Samsung SyncMaster T220HD – Fabulous visual appeal, few accessories

Specs at a glance
Monitor type: LCD; Size: 22 inches; Maximum/optimum resolution: 1680 x 1050, Computer connection through D-sub (analog) or DVI (digital) ports (the DVI cable is sold separately).
Available colours: rose black (red), emerald black (green) and sapphire black (blue) bezels
External device ports: HDMI (2 ports); Component, RCA
Special feature: MagicBright, integrated TV-Tuner, Magicwizard, Dolby Digital Sound.

Bezel beauty

Awesome looks are very likely the first thing that will strike you about Samsung SyncMaster T220HD monitor.

The display incorporates Samsung’s proprietary “touch of colour” (TOC) technology previously available on its Series 6 and Series 7 LCD HDTVs.

Last month Samsung extended the TOC theme over to its new SyncMaster T-series desktop monitors.

TOC involves a complex fabrication process. The final result is very striking. The crystal-like bezel of the monitor is part transparent, part opaque with a hint of red blended into the dominant black of the bezel.

Multi-functional display

Much like some of the other SyncMaster monitor models, the T220HD is also being positioned as a business-cum-entertainment display.

With the T220HD, though, the audio-visual features of the display have been significantly beefed up to include two HDMI (high-definition multimedia interface) connections, component and RCA input ports.

The display also has an embedded Digital Television (DTV) Tuner for high-definition viewing.

“Invisible” speakers within the body of the monitor offer you audio quality ranging from good to exceptional, depending on whether you use the composite or digital audio optic output ports.

The T240HD and T260HD models – but not the T220HD – also offer full 1080p technology.

With a native resolution of 1,680×1,050 pixels, ample real estate, a 10,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio, 5ms response time, and 300cd/m2 brightness, this display would have a lot of appeal for video editors, game developers and graphic designers.

These features would also stand you in good stead for routine productivity tasks such as word processing. Using a typical font and size (such as Verdana, 10 pt) I found even at four or five feet away the text on screen was clearly visible.

In addition to connecting to your PC – through the D-sub (analog) connector or the DVI-D ports – the monitor can be hooked up simultaneously with multiple external devices.

For instance, you can use it to:

– Watch TV programs by connecting a CATV cable or TV antenna cable to an “ANT IN” port on the rear side of the monitor;

– Connect a DVD, VCR or other DTV set top box to the Component In video and audio ports at the back of the monitor;

– Connect other input devices – such as HD-DVD or Blu-Ray players – to the HDMI IN 1 or 2 terminals of the monitor using an HDMI cable.

Visual appeal

In HDMI mode you get the best reproduction of colours, images and tones.

I connected Samsung’s BD-P 1200 Blu-Ray player to the HDMI port on the monitor and watched clips from August Rush – the part romance, part fantasy film featuring Freddie Highmore, Keri Russell and Jonathan Rhys Meyers.

The colour reproduction and tonal nuances were awesome: from the rolling green meadows surrounding the home for boys where Evan (Freddie Highmore) grows up to the sepia tones dominating the concert performances of Evan’s mother, cellist Lyla (Keri Russell). (The movie itself is nothing to write home about!)

You can use the onscreen menu (accessed by pressing the Menu button on the remote) to adjust the brightness, contrast, colour, sharpness and tone of visuals to your satisfaction.

There are also pre-configured modes available depending on which port is currently active.

When connected to your PC through the PC or DVI ports – for instance – you can use the MagicBright feature to select one of five viewing modes: Entertain, Internet, Text, Dynamic Contrast and Custom.

But if you don’t find any of these five pre-set values to your taste, you could adjust brightness, contrast, sharpness and colour tone separately yourself using the on-screen menu.

When connecting external devices via the Component or HDMI ports or watching TV via the embedded TV tuner, you have three automatic picture pre-sets to choose from:

Dynamic– Adjusts the picture for high-definition in a bright room.
Standard – Adjusts picture for display in a “normal” setting.
Movie – Suitable for viewing movies in a dark room.

Component, HDMI and TV viewing offers you other image adjustment options such as backlight (where the screen’s brightness can be configured by adjusting the LCD backlight), contrast, sharpness, colour and tint.

In my tests the colours displayed best in Dynamic Mode – even when watching movies in high-definition.

In Standard and Movie Modes (particularly the latter) the visuals were much darker, and I needed to bump up the brightness significantly (using the Brightness control).

Green touch

Samsung actively promotes the fact that its TOC series monitors – including the T220HD – are eco-friendly, as they are constructed with material that does not produce Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) emissions.

This new line of monitors, the company says, are not crafted using spray techniques to express colours in the body surface as this method is known to produce VOC emissions.

As well, the monitors consume below 0.3W standby power, which Samsung notes is less power than other monitor products – and the lowest (so far) in the industry.

Final word

The Samsung SyncMaster T220HD is definitely targeted at the higher end of the LCD display market.

For those willing to fork out around $453 – its retail price at a couple of Canadian online stores, and – this multipurpose display does offer a lot of value.

For one, there’s the aesthetic appeal provided by Samsung’s TOC technology (but while Samsung literature emphasizes this lot, to me it’s not a hugely important feature).

The TD220 has certain features that set it apart from many other multipurpose LCD devices out there, including those produced by Samsung.

The first is its support for high-definition viewing – with the embedded DTV tuner and two HDMI ports.

This distinguishes it, for instance, from another Samsung hybrid display that I reviewed – the SyncMaster 215TW. The 215TW could also be connected with external video sources (through RCA, DVI, Component and S-Video inputs) but lacked HDMI ports.

There’s also the convenience factor – given that a knowledge worker can connect multiple external devices simultaneously, and then use the Source button on the remote to switch quickly from one device to another.

So you may be working hard on that editing that video in Adobe Premiere Pro, and when its time for a break with a press of a button you switch to watching a Blu-Ray movie – without missing a beat.

On the debit side is the fact that most of the cables needed to connect your display to external devices are not included in the box – and have to be purchased separately.

Cables NOT included are the: DVI, HDMI, Stereo, TV Antenna, Component, Composite Audio and Digital Audio.
Given that this is an HD display, the non-inclusion of at least an HD cable is definitely a negative, and I hope Samsung will rectify this in subsequent versions of this product.

From a business perspective, the HD functionality is a feature that graphic designers, videographers, CAD professionals or others who frequently work with visuals will find very useful.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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