Samsung 193P Review

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Product: Samsung 19" 193P LCD

Introduction

I have been using some pretty old monitor technology for several years now, simply because it was working for me and because I'm too poor to lay out a wad of cash for some new flat panels.  However when I received the opportunity to test out and review Samsung's new 193P 19" LCD Display I was ecstatic.  Here was the chance to see how old and busted my 17" Viewsonic CRT looked compared to a fancy new 19" LCD. Is this new Samsung worthy of the venerable name?  Does this LCD kick some CRT butt? Read on and find out.

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Unpacking

Normally when a person receives a shiny new toy, the packing is instantly stripped away in a fury of anticipation and then forgotten or shoved back into the box to await disposal.  However the poor hardware reviewer has to pay carefully attention while unpacking, ignoring the raging little voice that says "rip and tear". The first thing I noted as I wrested the monitor from its styrofoam cradle was how heavy it was.  Most LCDs are all plastic and feel very top heavy, but this samsung felt very solid and had a base that could anchor an oil rig.  That being said it is still way lighter than a similar sized CRT, but more on the physical portion of this monitor later.  This monitor comes with all the cables that the consumer will need. I will apologize now for some of the following pictures, as the lighting in my current apartment is far from optimal.

This monitor ships with both a DVI and a VGA cable.  Also include is the power adapter and wall cable, as well as a wall mounting bracket.  Of course you can't forget the installation CD and a small quick start guide.  The only thing conspicuously missing is the manual, however there is a manual on the installation cd.

Setup and Configuration

Setting up this monitor was a breeze, and after connecting the power block to the monitor the display sprang to life.  I decided to start off using a native DVI connection to my Radeon 9700 because this insures the maximum quality of picture, however I did also try the VGA cable and I noticed no major differences.  The inputs on the back of the monitor are very straightforward and should be easy enough for even a novice.

 

The construction of this monitor is exemplary.  The base is large and heavy enough to keep the monitor on a solid footing all the time, and the hinge is very easy to move but also very well constructed.  The display portion is constructed of a very heavy duty plastic, with the border around the screen being given that brushed aluminum look.  You might notice from the pictures that there is only one button, that one being the power button, but more on that later. All in all I was very pleased with the styling and construction of this monitor.

This monitor can also swivel to an vertical position if that is your preference.

 

After powering on the computer and installing the monitor driver, I went to turn down the brightness a bit because my eyes are quite sensitive and I like my displays rather dark. However, to my surprise, I couldn't find any buttons on the monitor. I looked high and low but to no avail. I thought maybe they had them in a hidden panel, so I fired up the manual, but there was no mention of any buttons in there. In fact after reading through the setup portion of the manual, I could find no mention of monitor adjustments anywhere. I would think that the first monitor without buttons would surely include an explanation of how to perform the perfunctory task of adjusting the brightness. After doing some research on the internet, I found that the utility "Magic Tune" - included on the cd - was used to adjust the monitor parameters. This was not mentioned in the setup portion of the manual or in the quickstart guide. I guess that samsung figures that most people will install all of the utilities on the CD. After finding the proper utility, adjusting the monitors brightness was quite easy, and after a few minutes I was ready to see how this beast really performed


Magic Tune

Since this monitor is controlled entirely without buttons, I thought it fitting to devote a section to the utility that accomplishes this.  First off let me say that in both DVI and Analog modes the monitor self adjusted to to fit the screen without any user interaction.  That being said the monitor being button-less is either a love it or hate it proposition.  I have several issues with it on principle myself.  First off,  when a user wants to adjust the monitor he/she MUST start the utility. So if the user is playing a game and wants to adjust the brightness he/she must close the game, adjust the monitor, and then restart the game. This shouldn't be too much of a problem, since this monitor is geared more towards the office user and not the gamer. Secondly, if the user is using an operating system not supported by "Magic Tune" such as Linux, the user will have no way of adjusting the monitor, thus rendering it useless. Lastly having a utility running in the background all the time eats up memory and cpu time.  Way to many applications today want to run in the background, and it is making peoples computers slower and slower. We do not need another one.

With all of my misgivings out of the way, lets take a look at the Magic Tune program itself and see what kind of adjustments it offers.  I won't spend a lot of time on these screenshots as most of them are self explanatory. Click on the image to get a bigger view.

