Back to 7/96 Reviews HW: Okidata OL1200/PS and Okidata OL810e/PS
Up to Table of Contents
Ahead to 7/96 Reviews HW: Smart and Friendly CD-R 4000

7/96 Reviews HW: Sampo AlphaScan 17gx

Listing of July 1996 Reviews

Middling Monitor Has the Blues

By Jay Blickstein

Remember that painting that hung on the wall in your parents' living room for 40 years, but you still can't picture it in your mind's eye? The Sampo AlphaScan 17gx monitor reminds me of that painting--it's a decent piece of equipment, but so unexceptional that you barely know it's there.

The AlphaScan does have some notable features, particularly its square, flat screen, which eliminates much of the distortion you'll find at the edges of other monitors. The AlphaScan's Invar shadow mask and 0.26mm dot pitch also enhance image clarity.

This 17-inch monitor has a viewable image area of 15.75 inches, a bit small compared with others in its class, and a maximum resolution of 1600x1280 pixels at 65Hz. It complies with the Swedish MPRII standard as well as the EPA Energy Star and VESA DPMS standards. The unit measures 16.1 by 16.1 by 17.7 inches and weighs 50.6 pounds.

Sonera Technology's DisplayMate benchmark suite tests confirm the AlphaScan's vibrant, crisp colors, particularly the red tones. Text characters are also particularly well-rendered, even in sans serif typefaces, and graphics have that tight, almost 3-D look common in more expensive monitors.

DisplayMate also pointed up one of the AlphaScan's major drawbacks--an unrelenting bluish tint on its white balance. Try as I might with the monitor's RGB controls and other adjustments, I couldn't shake the blues. The resulting tinge is not unpleasing to the eye--it just isn't accurate.

Another problem is the monitor's narrow brightness control range--it hardy varies from minimum to maximum. The contrast control's adjustment range is much wider, which makes up somewhat for the brightness control's shortcomings.

In fact, I was less than satisfied with all of the Sampo's on-screen controls, which also include horizontal and vertical position and sizing, pincushion, trapezoid and rotation. (The degauss switch is a separate button located near the power on/off switch.) The on-screen icons, while functional, are crudely rendered and confusing. What's more, the on-screen display offers precious little instruction--you're basically forced to do lots of fiddling to get the image you want.

And speaking of instruction, you won't find much comfort in Sampo's user's guide--a Spartan 16-page pamphlet. The monitor comes with a two-year parts-and-labor limited warranty.

In short, the Sampo AlphaScan 17gx is the essence of nondescript--just like your parents' painting. It does some things well, others not well at all. With a price tag of $799, there are better deals to be found.

--Info File--
Sampo AlphaScan 17gx
Pros: Flat screen; color; clarity
Cons: White balance; on-screen controls; documentation
Sampo Technology
770-449-6220, fax 770-447-1109
WinMag Box Score: 2.5

Back to 7/96 Reviews HW: Okidata OL1200/PS and Okidata OL810e/PS
Up to Table of Contents
Ahead to 7/96 Reviews HW: Smart and Friendly CD-R 4000