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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  • yacoub - Wednesday, May 25, 2005 - link

    Okay so I'm looking for a 17"-19" viewable 8-bit 8ms LCD panel. Who makes them?

    (Getting tired of seeing reviews for 6bit panels.)
  • yacoub - Wednesday, May 25, 2005 - link

  • PrinceXizor - Wednesday, May 25, 2005 - link

    I'm having trouble understanding your contrast ratio chart?

    I assume higher white numbers are better and lower black numbers are better.

    This panel has the second lowest black number (2.6) in you chart, yet, you don't like it and pronounce it "not dark enough".

    I'm confused?

  • Spacecomber - Wednesday, May 25, 2005 - link

    Keep the LCD reviews coming, since this is an area of computer products that is only going to continue to grow for the forseeable future. Hopefully, as reviewers get more familiar with these monitors they will be able to tease them apart the way they do when they discuss a motherboard or a graphics card, discussing the components that make up the product and how these have an impact on performance. Just as knowing whose chipset and what audio solution is being used on a motherboard tells you a lot about what to expect from a motherboard, knowing more about the panel and the circuitry being used with an LCD will eventually be a big tip-off as to what to expect from a LCD. Anandtech is already moving along this route by taking the time to disassemble and confirm what is being used in the constrution of the LCDs they review.

    As noted, the real competition for this monitor might be from the Hyundai L90D+, at least as long as it is using the same (presumably) panel as the 915N, since it does come with DVI. The other competitor that may make the 915N obsolete is the recently released Samsung 930B (as also noted above). Actually, a side by side comparison of the L90D+ and the 930B might be interesting, since it would allow us to see if we need to look a bit beyond just what panel is being used in a monitor and ask whether the supporting circuitry also makes a significant difference in final quality of a LCD's image.

    (As mentioned previously, one of the disappointments for me in the Dell 19005FP, compared to the Samsung models, was the lack of ability to make adjustments to the monitor's image with the OSD controls. This really hurt the Dell 1905FP in my eyes, despite it using the same panel as the Samsung 193P.)

    Finally, it might be worthwhile to look a bit more at the viewing angles when reviewing LCDs, especially when discussing TN panels, since my understanding is that this has always been a weak point for TN monitors.

    You can see this in the specifications that Samsung lists for the panel used in this monitor (the link is given in this article in the first line of the page titled, Panel). On that page Samsung list the monitor's viewing angles as 75/60/75/75 (U/D/L/R), which seem more realistic than those given for the monitor, itself. Notice in particular how the when viewing the panel from below the viewing angle is less than from any other angle, this is characteristic of TN panels.

    It seems to me that the narrow angles of a TN panel coupled with a stand that has very little ability to pivot (as with the 915N) could become a problem in actual use.

  • arswihart - Wednesday, May 25, 2005 - link

    shiznit - he just recommended it in the latest buyer's guide and he just reminded you that he did
  • shiznit - Wednesday, May 25, 2005 - link

    if you want this exact same display but with DVI and pivot, get yourself a Hyundai L90D+, which has been out for some time and somehow anand never noticed.
  • Zebo - Wednesday, May 25, 2005 - link

    " 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"

    I've read every article at anandtech for four years and don't know what you're talking about... How about spelling out acronyms like TN and SIPS to make articles more inviting.:-)
  • Murst - Wednesday, May 25, 2005 - link

    I've been using my 193P for 10 months now. Still no reason to change, and the fact that I got it so long ago and still nothin' better (both looks and quality) has come out during that time proves to me it was a great purchase =)

    I really wish manufacturers would keep on designing stuff which looks like the 193P though. It probably doesn't cost that much more, and it makes a huge difference on the desk. This 915N looks like crap.
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, May 25, 2005 - link

    4 - Which is why I recommended the Hyundai in the recent Buyer's Guide. The problem is that Hyundai could switch panels at any time, which could suddenly make the L90D+ a poor choice. Anyway, 6-bit color isn't great, but for gaming the panels are really nice.
  • IceWindius - Wednesday, May 25, 2005 - link

    This is the same TN panel they use in the Hyundai L90D+ which I own and it totally freaking rocks!

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