Adjusting the contrast and brightness is easy and simple.  You should pay careful attention when adjusting the contrast as it is very important on an LCD to get this "just right".  Checking for updates is easy too.

There are several presets you can choose for different applications if you don't feel like going through the whole setup process yourself.

There are not a whole lot to choose from in the options menu, but it does allow to disable the tray icon if you so choose.  Also you can enable color calibration if you want to really tune your display.

All in all the Magic Tune program is fairly comprehensive and seems to do the job well.  However there are some issues with it.  When dealing with dual displays Magic Tune will not show any options unless dragged to the proper monitor, and this could be frustrating for the average user, because it doesn't display any sort of hint about what is happening.  Also when you click on the tray icon, the program automatically moves your mouse to the Magic Tune box.  This should definitely be an option as I despise programs that move my mouse.  I did notice that the monitor did retain its settings even when the Magic Tune program was not running.


Performance

As always the meat and potatoes of any monitor review is how the display looks.  This is the most important part of any display and unfortunately it is also the most subjective. What looks astounding to one person may look bland to another, so bear in mind that while I try to take a balanced look at this monitor, it is still just my opinion.  With that out of the way lets get down to business with a list of specifications from Samsung's Canadian website.

  • Viewable Image Size: 19"
  • Brightness (Typical): 250 cd/m2
  • Contrast Ratio: 1000:1
  • Viewing Angle (H/V): 178 / 178
  • Response Time: 20
  • Interface: Analog/Digital
  • Horiz. Frequency: 30-81
  • Max/Native Resolution: 1280 x 1024
  • Emissions Standard: TCO '03
  • Available Colour: Silver 
  • Special Features: Ultra narrow bezel and slim design, dual hinge stand, dual CPU input, pivot technology, buttonless design, MagicTuneâ„¢, MagicBrightâ„¢

MSRP: $1,209.00

As I said earlier in the article, I am a very light sensitive person, so I set the LCD to where it was comfortable for my eyes and then set the contrast accordingly.  I will note my experiences using this monitor in some of the more common applications.

Photoshop

I use photoshop often in my job of designing webpages. Using Samsung's 193P the text was nice and clear, but the colors seemed a bit washed out compared to my CRT.  Also it seemed a bit grainy to me, but this is a common affliction of LCD and it was not very noticeable. The larger screen was very nice when dealing with all of those toolbars that photoshop uses.

Visual Studio (programming)

Programming is a very high contrast task involving a lot of text. Even though this is a 19" viewable screen I still found most text a bit small at 1280 x 1024. 

Gaming

I enjoy playing the odd game, so I was curious to see how this display would perform.  At 20ms refresh rate it was fast enough to play Battlefield 1942 but still too slow to play UT2004.  I'm sure it would be just fine for most RTS games, but I wouldn't recommend it for faster FPS games.  The blur factor was most noticeable in areas of high contrast.

DVD / Movies

I watched several movies using this monitor and I really have no complaints.  The color seemed good, and I didn't notice any blurring.  The larger screen size certainly made a difference compared to my 17" CRT.


Conclusion

I thought that I would be heartbroken to go back to my CRT after testing the 193P, but truth be told I was actually kind of happy.  I found the color to be a bit washed out compared to my CRT, but that could be because I had to turn the brightness down. Also I didn't really like the decision to remove all buttons from the monitor. Adjusting the monitor using Magic Tune should be an option but I would prefer that it wasn't the only way.  The manual could certainly use some more work, especially in regard to Magic Tune. This information also needs to be in the quickstart guide. However there were good points for this monitor as well.  The construction was the best I have ever seen in an LCD, and the styling is akin to a piece of art. Its just too bad the rest of the monitor didn't do as well.

Pros

  • Great Construction
  • Looks Awesome
  • Comes with all the cables needed
  • Great for movies

Cons

  • Color looked a bit washed out to me
  • No buttons
  • To slow for fast gaming

Lets hope that Samsung keeps working on this design and makes the changes necessary to make this display as good on the inside as it is on the outside.

If you have any feedback regarding this review, please head on over and post it here.

Daniel "Nicao" Guenter