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Samsung SyncMaster S23A750D review: Samsung SyncMaster S23A750D

Samsung SyncMaster S23A750D

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Eric Franklin
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Eric Franklin

Senior Managing Editor / Mobile

Eric Franklin leads the CNET Reviews editors in San Francisco as managing editor. A 20-year industry veteran, Eric began his tech journey testing computers in the CNET Labs. When not at work he can usually be found at the gym, at the movies, or at the edge of his couch with a game controller in his hands.

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10 min read

Samsung SyncMaster S23A750D - LCD display - 3D Ready - TFT - 23"
7.2

Samsung SyncMaster S23A750D

The Good

Movies look incredible on the <b>Samsung SyncMaster S23A750D</b> and its games performance is excellent. The monitor includes lots of useful OSD options.

The Bad

There's no DVI port, ergo options are limited, and the OSD array feels cramped. The connections that are included are embedded a bit too deeply into the chassis, and 3D performance does nothing to sell me on the tech.

The Bottom Line

The Samsung SyncMaster S23A750D is a bit expensive and the 3D is disappointing, but its excellent performance in (non-3D) games and movies makes it worth the asking price.

Nope. I'm still not sold on 3D. The added costs of glasses, the perceived darkening of the screen and the need to wear said glasses (possibly in addition to my own spectacles) while I'm supposed to be doing something fun like watching a movie or playing a game feels too restrictive to me. Don't even get me started on the positional requirements.

Thankfully, a monitor's 3D performance doesn't make or break it, as long as it has something else to offer. Does the Samsung SyncMaster S23A750D offer more than just the same old 3D story?

Design and features
With its unique-looking foot stand, the Samsung SyncMaster S23A750D makes a valiant and mostly successful attempt to stand out visually from other monitors. Circular in shape and measuring 5.5 inches wide and 7.5 inches deep, the face of the foot stand also serves as home to the onscreen display (OSD) array. The array faces upward at a 45-degree angle and sports four arrow navigation buttons accompanied by Menu, 3D, and Enter buttons. The power button sits between Menu and 3D and thanks to the foot stand's somewhat narrow dimensions, knocking it around yields plenty of wobbling.

While I appreciate Samsung's attempt at something different with the design of the foot stand, the placement of the buttons and their proximity to the bottom of the panel make using the OSD a somewhat cumbersome, inelegant experience. On our model, the Enter button was less than cooperative, sometimes requiring several pushes (or one really hard push) before doing its job. Also, the stand design just looks weird and frankly, unappealing.


Aesthetically, the S23A750's foot stand is quite the odd duck and its button responsiveness leaves a lot to be desired. I'd say it's back to the drawing board for this design.

Thankfully, the panel itself is sleek, sexy and glossy black all over. The panel sports a thin, 0.6-inch wide bezel, is 21.4 inches wide and 0.9 inch deep. The bottom of the panel sits 3.25 inches from the desktop and the monitor provides a 25 degree back tilt, with no other ergo options included. The screen is of the extremely glossy variety and could easily double as a very reflective (and effective) dark mirror. The back of the panel is almost completely flat, and unfortunately, all you wall-mounting aficionados out there will be disappointed by the lack of VESA support.


We chose to focus on the monitor for this shot, but don't be fooled: reflections show up clearly on the screen.

Only two video connections are offered: HDMI and DisplayPort. Above those sits a headphone jack and the power input. While the video connections thankfully face out instead of down, they are, unfortunately, embedded into the monitor about an inch too deeply. For HDMI and when connecting DisplayPort, this design proves completely innocuous; however, DisplayPort requires that you depress a button to disconnect it, but thanks to the deeply embedded input, said button is partially blocked. This makes disconnecting DisplayPort a more time-consuming experience than one would desire.


See those scratches below the DisplayPort uh, port? An unfortunate consequence of a lapse in design judgment.

The OSD includes all the typical Samsung features like Brightness, Contrast, Sharpness, RGB color controls, six different color temperature options, and five presets for Custom, Standard, Game, Cinema, and Dynamic Contrast modes. Magic Angle attempts to mimic wide-viewing-angle displays by adjusting the brightness, contrast, and gamma to make the screen clearer from off angles.

Eco Mode is your one-stop shop for all things power saving. Here you can switch on the motion timer, which puts the monitor to sleep if it doesn't sense movement after a user-specified amount of time, and the ambient light sensor. However, though we've seen it on other Samsung monitors, my absolute favorite Eco feature is the tree icon, which grows larger with more and more leaves the more Eco features you use. It even gives you an estimated "trees saved" number no doubt giving you a fleeting sense of self-gratification.

While the panel itself feels a bit plasticky, the foot stand is heavy and solid with a metal outer shell. Thanks to the stand, the monitor weighs in at a hefty 10.20 pounds. 1.44 pounds more than the PX2370.

