Even as LCD prices continue to slide, some trade-offs are to be expected when shopping for dirt-cheap displays. At less than $300, Samsung SyncMaster 152N offers minimal features, but you get what really counts: solid image quality and an attractive design.
The SyncMaster 152N has all the trappings of a conventional LCD design: black, plastic casing; a sturdy, semicircular base; and a row of thin power and image-adjustment buttons. The one exception is its sleek, slender, half-inch bezel, which makes the SyncMaster 152N's display appear larger than its 15 inches. The panel tilts 5 degrees forward and about 30 degrees backward, but as with most low-priced 15-inch LCDs, the SyncMaster 152N is not particularly adjustable. It won't swivel, pivot between Portrait and Landscape modes, or move up or down. However, while cheaper displays typically sit very low, the SyncMaster 152's tall neck holds the panel about four inches off the desktop.
The SyncMaster 152N offers equal-opportunity platform support for PC, Mac, and Sun Microsystems. There's no digital connection, but the clearly labeled analog-signal input (Samsung includes a cable) and power supply are easily accessed from the back of the display. You can feed the cables through an opening in the neck to cut down on cable clutter.
Embedded within the lower edge of the bezel, the power and image-adjustment buttons are well marked and simple to use. Likewise, the onscreen menus are highly navigable and easy to master. Samsung uses some nontechnical terms in the onscreen menus--color temperatures are given as Reddish or Bluish instead of the usual 6500 or 9300 degrees Kelvin--making it simpler for an average user to optimize the display.