Samsung Central Station SyncMaster C23A750X review: Samsung Central Station SyncMaster C23A750X

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The Good The Samsung SyncMaster C23A750X is a monitor and wireless docking station that, when it works, provides unique and useful functionality. It features a number of connection options and the display performs well; USB Super Charging is a welcome bonus.

The Bad We experienced a few frustrating bugs on one test system, and didn't find quite the same visual quality over wireless that we did with HDMI. Also, a very wobbly footstand plagues what is otherwise a well-designed package.

The Bottom Line Despite some bugs, the Samsung SyncMaster C23A750X succeeds as both a monitor and a wireless docking station.

7.1 Overall
  • Design 7
  • Features 6
  • Performance 7
  • Support 8

So what exactly is the Samsung SyncMaster C23A750X, or Central Station, as it's also called? Samsung refers to it as an "IT hub," but I think a more apt description would be "wireless monitor/docking station." It's a standalone monitor with a number of inputs, and it connects wirelessly to your Windows 7 or XP laptop.

First, connect your desktop peripherals (keyboard, mouse) via USB to the Central Station's base. Then, insert the included wireless USB dongle into your notebook's USB 2.0 port. Now, whenever your laptop comes within a 5-foot radius of the Central Station, it will connect wirelessly to all of your desktop peripherals as well as the 23-inch monitor, without you needing to touch any cords or adjust any settings.

Cool concept, but does it actually work and, if so, how well? Also, and maybe more importantly, is it worth the $450 dollars Samsung is asking? Keep reading to find out.

Design and features
The 23-inch Samsung SyncMaster C23A750X's panel resembles that of the Samsung PX2370, with its front portion encased in a transparent plastic covering, sheltering a black chassis underneath. The panel has a thin bezel, about 0.75 inch on the left and right sides, and its profile is as thin as the PX2370's, measuring about 0.7 inch.

On the back, the monitor's glossy panel is completely flat, aside from a 3.75x 5.5-inch area in the bottom middle, where the hinge meets the panel and protrudes out slightly. The corners are somewhat rounded, although not as much so as other, softer Samsung designs like the P2770FH. The matte screen has an antiglare coating, covering the edge-lit LED backlight within.

The base of the C23A750X is narrow, with a rectangular shape and a smooth, convex top. The stand measures 5.25 inches wide by 9.25 inches long and at those dimensions is, unsurprisingly, quite wobbly when knocked from the sides. In fact, thanks to this design, it may well be the easiest monitor to topple we've found yet. On the base's front is a black, glossy plate adorned with a silver Samsung logo. On the lower right side, aligned horizontally from left to right, are the menu, hub, and power buttons.

Above the black plate is a dark, silvery section where the navigation controls for the onscreen display (OSD) menu and the source button are located. These controls glow, thanks to a dim white LED light underneath.

The left side of the base features two USB 3.0 downstream ports, an HDMI port, and a headphone jack. The USB 3.0 ports can be identified by their blue connectors, while the two USB 2.0 connectors on the right side of the base are white. The back of the base features a VGA port, Ethernet port, and USB upstream port.

The C23A750X was made with a double hinge design: the first hinge allows height adjustment from 1 to 4 inches from the desktop, and the second allows the panel to tilt back a complete 90 degrees, until it faces directly up.

Pressing the menu button brings up the monitor's OSD. The OSD consists of typical monitor options such as Brightness, Contrast, and Sharpness, as well as a response time option. Also featured is Magic Angle, which allows you to view the monitor from specific angles with minimal color changes.

Presets include Custom, Standard, Game, Cinema, and Dynamic Contrast. There are also specific color controls, including Red, Green, and Blue options. Color tone can be adjusted from warm to cool temperatures, and for fans of gamma control, Samsung includes three different levels to choose from.

The Eco Savings options simply consist of brightness shortcuts that adjust the display's luminance to 75 or 100 percent.

