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The Samsung SyncMaster 970P combines excellent performance with a uniquely clean design. The monitor's bezel has no buttons of any sort, and the connections, typically located on the back of the panel, have been exiled to a separate block that's connected to the monitor by a lone cord. This arrangement gives the 970P a very simple look, with just one visible cable and no other visual distractions, but it makes adjusting the picture somewhat more complicated. At $549, the SyncMaster 970P is expensive, though we think its top-notch performance, flexibility, and design are worth the price. If you're looking for less expensive 19-inch LCDs that offer similar performance, though far less style and flexibility, check out the Sony SDM-X95KB or the Philips Brilliance 190P6.
Samsung was channeling Apple when it designed this monitor. The plastic body, the white-and-silver color scheme, and the rounded edges remind us of the original iPod. Similarly, the base's circular swivel mechanism reminds us of the iPod's Click Wheel. The base, which measures 9.5 inches square, is surprisingly stable considering the monitor's high degree of flexibility. The amazingly acrobatic 970P swivels 180 degrees from left to right, and the neck offers nearly six inches of height adjustment; however, the panel is too heavy for the hinge and kept slipping downward in our tests. The top hinge gives the panel a whopping 185 degrees of backward tilt and about 10 degrees of forward tilt. You can also rotate the panel from landscape to portrait orientation and beyond--a full 270 degrees. Though the average user probably wouldn't find this extreme flexibility useful, we can see how it might come in handy, making it easy to share your screen with a collaborator or a customer.
The SyncMaster 970P's svelte cabinet style does not leave room for a power supply, nor does the bezel contain any power or signal ports. Instead, a tail-like cord extends from the 970P's base to a white-and-silver plastic signal box about the size of a chubby cell phone. This design makes the ports easier to access and keeps cords out of sight. The signal box has a single digital port (a digital-to-analog cord is included) and a power input for the power cord.
Setting up the 970P is a breeze, but it took us a few minutes of searching to find the power button (it's disguised as a light on the base). You may also wonder how to adjust this monitor, given that it has no buttons. To access the onscreen menu (OSM) or make any adjustments, you must first install Samsung's MagicTune software. MagicTune offers a full range of image-control settings, including brightness, contrast, and color, plus six MagicBright and four MagicColor presets.
The 970P turned in an excellent performance on CNET Labs' DisplayMate image-quality tests. Text looked sharp and sufficiently bold. Both serif and sans-serif text were legible, even at small font sizes. The 970P's grayscales were smooth, consistent, and free of color-tracking errors, save for tiny flushes of pink. The 970P's colors were bright and consistent and changed hues uniformly. DVD-playback performance was slightly below average; we saw overly red flesh tones, areas of overexposure, and lots of noise. Gaming performance was much better, with crisp backgrounds and vibrant colors.
The SyncMaster 970P comes with an industry-standard three-year warranty that covers parts, labor, and the backlight. If you register your monitor with Samsung, you receive the additional coverage of Samsung's Advanced Replacement, Repair and Return or Exchange, and Shuttle Exchange programs. Samsung provides toll-free phone technical support for the life of the warranty.