New C-PVA Solutions: Samsung SyncMaster F2080 and F2380

According to Samsung, C-PVA matrix is only 10% more expensive than TN-matrixes that have taken over the market these days. However, it is way better in terms of viewing angles and overall image quality.

by Oleg Artamonov
08/19/2009 | 05:30 PM

This review will cover two very new monitors from Samsung: SyncMaster F2080 and F2380. Most of the company’s new products released in the last months are meant for home use and feature shiny plastic, bright buttons and other eye-catching elements, but the F2080 and F2380 are work-oriented semiprofessional monitors.

 

But the most interesting thing about these models is that they are based on a new type of PVA matrix called C-PVA. Samsung says C-PVA will bring the pricing of PVA-based monitors down to the level of TN-based ones while retaining all of the benefits of PVA technologies such as high contrast ratio and good viewing angles.

C-PVA Matrix

Although Samsung did not keep the matrix type secret since the very announcement of the new monitors and has even touted C-PVA technology, it is still unclear what C-PVA really is and what differentiates it from the familiar PVA and S-PVA technologies. Samsung does not even say what the letter C stands for, giving rise to numerous guesses from the derisive “Crap PVA” to the incidental coincidence with the CP-VA abbreviation that was used a few years ago in research papers on VA matrix modernization.

I will dwell upon the latter version for a while because it is discussed widely on the Internet. The CP-VA abbreviation can be found in the work called Optical Analysis of Vertical Aligned Mode on Color Filter Liquid-Crystal-on-Silicon Microdisplay and is spelled out as Circularly Polarized Vertical Alignment. As you probably know, an LCD panel is a sandwich made out of a backlight unit that emits non-polarized white light, a polarizer that transforms it into linearly polarized light, a liquid crystal layer that turns the plane of polarization of the passing light by the angle which depends on the voltage applied to the crystals, and a second polarizer that is often called analyzer.

As you may know from a course of physics, the portion of polarized light that passes through the analyzer equals sin²(α/2), where α is the angle between the polarization planes of the light and the analyzer. Again, the angle can be changed by applying different voltage to the liquid crystals and thus the brightness of the LCD panel can be changed. Different types of crystals can be used in specific LCD panels, phase-shifting plates or some other additions can be implemented, but the general principle remains the same.

In one LCD panel type called MVA (Multidomain Vertical Alignment), each pixel is divided into four parts called domains in which the crystals turn at different angles. Without delving deep into detail, I can just say that this is necessary to ensure good viewing angles: the light of each individual domain depends on the angle of view, but the four differently oriented domains yield the same average brightness irrespective of whether you are looking at them directly, from a side, or from above.

One of insignificant, yet persistent problems of MVA matrixes is the dark line crossing each pixel at the junction point of the neighboring domains. It lowers the overall transparency of the pixel and reduces the efficiency of the LCD panel, which is itself very low to start with – about 4% (that is, if the whole panel shows pure white, only 4% of the light produced by the backlight lamps pass through it).

The mentioned work described a solution of this problem using circularly polarized light. The issue is discussed at more detail in the works of two Japanese authors published in the Japan Journal of Applied Physics: “Transmittance Enhancement for Randomly Aligned Liquid Crystal Displays with Circular Polarizers” and “Transmitted Light Enhancement of Electric-Field-Controlled Multidomain Vertically Aligned Liquid Crystal Displays Using Circular Polarizers and a Cholesteric Liquid Crystal Film”. I want to note that the CP-VA abbreviation does not actually occur in these works.

From a technical point of view, a matrix with circular polarization differs from an ordinary one with two quarter-wave plates (i.e. plates that produce a phase difference of λ/4 between differently polarized light beams, where λ is the wavelength of the light passing through; λ is usually equal to 550 nanometers if the entire visible range is to be covered) located on the interior sides of the polarizer and analyzer. A λ/4 plate has such properties that it transforms linearly polarized light into circularly polarized light and vice versa. By the way, photographers often deal with such plates. Every circular polarization filter is made from a linear polarizer and a λ/4 plate. As a result, its output light has circular polarization instead of linear polarization which might confuse the auto-focus system of many cameras.


