Roundup: New Samsung Touch of Color Series

We are going to talk about seven new monitors on TN matrixes in Samsung’s Touch of Color series, including SyncMaster XL2370 solution with LED backlighting.

by Oleg Artamonov
11/21/2009 | 03:07 PM

About a year ago Samsung introduced its Touch of Color series of LCD monitors which comprised original home-oriented products with a beautiful appearance brought to life by means of a multilayered design of the case with translucent acryl coating.

 

Our tests proved that, besides being nice-looking, that series also had good technical characteristics and it was quite a success among customers. Therefore Samsung has developed the Touch of Color series further by releasing over half a dozen new models in it.

While the first wave of these monitors was uniform, the current generation splits into three branches: a relatively inexpensive 50 series (P2050, P2250 and P2350), a pretty 70 series (P2070, P2270 and P2370) and a new LED-backlit XL2370. Samsung has not yet decided on releasing models with larger diagonals in the Touch of Color line.


Click to enlarge

As you can see, the models of the different sub-series with the same diagonal are similar in their specs: the 50 series models have a somewhat higher maximum brightness and a dedicated analog input (in the 70 series an analog cable is plugged to a DVI connector via an adapter). That’s all the difference, actually. The LED-backlit XL2370 also features a colossal value of dynamic contrast.

But are the 50 and 70 series indeed so similar in practice? Perhaps you should choose between them basing not only on their looks? I will try to give you the answer in this review.

Testing Methodology

Use the following link for a description of our testing methodology and the equipment we use as well as for a brief explanation of what the specified and tested parameters of LCD monitors mean: X-bit Labs Presents: LCD Monitors Testing Methodology In Depth. If you feel overwhelmed with the numbers and terms this article abounds in, check out an appropriate section of the mentioned article for explanation.

You can also check out the Monitors section of our site if this review doesn’t cover the model you are interested in.

SyncMaster P2050, P2250, P2350

Exterior Design and Ergonomics

The 50 series monitors occupy the bottom segment of the Touch of Color line. These are junior models combining nice looks with an affordable price. Interestingly, the 50 series coincides with the 70 series in screen diagonals: 20, 21.5 and 23 inches. The latter two models have a Full-HD resolution of 1920x1080 pixels.

The monitors are very beautiful and laconic in design. Some people did not like the excessive roundness of shape of the previous Touch of Color products, so the 50 series is mostly about sharp angles.

The monitors have a dual-layer face panel. There is a plate of translucent acryl above the dark-cherry plastic. It protrudes by a few millimeters at the sides of the case. The interior layer of plastic has the same color throughout the entire front panel (as opposed to the T series in which it used to change smoothly from red, green or blue at the bottom to black at the top).

The back panel is made from black glossy plastic. It has fasteners for attaching a standard VESA mount instead of the monitor’s native stand.

The glossy plastic of both the front and back panels has the typical downside of making every greasy fingerprint visible. And however soft a napkin you may use for cleaning it, there will soon appear microscopic scratches visible in reflected light. The glossy surface also gets electrified easily and virtually attracts every speck of dust. That’s the price you pay for the beautiful looks of the monitor.

Although the case is glossy, the matrix in the basic models of the series has a matte antiglare coating. There exist versions with the G index (P2050G, P2250G, and P2270G) that have a glossy coating of the matrix. What’s the difference? Matte displays are more universal in terms of ambient lighting. Glossy displays yield a higher contrast ratio if the light source is to the side of the user but produce glares if the light source (a lamp or a window) is in front of the monitor (i.e. behind the user’s back).

The monitors have a typical thickness for modern products. They are not slim.

The round stand, made from black glossy plastic, is assembled out of two parts: a base and a pole fastened together with a screw.

The stand is just inserted into the monitor’s bottom until a click. The fastening is secure and the monitor won’t fall from it. It is easy to assemble the stand and take it apart. You only have to apply some effort when taking the stand out of the monitor.

The stand allows adjusting the tilt of the screen, in a rather small range, but as I’ve mentioned above, you can easily replace it with a VESA mount to hang the monitor on a wall or just have more adjustment options.

These monitors have two inputs: an analog D-Sub and a digital DVI-D. The power adapter is integrated into the case. It is unclear why Samsung did not implement an HDMI input, especially in the two senior models that have a Full-HD resolution, but you can use a DVI-HDMI adapter that costs a mere $10.

Included with the monitor are DVI-D and D-Sub cables.

