Exterior Design and Ergonomics
The SyncMaster XL2370 is dramatically different from the monitors discussed above because it features LED-based backlight. Unlike Samsung’s SyncMaster XL20 and XL24 I tested earlier, the XL2370 is meant for nonprofessional home use. Therefore it is based on a TN matrix with rather limited viewing angles and its backlight is based on white LEDs rather than RGB triads. So, the advantages of this backlight over the traditional fluorescent one are not so obvious.
The XL2370 looks much alike to the P2370. It has the same shape of the case with rounded-off corners. Its black plastic is covered with a layer of translucent acryl. And there is a translucent frame around the front panel. Interestingly, the XL2370 uses white LEDs (technically, a white LED is actually a blue LED that is coated with appropriate substance for shining white) rather than RGB triads whereas the ad sticker says “LED Monitor” with the letter E consisting of stripes of three colors. Do not be misled by this! The XL2370 has no relation to monitors that really use LEDs of three different colors.
It is the thickness of the case that sets the XL2370 apart from ordinary products. The photo shows it next to a SyncMaster 2333SW, a monitor of rather standard dimensions. The XL2370 looks most impressive even in comparison with a slim P2370. Samsung calls the XL2370 a “finger-slim” design and this is no lie. And it is the LED backlight that helped realize this concept as it allows making LCD panels smaller. Therefore, LED backlight is quite popular among makers of slim notebooks and netbooks.
Another key advantage of LEDs is that they provide a wide range of brightness adjustment. Fluorescent lamps lose stability at very low levels of brightness whereas LEDs can not only be set at an extremely low brightness, being powered up by microsecond-long impulses, but even turned out completely. A LED can be turned on and off instantly, as opposed to fluorescent lamps with their transitional processes and warm-up period.
By the way, this provides the opportunity for LCD panel makers to declare a colossal dynamic contrast ratio. At the minimum brightness such a panel is going to have a near-zero level of black. How many zeroes would they specify then? Well, they’ve found another way as you can see in the next photo.
It should be noted that specifying an exact value of dynamic contrast lost any practical sense after numbers like 10,000:1. Higher values would not affect your perception. If you don’t remember what dynamic contrast is, here is the explanation: the monitor is automatically adjusting the brightness of backlight depending on the currently displayed content. The darker the picture, the lower the brightness is. This works best for movies. A dynamic contrast ratio is calculated as the ratio of white in an all-white screen to black in an all-black screen. Clearly, the extremely low levels of black that lead to the huge specified dynamic contrast can only be achieved practically on an all-black screen. But do you often see a black frame in movies? Perhaps only in the credits.
Dynamic contrast does not affect the value of ordinary, static contrast. So, there is no practical benefit from the extremely high level of dynamic contrast. This technology has been recently developed to introduce zonal highlighting so that the monitor could adjust the backlight individually in different parts of the screen depending on the brightness in each particular zone rather than on the overall average brightness. As a result, there is a higher contrast not between different scenes as now but between different zones within the same scene. This technology has already been implemented in LED-based TV-sets but has not yet reached computer monitors.
Now let’s get back to the design of the XL2370.
Besides the slim case, the monitor is no different from the P2370. The stand allows to adjust the tilt of the screen only.
The stand has not changed. It still consists of two parts: a base and a pole. The base has changed from black to smoke-colored and acquired a transparent rim that matches the trim of the monitor’s front panel.
The SyncMaster XL2370 is equipped with a universal DVI-I connector that supports both analog and digital connections. It also has an HDMI input which is missing in the above-discussed P2x70 models. Next to the HDMI connector there are two sound outputs (analog and digital). The monitor can output sound that has come along with video via HDMI.
The XL2370 has exactly the same touch-sensitive buttons as the P2370. You can adjust the brightness and operation of the highlighting of the buttons in the menu: always on or turning off automatically after a period of idleness.
The XL2370’s onscreen menu does not differ from the one of the P2x70 series.
Thus, the LED backlight has helped make the monitor much slimmer. But what else? Are there any differences in the monitor’s technical parameters? Let’s check it out.