Matrixes with linear (a) and circular (b) polarization
(Jpn. J. Appl. Phys. Vol. 42 (2003), L 51 — L 53)

Thus, the light from the backlight passes through the polarizer, transforming into linearly polarized light. Then it goes through the λ/4 plate, which changes its polarization into circular. And then it goes through a layer of liquid crystals and through one more λ/4 plate which changes circular polarization back into linear. And the analyzer comes last. From the end viewer’s standpoint, there is only one difference. This LCD panel does not have dark lines at the junction points of the neighboring domains, which increases the maximum transparency and efficiency of the LCD panel. The mentioned papers prove that the efficiency of CP panels is about one and a half that of LP panels (LP stands for Linear Polarization), so a backlight unit with fewer or less intensive lamps can be used to achieve the same resulting brightness.

Although Samsung can indeed use a technology like that, it is highly improbable that this is the difference between C-PVA and PVA. This must be a coincidence of two abbreviations because

Thus, I am inclined to think that this is a pure coincidence of two abbreviations. It is hard to tell if the circular polarization technology is used or going to be used in some versions of MVA or PVA matrixes unless you take the LCD panel apart. CP technology does not have distinguishing external features.

So what is the difference between C-PVA and S-PVA? Although only Samsung’s own people know this for sure, I decided to scrutinize LCD matrixes with special tools.

First of all, I made macro photographs of the screens of a Samsung SyncMaster F2080 (C-PVA) and SyncMaster 215TW (S-PVA) monitors with a Canon EOS-350D camera with Canon EF-100/f2.8 macro lens that delivers a scale of 1:1 (that is, the image projection on the camera’s sensor is the same size as the original object). 

S-PVA pixel structure


Full brightness


Low brightness

You can clearly see the characteristic dual subpixels of S-PVA. They consist of two zones, usually denoted as A and B, and one zone is turned on at high brightness only. So, the first picture shows red subpixels of roughly rectangular shape while the second picture shows two small pieces that represent one zone of each subpixel, the second zone being completely turned off.

It is this two-zone structure that differentiates S-PVA from older PVA matrixes which used to have a monolithic subpixel divided into four domains. An S-PVA matrix has two zones with four domains in each, for a total of eight domains per each subpixel. This helps fight the gamma shift effect which occurs when not only the contrast ratio but also the gamma (i.e. the correlation between the video signal sent to the monitor and the resulting screen brightness) changes when the screen is viewed from a side. The pixel zones of S-PVA matrixes have such shape, position and voltage (in the most expensive matrixes that are installed into some TV-sets, the two zones of one subpixel can even be controlled independently) as to mutually compensate the gamma shift effect for each other.

Unfortunately, the gamma shift effect is not absolutely eliminated even in S-PVA matrixes. Besides, these matrixes have one more difference from PVA. Their viewing angles are asymmetric: the gamma shift is bigger from one side.

But it’s time we got back to C-PVA.

С-PVA pixel structure


Full brightness


Low brightness

As you can see, there is no sign of the subpixel being divided into zones. It is monolithic at any brightness. Besides, the subpixel has very uniform brightness. Particularly, it does not have the dark dot in the center which can be seen in the photo of the S-PVA.

Thus, the pixel structure is a return to the ordinary PVA matrix: one zone and four domains. Does this worsen the viewing angles?

Unfortunately, we at X-bit labs do not have methods and tools that would allow us to accurately measure the gamma and color shift when the screen is viewed from a side, so I relied on a subjective comparison and scrutinized a SyncMaster 215TW (S-PVA), SyncMaster 245T (S-PVA), SyncMaster F2080 (C-PVA) and SyncMaster F2380 (C-PVA) from all sides.

First off, I can’t say that the gamma shift is bigger on C-PVA. On the contrary, the asymmetry typical of S-PVA is eliminated, and C-PVA looks even better in this respect. The general impressions from the two matrixes are similar. Both show the gamma shift effect of about the same value. It should not be a problem in most applications.

Second, the color shift is the same, too. The tonality of colors changes somewhat with both C-PVA and S-PVA when you look at the screen from a side. The changes are similar with both matrixes.