The display includes a pair of Samsung active shutter 3D glasses. Compared with the first-generation Nvidia 3D Vision Kit glasses, Samsung's shades are noticeably more comfortable and don't clasp my skull nearly as tightly. They're also light without feeling cheap and fit easily over normal glasses. An easily replaceable, small lithium ion battery powers the glasses, and a power button on the top right side glows green when powered on.

Design and feature highlights
Connectivity: HDMI, DisplayPort
Ergonomic options: 25-degree back tilt
Resolution: 1,920x1,080
Aspect ratio: 16:09
Audio: Headphone jack
VESA wall mount support: No
Included video cables: DisplayPort
Backlight: LED
Panel Type: TN
Screen film: Glossy
Number of presets: 5
Overdrive: No
Picture options: Brightness, Contrast, Sharpness
Color controls: RGB and 5 color temperature options
Gamma control: Yes
Additional features: Samsung proprietary 3D

Performance
I tested the Samsung SyncMaster S23A750D through its DisplayPort input, connected to a Windows Vista PC, using the included DisplayPort cable. The display posted a composite score of 94 on CNET Labs' DisplayMate-based performance tests.

The merits of antiglare (AG) screen coating are much debated these days. Some viewers prefer the coating not be applied at all, while others favor only a limited amount. Still, others are completely indifferent. AG coating doesn't adversely affect quality and its merits or, lack thereof, are strictly a question of preference.

That said, the S23A750D makes use of Samsung's Ultra Clear Panel technology and features a very glossy screen with almost mirror-level reflections. Like most glossy screens, this increases the perceived contrast, making it great for movie watching.

DisplayMate:
The S23A750D displayed light gray up to level 253. Level 255 is considered white and every level in-between it and 1 is a variation of gray. Once calibrated, the monitor could not distinguish between 255 (white) and 254; matching the white level saturation performance of the Samsung PX2370, which also topped out at 253. The S23A750D's performance here indicates the display will likely not be prone to washing out light colors. As for dark gray, the S23A750D displayed down to level 2 while still maintaining a very deep black, pointing to the display being capable of retaining dark detail during dark scenes in movies.

The S23A750D excelled in our color-scaling tests, which evaluate the monitor's ability to smoothly display different shades of various colors. The monitor displayed these color scales in a smooth and linear fashion, providing color performance at least on par with the PX2370.

Our Dark Screen test is where the monitor faltered however, showing very obvious clouding along the bottom edge of the screen.

Text:
Black text on white looked clear, without any obvious color tint problems. Also, fonts were clearly visible down to a 6.8 size.

Movies:
I tested the Samsung SyncMaster S23A750D using the Blu-ray version of "Avatar." The Cinema preset provided a great movie-watching experience, displaying a highly contrasted, vibrant look with rich colors and appropriately deep blacks. Simply put, HD movies look excellent here, besting the vast majority of monitors in the movie-watching experience.

This is thanks in part to Samsung's inclusion of the previously mentioned Ultra Clear Panel technology used in many of Samsung's HDTVs. The coating, (added to the front of the screen) is made to reduce reflections while at the same time increasing the level of contrast. While the high contrast is obvious and welcome, the coating didn't stop the monitor from acting almost as a full-fledged mirror. If you're watching movies during the day, just make sure your window blinds are firmly shut or the reflections may cause darker scenes in "Avatar" to bear a striking resemblance to the back of your TV room.

Games:
When evaluating the look of games on a monitor, the two most important features to consider are vibrancy and color. If the monitor can display games with a bright and vibrant cleanness, this goes a long way towards benefiting its looks. If colors can also pop with fullness and depth, games will usually look great. Streaking is a different concern that honestly isn't very pervasive with most modern monitors, but if you are concerned about streaking, be sure to check out the last paragraph in this section.

Under the Game preset, Dragon Age II looks excellent on the S23A750D with a high vibrancy and really dramatic color pop. There's a slight greenish hue to the game compared directly with its appearance on the PX2370, but this has more to do with the latter's oversaturation of red than anything else.

To test refresh rate, I used DisplayMate's motion graphics tests and closely watched a number of colored blocks as they moved around the screen at various speeds. Not the most exciting of tasks, but one that is useful for clearly illustrating a monitor's tendency to streak moving images. The S23A750D delivered one of the most impressive streaking performances I've seen, displaying noticeably less ghosting than the PX2370 during the test. This is likely an advantage of the monitor's 120Hz refresh (available only through DisplayPort), which is double that of most monitors.

3D:
I spent many whole hours playing Dragon Age II and Starcraft 2 to test gaming 3D performance on the S23A740D and during those multiple minutes I was subject to an experience I can only describe as feeling like my eyes were being slowly pulled from my head. I don't mean that as an analogy; that's exactly what it felt like to me. It wasn't a painful experience and is something I could probably get used to, but ultimately it's not worth it, as the payoff just isn't there.