Take note that there exist versions of these monitors with the letter N in the model name. They lack a DVI input and are somewhat cheaper but I do not recommend using them. DVI is handier (for example, you don’t have to adjust the monitor’s settings to get a sharp picture) and, what is even more important, not all graphics cards can ensure enough sharpness at such a high resolution using analog connection. So, this small economy may prove to be a big problem in the end.

The control buttons of the 50 series monitors seem to be very special at first sight. The Power button is the only one which is labeled. The others are only marked with white dots.

The trick is that these buttons are touch-sensitive and their labels light up in the translucent acryl band that goes below the monitor’s case. They are not visible at all when turned off. The monitor has two button highlighting modes selectable in the menu: permanently on (and each touch of a button triggers the related event) or the highlighting goes up when you touch any button and goes out a few seconds afterwards. In the second case you have to press a button twice to trigger its action: the first touch will turn the highlighting on and the second touch will evoke the necessary feature. The highlighting goes up smoothly, so you have to wait one or two seconds between the presses. It will be easier to keep the highlighting of the buttons permanently on if you use the monitor’s onscreen menu often.

I have no complaints about the operation of the buttons. I had no false reaction or anything when testing any of these new monitors. The buttons react to a soft press with a finger and are not sensitive to an accidental touch of a metallic thing like wire or something.

Onscreen Menu Interface and Functionality

The design of the onscreen menu has been thoroughly revised in comparison with Samsung’s earlier products although its interior structure has remained almost intact. The menu is good, pretty and easy to use.

The first section offers Brightness, Contrast and Sharpness settings (you shouldn’t tinker with the latter one because changing the default value worsens the image quality). You can also choose a MagicBright mode, adjust the monitor for analog signal and, somewhat surprisingly, switch between different response time compensation modes. The latter option used to be hidden in the general settings in the menus of Samsung’s previous products.

There are three RTC modes: normal, faster and fastest. The first mode turns RTC off altogether. You will see the practical difference between these modes in terms of effective speed and visual artifacts in the tests section of the review.

The next menu section is about color reproduction. Here you can turn on MagicColor and ColorEffect modes, adjust the color temperature and gamma of the onscreen image (there are three variants of gamma to choose from, without specific numeric values).

MagicColor boosts color saturation, making colors vivid but less accurate. Samsung’s monitors offer two MagicColor modes. In one mode this effect covers all colors. In the other mode, it covers all colors save for skin tones.

ColorEffect is a feature with dubious practical value. It can discolor and tone the image to get a green, brownish (sepia), bluish or just black-and-white picture.

The next menu section, Size & Position, allows setting the position of the image on the screen (at analog connection) or the position of the onscreen menu. You can also choose an interpolation mode here: stretch the picture to the screen proportions (16:9) or output non-widescreen resolutions with restrained proportions. In the Auto mode the monitor is guided by a list of standard resolutions which can be found in the user manual. Other resolutions are displayed with distorted proportions. The monitor cannot output visual content without interpolation.

The Setup and Reset section is so large that it does not fit into a single menu screen. It allows resetting the monitor’s settings to their defaults, setting up the transparency and language of the onscreen menu, specifying the time for the monitor to automatically start up or shut down.

There are also two very useful options here: LED On/Off and LED Brightness. The former selects the mode of the highlighting of the touch-sensitive buttons (turns on and off automatically or always on). The latter allows adjusting the intensity of that highlighting. I guess that most users will prefer to have a permanent soft highlighting rather than the default variant of bright highlighting that turns on when you touch a button.

In this menu section you can turn off the automatic detection of video input (the monitor can itself detect what input has a connected source of signal), specify the time to close the onscreen menu, and choose the operation mode (PC/AV) and function of the user-defined button.

The PC/AV mode affects the picture interpolation method. When you set it at AV, there appears an aspect ratio of 4:3 in the Image Size item of the Setup & Position menu section. This mode guarantees correct operation (without distorted proportions) at typical resolutions of home electronic devices.

The Customized Key option allows specifying the function of one of the buttons on the monitor’s front panel: choosing the necessary level of brightness (MagicBright), turning on the above-described MagicColor or Color Effect features, or switching the image interpolation mode. By default, this button is responsible for MagicBright and I guess this is the most optimal choice.

The last menu section shows information about the monitor’s current operation mode.

SyncMaster P2050 Performance

By default, the monitor has 100% brightness and 75% contrast. I achieved a 100nit white by choosing 33% brightness and 36% contrast. The monitor regulates its brightness by means of pulse-width modulation of the power of the backlight lamps at a frequency of 180Hz.

