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Samsung SyncMaster FX2490HD review: Samsung SyncMaster FX2490HD

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The Samsung SyncMaster FX2490HD has performance that rivals the Samsung PX2370, one of the best TN monitors we've tested. The FX2490HD has some of the best movie and games performance we've seen recently; it also has a near full assortment of HDTV connection options, including two HDMI ports and built-in speakers. The lack of a DVI port means you'll need to do some finagling to get HDMI working properly on a PC and you'll definitely need to spend some time calibrating colors before the HDTV monitor is working at its full potential. Still for $419, Samsung offers essentially a 24-inch television at a very appealing price.

Samsung SyncMaster FX2490HD
7.8

Samsung SyncMaster FX2490HD

The Good

The Samsung SyncMaster FX2490HD has an impressive number of connection options, built-in speakers, and a remote control, with great movie and game performance. It also has a couple of design flourishes that contribute to not only its aesthetic appeal, but to its utility as well.

The Bad

The Samsung SyncMaster FX2490HD requires color calibrating to get the picture quality to an acceptable level; its lack of DVI connection means you'll need to purchase an adapter or new cord to get it working with a modern PC. Some of its connection options are frustratingly difficult to reach.

The Bottom Line

The Samsung SyncMaster FX2490HD is a 24-inch HDTV doubling as a monitor for a low price.

Design and features
The 24-inch Samsung SyncMaster FX2490HD has a semiglossy maroon chassis with angular corners and a clear plastic overlay on the bezel. With the overlay, the bezel measures 0.8 inch wide on the right and left sides. The initial depth of the panel is 0.6 inch, but it extends back to include the connection options, adding another 0.8 inch, for a total of 1.4 inches of depth. That's quite thin, considering the number of connection options included. The distance from the bottom of the bezel to the desktop is 3.1 inches, and the panel tilts back 10 degrees and swivels right and left 30 degrees, but no other ergonomic options are included. The monitor's full width measures 22.6 inches, a little wider than the Samsung PX2370.

The foot stand's legs are made of chrome and come in the shape of an "X." When knocked from the sides these do a good job keeping the monitor from falling over, but the panel still wobbles a lot when knocked. The back of the display has an easily removable, but seemingly pointless, cover that reveals the connection options aligned both vertically and horizontally. They include two HDMI ports, component and composite ports, a coaxial antenna in, an optical audio port, a headphone jack, a USB port, and an Ex-link port. Though the vertical connections are easy to access, the horizontal ones are tucked under enough that connecting them proved frustrating most of the time. At the top portion of the back are four holes to attach the monitor, VESA-style, to a wall or stand.

The monitor's onscreen display array is located on the bottom right side of the panel and consists of several touch areas/buttons, including a Menu button, a Source button, an Up and Down button, and a Plus and Minus button. Attempting to use the array to navigate the OSD, however, is a frustrating experience: the buttons aren't as sensitive as we'd like, they must be touched on the underside of the bezel, and there isn't an onscreen menu that lines up next to them to guide you. We found it easiest to navigate the OSD with the remote control. The options function very much like a typical Samsung HDTV; however, when connected to a PC, picture options include controls for brightness, contrast, and sharpness, and presets include Custom, Dynamic Contrast, Text, Internet, and Entertain. Also, there's a color temperature option, allowing you to choose Cool, Normal, Warm, and custom. The custom color temperature allows you to adjust the red, blue, and green values individually. Its audio options include presets for Music, Movie, Standard, Amplify, and Clear Voice. In addition, there's an audio equalizer, allowing for granular fine-tuning of the sound.

Design highlights
Connectivity HDMIx2, VGA, component, composite, coaxial antenna in
Ergonomic options: 10 degree back tilt, Swivel
Resolution 1,920x1,080 pixels
Aspect ratio: 16:9
Audio Built-in speakers, headphone jack, optical audio
VESA support Yes

Feature highlights
Included video cables? VGA
Backlight LED
Panel Type TN
Screen film Matte
Number of presets 5
Overdrive No
Picture options Brightness, Contrast, Sharpness
Color controls Color temperature, RGB controls
Gamma control Yes
Additional features Included remote control, Ex-link jack

Performance
DisplayMate performance: We tested the 24-inch Samsung SyncMaster FX2490HD through its HDMI input, connected to a Windows Vista PC using a HDMI cable supplied by our own vast array we've collected over the years. The display posted a composite score of 93 on CNET Labs' DisplayMate-based performance tests, a couple of points lower than the Samsung PX2370's 96. In Color Tracking, we noticed an obvious green tint that carried over to movie watching. We were able to alleviate this by adjusting the Red and Green attributes, detailed in the Recommended settings and use section.

Also, in our Extreme Grayscale Bars test, we noticed an adequate amount of white-level saturation, meaning that near peak white, the monitor would be capable of distinguishing colors and not wash them out. Its black level was only visible down to a level 4, however, and not level 2, as would be optimal. The Dark Screen test displayed noticeable amounts of backlight breakthrough on the top and bottom middle edges of the screen. Also, in our Motion Bitmaps test we saw slightly more streaking on the FX2490HD than the PX2370 showed; however, this did not carry over to our real-world games and movie tests.

