The monitor’s specified contrast ratio is usually declared for this mode. The level of white is measured on the brightest picture, and the level of black, on the darkest. The resulting contrast ratio proves to be very high, like 10,000:1 or higher. This number has nothing to do with the monitor’s standard operating mode and the ordinary contrast ratio of the matrix. The dynamic contrast mode is only suitable for movies. In other applications it will produce unpleasant fluctuations in screen brightness. You can see the effect of this technology in a simple way: open any image editor, even the simple Paint, and create a new and large picture in it. Fill this picture black – and you’ll see the screen get darker instantly. Fill it white, and the whole screen gets brighter.
The next menu item is called Color. The MagicColor option is Samsung’s exclusive image-enhancing tool. MagicColor increases color saturation, producing a picture with vivid but incorrect colors.
Next goes the setting of color temperature, i.e. image tonality from warm to cold. You’ll see in the tests section how correct this setting is.
The Color Effect option has appeared but recently in Samsung’s monitors and its practical purpose still evades me.
Above you can see four photos of the screen showing the same picture (three color gradients) at different Color Effect modes. As you can see, this feature can discolor the image in different ways. You can get a black-and-white or a toned image.
Although the Color Effect feature has little practical value, the manufacturers seem to have liked the idea. Similar features can be found in the new series of monitors from LG Electronics, e.g. in the Flatron W2252TQ.
The last menu option is called Gamma. It sets the value of gamma compensation. Increasing it makes the image darker and with more contrast. Decreasing it makes the image lighter. The industry standard requires a gamma of 2.2. Running a little ahead, I can say that most of the ToC monitors I tested have a gamma of about 2.2 without additional adjustment.
The other menu tabs allow to set the monitor up for analog signal (but I use DVI in my tests and recommend you to do so, too, because this type of connection doesn’t need any adjustment), to choose the position and timing of the onscreen menu, to reset the settings, etc. There are a few interesting things that should be noted.
First, the Down button, which provides quick access to switching the MagicBright modes when not in the menu, can be reprogrammed to switch the MagicColor or Color Effect modes. It can also be assigned the option of changing the image interpolation variant.
The models with a diagonal smaller than 24 inches have only two variants: the image is stretched out to full screen either irrespective of its original resolution or with restrained proportions. The latter variant is handy if you connect the monitor to a video source that can’t work with the aspect ratio of 16:10, for example to a TV-tuner. Unfortunately, the Auto mode works normally only with resolutions that have an aspect ratio of 4:3. Widescreen resolutions of 1280x720 and 1920x1080 (16:9 format) are squeezed in by half horizontally and are displayed with wide black margins on the sides. You can’t turn interpolation off and display the picture on the per-pixel basis on the junior models of Touch of Color monitors.
The two senior models equipped with HDMI input, the T240 and T260, have AV Mode that works for HDMI sources. When you enable this mode in the monitor’s menu, you can use a third variant of interpolation that is meant for 16:9 images in 720p, 1080i or 1080p format.
The ToC series models with a native resolution up to 1680x1050 inclusive (the T190, T200 and T220) feature response time compensation and have a specified response time of 2 milliseconds (GtG). Samsung calls this technology RTA. The menu offers three RTA modes: Off (you can turn RTA off to get rid of RTA-provoked artifacts if you don’t play dynamic games; the response time will still be high enough for work and for movies), Mode 1 and Mode 2. I’ll explain the difference between the latter two modes shortly.