Playing games in 3D in general does little to enhance the experience. Couple that with the frequent ghosting (when an impression of the main image can be seen next to the original image) delivered by Samsung's solution and it's a wonder anyone can get excited about 3D gaming at all. However, there are those who do, and while the 3D here did little to sell me on the tech, it does work, is more convincing than passive 3D solutions, and the depth can be adjusted through 100 levels of distinction.


These glasses with allow you to see in three dimensions!

Unfortunately, unless you own an AMD HD 5000-series-or-above graphics card (I also found that the AMD HD 5870 wasn't compatible either), the s23A750D doesn't support full-resolution 3D in games. You can still play them in 2D to 3D mode, but the quality of the images will be severely diminished.

As for 3D movies, unfortunately, the necessary testing resources needed were not acquired by the time this review was scheduled to post (in other words, I failed to purchase a 3D-compatible Blu-ray player in time) and as a result, I didn't have an opportunity to test 3D movies on the S23A750D.

Photos:
When looking at faces and light-colored hair in the Standard preset, the S23A750D's colors sometimes dip ever so slightly into a greenish hue compared to the PX2370, but the bright colors of clothing and environments pop with vibrancy.

Viewing angle:
The optimal viewing angle for a monitor is usually directly in front, about a quarter of the screen's distance down from the top. At this angle, you're viewing colors as the manufacturer intended. Most monitors aren't designed to be viewed at any other angle. Depending on its panel type, picture quality at non-optimal angles varies. Most monitors use TN panels, which get overly bright or overly dark in parts of the screen when not viewed from optimal angles.

The S23A750D uses a TN panel, and its viewing angles matches other TN monitors in that colors begin to shift when viewing from about 6 to 7 inches to the left or right. As always with TN panels, the above and below viewing angles are the worst offenders. From these angles, graphic or text detail are at their most difficult to see.

This is typical of the vast majority of TN panels, though, as it's one of the limitations of the technology; however, Samsung attempts to soften the impact of inherent narrow viewing angles by outfitting the S23A740D with the Magic Angle feature. With Magic Angle, users have the option of changing attributes of the monitor to improve the way it looks from certain angles, affecting clarity of text as well as contrast and color.

The S23A750 features some of the best implementation of the technology yet. While it includes only Lean Back and Standing Up modes, the slider for each provides 10 degrees of adjustment, making each mode much more effective at displaying the viewing angle for which it's optimized.

Still, it's not a monitor for art professionals, so don't expect pinpoint color accuracy here. I'd suggest the IPS-based Asus PA246Q for that.

Power consumption:
Despite its LED backlight, the Samsung SyncMaster S23A750D achieved poor power consumption, with a Default/On power draw of 42.9 watts, compared with the LED-based Samsung SyncMaster PX2370's 25.01 watts in the same test.

In our Sleep/Standby test, the S23A750D costs 0.8 watts and the PX2370 pulled a much lower 0.29 watts. Based on our formula, the S23A750D would incur nearly double the cost of the PX2370, with a per-year pull of $13.35, compared with the PX2370's $7.65 per year.

Juice box
Samsung SyncMaster S23A750D Average watts per hour
On (default luminance) 42.9
On (max luminance) 42.9
On (min luminance) 20.8
Sleep 0.8
Calibrated (200 cd/m2) 25.6
Annual power consumption cost $13.35
Score Fair

Brightness (in cd/m2)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Brightness  
Samsung SyncMaster S23A750D
202 
HP x2301
207 

Contrast
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Samsung SyncMaster S23A750D
1,145:1 
Dell S2330MX
899:1 
HP x2301
773:1 

Performance
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Samsung SyncMaster S23A750D
94 

Find out more about how we test LCD monitors.

Service and support
Samsung backs the SyncMaster S23A750D with a three-year parts-and-labor warranty that covers the backlight. This matches the best monitor warranties out there, like Dell's. It also offers support through a 24-7 toll-free number, as well as 24- to 48-hour turnaround e-mail and Web chat support.

Conclusion
Samsung's TN panel found in the S23A750D and T27A950 produces some of the most beautiful images I've ever seen, resulting in unparalleled movies and games performance compared with other TN-based displays.

Unfortunately, OSD controls were a constant frustration and 3D games were plagued with ghosting. Also, the lack of a DVI connection is as annoying, as is the lack of ergo options. That said, while the "around $400" price may be a bit expensive, the movie and games performance alone is worth the price of admission.

Samsung SyncMaster S23A750D - LCD display - 3D Ready - TFT - 23"
7.2

Samsung SyncMaster S23A750D

Score Breakdown

Design 6Features 6Performance 8Support 8
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