Third, the loss of dark halftones when the screen is looked directly at can be observed with C-PVA like with any other type of VA matrixes. It means that if you look directly at a photograph, you may lose some details in shadows. But as soon as you deflect your head to a side, those details will show up as if out of nowhere.

Interestingly, both S-PVA based monitors proved to be better in this respect than the C-PVA models, but I would like to give you more info on this issue as it is often criticized in discussions of S-PVA. So, I first used a highly sensitive photo sensor to record the very beginning of gamma curves – not higher than dark gray – of three monitors: SyncMaster 245T (S-PVA), SyncMaster F2380 (C-PVA) and SyncMaster 2333SW (TN).

The X-axis of the diagram shows color (black is 0, white is 255), the Y-axis shows the measured level of brightness. The green curve is the ideal curve for gamma 2.2.

You can see the effect clearly enough: the curve of the C-PVA matrix is nearly flat in the darkest section of the diagram, meaning that the difference between two adjacent tones is very small, much smaller than it must be. Then, the curve rises up quickly, obviously to meet with the ideal gamma 2.2 curve in lights.

The curve of the TN-based monitor goes higher due to its lower contrast ratio in comparison with C-PVA, but is shaped almost exactly like the gamma 2.2 curve. Indeed, TN matrixes are free form the loss-of-darks effect.

The curve of the S-PVA based monitor seems to provide a clue as to why the SyncMaster 245T looks better than C-PVA. The curve goes very high, which indicates a high level of black and, consequently, low contrast ratio, and has a queer shape. It is almost a straight line rather than an exponential function.

It looks like SyncMaster 245T developers sacrificed the monitor’s contrast ratio, deliberately increasing the level of black and thus taking the gamma curve out of the area where the difference between adjacent tones is small.

To check out this supposition, I tried to move the curve on the SyncMaster F2380 in the same way. This could be easily done in the graphics card’s control panel. So, I opened the ATI Catalyst Control Center (Nvidia’s driver offers a similar setting, too), switched to the color settings screen and increased the Brightness parameter by 25. Black became somewhat brighter while the monitor’s gamma curve (marked as C-PVA (corr.) in the diagram above) got much closer to the ideal one in shape. The loss-of-darks effect has got weaker and moved to the area of nearly-black tones.

Thus, the difference between S-PVA and C-PVA in this case is only due to the different setup of the tested monitors. It is also clear that the loss of darks on PVA matrixes can be opposed by simply increasing the level of black. Unfortunately, this is done at the expense of contrast ratio and I should say that the developers of the SyncMaster 245T overdid it a little.

The effect can also be eliminated without losing in contrast ratio by fine-tuning the shape of the gamma curve in the area of darks, but it is difficult to do this manually while popular hardware calibrators have insufficient sensitivity on such tones. I guess Samsung engineers should pay more attention to this issue and write appropriate settings into the monitor’s LUT, but the settings must be more accurate than those of the SyncMaster 245T.

Of course, the adjustment of the level of black and the beginning of the gamma curve does not solve the problem of darks getting brighter when viewed from a side, but at least you can see all details when looking directly at the screen.

Summing it up, I should say that, despite the obvious simplification of the matrix structure (which must be the reason for the lower manufacturing cost), C-PVA is not fundamentally different from S-PVA in terms of viewing angles. The difference I have observed is due to setup peculiarities of specific monitors. On one hand, C-PVA has such unpleasant effects as gamma and color shift, and the loss of darks when looked directly at, but on the other hand, its parameters are not visually worse. Moreover, C-PVA has symmetric viewing angles, as opposed to S-PVA.

C-PVA is superior to modern TN matrixes in terms of viewing angles. The difference is obvious as soon as you put two such monitors next to each other. The viewing angles of C-PVA are almost identical from all four sides whereas the image on a TN matrix gets dark when viewed from below. The color shift is also more conspicuous on TN matrixes when the screen is viewed from left or right.

The other parameters of the two new monitors based on C-PVA matrixes will be measured and discussed in the next sections using our traditional methods and tools.

Exterior Design and Ergonomics

As opposed to glossy and sleek home-oriented models, the F2x80 series monitors are designed in a purely functional and practical way. The case is angular and painted a demure matte black. The screen bezel is slim, but the big and square stand spoils the impression somewhat. The monitor would look far more elegant without it.

