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The 24-inch Samsung SyncMaster T240HD is a HDTV disguised as a $499 monitor. The OSD menu design is taken directly from the menus used in Samsung's HDTVs. It has tons of connection options--all of which face toward the back, not down as they do with most monitors--including two HDMI ports and an ATSC/QAM tuner. And it comes with a remote control. The display has a low brightness, and its color reproduction in games proved to be lackluster, but it produced accurate flesh tones and sharp clarity in DVDs. It also reproduced text sharply, making it good for normal office use. With all its connections options, the TV tuner, and its great performance in movies the Samsung SyncMaster T240HD is a steal at $499. While it doesn't have quite the overall performance of the $689 Dell UltraSharp 2408WFP, its lower price, connection options, and features make up for that. The $482 HP w2408h True Color Widescreen is a little bit cheaper, but it skimps on video connections and features. For movie watchers, TV addicts, and those that simply want a large productivity display, we easily recommend the Samsung SyncMaster T240HD. Still, 24 inches is 24 inches, so if connection options aren't important to you, but price is, check out the $385 V7 d24w33 and the $399 BenQ v2400w. Both are very good displays for less than $400.
The Samsung SyncMaster T240HD features Samsung's Touch of Color enhancement. This is a clear plastic coating over the black bezel with subtle red highlights, which is most visible along the bottom edge. While the look is striking, some may still prefer a plain, black glossy look like the Samsung SyncMaster 2693HM.
The bezel is about one-inch thick on the left and right sides, 1.5 inches thick on the top and two-inches thick on the bottom. Samsung uses an oval-shaped footstand that's 1.5 inches wide and about 10 inches deep. The footstand has a lazy-Susan-type mechanic that lets the whole display swivel 180 degrees to the left and right. When we knocked the monitor from the side, we found that it wobbled and slid more dramatically than we would have liked. The screen tilts back about 30 degrees but does not pivot. On the back, the connection options are very easy to access since they face directly back instead of down as on most monitors.
The onscreen display controls are on the right side of the panel, and to see which button you're pressing, you have to swivel the screen to the left. The OSD interface seems designed to be navigated with a remote control, since using the buttons to calibrate the display proved awkward. Fortunately, Samsung includes a TV-style remote control that lets you navigate the OSD. Through the OSD we can change the brightness, contrast, color temperature, and aspect ratio. Four video preset options are included; Entertain, Internet, Text, Dynamic Contrast. We found the Entertain preset provided the best overall sharpness and color reproduction. You can also tweak the sound quality beyond just volume since there is an equalizer included in the OSD.
Pixel-response rate: 5ms
Contrast ratio: 1000:1, 10,000:1 (Dynamic)
Connectivity: HDMI (x2), DVI, VGA, Coaxial, Component
HDCP compliant? Yes
Included video cables? HDMI, DVI
The Samsung SyncMaster T240HD does not skimp on connections. They include two HDMI ports (one on the back panel and one on the left side), DVI, VGA, component, analog audio, optical audio, coaxial, USB, and a headphone jack on the left next to the second HDMI port. For future proofing-purposes, we only wish there was a DisplayPort like on the Dell UltraSharp 2408WFP.
One of the key features that sets the display apart is its ATSC/QAM tuner. The ATSC feature ensures that come the digital changeover in February of 2009 the display will be able to receive over-the-air broadcasts from local channels as long as you have an antenna. The QAM is a high-definition cable tuner that lets the display receive HD Cable broadcasts without a cable box, as long as you're getting a cable signal. This is a useful feature if you want to get cable but don't want to rent your provider's box.
The monitor has a 1,920x1,200-pixel native resolution and built-in Dolby Digital Surround speakers on the bottom of the panel.
We tested the Samsung SyncMaster T240HD in DVI. When viewing the display through DVI the red, green, and blue sliders in the OSD used to adjust the color are disabled. In World of Warcraft we had a difficult time adjusting the brightness, contrast, and color temperature of the Samsung to get the colors to pop like they do on the Dell UltraSharp 2408WFP and to a lesser extent on the HP w2408h True Color Widescreen. While the Dell and HP present vibrant colors and a high level of contrast, WoW on the Samsung just looked plain and lifeless. The display comes with the MagiColor software, however, and through that we were able to access the RGB color directly, but it made little difference on the color quality.
Kill Bil Vol. 1 on DVD was a different story, though. With the same settings, we found that the movie had very accurate flesh tones and a sharper overall picture. Yellows and reds didn't pop like on the Dell, but thanks to its sharper image and less saturated color, we preferred the look of the Samsung to the Dell and HP.
The Samsung SyncMaster t240HD scored an 87 in CNET Labs' DisplayMate-based tests. Compared with the HP w2408h True Color Widescreen, the Samsung performed better in most of the individual tests. Unlike the HP, the Samsung did not have the problem of unwanted color creeping into the grayscale. The Samsung did have the same problem as the HP of not being able to distinguish very dark grays from black. Font sharpness on the Samsung was impressive and looked much thinner and less blurry than the HP's.
According to Samsung, the SyncMaster T240HD uses half the power of other displays by reducing the number of backlights and keeping them confined along the edges. Samsung says they compensate for the reduced backlights by focusing the light that is there and increasing the overall efficiency of the display. Samsung may not have compensated enough. They claim a maximum brightness of 300 candelas per square meter (cd/M2). The maximum brightness of the display, according to our tests, was 217cd/M2. This is a lot lower than the 434cd/M2 tested brightness of the HP w2408h True Color Widescreen and 452cd/M2 of the Dell UltraSharp 2408WFP. One of the benefits of the Samsung's lower brightness is that the screen showed less backlight bleed through than either the Dell or the HP. If you're in a room that gets tons of sunlight, however, you may consider the low brightness a potential deal breaker.
We hooked the display directly to Cable, bypassing the box to try out the QAM tuner. After a channel setup that took a few minutes, we were able to watch cable without any problems.
The Dolby Digital Surround speakers provide decent sound quality. When viewing a movie from about 6 feet to 7 feet away, we found that some dialogue was still hard to hear even when turned to its maximum volume. The speakers have a better bass-to-treble balance than the HP w2408h True Color Widescreen, so music sounded clear without being stark or tinny.
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Service and support
Samsung backs the SyncMaster T240HD 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 e-mail and Web-chat support. Navigating its site and finding the drivers, product manual, and quick guide was simple and easy.