Response Time

The monitor has no response time compensation in the Normal mode. The response time average is 14.6 milliseconds (GtG) with a maximum of over 28 milliseconds.

In the Faster mode the response time average lowers to 5.9 milliseconds (GtG). Interestingly, transitions from black to gray remain rather slow whereas gray-to-gray transitions get much faster.

The RTC miss (when the pixel brightness is set higher than necessary) is rather low at an average 4.1%.

The same value expressed in milliseconds (the time a pixel takes to reach the desired state after an RTC miss) has an average of 7.5 milliseconds. The RTC miss is the biggest on transitions from lighter to darker halftones, but is not generally conspicuous. RTC-related artifacts are not annoying overall.

The Fastest mode lowers the response time average a little more to 4.3 milliseconds (GtG). The compensation still does not work on transitions from black to gray.

Nearly every transition is accompanied with an error. The average RTC miss is 16.5%, which is quite a lot.

The pixel takes an average 20.6 milliseconds to get to the desired state after such a gross miss. This is longer than the duration of one frame (16.7 milliseconds). Such errors are conspicuous and rather annoying both at work and in games.

Thus, when it comes to response time compensation, the Faster mode seems to be the most optimal. The monitor is too slow in the Normal mode whereas the Fastest mode lowers the response time average slightly but makes RTC-provoked visual artifacts much more conspicuous.

Input Lag

I did not spot any input lag on the SyncMaster P2050 in comparison with a Samsung SyncMaster 710N which has zero input lag.

Brightness and Contrast

The monitor’s maximum brightness is over 300 nits and its maximum contrast ratio is about 700:1. My calibrator reported zeroes in the dynamic contrast mode as its bottom measurement level is 0.02 nits.

Brightness Uniformity

The average nonuniformity of white brightness is 5.2% with a maximum deflection of 15.5%. For black brightness, the average and maximum are 3.8% and 14.0%, respectively. These are very good results.

Color Gamut

The monitor’s color gamut coincides with the sRGB space, being somewhat smaller in blues but somewhat larger in reds and greens.

Gamma Curves

The gamma curves are acceptable at the default settings, going just slightly higher than the ideal curve for gamma 2.2.

At the reduced brightness and contrast settings the curves improve and nearly merge into each other, but still go above the ideal curve, especially in darks. It means the picture looks somewhat brighter, with lower contrast, than necessary.

Color Temperature

The default color temperature setup (the user can choose from three predefined modes) is good excepting the deflection towards green which gets stronger in the warmer modes. I managed to eliminate this drawback by choosing R=43, G=39 and B=50 in the manual adjustment mode at a contrast value of 50.

The numbers agree with what I’ve said except that they are unaffected by the deflection towards green. Strictly speaking, it is incorrect to measure color temperature if there is a deflection towards pink or green. Therefore this section begins with a diagram that makes such deflections clear.

MagicBright Modes

MagicBright is a handy way of quickly changing the monitor’s brightness, for example when you want to switch from an office application to a game or back again. Samsung monitors offer five preset modes which are not editable by the user. Besides, the MagicBright button enables a dynamic contrast mode.

The MagicBright modes are set up neatly enough but the Text and Internet ones suit better for viewing photos or watching movies. They are too bright for text-based applications. It is better to set the monitor up manually for working with text. MagicBright technology does not bring about any color distortions. The color temperature is set at Cool in the Sport mode, at Warm in the Movie mode and at Normal in the other modes. Alas, you cannot adjust the color temperature manually in the MagicBright modes and the monitor will still have a slightly excessive green.

SyncMaster P2250 Performance

The monitor has 100% brightness and 75% contrast by default. I achieved a 100nit white by dropping both contrast and brightness down to 44%. The monitor regulates its brightness by means of pulse-width modulation of the power of the backlight lamps at a frequency of 180Hz.

Response Time

The monitor has no RTC in the Normal mode. Most of transitions take 16-20 milliseconds, the overall average being 13.1 milliseconds (GtG).

It is absolutely different in the Faster mode: the response time average is reduced nearly threefold to 4.9 milliseconds (GtG). Like with the P2050, some black-to-gray transitions remain slow, about as long as 18 milliseconds.

The RTC error average is rather low at 6.0%.

If expressed in time units, the RTC error average equals 8.2 milliseconds.

The response time average drops to 3.5 milliseconds (GtG) in the Fastest mode. But we can recall that the P2050 had lots of artifacts in that mode.