The side view is typical of work-oriented models, too. While the case of a home monitor is usually smoothed out so that there is not a single sharp edge, this monitor has a square protrusion in the center of its back that accommodates electronics and serves as the fastening point for the stand. The monitor does not look elegant in profile, but you immediately get the feeling that it’s a serious device meant for serious work.

For all its unassuming looks, the stand offers all screen orientation opportunities imaginable. You can adjust the height of the screen (from 9 to 19 centimeters with the F2080 and from 9 to 21 centimeters with the F2380), tilt the screen as necessary, turn it around its vertical axis (the sole of the stand does not move at that), and even pivot it into portrait mode. The monitor moves on its stand easily, without jerks. The stand can be fixed in folded position with a special pin for easier transportation.

The stand can be removed and replaced with a standard VESA-compatible mount using the mounting holes under the decorative cap on the back panel.

There are no cable holders on the stand.

The selection of connectors is professional enough, too. There are as many as two DVI-D ports and a separate analog input, so you can connect a total of three sources of video signal to this monitor. HDMI is missing, but HDMI sources can be easily connected via a cheap HDMI→DVI adapter whereas modern graphics cards still come mostly with DVI outputs.

The monitor’s control buttons can be founded on a ledge at the bottom edge of the case. They are large and click perceptibly when pressed. There is a round cavity in the center of each button, excepting the Power button which has an elongated cavity to avoid confusion.

The button labels are on the other side of the ledge, facing the user, and are highlighted with a white Power indicator. The highlighting is mere decoration, though. The indicator is beautiful, but can only highlight the couple of labels right below it. Anyway, the labels are easily readable in daylight, painted black against a silvery background.

When the monitor is in sleep mode, the indicator begins to blink without changing color.

The buttons provide quick access (i.e. without evoking the main menu) to MagicBright modes, to the Brightness setting, and to choosing the video input to use.

Setup Menu

Samsung’s new monitor series, P2x50, P2x70 and F2x80, feature an updated onscreen menu. It has a revised design, but its structure and content have largely remained the same.

The menu has five sections with settings. To be exact, the Information section offers no settings but only shows the current display resolution and refresh rate.

The first section contains Brightness and Contrast settings. There is also a Sharpness setting that should better left as it is. Changing the default value only makes the picture worse. Then, you can also choose a MagicBright mode here (but it is handier to do that with the dedicated button, without even entering the menu), adjust the image for analog connection, and choose a response time compensation mode.

MagicBright technology offers five modes with different levels of screen brightness that you can choose quickly by pressing a single button. This is very handy. When switching from an office application to a movie or game, you only have to press the MagicBright button a couple of times to get the screen brightness you want. You don’t have to enter the menu and adjust the Brightness setting in there. As opposed to similar technologies from other makers, MagicBright is not encumbered with any color-enhancing features (but color temperature is also changed in two out of the five MagicBright modes). Your own monitor settings do not get lost: you can access them by choosing the Custom mode. This is all highly useful if you often have to change the brightness of your monitor’s screen.

Dynamic Contrast is listed among the MagicBright modes, too. In this mode brightness is changing constantly basing on the currently displayed content. It is for this mode that the fantastically high contrast ratio of 1:150,000 is specified, but Dynamic Contrast is only useful for movies.

There are three response time compensation modes available in the menu. The Faster mode is selected by default, but, running a little ahead, I would advise you to select Fastest. The Normal mode disables response time compensation altogether.

Next goes the MagicColor section. MagicColor is a technology for adaptive color saturation adjustment that works in either of two ways: it makes all colors more saturated or all colors except skin tones. Some people may like it, but generally speaking, the purpose of all such technologies is to transform accurate colors into pretty-looking ones.

Then, you can adjust color temperature manually with three sliders or switch between preset color temperature modes (Normal, Cool, Warm). You will see below how accurately these modes are set up.

The Color Effect option enables image discoloring with subsequent toning: sepia, aquamarine, etc. I don’t grasp the practical purpose of it.

The Gamma option allows to choose one of three values of gamma compensation.

