I expected theto be a worthy successor to the . I was wrong, and while the S23A550H wasn't a bad monitor, it failed to live up to the performance and smart design of the best TN monitor to date. It stands to reason then that I went into the SyncMaster S23A350H's review with low expectations.
Does the S23A350H benefit from the fact that I didn't expect much from it, or is it just another S23A550H?
Design and features
The 23-inch Samsung SyncMaster S23A350H (SA350H line) is one of several new LED-based monitor lines released by Samsung this year. A few months ago we reviewed the S23A550H. The S23A350H has a similar design, but looks more like a traditional Samsung monitor.
A soft, rounded motif permeates the S23A350H's design, without the sharp angles of the Samsung PX2370. As with the S23A550H, Samsung has abandoned going ultrathin with the S23A350H's design. Its initial depth is about 0.8 inch, but the back of the panel extends another full inch to include the connection options, and at its thickest the S23A350H measures about 1.8 inches.
Other S23A350H measurements are more or less on par with the previous models, with a 0.9-inch bezel, 22-inch panel width, and 3.3-inch distance from the bottom of the bezel to the desktop. VESA support is not included and the monitor's frame is tinged with maroon, a detail it shares with the S23A550H. Unique to the S23A350H however is its washboardlike grooved back.
The S23A350H has a typical-looking foot stand, measuring 10.1 inches in diameter; however, the back of the stand includes a hook that acts as a cable router, which, unlike the cumbersome cable router on the S23A550H, works smoothly. The slightly oval foot stand is also stable enough to keep the monitor from toppling if knocked around a bit, although it doesn't prevent wobbling in the slightest.
As with the S23A550H, Samsung made the decision to do away with DVI on the S23A350H, and gives it only HDMI and VGA as options. We understand that people use their monitors for more than just connecting to their computers, but since the display comes only with VGA cables and doesn't include cables for HDMI or a DVI-to-HDMI adapter, most people will need to invest in at least one additional cable. The Dell S2330MX offers only HDMI and VGA as well, but Dell smartly included an HDMI-to-DVI adapter, something we wish Samsung would have done at least.
The onscreen display (OSD) array is located horizontally along the bottom right side of the bezel, to the left of the power button. The buttons are touch-sensitive areas and offer no tactile response when pushed; however, once one is pressed, a contextual onscreen menu guide lines up with each button, making their functions clear. Having the OSD buttons on the front instead of the back as they were on the PX2370 makes them easier to use.
The OSD includes all the typical Samsung features like Brightness, Contrast, Sharpness, RGB color controls, six different color temperature options, and five presets for Custom, Standard, Game, Cinema, and Dynamic Contrast. Magic Angle attempts to mimic wide-viewing-angle displays by adjusting the brightness, contrast, black level, and gamma to make the screen on the S23A350H clearer from certain angles.
The S23A350H is missing the really well-implemented Eco feature seen on the S23A550H. Instead, the S23A350H's Eco feature is limited to brightness control only.
In terms of build quality, the S23A350H feels slightly sturdier than the S23A550H, which was plagued with a brittle neck casing. Overall the S23A350H is very solid for a TN monitor.
|Design and feature highlights|
|Ergonomic options:||20-degree back tilt|
|VESA wall-mount support:||No|
|Included video cables:||VGA|
|Screen film:||Matte w/AG coating|
|Number of presets:||5|
|Picture options:||Brightness, Contrast, Sharpness, HDMI Black Level|
|Color controls:||RGB and 6 color temperature options|
|Additional features:||Magic Angle, Eco Mode|
We tested the Samsung SyncMaster S23A350H through its HDMI input, connected to a Windows Vista PC, using our own HDMI cable. The display posted a composite score of 93 in CNET Labs' DisplayMate-based performance tests.
The merits of an antiglare (AG) screen coating are much debated these days. Some people prefer the coating not be applied at all, while others favor only a limited amount. A third set of viewers are completely indifferent. AG coating doesn't adversely affect quality and its merits or lack thereof are strictly a question of preference.
That said, there is heavy AG coating on the S23A350H's screen, reducing potential reflections, but diminishing glossiness severely. A glossy display can increase the perceived contrast of a monitor screen--which some people prefer--but it can also be difficult to see in direct sunlight.