Samsung's SyncMaster 957MB helps users help themselves, with a handful of features that make it easier to optimize the picture for a variety of multimedia tasks. At $300, it's fairly expensive for a CRT, but it's also much cheaper than a similarly sized LCD, and it's a better performer than most of the other 19-inch CRTs weÃ‚'ve tested. We think it's worth the extra dough.
The SyncMaster 957MB looks like any other putty-colored CRT but for a few minor touches: the bezel is slightly narrower than that of other displays, running just more than an inch on the top and the sides and two and a half inches along the bottom; there's a small, tasteful, periwinkle parabola on the top panel; and four of the onscreen menu buttons are arranged in a cute flower configuration.
Setting up the SyncMaster 957MB is straightforward. It comes with a pamphlet that explains how to install drivers, plus a fat, multilanguage booklet with instructions on how to connect the monitor. Best of all, the included CD user guide goes into further detail via an extremely navigable Web page interface.
On top of its few design embellishments, the SyncMaster 957MB has a handful of interesting extra features that separate it from the pack. For users who wonÃ‚'t bother with a monitorÃ‚'s image-adjustment settings--that is to say, most users--Samsung offers three useful MagicBright presets, which you launch via a dedicated button on the front panel. The MagicBright settings calibrate the brightness, the contrast, and the color temperature specifically for viewing text, Internet pages, or entertainment applications, such as DVDs and video games. We found that it worked quite well.
The Highlight Zone feature, also launched by its own front-panel button, allows you to adjust the brightness, the contrast, and the color temperature within a specific portion of the screen, for working on the detail in a digital photograph, for example. Despite its confusing submenu, we found that the Highlight Zone improved the quality of both video and high-res images. If you install the included Highlight Zone II software, your PC will automatically launch the Zone window when it detects a multimedia program, such as RealPlayer. The SyncMaster 957MB also comes with SamsungÃ‚'s MouScreen software, which lets you adjust the image settings using your mouse (youÃ‚'ll need to plug in a USB cord that runs off of the signal cable to take advantage of this feature).
We tested the SyncMaster 957MB at a resolution of 1,280x1,024 (as we do for all 19-inch displays, unless the manufacturer suggests otherwise) with a 75Hz refresh rate. It did pretty well in most of CNETÃ‚'s test screens: images were bright, the focus was fairly crisp, colors looked deep and true on Web pages and high-resolution images, and the screen geometry was quite good. It was a different story at higher resolutions, however. Text looked blurry at 1,600x1,200, and at 1,920x1,440, the 64Hz refresh rate threatened to fry our eyes. Unless youÃ‚'re using the SyncMaster 957MB for detailed graphics work, stick with the 1,280x1,024 resolution.
Samsung backs the SyncMaster 957MB with a three-year warranty on parts and labor, which is typical for CRTs. Toll-free, 24/7 phone tech support is available. Web-based support offerings include drivers, FAQs, manuals, and e-mail.
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