In the Size and Position section you can specify the position of the menu on the screen and control the display of visual content with resolution and aspect ratio other than the monitor’s native ones (the Image Size option).

In the PC mode (these modes are selected in a different menu section) the Image Size option can be set at Wide (the image is stretched out to full screen) or Auto (standard display resolutions are reproduced with correct proportions; the list of supported resolutions can be found in the user manual).

In the AV mode you can choose between aspect ratios of 4:3 and 16:9 or enable support for typical cinema formats (480p, 576p, 720p, 1080p) that will be automatically fitted into the screen and scaled up with restrained proportions.

The Setup & Reset section offers a lot of settings that don’t even fit into one menu screen. Here they are:

So, the menu structure has not changed over previous models of Samsung monitors while its design has become somewhat prettier – if you care about your monitor’s menu design at all. Despite the professional positioning of these models, the F2080 and F2380 have exactly the same settings as standard monitors and do not offer any special functionality. I would like to have a larger selection of color temperature modes and the option of adjusting the level of black I mentioned in the previous section. By the way, NEC’s S-PVA-based monitors offer such adjustment.

Still, Samsung should be given credit for developing a clear and logical menu structure. The menu works fast and the MagicBright feature is free from any color enhancements such as similar technologies from other makers come with.

Test Results 

Samsung SyncMaster F2080

I will stick to our regular testing methodology hereafter because all issues beyond it have already been discussed above.

First goes the SyncMaster F2080, a 20-inch monitor with an aspect ratio of 16:9 and a native resolution of 1600x900 pixels. It has a specified static contrast of 3000:1, a specified brightness of 250 nits and a specified response time of 8 milliseconds (GtG).

By default, the SyncMaster F2080 has 100% Brightness and 75% Contrast. I achieved a 100nit white by choosing 50% Brightness and 58% Contrast. The monitor regulates brightness by means of backlight modulation at a frequency of 180Hz.

Smooth color gradients are reproduced perfectly, without any banding.

I measured the input lag in comparison with a Samsung SyncMaster 710N on a series of 15 frames. Two frames showed blurred numbers and four more frames showed an input lag of 16 milliseconds. The input lag was zero on the rest of the frames. Thus, the monitor’s input lag is negligible.

The monitor’s max brightness is somewhat higher than 200 nits, but the contrast ratio is impressive. It is higher than 1500:1 at the default settings. My calibrator could not even measure the level of black in the dynamic contrast mode. At the reduced settings, the calibrator reported a black level of 0.01 nits only, but it is not guaranteed to measure below 0.02 nits.

The MagicBright modes are set up properly. They are bright enough for the intended applications, except that the Text and Internet modes are only suitable for good daylight lighting. If you use this monitor at home, you may want to set it up manually for text-based applications and switch to the MagicBright modes to view photos, watch movies or play games.

The monitor does not have an extended color gamut, but covers the standard sRGB color space entirely, being somewhat larger in greens and reds.

The average uniformity of white brightness is 5.2% with a maximum deflection of 19.8%. For black, the average and maximum are 8.4% and 22.0%, respectively. These numbers are somewhat worse than average, especially with black where you can clearly see a brighter area along the bottom of the screen. However, thanks to the high contrast ratio, this uniformity can hardly be perceived with a naked eye.

The gamma curves are rather neat at the default settings, being but slightly different from the ideal curve for gamma 2.2.

Alas, when the Brightness and Contrast settings are reduced, there appears a hump in the gamma curves that cannot be corrected with the monitor’s settings. Some image tones are going to look a little brighter than necessary as the result.

The color temperature setup of the three predefined modes is acceptable. The values more or less correspond to the names of the modes, and the temperatures of different grays do not vary by more than 1000K.

I also set the monitor up manually (Custom mode) at 60% Contrast and controlled the result with my calibrator. I finally selected the following values in the Color menu: Red=50, Green=32, Blue=32. Besides, the value of gamma in the monitor’s menu was set at Mode3. As you can see, my setup helped reduce the temperature dispersion to 660K.

But the most important outcome of the manual setup is that it helped get rid of the excessive green that could be observed in every predefined mode. Of course, this is better than the excessive blue typical of many other monitors, but still there is room for further improvement.

