capsule review

Samsung SyncMaster 940BF monitor

The Samsung SyncMaster 940BF is a19-inch LCD monitor with both digital and analog inputs. Its thin bezel design doesn’t offer many of the usual extras such as on-board USB ports, height adjustment, or pivot capabilities, but it does claim a fast 4ms (millisecond) gray-to-gray response time (the time it takes for one pixel to change from one shade of gray to another), which is good for playing videos and games and provides some interesting screen adjustment features that set it apart.

Setting up the display was quick and easy. It has one analog and one digital input and, once connected, it automatically displayed its native 1280-by-1024 pixel resolution. Its single hinge design allows you to tilt the screen forward and back a bit, but offers no height adjustment or pivoting capabilities.

The display ships with the Windows version of its MagicTune software (the Mac version is available for download from Samsung’s Web site). The application allows you to calibrate the display and set brightness, contrast, color temperature, and sharpness via an easy-to-use interface. It also gives you access to a couple of interesting features, like MagicBright, which allows you to select from several different presets that are optimized for viewing text, the Internet, games, or movies, and MagicZone, a utility that lets you adjust settings for different areas of the screen.

For example, if you want to crank up the brightness on the upper left-hand corner of the screen for viewing movies, or lower the brightness on the right half of the screen for viewing text, you can—either with the software or by using the MagicZone on-screen menu. I was able to run the software on Mac OS X 10.3.9, but I couldn’t get it to run on OS X 10.4.6. And though screen splitting is a neat trick, I don’t see myself using MagicZone very often.

At its default settings, the display looked a little washed out, and the colors were a bit off, with a slightly blue color-cast. After calibrating the display, colors were much more true to life, and the brightness was taken down a notch. Text was clear and easy to read, and colors in photos and graphics were accurate.

Looking at the screen from an angle—either left, right, top, or bottom—you can see obvious color shifts: Lighter areas of the display took on a yellow tinge, coupled with an overall loss of contrast. Since most people work directly in front of their monitor, the limited viewing angle shouldn’t pose too much of a problem. If, however, you frequently have co-workers or family members sharing the display with you, it might be an issue.

Macworld’s buying advice

The Samsung SyncMaster 940BF is a very good, all-around display. Despite its limited viewing angle and inflexible ergonomic design, its MagicTune software lets you split the screen into specific zones and tweak the settings to take advantage of the type of content you’re displaying.

[ James Galbraith is Macworld ’s lab director. ]

Samsung SyncMaster 940BF
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