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Samsung SyncMaster 305T LCD Monitor review: Samsung SyncMaster 305T LCD Monitor

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There are only a handful of vendors--Apple, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Gateway, and Samsung--that offer 30-inch LCD monitors at the moment, so your choices are limited if you're in the market for an extra large LCD. The Samsung SyncMaster 305T is a good place to start. It lists for $1,329 but can generally be found online for roughly $1,200, which compares favorably with other 30-inch LCDs. Dell's older 3007WFP model currently goes for $1,199 and its newer 3008WFP costs $1,999, for example, while the Gateway XHD3000 is priced at $1,699 (but provides much more in the way of video connections). The Samsung SyncMaster 305T has a sparse feature set--you get one DVI port, for instance--but it more than earns its keep with excellent all-around performance. It showed accurate and vivid colors, stellar Blu-ray and DVD picture quality, and impressive viewing angles. If you're looking for a large display for gaming, movies, and normal office use with a high-quality picture and don't need HDMI or component video connections, then the Samsung SyncMaster 305T will not disappoint.

7.7

Samsung SyncMaster 305T LCD Monitor

Pricing Not Available

The Good

Great performance in color and sharpness; amazing viewing angle; Blu-ray and DVD image quality is some of the best we've seen.

The Bad

Limited video connection options; includes only brightness controls (thanks to technical limitations); streaking apparent in DisplayMate test.

The Bottom Line

Thanks to its incredible viewing angle, high resolution, and stellar overall picture quality, Samsung's 30-inch SyncMaster 305T gets an assured recommendation.

Design and features
The biggest selling point for the Samsung SyncMaster 305T is its huge 30-inch screen, which supports a native resolution of 2,560x1,600. To view the screen at this very high resolution, you must have a high-end video card and a dual-link DVI cable. If you use a single link DVI cable or your video card does not support a resolution that high, then the display will output to 1,920x1,440 at its highest. Luckily, Samsung includes a dual link cable.

As far as calibration options are concerned, there is only one. Samsung has included controls for brightness calibration and nothing else. The way it works is when you adjust the brightness, the display's inverter board is being accessed; however, to adjust the color or contrast the panel itself must be accessed. But because of the limits of the large screen technology when the display was manufactured in 2006, directly adjusting the panel is not possible to do on the fly. The contrast and color are calibrated and locked by Samsung at the source before the monitor is shipped. However, if your graphics card has contrast and color control options, you can affect the quality of the display from there. The two brightness control buttons are located in the bottom right corner of the bezel, right next to the power button, which gives off a cool blue glow when the display is turned on.

Video connection options are also limited. There are no other connections options other than the one DVI port located on the back left side of the display. This port is easy to access, as is the power port on the right. Right next to the DVI port are four USB downstream ports and one USB upstream port. It supports HDCP, but this is expected with such a large display. We are disappointed that there are no HDMI or component video connections. This limits the number of devices this display can be connected to. The Gateway XHD3000 on the other hand offers many more connection options including DVI, component, HDMI, VGA, and Composite. However, this comes at a price as the Gateway is about $400 more than the Samsung.

The height of the display can be extended 3 inches and the display rotates back about 30 degrees and to the left and right about 60 degrees via a lazy susan design on the bottom of the stand. For a display so large, the footprint is relatively small at 11 inches wide and 11 inches deep; despite this, the display never feels unsteady. The bezel is 0.85 inch thick on all sides. The sides of the screen have a smooth and somewhat soft finish. The overall design makes for a very simple and elegant look.

Manufacturer's specs:
Resolution: 2,650x1,600
Pixel-response rate: 6ms
Contrast ratio: 1,000:1
Connectivity: DVI, USB
HDCP compliant? Yes
Included video cables? DVI (dual link)

Performance
The display performed extremely well in our DisplayMate-based labs tests. It tied the Gateway XHD3000 as our highest rated display we've yet to test with a score of 92. The display did particularly well on the color and sharpness tests. On tests that measure a display's capability to show distinct variances of the same color without compressing them, the Samsung did not disappoint. This indicates that the display will be able to show difference in color shades even if the difference is slight. This makes for better overall color quality. When we watched DVD and Blu-Ray movies on the Samsung, we definitely noticed its high quality color output.

On our contrast test, the SyncMaster 305T achieved a 999:1, which comes impressively close to Samsung's claim of a 1000:1 contrast ratio. And on our brightness test, the display actually exceeded Samsung's claims in our test by achieving a 355cd/m2 compared with its 300 cd/m2. While this is a good score, it still does not come close to matching the high brightness scores of the Dell UltraSharp 2408WFP or the Gateway FHD2400. Even with that brightness score, backlight bleed was never a problem with dark screens in normal room lighting.

The viewing angle was very impressive as we did not notice a drop in picture quality no matter how angled our view was. Blu-ray and DVD playback were as good as we've ever seen, matching the same kind of high quality color we saw with the Dell Crystal. Both Kill Bill and Swordfish looked great with very accurate colors in test scenes that we viewed. World of Warcraft's picture quality at the 2560x1600 resolution was beautiful. As for normal office use, we were again very pleased as the high resolution affords a lot of screen real estate.

We did notice some slight streaking problems in testing. Our streaking test helps us detect light or dark shadows that trail an image in areas where large changes in contrast are present. This test basically deals with the display rendering a large chunky graphic such as a bar graph and has nothing to do with streaking that may result from a fast moving image. The Samsung showed that while for the most part streaking was not an issue, we were able to pick out some instances of streaking where the contrast was heaviest. We did not notice the same streaking issue on the Gateway XHD3000, otherwise their relative performance was very close overall.

Juice box
Samsung SyncMaster 305T Average watts per hour
On (Default Luminance) 128.22
On (Max Luminance) 128.22
On (Min Luminance) 50.71
Sleep 0.4
Calibrated (200 cd/m2) 89.31
Score Poor
Annual energy cost (@$0.1135/kWh) $38.64

DisplayMate tests
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Samsung SyncMaster 305T
92 

Brightness
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Samsung SyncMaster 305T
355 

Contrast ratio
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Gateway FHD2400
1,047:1 
Samsung SyncMaster 305T
999:1 

Testing note: We used the Kramer VM-2DVI distribution amplifier during testing. This device let us test two 30-inch displays at their native resolution at once.

Find out more about how we test LCD monitors.

Service and support
Samsung backs the SyncMaster 305T with a three-year parts-and-labor warranty, which also covers the backlight. Toll-free phone technical support is available from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET. Samsung's Web site includes links to the user manual and specifications. Everything is laid out clearly and we had no trouble finding what we needed. Samsung, however, does not keep drivers for this display on its site.

7.7

Samsung SyncMaster 305T LCD Monitor

Pricing Not Available

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 5Performance 9Support 6Setup 0