Response time compensation is turned off in the Normal mode, so the response time average is 21.6 milliseconds (GtG) with a maximum of as high as 75 milliseconds.

In the Faster mode the time of switching between halftones is somewhat reduced, but switching from black to dark gray still takes as long as 50-75 milliseconds. The response time average is 18.3 milliseconds (GtG). There are no RTC errors.

The overall picture does not change much in the Fastest mode, though. The gray-to-gray transitions generally fit within 10 milliseconds, but there is an 80-millisecond catastrophe again with dark grays. The response time average is 16.3 milliseconds (GtG). The RTC error level is low, the average error being a mere 0.25.

There already was a period in the history of PVA matrixes when RTC helped reduce the response on light halftones and on gray-to-gray transitions, but did not do anything to transitions from black to dark gray. The reason is that when voltage is applied to a black pixel of a VA matrix, the liquid crystals first move by a small angle into the direction opposite to the necessary one, and only after that they begin to move in the necessary direction. Samsung tried to fight that with DCC-II technology: when a pixel had to be switched from black to some other color, a low voltage was applied to it for one frame to switch the pixel to a dark gray first. And in the next frame the pixel got the voltage necessary for switching to the desired color. The only downside is that the input lag is higher by the duration of one frame (16.7 milliseconds) with DCC-II, although DCC-II virtually solved the problem of slow response on dark halftones.

Samsung seems to have returned in the F2080 and F2380 to the first version of DCC, which is simpler and cheaper to implement but does not ensure a good speed of the LCD matrix. The only unclear thing is why the monitor’s response time is specified to be 8 milliseconds (GtG).

Samsung SyncMaster F2380

Next goes the 23-inch SyncMaster F2380 that features a Full-HD resolution of 1920x1080 pixels. Its specs go like that: a contrast ratio of 3000:1, a brightness of 300 nits, and a response time of 8 milliseconds (GtG).

By default, the monitor has 100% Brightness and 75% Contrast. I achieved a 100nit white by choosing 40% Brightness and 47% Contrast. The monitor regulates its brightness by means of backlight modulation at a frequency of 180Hz.

Color gradients are reproduced correctly, without banding.

Like the F2080, the F2380 differs by no more than 16 milliseconds from a Samsung SyncMaster 710N in terms of input lag. In other words, its input lag can be disregarded as negligible.

The maximum brightness is indeed higher than with the 20-inch model. The contrast ratio is higher, too. It is over 1800:1 at the default settings. At the reduced settings and in the dynamic contrast mode my calibrator found itself below the bottom measurement limit.

The MagicBright modes are set up properly, but the Text and Internet modes are rather too bright for home use. You may want to set the monitor up manually for text-based applications and use those modes for viewing photos, watching movies and playing games under dim evening lighting. There are no color distortions in the MagicBright modes.

The color gamut is not extended. It fully covers the standard sRGB color space in all the three basic colors.

The average nonuniformity of white brightness is 4.6% with a maximum deflection of 11.9%. For black, the average and maximum are 7.8% and 19.8%. The numbers are good for white but worse than average for black. On the other hand, the high overall contrast ratio of the monitor will conceal the nonuniformity of its backlight.

The gamma curves are nearly ideal at the default settings. They almost coincide with the theoretical curve.

When the monitor’s Contrast and Brightness settings are set below their defaults, there appears a hump in the gamma curves as we have already seen with the SyncMaster F2080. The hump is smaller here, though.

The color temperature setup is acceptable. It is only the darkest tones that have a bluish hue, but that’s not a big problem. If you don’t count the darkest tones in, the temperature dispersion between the different levels of gray is within 1000K.

I set the monitor up manually (Custom mode) at 50% Contrast and controlled the result with my calibrator. I finally selected the following values in the Color menu: Red=50, Green=37, Blue=40. I did not change the value of gamma in the monitor’s menu (it is set at Mode1 by default). My setup helps reduce the temperature dispersion to 1100K or, if the darkest tones are not counted in, to 800K.

Like with the F2080, there is excessive green in every predefined mode as the gray point diagrams above show. But I nearly got rid of the excess of green when I set the monitor up manually in Custom mode.

