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8/96 Reviews HW: Samsung SyncMaster 21GLs

Listing of August 1996 Reviews

Slick Software Sharpens Monitor's Image

by Hailey Lynne McKeefry

Every once in a while, a piece of hardware stands out-not because of its nuts and bolts, but because of the great software that comes with it. Samsung's SyncMaster 21GLs 21-inch monitor is a device blessed with good software. The Colorific color management CD-ROM included with the monitor made calibrating it easier than falling off a log.

The Colorific utilities offer simple, straightforward screens that lead you through monitor adjustments such as brightness and gamma settings. The software helps with many other setup procedures, such as identifying the black-point cutoff point for red, green and blue. Two color reference cards are included with the software-one for incandescent lights and the other for fluorescents. You use one of the cards to achieve maximum brightness and to identify a white-point measurement on the screen. Describing the process is actually more complicated than doing it. It took me about five minutes to point and click my way through the settings.

Once you're satisfied with the settings, the program creates a color-correction profile for the monitor and your printer.

After creating the profile for the SyncMaster 21, I used Sonera Technologies' DisplayMate testing suite to run the monitor though its paces. The unit tested well in all areas. Colors were sharp, clear and well defined, and I found no moirŽ or focus problems. With a full 19.75 inches of diagonal screen real estate, these problems would have been particularly glaring, but the SyncMaster 21's screen uniformity was impressive.

The monitor has a 0.28mm dot pitch and supports a maximum 1600x1200 resolution at a 68Hz refresh rate. The front panel controls consist of eight buttons that govern various options including the image position and size (horizontal and vertical), screen geometry (pincushioning, rotation, trapezoid, parallel and vertical linearity), color temperature (9300, 6500 and 5000 degrees Kelvin, and user definable) and enhanced functions (horizontal and vertical convergence, and moirŽ clear). You can also use the buttons to activate a degauss function and to return the monitor to its factory settings.

The control buttons were identified with icons that were less intuitive than I would have liked. When you push a button, an on-screen menu appears with descriptions of each available function. To switch between different aspects of the function-from horizontal to vertical control, for example-simply push the button more than once.

Even when you're not admiring the SyncMaster's display, you'll know it's there. The monitor weighs just over 72 pounds and measures 19.3 by 19.9 by 20.1 inches, so it takes up more desk space than comparable units. But the SyncMaster's excellent color and clarity more than compensate for its heft. The monitor meets VESA DPMS, EPA Energy Star and NUTEK standards, and complies with MRPII.

You could find a 21-inch monitor that costs $200 to $300 less than the SyncMaster 21GLs, but conventional wisdom says you get what you pay for. Considering this monitor's ease of use and picture quality, you'll get your money's worth.

-- Info File --
Samsung SyncMaster 21GLs
Pros: Software; screen quality
Cons: Controls
Platforms: Windows 95, 3.1x, NT
Samsung Electronics America
800-933-4110, 201-229-4000
WinMag Box Score 4.0
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