Samsung SyncMaster 971P LCD

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Product: Samsung SyncMaster 971P 19" LCD
Provided By: Samsung Canada
Price: ~$375CDN Online

Introduction:

For many years, I have always been impressed by the quality of CRT’s that Samsung have made. Just about every CRT I have owned was made by Samsung. But now that CRT’s have met their demise due to LCD technology, can Samsung keep their promise in making quality LCD’s? Let’s see if their “Professional” series of LCD’s can meet the highest demands.

971P - Front
971P - Front

About Samsung Canada:

Established in 1987, Samsung Electronics Canada Inc. has been selling products especially selected for the needs of the Canadian consumer.

Samsung Electronics Canada Inc. is divided into four divisions:

  • Consumer Electronics, which sells products ranging from High Definition Televisions to Camcorders and Digital Audio Products
  • Home Appliances our newest division selling stat-of-the-art kitchen and laundry appliances
  • Information Technology division, which specializes in computer peripherals such as monitors, laser printers and storage products.
  • Wireless Terminals, which researches, markets and develops wireless handsets and telecommunications devices throughout Canada.

Samsung Electronics Canada Inc. is the Canadian-based subsidiary of Samsung Electronics Company Ltd. of Korea, a global leader in semiconductors, telecommunication, and digital convergence technology. Samsung Electronics employs approximately 75,000 people in 89 offices in 47 countries, with fully-integrated sales, service and marketing activities in 46 countries and R&D activities in 15 research centres around the world.

Samsung Electronics Canada has been a proud sponsor of the World Cyber Games, Samsung Nations' Cup Equestrian Series, Canadian National Hockey Teams and more recently the Olympics in Turino.

Founded in 1938 in Seoul, Korea, Samsung Electronics Ltd. is the world's largest producer of memory chips, TFT-LCDs, CDMA mobile phones, monitors and VCRs. Samsung Electronics consists of four main business units: Digital Media Network, Device Solution Network, Telecommunication Network and Digital Appliance Network Businesses.

 

First Look & Impressions: 

 971P - Back
971P - Back
 971P - Flexible Hinge
971P - Flexible Hinge

 

When I took the monitor out of the packaging, I was impressed by the level of detail that Samsung put into this product. The trim is glossy black which extends all the way from the LCD and stand, down to the base of the monitor. The base of the monitor houses all the necessary connections that include the external power source connector, USB plug-in which connects to the computer system, and the DVI connector - located under the base. The power button may be hard to find, but it is actually a touch sensor located on the right hand side of the base. I found that to be a very nice aesthetic touch to the LCD.

 971P - Flexible & USB
971P - Flexible & USB
 971P - USB & Power Input
971P - USB & Power Input

 

For accessories, Samsung has provided all the necessary cables and software required to get this monitor working with your PC. You receive a DVI-I cable, DVI-I to D-Sub cable for video cards that only support analog output, external power brick, warranty guide, and software CD that includes drivers and software for the monitor.

Having the external power brick is nice to have incase the power source happens to fail. Nothing irritates a user more than having their monitor fail due to a bad power source, especially if it is incorporated into the monitor.  It is nice to see that Samsung has taken this to light as this is NOT an inexpensive monitor.

For the web developers among us, they will appreciate how this monitor is able to tilt 45 degrees so that a full page can be seen on the screen.


Advancements in Technology:

The 971P is a later model that had a decent 1500:1 contrast ratio. Samsung has now re-engineered the 971P using a 4000:1 contrast ratio. 4000:1 - Are they mad? You would think that the average user would be more than happy with say 1000:1 contrast ratio. I can understand the need for the use of 5000:1 ratios. Digital photographers and graphics designers are reliant upon the quality of their monitors to produce photos and graphics that are next to what the human eye can see. The only way that was possible was with the use of CRT’s that could be calibrated to suit their needs. That never existed in an LCD till now.  To my knowledge, no other manufacturer has come close to meeting these specifications; another first for Samsung. LG has tried to impress me before with their Flatron series, but this is yet to be matched.  Most others will be skeptical that 4000:1 is actually possible to obtain, and this is due to a technology called Dynamic Contrast. Dynamic contrasting, according to certain lighting conditions, allows an image to be amplified in brightness, while dimming the backlight when a dark image appears on the screen. This gives the impression that dark colors are actually dark when in fact the LCD is compensating for the darkness. The problem with this is that some highlights in the dark image will be blown out of proportion.

971P - Features
971P - Features

Specifications:

Below is graphic showing the details of this LCD.  As far as the "Contrast Ratio" spec, it's listed for the old 971P, not the new 4000:1 LCD that we have on our bench.  The graphic is taken from Samsung's site. 