Text: In text, we saw no color problems with black text on a white background. Fonts were visible down to a 6.8-point size.

Movies: We tested the Samsung FX2490HD in its Movie preset, using the Blu-ray version of "Avatar." The Samsung displayed dark detail just as well as the PX2370, missing none of the Na'vi's braids during the bonfire scene. What stood out most was the apparent green push, noticeable in character faces, making them appear sickly compared with the healthy-looking faces on the PX2370; however, we were able to make some color and settings adjustments that improved things greatly. Check out the Recommended settings and use section for more details.

Games: Because of our intimate familiarity with World of Warcraft (WoW), it remains the best tool for judging color quality and vibrancy in games. We looked at WoW in the Samsung SyncMaster FX2490HD's Entertainment preset and found that it delivered vibrant imagery and no hint of the green color tint problem after calibration.

Photos: The Samsung SyncMaster FX2490HD's Custom preset displayed photos that lacked red in faces and looked noticeably greenish. After calibration, things improved greatly, but we were still unable to get red to look as accurate as on the PX2370.

Sound: The built-in speakers were capable of producing loud, clear music and dialogue that was crisp and easily intelligible. Although you can adjust the frequency for the sound, the bass was noticeably lacking.

Viewing angle: The optimal viewing angle for a monitor is usually directly in front, about a quarter of the way down from the top of the screen. At this angle, you're viewing the colors and gamma as the manufacturer intended. Most monitors are not made to be viewed at any other angle. Depending on the panel type, picture quality at nonoptimal angles varies. Most monitors use TN panels, which get overly bright or overly dark in parts of the screen when viewed from nonoptimal angles, making for inaccurate color representation. The Samsung SyncMaster FX2490HD uses a TN panel, and when it is viewed from the sides or bottom, we perceived the screen to darken about 6 inches off from center, which is typical for a TN.

To help out with this somewhat, Samsung includes the Magic Angle feature in the FX2490HD. The Magic Angle mode prevents the screen from darkening when viewed from certain angles. Magic Angle has four settings: Lean Back Mode 1, Lean Back Mode 2, Standing Mode, and Side Mode. Switching to each mode will improve the screen brightness when viewing the monitor from that angle. For example, after switching to Lean Back Mode 2 and then sitting back in your chair to play a game, the screen doesn't darken nearly as much, and as a result, game details can still be seen, while you do irreparable damage to your spine, all in the name of "fun."

Recommended settings and use: The Samsung SyncMaster FX2490HD doesn't include a DVI input and by default, only the VGA input is optimized to be used with a PC. To optimally use a digital connection with a PC, go into the Source menu, choose Tools > Edit name > choose whichever HDMI connection you wish to use, then select PC. Fonts and edges will look PC proper after that.

During general use, we preferred the standard, default settings of the Custom preset. When watching movies, playing games, and viewing photos, the best settings for the Samsung SyncMaster FX2490HD was the default settings with the preset set to Entertain, the Red to 55, Green to 36, and Blue to 50. Photos still had an accuracy problem with red at these settings, and unfortunately we were unable to find the perfect photos settings.

As with most TN-based monitors, the SyncMaster FX2490HD shouldn't be used if pinpoint-accurate color reproduction is required; however, the monitor is great for watching movies, casually viewing photos, and for general use, although it's not the best for playing games. If you do have stringent color needs, we suggest you narrow your search to IPS or PVA-based panels only. The more expensive Dell UltraSharp U2711 is a good place to start.

Power consumption: The Samsung SyncMaster FX2490HD achieved fair power consumption, with a Default/On power draw of 31.4 watts, compared with the Samsung PX2370's 25.01 watts in the same test. The consumption delta was a lot closer in our Sleep/Standby test, with the FX2490HD drawing 0.23 watt and the PX2370 costing a slightly higher 0.27 watt. With both monitor's center point calibrated to 200 candelas per square meter (cd/M2), the FX2490HD drew 27 watts, whereas the PX2370 drew a lower 19.9 watts. Based on our formula, the Samsung SyncMaster FX2490HD would cost $9.53 per year to run, compared with the Samsung PX2370's $7.65 per year.

Juice box
Samsung SyncMaster FX2490HD Average watts per hour
On (default luminance) 31.4
On (max luminance) 31.4
On (min luminance) 19.8
Sleep 0.23
Calibrated (200 cd/m2) 27
Annual power consumption cost $9.53
Score Fair

Brightness in cd/m2
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Samsung SyncMaster FX2490HD
239 
HP 2310e
234 

Contrast ratio
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
HP 2310e
1,110:1 
Dell ST2420L
1,061:1 
Samsung SyncMaster FX2490HD
983:1 

DisplayMate Tests
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

Find out more about how we test LCD monitors.

Service and support
Samsung backs the SyncMaster FX2490HD with a three-year parts-and-labor warranty that covers the backlight. It also offers support through a 24-7 toll-free number, as well as 24- to 48-hour turnaround time for e-mail and Web chat support. The display's documentation and support software are available on Samsung's Web site.

Samsung SyncMaster FX2490HD
7.8

Samsung SyncMaster FX2490HD

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 8Performance 8Support 8