Thanks to its LED lights, the navigation interface can be easily seen in the dark, but the actual buttons, or in this case, touch areas, were not as consistently responsive as we would have liked. The lack of any tactile response is the most likely culprit.

Aside from its ridiculously wobbly base, the C23A750X is a well-designed, fairly sleek package with a large number of features.

Design and feature highlights
Connectivity: HDMI, VGA, Wireless, USB
Ergonomic options: Dual hinge: 90-degree back tilt and height adjustment
Resolution: 1,920x1,080 pixels
Aspect ratio: 16:9
Audio: Headphone jack
VESA wall-mount support: No
Included video cables: VGA
Backlight: LED
Panel type: TN
Screen film: Matte
Pixel-response rate: 2ms
Number of presets: 5
Overdrive: Yes
Picture options: Brightness, Contrast, Sharpness
Color controls: RGB controls, Normal, Warm, Cool
Gamma control: Yes
Additional features: USB 3.0, USB 2.0, Ethernet, wireless connection to PC

DisplayMate performance
Note: Due to compatibility issues with both DisplayMate and Central Station, we were unable to test Central Station wirelessly with DisplayMate on our test systems.

We tested the Samsung SyncMaster C23A750X through its HDMI input, connected to a Windows Vista PC, using an HDMI cable from our vast collection. The display posted a composite score of 94 on CNET Labs' DisplayMate-based performance tests. The C23A750X gave mostly equal performance to the Samsung PX2370, but also improved on the PX2370 some areas, as we saw smoother linear progression from dark to light colors in a few of the color tests. There were a few areas where the C23A750X came up short, however, its most egregious offense being found in the area of backlight bleed-through. On dark screens, the edge-lit LED backlight very noticeably shines through on the bottom and top of the display.

Text: We saw no color problems with black text on a white background. Fonts were clearly visible down to a 6.8 size.

Movies: We tested the Samsung SyncMaster C23A750X using the Blu-ray version of "Avatar." Vibrant and deep color was the name of the game, as the C23A750X presented the movie at a quality on par with the PX2370. We also saw fairly deep blacks for a TN monitor, but nowhere near as deep as we've seen on IPS and VA screens. Also, colors looked accurate without overemphasizing red, as the PX2370 tends to do.

Games: Because of our intimate familiarity with StarCraft II (SCII), it remains our favorite tool for judging color quality and vibrancy in games, and in the Game preset, we saw a vibrancy that matched the PX2370's legendary vibrancy level. Colors popped, without appearing oversaturated.

To test refresh rate, we used DisplayMate's motion graphics test, which throws a number of colored panels around the screen at various speeds, making it easy to detect streaking. With the C23A750X, we witnessed very little streaking, matching the performance of the PX2370.

Photos: The last few monitors we've tested in CNET Labs have delivered photo performance with an inescapable green push, producing photos of faces that look greenish and sickly. The C23A750X rivals the PX2370 in the photo arena, but doesn't surpass it. There was still a slight tinge of green, but unlike with some previous monitors, we were able to correct it to our satisfaction with a simple OSD tweak, detailed below in the "Recommended settings and use" section.

Viewing angle: The optimal viewing angle for a monitor is usually directly in front, about a quarter of the screen's distance down from the top. At this angle, you're viewing the colors as the manufacturer intended them. Most monitors aren't made to be viewed at any other angle. Depending on the monitor's panel type, picture quality at nonoptimal angles varies. Most monitors use TN panels, which get overly bright or overly dark in parts of the screen when they are not viewed from optimal angles. As is typical with TN panels, we noticed a color shift on the C23A750X when viewing the screen from about 6 inches to the left or right of center.

Thankfully, Samsung outfitted the C23A750X with Magic Angle, which adjusts the monitor's image so colors are closer to normal when viewed from specified angles. You still won't find the kind of off-angle performance you'd expect from an IPS monitor, but it's much improved over the TN norm. Check out the viewing angle section of our Samsung PX2370 review for more on Magic Angle.

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