Samsung has built its reputation by offering good-quality monitors at rock-bottom prices. The Samsung SyncMaster 760vTFT continues this tradition; currently it costs $749 and comes with a $100 rebate good through December 31, 2001, bringing it close to the price of a 15-inch LCD. Even though its image quality has a few problems, it's still a decent value overall. Samsung has built its reputation by offering good-quality monitors at rock-bottom prices. The Samsung SyncMaster 760vTFT continues this tradition; currently it costs $749 and comes with a $100 rebate good through December 31, 2001, bringing it close to the price of a 15-inch LCD. Even though its image quality has a few problems, it's still a decent value overall.
Built like a tank
The 760vTFT has a sturdy, boxlike exterior. The case has a swivel base for horizontal movement (it requires a bit of effort to move) and a base-mounted tilt adjustment for vertical movement, which is especially important, given the limited vertical viewing angles (discussed below). Routing the video and power cables through the back of the monitor is complicated by two plastic panels that have to be removed each time you need access. These panels felt solid, though their tabs may weaken with frequent use. You can also mount the monitor using a VESA-compatible wall- or arm-mount.
You access the onscreen display menu by using four front-mounted buttons: a menu button, an exit button, and two cursor buttons. The menu key selects the function, the exit key deselects it, and the two cursor buttons move you through the menu functions, which are typical: Brightness, Contrast, Color, and Position. An image-sized control lets you scale the display image to fit the 1,280x1,024 native resolution--even if your graphics card is capable of displaying only a lower resolution. A fifth button auto-adjusts the image.
The SyncMaster 760vTFT's somewhat limited viewing range makes it best for single users as opposed to groups. Its 150-degree horizontal viewing angle is acceptable, but its 130-degree vertical angle is limited; some competing models, such as the Cornerstone f1200, have 160-degree horizontal and vertical viewing angles, so even people standing to the side of the display can see well. If you plan to use your monitor for communal purposes such as displaying a presentation in a conference room, gaming, or watching movies, you should look for a model with wider viewing angles.
One of the 760vTFT's best features is its brightness. Notebook users already know that it's hard to read LCDs in sunlight or other brightly lit conditions; the same is true of many desktop models. But the 760vTFT remained readable even in a room with a significant amount of ambient light. In addition, the monitor's 400:1 contrast ratio gave us the latitude to adjust the brightness without losing either the light or dark tones.
Unfortunately, brightness isn't everything when it comes to image quality. The 760vTFT got an average score in CNET Labs' Displaymate benchmarks because text was slightly unfocused, and letters didn't look crisp and clear until they reached nine points (we expect most displays to handle 6.8-point text and higher). Our full-screen color photos looked vibrant but slightly washed out. Skin tones in one of our samples looked a bit off, and a yellow flower in another photo erred on the side of orange. There was also a slight drop in brightness at the edges of the screen. Some of these problems may not disturb a mainstream user, but those who seek absolute perfection (such as graphics pros) will want to look at this display carefully before buying. On the positive side, the 760vTFT's fast 25ms pixel-response rate makes it an excellent choice for animation files, fast-moving arcade games, streaming video, and DVD viewing. We tested the monitor with all four types of media and experienced none of the ghosting typical of monitors with slower pixel response rates.
Solid service and support
The 760vTFT's service and support is good, starting with a three-year warranty for parts, labor, and the LCD backlight. Toll-free tech support is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for the life of the display. The monitor's documentation consists of a small 24-page booklet that covers the basics adequately, including all the menu options. It's clearly organized and liberally sprinkled with helpful illustrations. The Web site has additional information, including a valuable FAQ on LCD technology and terminology.
The Samsung SyncMaster 760vTFT offers some good features for the price, including a bright picture and a fast pixel-response rate for viewing videos or games. But it also has its weak points in terms of viewing range and image quality. When other displays, such as the Cornerstone f1200, offer more for the money, the 760vTFT cannot earn more than an average rating overall.
17-inch LCD image quality test
Longer bars indicate better performance
|The Samsung 760vTFT's image quality was average overall. The display was laudably bright, and video moved fairly naturally thanks to a fast pixel-response rate. On the other hand, letters looked hazy at less than 9 points, flesh tones looked slightly off, and a pure yellow image erred on the orange side in our tests. The display also lost some brightness at the edges of the screen.|