Indeed, this model has an RTC error average of 20.4% here. The RTC-provoked artifacts are perfectly visible.

The average pixel relaxation time grows dramatically up to 21.3 milliseconds.

Like with the P2050, the Faster mode seems to be the most optimal one because the Fastest mode makes RTC-related visual artifacts far more conspicuous.

Input Lag

I did not spot any input lag on the SyncMaster P2250 in comparison with a Samsung SyncMaster 710N which has zero input lag.

Brightness and Contrast

The monitor’s brightness and contrast ratio are typical for today’s matrixes although a couple of years ago I would call such results very good for a TN matrix. Dynamic contrast is so high that my calibrator could not measure it precisely.

Brightness Uniformity

The average nonuniformity of white brightness is 5.5% with a maximum deflection of 15.4%. For black brightness, the average and maximum are 7.9% and 21.3%, respectively. The pictures based on the measurement results indicate that the monitor has a characteristic X-shaped pattern with brighter areas along the top and bottom of the screen.

Color Gamut

As you might expect, the monitor’s color gamut coincides with the sRGB space, with minor discrepancies. The somewhat more saturated red can only be noticed with a naked eye.

Gamma Curves

At the default settings the gamma curves for green and red coincide with the theoretical curve but the monitor lacks blue: the blue curve is sagging.

When the Contrast setting is reduced in the monitor’s menu, the curves are all close to the theoretical one.

Color Temperature

At the default settings the P2250 betrays the same problem as the P2050: a noticeable deflection towards green. I managed to get rid of it by manually selecting R=20, G=39 and B=46 at a Contrast of 50.

Otherwise, the color temperature setup is all right: the variation between the different levels of gray is within a few hundred degrees which is very good for a home-oriented monitor.

MagicBright Modes

The MagicBright modes are set up appropriately, but the Text mode is suitable for working under bright office lighting. If you are working with text at home, you should instead set the monitor up manually and switch into the Text mode to view photographs. The Sport and Movie modes traditionally differ with their color temperature which is set at Cool and Warm. In the other modes the color temperature setting is Normal.

SyncMaster P2350 Performance

The monitor has 100% brightness and 75% contrast by default. I achieved a 100nit white by dropping the brightness and contrast settings to 39% and 45%, respectively. The monitor regulates its brightness by means of pulse-width modulation of the power of the backlight lamps at a frequency of 180Hz.

Response Time

There is nothing new in the Normal mode: 14.6 milliseconds (GtG).

In the Faster mode the response time average lowers almost threefold to 5.8 milliseconds.

The RTC error average is low at only 4.1%. Quite a lot of transitions are performed without any error.

The pixel relaxation time is small too at 5.1 milliseconds.

The Fastest mode lowers the response time average by a mere 1.5 milliseconds, to 4.3 milliseconds (GtG). There is still no RTC for black-to-gray transitions.

This acceleration comes at a high price: the RTC error average grows up almost fivefold to 19.6%.

The average time for pixel relaxation is as high as 20.6 milliseconds. So, the P2350 does not break the tradition: the Faster mode is still the best compromise between speed and visual artifacts. It is unclear what the Fastest mode is for. The artifacts are so gross in it that you can’t help seeing them.

Input Lag

I did not spot any input lag on the SyncMaster P2350 in comparison with a Samsung SyncMaster 710N which has zero input lag.

Brightness and Contrast

The monitor’s brightness and contrast are high. There is nothing to criticize for me here.

Brightness Uniformity

The average nonuniformity of white brightness is 4.5% with a maximum deflection of 12.8%. For black brightness, the average and maximum are 7.3% and 25.0%, respectively. The pictures based on the measurement results indicate that there are brighter areas at the top and bottom of the screen when the monitor is showing black.

Color Gamut

We don’t see anything new here. The monitor’s color gamut is somewhat smaller than sRGB in blues and somewhat larger in reds and greens. For all practical purposes, the two color spaces can be assumed to be equal.

Gamma Curves

At the default settings the red and green color curves look good, but the blue curve is sagging.

The curves improve when the contrast setting is reduced. They differ a little from the theoretical curve but not by much.

Color Temperature

Like the previous two models, this monitor has a deflection towards green in the predefined color temperature modes. The dispersion of temperature between the different levels of gray is small, though. However, the deflection towards green is subjectively more agreeable to the eye than darks having a blue tint as in many other monitors. Besides, you can solve the problem completely by means of manual setup. I selected the following values: Contrast = 50, R=45, G=42, B=50.