However, it is impossible to achieve an ideal result using the monitor’s own tools. You should calibrate it in order to get really accurate colors. You can do this with any hardware calibrator or manually with the CLTest program. The latter method calls for perseverance and neatness, but I do recommend you to try calibrating your monitor manually if you can’t use a hardware calibrator.

In the Normal mode of response time compensation – when RTC is virtually turned off – the response time average is 21.7 milliseconds (GtG) with a maximum of 75 milliseconds.

In the Faster mode, which is selected by default, the response time average is not much lower at 19.8 milliseconds (GtG). It is mostly gray-to-gray transitions that are affected.

The Fastest mode doesn’t change much, either. Its response time average is 18.7 milliseconds (GtG) with a maximum of 75 milliseconds. Alas, the F2380 is considerably slower than the F2080. The latter’s gray-to-gray transitions take about 10 milliseconds, but here they are as long as 15 to 20 milliseconds.

Conclusion

The SyncMaster F2080 and SyncMaster F2380 have the following highs:

And the following lows:

Recommended usage:

I had expected the new monitors from Samsung to be worthy successors to the highly popular but out-of-production SyncMaster 215TW that was based on an S-PVA matrix and offered good viewing angles and low response time for reasonable money.

Alas, the F2080 and F2380 are not a full-grown replacement to the 215TW. Although better than their predecessor in some respects, they are inferior to it in others.

There is no fundamental difference between S-PVA and C-PVA matrixes when it comes to such typical shortcomings of PVA technology as the shift of gamma and tonality when the screen is looked at from a side and the loss of darkest details when you look directly at the screen. The viewing angles of C-PVA matrixes are symmetric, and that’s all. The neat reproduction of dark details on some S-PVA matrixes was obviously due to the deliberately increased level of black rather than to some properties of the LCD matrix. This helped solve the problem at the expense of a minor reduction in contrast ratio.

Then, C-PVA based monitors boast a fantastically high contrast ratio of over 1500:1, according to my measurements. They are far superior to the SyncMaster 215TW as well as to most other monitors currently available.

Unfortunately, the response time of the new models is not good enough for dynamic games. It is going to be all right for office applications and for watching movies, but I’d recommend a gamer to take a look at these monitors alive before purchase. Perhaps their response time won’t be satisfactory to you and you will prefer another model.

Talking about the professional positioning of the F2080 and F2380, I can recall a serious opponent from NEC. It is the MultiSync P221W based on an S-PVA matrix. The P221W is indeed superior to the new monitors from Samsung in color accuracy, setup opportunities and response time, but it is also considerably more expensive.

Thus, the SyncMaster F2080 and F2380 are very good monitors for work that does not call for super-high color accuracy as well as for home if you don’t play dynamic games and don’t mind the high response time of the LCD matrix. They are not truly universal, but I have no doubt they will find a lot of applications. Although C-PVA matrixes have retained all the typical drawbacks of S-PVA in terms viewing angles, they are still far superior to the widespread TN technology in this respect. Their contrast ratio is many times as high as that of TN matrixes, too. And as for the price factor, the new monitors are just a little more expensive than TN-based ones. Thus, they fit into the niche between TN-based products and expensive professional monitors in terms of both pricing and parameters. This niche is so sparsely populated at the moment that the F2080 and F2380 may prove to be its only occupants. Theoretically, they have such opponents as the Dell 2209WA (a 22-incher with S-IPS matrix and affordable price) but when it comes to practice, this model from Dell can be found not in all cities and not in all countries whereas Samsung’s products are far more widespread.

I think that Samsung’s new monitors are going to be interesting for people who are not satisfied with the viewing angles and overall ergonomics of today’s TN-based monitors but cannot afford professional products based on S-PVA or S-IPS matrixes.

An option to adjust the level of black is on my wish list now. I don’t think it is too difficult to implement. With such an option, you could choose between higher contrast ratio and more accurate reproduction of darks. I would also prefer DCC-II response time compensation with appropriate acceleration, but I doubt it is possible without making the monitors more expensive.

And finally, Samsung promises new models of S-PVA based monitors this fall. They are going to be more expensive but will also have better parameters.