Samsung SyncMaster 170 review:

Samsung SyncMaster 170

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MSRP: $739.00
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CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Low price; high-quality picture; built-in TV tuner; extensive input options; easy controls; attractive.

The Bad Inputs are hard to reach; no digital input.

The Bottom Line A top-quality, full-featured LCD monitor with an entry-level price.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

8.0 Overall
Affordable is a relative term, but in the big-ticket world of flat-panel displays, the versatile, 17-inch SyncMaster 170MP from Samsung is a hands-down bargain. There's more to love about this product than its low price of $1,608. It has a gorgeous picture, it's wall mountable, and it doubles as a standalone television. Although it lacks a state-of-the-art digital input, it delivers a digital-quality picture for less. Affordable is a relative term, but in the big-ticket world of flat-panel displays, the versatile, 17-inch SyncMaster 170MP from Samsung is a hands-down bargain. There's more to love about this product than its low price of $1,608. It has a gorgeous picture, it's wall mountable, and it doubles as a standalone television. Although it lacks a state-of-the-art digital input, it delivers a digital-quality picture for less.

Looks Like Love
The SyncMaster 170MP's satiny, silver bezel and chrome menu-control buttons are handsome, but more importantly, its picture quality is stunning. Its colors are saturated and vivid, its focus is impeccable, and its sharp contrast draws crisp, clear detail. Text is legible down to a minuscule 7 points, and the 170MP is completely flicker-free at its 1,280-by-1,024-pixel maximum resolution. The 170MP's comprehensive OSD (onscreen display) is very straightforward and intuitive, and you can adjust the length of time the menu appears onscreen.

Many useful features are built into the SyncMaster 170MP. This top-quality LCD is equipped with a built-in TV tuner and speakers that operate independently from your PC. It also supports picture-in-picture (PIP) viewing, so you can watch Teletubbies in a corner of your screen while you're crunching out a spreadsheet. You can also magnify any portion of an image up to 64 times with no visible distortion. The SyncMaster 170MP takes up only a fraction of the space of a bulky CRT monitor, however, with a Vesa-compliant, flat-panel arm, such as those offered by Ergotron, you can take your display off the desktop altogether.

The 170MP is well connected; it supports RCA video and audio, S-Video, and NTSC, and it has an antenna connector to accommodate RGB analog input (phew!). In other words, with the included remote control, you can use one monitor to flip back and forth between your PC, television, VCR, camcorder, or game console--all from your favorite chair. Samsung covers the 170MP with a three-year parts and labor warranty and offers toll-free tech support 24/7 for the life of the product.

A Few Detractions
For all the things to love about the SyncMaster 170MP, it has a few drawbacks. All of its inputs are nestled under a flap on the monitor's backside, with cables fitting into the respective inputs vertically, from below. This design allows the panel to lay flush against a wall or a flat surface, but inserting cables into the cramped compartment is a pain. Fortunately, you'll probably set up once and be done with it for a while. Additionally, one of the few things the SyncMaster 170MP doesn't support is digital input. A pure digital-video signal bypasses the traditional signal conversions from digital to analog, producing a superior image. On the other hand, digital flat panels and the video cards that support them can be very expensive.

The 170MP's picture rivals that of some digital displays, but it has a far more reasonable price. If you want a large, high-quality flat panel that you can use with your existing hardware, this is an excellent deal.

Although the 170MP is based on analog technology, its sharp, vibrant picture rivals that of a state-of-the-art digital LCD.

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