As you can see, the result is very good when expressed in numbers: the different levels of gray do not differ much in terms of color temperature.

MagicBright Modes

The Text mode is still rather too bright to be used for text-based applications. You may want to set the monitor up manually for a lower level of brightness and use the Text mode to view photographs and watch movies. Otherwise, I can see no problems with the MagicBright setup.

SyncMaster P2070, P2270, P2370

Exterior Design and Ergonomics

While the Touch of Color 50 series represents a compromise between beautiful design and pricing, the 70 series is going to be both more elegant and more expensive. I will try to describe the objective differences between them so that you could decide if the improvements are worth the money.

The 70 series is more rounded off and the color of the plastic has changed from dark-cherry to black. The translucent acryl coating now forms a frame surrounding the face panel.

The back panel of the monitor is ideally smooth. This smoothness is only disturbed by the depression with connectors and the hole for a lock. Alas, the 70 series does not support VESA-compatible mounts. The monitor just does not have appropriate fastenings.

The monitor is slimmer and more elegant in profile than the 50 series, but the position adjustment is still limited to changing the tilt of the screen – and in a very small range, too.

The stand again consists of two parts: an oval base and a pole. The latter is fastened to the base with one screw and its other end goes into the monitor until a click. The pole is made from translucent plastic that changes its color to blue towards the base. This looks quite pretty.

The monitor has one connector only. It is a universal DVI-I that supports both analog and digital video sources.

A DVI-D cable and a DVI → D-Sub adapter are included with the monitor. If you need to connect a monitor to an HDMI source, you have to spend a few dollars for an HDMI-DVI cable. Frankly speaking, I guess that the compatibility with analog outputs might have been abandoned and the DVI-I port might have been replaced with an HDMI connector.

You may have noticed that the 70 series monitors have an external power adapter. It is a matter of taste whether that’s good or bad. Some people don’t like to have the brick of a power adapter under their desk, but others prefer to have a thin cable instead of a stiff power cord with a large connector going to the monitor.

There is only one button you can see when the monitor is turned off. It is Power. It does not mean that, like Samsung’s SyncMaster 193P and 971P, you have to control the monitor through a software tool only.

The highlighting of the button is implemented differently than in the 50 series. In that series, the labels were shining below the buttons on a translucent acryl strip. Here, the labels are in the places of the buttons. The highlighting is white and works in two modes: it turns on automatically upon a touch or is constantly on. Its intensity can be adjusted.

Like with the 50 series, I have not a single complaint about how the buttons work. They process every touch with exquisite accuracy. The always-on highlighting mode is more appropriate here because when the highlighting is turned off, you cannot see the positions of the buttons. You have to move your finger randomly along the front panel to hit any button and thus make the highlighting shine.

The 70 series has the same onscreen menu as the 50 series except for one minor discrepancy: there are different names of the RTC modes although their number and meaning have remained the same.

Overall, I cannot say that the 70 series is absolutely superior to the 50 series externally. Each of them is going to find its customer. The 70 series is more elegant and slim but the 50 series has a more restrained, bold appearance despite the use of dark-cherry instead of black plastic in the front panel. Besides, the 50 series has VESA fasteners and can be connected to two sources of signal.

There is a chance that these two series differ in technical parameters besides exterior design. Let’s check this out right now.

SyncMaster P2070 Performance

The monitor has 100% brightness and 75% contrast by default. I achieved a 100nit white by selecting 55% brightness and 60% contrast. The monitor regulates its brightness by means of pulse-width modulation of the power of the backlight lamps at a frequency of 180Hz.

Response Time

Just like the 50 series, the monitor has no RTC at all in the Normal mode, the resulting response time average being 15.3 milliseconds (GtG).

We now have a Still mode instead of Faster but its effect has not changed: the RTC mechanism shows moderate aggressiveness here, with a response time average of 5.0 milliseconds (GtG). There is no RTC at all on black-to-gray transitions.

Only some of the transitions are performed with a miss, so the average miss is low at 7.5%.

The average pixel relaxation time after an RTC miss is 10.8 milliseconds, which is acceptable (although I’ve seen better results).

The Movie mode enables RTC for almost every transition, which makes the monitor much faster with an average response of 2.8 milliseconds (GtG).

Unfortunately, each transition is accompanied with an RTC miss. The average miss is as high as 20.3%.

