The handsome 24-inch Samsung SyncMaster 244T offers picture-in-picture capabilities, a great selection of inputs, and a plethora of image-setting options aimed at professional users. If optimum color performance in a wide-screen format is your top priority, the SyncMaster 244T is a good choice, but graphic designers can find superior monitors, such as the Eizo FlexScan L997, which cost about as much as the 244T ($1,699). If you're more interested in a large, well-equipped wide screen with similar ports and adjustability options, the Dell UltraSharp 2405FPWis a good performer and a much less expensive choice.
The Samsung SyncMaster 244T is enormous, weighing nearly 20 pounds, but it sits surprisingly stably on a large 13.5-by-9.5-inch base. The 24-inch screen is supported by a thick neck that offers 3 inches of height adjustment, 45 degrees of swivel to the left and right, 20 degrees of tilt backward and 5 degrees forward, and easy pivoting from landscape to portrait mode. When we made some of these adjustments, however, the neck made a loud cracking noise. Also, when we extended the neck to its full height, it would not stay in place, always slipping at least a half-inch down. The back of the monitor has digital and analog ports, as well as inputs for S-Video, component video, and composite video. And though we like the two additional USB ports on the monitor's left side, we're not sure why Samsung decided to put the upstream USB port on the side as well--most other monitors hide this port in the rear with the rest of the inputs; with this setup, we're not thrilled with the bunch of cords that hang off the side of the monitor.
The Samsung 244T's control panel consists of seven buttons that let you navigate the onscreen menu and give you quick access to frequently used features, such as picture-in-picture (PIP) and brightness settings. The MagicBright submenu offers four brightness presets for subjects such as entertainment, Web pages, and text. The fourth preset is customizable, and a dedicated button on the monitor's control panel lets you easily switch between presets. The MagicColor menu also has three color presets: Intelligent, which amps up all colors except skin tones; Full, which enhances all colors including skin tones; and Demo, which shows normal colors on the right and adjusted colors on the left so that you can take your pick. You also get seven tone presets and four picture modes. There are also Custom and Film modes for HDTV. You can alter the size and the other settings for the 244T's PIP function in the OSM, and a dedicated button on the control panel launches the PIP window.
The Samsung SyncMaster 244T turned in good image-quality scores on CNET Labs' DisplayMate-based tests. The 244T's text didn't pop off the screen, like we see with most LCDs, but sans-serif fonts were clearly legible. Serif fonts were legible as well, but merged together in places. The 244T's high 1,000:1 contrast ratio produced deep, rich, dark-black tones in the grayscale but left whites looking slightly dingy. Midrange grays were tinged slightly with pink and looked pale around the edges. The 244T's colors were bold and bright but looked better at the dark end of the spectrum.
Despite its listed 10ms response time, the 244T performed unimpressively on DVD-playback tests. Colors looked distorted, and background noise was clearly present. On our gaming tests, however, the 244T produced sharp, clean-looking backgrounds with lots of detail.
The Samsung 244T comes with an industry-standard three-year parts-and-labor warranty that includes the backlight. Toll-free telephone support is available for the life of the warranty 24/7, 365 days a year. Samsung also offers other three-year options: the Advanced Replacement Program, Shuttle Exchange, and Repair and Return or Exchange. FAQs, manuals, and driver downloads are available on Samsung's Web site.
(Longer bars indicate better performance)