 

971P - List of Specs

 

Differences in LCD Panels:

To those that do not know the difference between LCD panels, there are currently 3 to 4 in use varying on price. If you buy any basic monitor for around $150 to $200 CDN, chances are you bought a TN panel. If you bought something around $250CDN or higher, you probably bought an IPS panel. If you spent more than that on a 19” LCD, chances are that you bought either an MVA or a PVA panel. TN panels are generally known for their high performance, being able to provide 2ms response time and are suited for the gaming community.  IPS panels usually provide the same level of performance in LCD’s that are over 20” in size.  PVA panels are well known for their ability to keep their vibrancy and colors regardless of viewing angle, but can suffer from a slower response time. If you want a more descriptive explanation of these technologies, you can look at this wikipedia link. The response time for this particular LCD is rated at 6ms, which is not bad.


No OSD (On Screen Display)?

The 971P is not the first monitor from Samsung that uses a software solution to control the features of the monitor. MagicTune, Samsung’s software based OSD, controls the many features of this monitor that include contrast, brightness, Kelvin temperature, color control, positioning, and many other features. The downside to this software is that it only works with certain video cards, and does not work if you plan to use dual screens with another monitor from a different manufacturer.  For two weeks or so, I was tearing my hair out when I was using the 971P with my Acer AL1916W LCD. Unplugging the Acer, rebooting, and properly installing the newest version of MagicTune with the newest drivers from ATI resolved that problem.

 

 MagicTune - Brightness
MagicTune - Brightness
MagicTune - Color Control
MagicTune - Color Control
   
 MagicTune - Positioning
MagicTune - Positioning
 MagicTune - Preferences
MagicTune - Preferences

For anyone that cannot get MagicTune to work, some aspects of the monitor can be controlled via the round button on the base of the monitor. I also found that the software will crash any computer that does not have the appropriate video cards drivers installed. If you want to re-install or install the newest video card drivers from your manufacturer, uninstall MagicTune before proceeding further.

 

Testing & Performance:

During the testing on primary computer system, I was really impressed by the level of contrast and brightness had to offer.  Setting the proper level of reds, greens, and blues took very little time compared to the some of the lower cost TN panels that I have used. I would take photos, but photos don’t cut for it this monitor. Movie playback with both XviD and DVD content was impressive. All the colors shined through vibrantly and all the black portions of the movies were absolute black, even in a true black viewing environment. Photo editing was superb while using Photoshop. All the photos that I took of my new car were closely perfect to what the naked eye would see. I hardly had to edit any colors in the images to make them perfect. If the colors had to be corrected, they turned out perfect afterwards with use of the color profile provided on the CD. There was absolutely none to very little backlight bleeding, something you would normally see on TN or IPS panels if you were to turn off all lights and look at the LCD. You have to see it for yourself to know that this is a high performing product. I didn’t do any game testing with this LCD, as this is not the 971P’s selling point. As I mentioned earlier, if you want something that will perform well in gaming, you are better off saving your money and buying a TN panel.  Something else that will surprise you is that this monitor was able to be moved within Samsungs’ advertised 178 degree viewing angle, and the contrast, brightness, contrast, and colors did not distort! I found this very impressive indeed.


For the typical high-dot pixel problems that I normally see in Samsung’s V, T,N,  and BW panels, I never saw one high-dot pixel in this panel. It is nice to know that Samsung maintains their quality control in their higher-end products, but I wish this same level of quality control would be applied to their lower end LCD’s. I have seen a lot of 205BW’s with high-dot problems, and it is a shame as it is a well priced 20” widescreen LCD. Perhaps they fixed this problem in the 203BW. The only other Samsung monitor that I have seen that can compare to the 971Ps’ quality is the 931C. I’d hate to bash Samsung in this regard, but I’ve owned my Acer TN based LCD for the past two years, and it doesn’t have any dead/stuck pixels, or suffer from the well known “no DVI output” problems.

 

Final Words:

In all, did I think Samsung did a good job with this monitor? Yes, they did an excellent job. No stuck/dead pixels, none to very little backlight bleeding, and excellent viewing angles. The only things that I would be a stickler about would be the software support. It would be nice to use dual screens with this LCD, and have the software support it. It would also be nice to update video card drivers without MagicTune throwing a fit over it, or causing nasty bluescreens. Seeing that I am also a Linux user, there is no software support for that Operating System. I don’t expect Samsung to come through with a solution for it as Linux is hard to implement one for every distribution on this Earth, but it would be nice to have control over the monitor in that kind of environment. Quality control is excellent for this particular LCD, but I would like to have that expanded to those that can only afford TN based LCD’s. This LCD was priced anywhere up to the $380 U.S. mark, so this is an expensive LCD for what it offers.

Pros:

  • Excellent viewing angle.
  • No stuck or dead pixels.
  • Very little backlight bleeding.

Cons:

  • Software control only.
  • No Linux support.
  • Quite expensive for the average user.


BCCHardware.com Rating
Quality:
9/10
Performance:
8/10
Software Pack:
8/10
Stability:
7/10
Features:
9/10
Value:
7/10
Total Score 8.0
 
I'd like to thank Samsung SEC for allowing us to review this monitor. It’s just a shame that I can’t keep it.  Smile
 
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