The pixel relaxation time grows up to an average 24 milliseconds, which is as long as one frame and a half! As a result, although the Movie mode accelerates the monitor almost twofold, most users are going to prefer the Still mode due to the low level of RTC-provoked artifacts. In the Movie mode, such artifacts are conspicuous in both games and office applications.

Input Lag

I did not spot any input lag on the SyncMaster P2070 in comparison with a Samsung SyncMaster 710N which has zero input lag.

Brightness and Contrast

The P2070 proves to have a lower maximum brightness than the P2050, but that’s exactly what their specs promise. There is going to be almost no practical difference, however. A brightness of 238 nits is high enough for using the monitor under any ambient lighting unless you are going to watch a movie under direct sunlight.

Brightness Uniformity

The average nonuniformity of white brightness is 7.3% with a maximum deflection of 18.7%. For black brightness, the average and maximum are 6.4% and 23.9%, respectively. There is a brighter area in the bottom part of the screen while the sides are darker than the center. This pattern differs from the one of the P2050 which may be due to the difficulty of packing an LCD panel into the slimmer 70 series case.

Color Gamut

The color gamut diagram is similar to what the previous models have shown. It is generally the same as sRGB, being somewhat smaller in blues and somewhat larger in reds and greens.

Gamma Curves

At the default settings the gamma curves are not perfect but neat, running near the theoretical curve for gamma 2.2.

There are no significant changes at the reduced settings.

Color Temperature

We see a familiar picture again. The difference between the different grays is small in each predefined color temperature mode, but there is excessive green in each of them. I got rid of that problem by manually selecting R=50, G=43, B=50 and Contrast=50 in the monitor’s menu.

The table with numbers shows that there is indeed a very small difference between the different levels of gray. This is good but the SyncMaster P2050 has delivered the same result.

MagicBright Modes

The Text mode is too bright for working with text comfortably, so it should better be used for viewing photographs and watching movies. I can find no other fault with the other MagicBright modes. This is a very handy feature if you use the monitor at home and often switch between text-based applications (office applications or websites), photographs, movies and games as it allows changing the monitor’s brightness quickly without entering the main menu. The only parameter that changes besides brightness is color temperature which is set at Cool in the Sport mode, Warm in the Movie mode and Normal in the remaining modes. Thus, MagicBright does not affect color accuracy.

SyncMaster P2270 Performance

The monitor has 100% brightness and 75% contrast by default. I achieved a 100nit white by choosing 50% brightness and 52% contrast. The monitor regulates its brightness by means of pulse-width modulation of the power of the backlight lamps at a frequency of 180Hz.

Response Time

RTC is off in the Normal mode. The response time average is 13.4 milliseconds (GtG).

In the Still mode the speed improves dramatically up to 4.5 milliseconds (GtG).

The artifacts resulting from inaccuracies of the RTC mechanism are low or absent with most of transitions. However, there are a few peaks in the diagrams, so the average RTC miss is 9.0%. That’s not exactly low, but acceptable.

The average time a pixel takes to relax into the necessary state after an RTC miss is 11.9 milliseconds. That’s not much, but some of the models I have tested in this review are better in this respect.

The Movie mode cuts the response time in half: down to an average 2.4 milliseconds (GtG).

Like with the above-discussed models, you have to pay for that with a high level of RTC artifacts: the RTC error average is 24.1%.

The average pixel relaxation time is 23.8 milliseconds, which makes RTC-provoked artifacts conspicuous. So, like with the previous models, you may prefer the Still mode as the most optimal one.

Input Lag

I did not spot any input lag on the SyncMaster P2270 in comparison with a Samsung SyncMaster 710N which has zero input lag.

Brightness and Contrast

The monitor has almost the same brightness and contrast ratio parameters as the SyncMaster P270. Interestingly, the 50 series is indeed consistently brighter just as the specs suggest. Anyway, the brightness of 235 nits should be more than enough for any practical purposes.

Brightness Uniformity

The average nonuniformity of white brightness is 5.9% with a maximum deflection of 17.1%. For black brightness, the average and maximum are 6.9% and 21.3%, respectively. The numbers are far from perfect, especially on black where the center and bottom of the screen are brighter than the rest of it.

Color Gamut

The monitor’s color gamut is almost the same as the standard sRGB color space.

Gamma Curves

At the default settings the gamma curves of different colors differ from each other: the gamma is too low for blue (the curve is closer to the diagonal straight) and too high for red. That’s not a big problem and I have seen worse results from other monitors, but the curves just don’t look neat.

