Just last week, we took a look at a display that almost had the workings of the next great LCD, but came up short on price and performance. LG’s L1980U was unfortunately plagued by a 6-bit LCD that we didn’t feel very comfortable with after several weeks of testing. However, as TN displays appear to be the only ones that can really offer substantially better response times than SIPS displays made by LG.Philips LCD, more manufacturers continue to embrace these six-bit panels.

We are a bit skeptical about how low response times can go – realistically. You may recall from reading some of our other display articles that LCDs are measured by two major “response times” quantities: TrTf (Time rising, Time falling - sometimes called average) and GTG (Gray to Gray). Originally, all displays were all marketed by their TrTf response times and nothing more. It then occurred to certain manufacturers that while TrTf times were very low, the transient time from certain degrees of the liquid crystal were slower than others. This spawned the whole gray-to-gray measurement, which was really nothing but an average time of many different transient measurements. Occasionally, some manufacturers just find it acceptable enough to list one half of the TrTf time as we have seen in recent reviews. Unfortunately, those not aware of how displays are marketed fall as easy prey to the “lower” advertised specifications. With the already liberal interpretations of luminance and contrast ratio, it’s probably about time for VESA to start cracking down again. But that’s not what we came here to talk about today…

Just to rehash - we don’t have a lot of faith in advertised response times. If there are significant response time differences, there is usually a hit in performance somewhere else, like luminance or contrast ratio. It becomes easy to fall prey to benchmarks that measure response times in only certain scenarios, which is why all of our reviews use comprehensive real world comparisons between all of our displays to set the playing field level.

Samsung’s launch of the SyncMaster 915N seems unusually familiar – a low budget display is unveiled that boasts the lowest response time yet. Hitachi did it several years ago with their 16ms 17” display, but the SyncMaster 915N costs less today than the Hitachi did then. The SyncMaster 915N is a “no frills” display; there is no clever cable management, only a single 15-pin D-sub interface and an exceptionally low price (at least for a Samsung display). The 6-bit TN display used in the SyncMaster 915N is obviously a bit cheaper to produce than the 8-bit PVA displays used for most other Samsung displays, and the lack of a DVI interface and DSP help shave costs quite a bit. In the past, we have been fairly critical of 6-bit displays, TN displays and displays that didn’t have DVI capability. The deck seems stacked against Samsung, but perhaps there is more to this display than meets the eye.

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  • Rocket321 - Wednesday, May 25, 2005 - link

  • Spacecomber - Wednesday, May 25, 2005 - link

    Neogodless, I think they do qualify their objective analysis by saying that their equipment doesn't do a very good job of measuring the blackest blacks. This means that the black measurements are somewhat misleading; they appear to be more similar than actually is the case. In actual use, the difference is apparent. The monitors that have PVA panels (Samsung 193P and Dell 1905FP)and even a IPS panel (Dell 2005FP) reproduce something much closer to true black compared to what the TN panels are capable of, regardless of what the "spyder" says.

  • neogodless - Wednesday, May 25, 2005 - link

    "The Samsung is the brighter monitor, but it cannot produce a dark enough of an image that many of our other displays can."

    The only display with a lower black image reading was another Samsung (at 2.2). Please explain!
  • Spacecomber - Wednesday, May 25, 2005 - link

    LX, Samsung has a 19" panel, LTM190E4, , which appears to have the same specification as the LTM240M1 that you mentioned (except this this 19" panel does not use a wide screen format).

    I believe that this LTM190E4 panel is what is being used in the Samsung 193P Plus or 193P+, . But, I don't think this monitor is widely available (yet?).

    I'm eager to hear, myself, whether any PVA panel, even with a 8ms response time, really is suitable for dynamic images, such as in gaming. The problem with PVA panels to date has not been that their white to black response times (which is usually the specification given) are that high, rather it is that this measurement doesn't convey how poorly PVA panels do with more subtle black to grey or grey to grey transitions. Unfortunately, a relatively low black to white response time doesn't necessarily mean you can expect a similar improvement in the black to grey and grey to grey response times.

    So, I remain interested in learning more about these 8ms PVA panels, but I'm also skeptical of them, until I see a thorough review done.

    (The Eizo L778 is another 19" PVA based LCD that sounds like it might be a relatively low response time monitor, at least based on the specifications. I'm not aware of any thorough reviews of it, either.)

  • MrEMan - Wednesday, May 25, 2005 - link

    I posted this in the previous LG review, but I don't recall seeing an answer: does anyone know who builds Dell's LCD monitors, and how do their retail versions compare to the OEM version produced for Dell?
  • LX - Wednesday, May 25, 2005 - link

    The Samsung LTM240M1 panel used in the Dell 2405FPW has excellent specs:

    Unfortunately, 24" wide screen (1,920 x 1,200) is not the best choice for crowded workplaces, mid-range graphics cards and/or tighter budgets.

    Are there LCD monitors that use panels with comparable specs but smaller sizes?
  • MajorPayne - Wednesday, May 25, 2005 - link

    This was a great review... I own the 930B (the newer version of this screen with the DVI input. Also, no one has noted this about the 930B yet, but one other thing the article had on it's wish list (software to control the DSP settings) is included with the 930B. The 930B is an awesome display, and since I got it for only $320.00 (and there were 2 mail in rebates for $80.00 on top of that) at my local Fry's, I could not help but buy it. I love the damn thing! Also, this is the first LCD I have ever had (I have owned 6 of them before this one) that does not have even 1 single dead pixel. Great job on a great screen Samsung!!
  • WT - Wednesday, May 25, 2005 - link

    19" LCD reviews = HAWT !!! (as Paris would say)

    Keep them coming .. these things have become the new Ipod and every semi-hardcore PC user I know is contemplating an LCD purchase. I'm buying one myself in 3 weeks (leaning towards the Fuji FP-988D).
  • Spacecomber - Wednesday, May 25, 2005 - link

    yacoub, what you are looking for is a LCD that uses a IPS panel (In-Plane Switching). All the TN panels (Twisted Neumatic) are only capable of 6 bit color, and all the PVA (Patterned Vertical Alignment) monitors will have too slow a response time, especially once you get away from only talking about black to white transitions.

    Unfortunately, the IPS panels are pretty much only found in 20" displays (and larger), such as the Dell's that RaidenSix mentioned.

    Perhaps as consumers become better educated about the limitations of "low response time" TN panels, there will be a growing demand for better quality monitors, such as those built around an IPS panels, in a greater range of sizes.

  • RaidenSix - Wednesday, May 25, 2005 - link

    yacoub, you can look at the Dell monitors (2001FP, 2004FPW). You can get them at a good price with their coupons.

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