When the contrast setting is reduced in the monitor’s menu, the gamma for red improves. The appropriate curve rises up to nearly coincide with the green curve as well as with the ideal curve for gamma 2.2. The level of blue in halftones is still somewhat too high.

Color Temperature

As opposed to the previous models, the P2270 not only has too much of green but also a large dispersion of temperature among the different levels of gray. You can see it in the diagram that the color coordinates of white and gray stand far apart.

The table with numeric values of temperature confirms what I’ve written in the previous paragraph: the different levels of gray differ by 3000 to 10,000 degrees which is very much. When I tried to adjust the monitor manually at 50% contrast and selected R=50, B=38 and G=43 in the menu, the temperature dispersion diminished to 2000K and the deflection towards green vanished.

Running a little ahead, I should say that the P2270 was the only Touch of Color model with such a sloppy color temperature setup. Perhaps it was just a bad sample, although I cannot of course guarantee that other samples of the P2270 are going to be better in this respect.

MagicBright Modes

The MagicBright modes are set up properly enough. The Text mode is indeed appropriate for working in text-based applications under good office lighting (if you use the monitor at home, under mild evening lighting, you may want to set the monitor up manually). The other modes are suitable for games, photos and movies.

SyncMaster P2370 Performance

The monitor has 100% brightness and 75% contrast by default. I achieved a 100nit white by selecting 50% brightness and 54% contrast. The monitor regulates its brightness by means of pulse-width modulation of the power of the backlight lamps at a frequency of 180Hz.

Response Time

The Normal mode is again slow, the overall average being 14.5 milliseconds (GtG).

It is better in the Still mode: four transitions from black to dark gray remain slow while the response time average improves to 4.1 milliseconds (GtG).

The RTC error average is 8.8%, which is acceptable.

Alas, the average pixel relaxation time is rather high at 16.6 milliseconds which equals the duration of a single frame. This affects the visibility of RTC artifacts. I wouldn’t say that they are too distracting, though.

There is only one transition from black to dark gray that remains slow in the Movie mode, which is the fastest. The resulting response time average is 2.5 milliseconds (GtG).

Unfortunately, this comes at a traditionally high price: the RTC error average is 21.4%.

The average pixel relaxation time is as high as 26.2 milliseconds. The resulting visual artifacts are perfectly visible when you are moving application windows or making fast movements in games. So, notwithstanding the fast response in the Movie mode, it is better to set the P2370’s responsiveness at Still.

Input Lag

I did not spot any input lag on the SyncMaster P2370 in comparison with a Samsung SyncMaster 710N which has zero input lag.

Brightness and Contrast

The monitor’s brightness complies with its specs. The contrast ratio is good, even though lower than specified.

Brightness Uniformity

The uniformity of backlight is the weak point that all the 70 series models share. It must be due to the difficulty of ensuring uniform fastening of the LCD panel in their slim cases as opposed to the more massive cases of the 50 series.

With the SyncMaster P2370, the average nonuniformity of white brightness is 6.3% with a maximum deflection of 18.7%. For black brightness, the average and maximum are 6.7% and 31.0%, respectively. Besides, the eye can see weak vertical dark waves that cannot be recorded due to the sensor’s low spatial resolution.

Color Gamut

The monitor’s color gamut is almost the same the standard sRGB color space.

Gamma Curves

At the default settings the blue curve differs from the others, sagging below the theoretical one. The curves for green and red are close to the ideal curve for gamma 2.2.

When the contrast ratio is reduced, the curves improve and get close to each other. They are shaped somewhat differently than the theoretical curve, but that’s not a big problem.

Color Temperature

The SyncMaster P2370 shows the common drawback of all these new monitors from Samsung. It has an excessive green. This can be amended by manually adjusting the color temperature. In this case, I just selected the following values in the monitor’s menu: R=50, G=35 and B=50.

The color temperature dispersion between the different grays is very small.

MagicBright Modes

The MagicBright modes are set up in the usual way: you should set the monitor up manually for working with text and browsing the Web, while the MagicBright modes are suitable for viewing photos, watching movies and playing games.

SyncMaster XL2370

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.

SyncMaster XL2370 Performance

The monitor has 100% brightness and 75% contrast by default. I achieved a 100nit white by dropping the brightness and contrast settings to 38% and 40%, respectively. The monitor regulates its brightness by means of pulse-width modulation of the power of the backlight lamps at a frequency of 180Hz.

The SyncMaster XL2370 was not available in retail at the time of my tests, so I tested a sample Samsung Electronics had been kind to provide to me.

Response Time

There are no differences from the P series in terms of response time so far. The Normal mode means there is no RTC. The monitor is as slow as 15.2 milliseconds (GtG) here.

In the Faster mode transitions from black and white to gray remain slow but gray-to-gray transitions are greatly accelerated, resulting in a response time average of 5.5 milliseconds (GtG).

The RTC error average is a mere 4.4%, which is very low. RTC-related artifacts won’t be conspicuous in games or at work.

The pixel relaxation time after an RTC miss is 8.7 milliseconds on average. That’s a good result, too.

The picture shows that the Fastest mode is almost no different from Faster. The numbers agree: the response time average is 5.0 milliseconds (GtG).

The RTC error average increases to 8.0% but the resulting visual artifacts won’t be conspicuous.

The pixel relaxation time grows to 13.3 milliseconds, which is not too bad, either.

Thus, the SyncMaster XL2370 is the only monitor I have tested for this review that has an acceptable level of visual artifacts in the Fastest mode. On the other hand, the response time does not improve much in that mode, either. So, I guess the Faster mode is still the optimal compromise between speed and visual artifacts.

By the way, judging by the names of the modes and the response time results, the XL2370 is closer to the 50 series monitors than to the 70 series. Well, this may be due to the fact that I tested a presale sample of the monitor. Its firmware may be corrected later as this is a simple operation.

Input Lag

I did not spot any input lag on the SyncMaster XL2370 in comparison with a Samsung SyncMaster 710N which has zero input lag.

Brightness and Contrast

The XL2370 is roughly equal to the 50 series monitors in terms of maximum brightness and contrast ratio, stopping short of the 300nit mark.

Brightness Uniformity

Alas, the XL2370 does not excel in this test. For all its LEDs, the extremely slim case must have affected the uniformity of backlight: the screen gets considerably brighter in the bottom part. The average nonuniformity of white brightness is 7.9% with a maximum deflection of 19.5%. For black brightness, the average and maximum are 8.3% and 22.2%, respectively.

Color Gamut

The monitor’s color gamut coincides with sRGB much better than the color gamut of monitors with fluorescent backlight lamps. Take note that it coincides but does not exceed sRGB. There is no talking about an extended color gamut here.

Gamma Curves

The gamma curves for red and green look good. The blue curve is sagging.

Color Temperature

The XL2370 delivers a high accuracy of white balance. It is better than the other monitors discussed in this review in this respect. The pictures indicate no significant deflection to greens or blues.

The numbers agree: the difference between the temperatures of different grays is within 300K in the Normal mode. The average value is but slightly higher than 6500K, which is considered standard for sRGB monitors. It’s just an excellent result!

MagicBright Modes

The Text mode is somewhat too bright, so you may want to set the monitor up manually for working with text at home. Otherwise, I have no questions regarding MagicBright technology. The preset modes have different levels of brightness and do not distort color reproduction. And most importantly, they can be instantly switched by pressing a single button.

Conclusion

Every model from the new Samsung Touch of Color series leaves a highly positive impression with their beautiful exterior, good ergonomics and neat setup. All of this makes them a good choice as all-purpose monitors for home. It is the 21.5-inch and 23-inch models with a Full-HD resolution of 1920x1080 pixels that deserve more  interest. They are good for work, movies, games, everything. The 20-inchers should be viewed as inexpensive solutions because of their rather odd resolution of 1600x900. Thus, they are only suitable for games. You want a larger picture for watching movies today and even for working with documents (try opening two documents side by side on monitors with resolutions of 1600x900 and 1920x1080 pixels, and you will see the difference right away). The difference in price, for example, between the P2050 and P2250 is only about $50, which is negligible considering that you choose a monitor that is going to serve you for the next few years.

A 21.5-inch monitor with a resolution of 1920x1080 will have a very small pixel pitch. This ensures better sharpness and smoothness of lines, but fonts and other interface elements will look small. You should take this into account when making your shopping decision.

So, what is the difference between the 50 and 70 series besides their design? The following table contains the results of my tests for them.


Click to enlarge

Here are the points of difference:

Thus, it turns out there is no fundamental technical difference between the 50 and 70 series. The 50 series is even a tiny bit better in some aspects. This also refers to the newest XL2370 with its backlight based on white LEDs.

Summing it up, it is the exterior design that you should evaluate when choosing between the 50 and 70 series. You may like the bold contours of the 50 series or the elegance of the 70 one. Or perhaps you will be enticed by the extra-slim stature of the XL2370.