Samsung SyncMaster 770P : PVA 6ms, 1500:1 - BeHardware
>> Miscellaneous >> Monitors

Written by Vincent Alzieu

Published on October 19, 2005

URL: http://www.behardware.com/art/lire/594/


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Samsung SyncMaster 770P

Samsung goes down to 6 ms
Our tests are conclusive: AU Optronics is no longer the only company to sell fast panels, good for gaming and with very wide viewing angles. Finally, after several failed attempts, Samsung produces a fast Super-PVA 6 ms panel. They claim to have a lower response time than AU Optronics and its P-MVA panel (featured in the famous ViewSonic VP191b and more recently in the Belinea 10 19 20) and a record contrast ratio of 1500:1. So far, tests have always proven their characteristics to be valid and so Samsung has the possibility of replacing MVA 8 ms monitors, the market core for multi-purpose screens.


This new panel generation comes in an extremely attractive monitor, the SyncMaster 770P, and we can see that Samsung has made a lot of effort for this product: the best panel, a new base, automatic pivot mode, a very nice design and finishing touches, and good standard settings. Unfortunately, the downside of all these improvements is the price, and it hurts to see the SM 770P, the 17” version at 445 €, and the SM 970P (not tested, but based on the same panel technology and contrast ratio of “only” 1,000:1) at 649€.



Tests
Color fidelity and calibration, game reaction time, video quality, ergonomics, viewing angles, and the quality of interpolation…every aspect of each monitor is examined.

For color fidelity we use the LaCie Blue Eye Pro colorimeter, based on the Gretag tool and coupled with the new LaCie software suite. More evolved than the previous version, this helps us to compare a monitor’s display quality (color spectrum and DeltaE) in standard settings and after calibration. Results are sometimes surprising as it’s often best to take the time to manually adjust colors (or at least contrast, brightness and color temperature).

For game tests, nothing is better than a couple hours of UT 2004, (we call this work) to have a good idea of a monitor’s reaction time. We have added extracts of afterglow in two environments. The first is between bright colors and the second is for black and white (like in wire frame mode). The software used is Pixel Persistence Analyzer (or PixPerAn for regular users). Pictures showing ghosting effects are captured with a Canon 350D at a shutter speed of 1/1000 s. We take 50 pictures in burst mode for each test to precisely measure the progression of afterglow between images.

The test computer is self-assembled and has an AMD Athlon XP3200+ processor and NVIDIA GeForce 6800 GT card.


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Ergonomics, manual "calibration"

Ergonomics

The 770p´s good ergonomics are mainly due to its swivel base, which is vertically adjustable up to 17 cm. Theoretically, it also automatically changes to pivot mode. We say “theoretically”, because, unfortunately, it didn’t work with our computer. Samsung was quite surprised and assured us that it usually works great. In our case, the monitor noticed that it was turned to 90°, an icon appeared, but nothing else happened. This is probably an isolated case.


Less pleasant, however, is the base´s size, which is 23 x 23cm. Samsung could have designed something a little smaller, because there is even an external box in the rear featuring video and power supply inputs. It´s just unfortunate that these elements aren´t included in the base…


The pivot mode is of interest mainly when you use dual monitors. It’s nice to keep one in landscape mode and the other in portrait to write text and navigate in web pages, which are often optimal in 1024 x 768 or less. The resolution changes to 1024 in width by 1280 in height and reading text in this format is quite pleasant. Still it’s best not to install new software all the time as the portrait configuration sometimes fails after installation of new programs. Regularly correcting this quickly becomes tiring.


Unlike other competing products, with Samsung controls aren´t on the front of the monitor. All adjustments are made via software, whose use is far from being easy. Most tools are contained in MagicTune, the simpler ones used to adjust brightness, contrast and the type of use; movie, game, or internet. Once the mode is chosen, the monitor automatically chooses settings with more or less accuracy. We felt that these weren’t sufficient, which brings us to the next step.

We go to Natural Color. The first option, Monitor Initialization, is only partly usable. For example, it requires adjusting the contrast level of a square placed in the middle of the work area to best match its background.


For this you need the contrast adjustment, which you can only do via the MagicTune software. However, Natural Color works in full screen so you have to make all adjustments without looking at the result and switch from one application to another. The next step is a little more useful. It asks you to define your work environment as fluorescent indoor lighting, for example. Even if the software doesn’t explain anything, we assume that it adjusts color temperature and monitor brightness. At any rate, the result isn’t that amazing.

Natural Color gives you the possibility to run a "Color Adjustment". This time, you have to adjust red, green and blue levels according to the colored background.


Then, "Color Preference" asks you to adjust the gamma through RGB components.

Still unsatisfied? Go back to Magic Tune and see the color menu. There, you can manually adjust RGB channels, change gamma to brighten or darken the image and do a manual “calibration”, and access a new pre-programmed settings according to the work environment (here we are kind of lost as too many are available) with a manual “calibration”. This is the least easy of all. You have to once again adjust the color of a small square in the middle of the image to match the background and there are two tools for this. One is a cursor which changes brightness and the other is possibility to move the square within the area to change the color shade. It takes a little time to understand the process. Explanations are brief and don’t count on this process too much.

Five steps later, a new profile is established.

It´s hard to criticize the efficiency of this tool as the result depends too much on the capacity of the user to adjust its monitor. The worst result you can get is to have adjusted the monitor to your taste. At best, if you have a good eye and have understood all the steps, you can maybe make your monitor more accurate than it was initially. There is no guarantee as this tool is too complicated and not practical enough.


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Color quality

Color quality
It doesn’t happen often so we have to point it out. The Samsung’s standard settings are quite good. Here is the result obtained when the product comes out of the box:


How to interpret the graph

On the left is the color spectrum, the monitor’s colorimetric range compared to the sRGB range (usually used for digital cameras). This doesn’t correspond to its accuracy, but to the range of reproducible colors.

For accuracy, refer to the graph on the right, the DeltaE. This is a measure between the color requested and the one really displayed on the monitor. The result obtained is also counter-balanced for human eye color sensitivity.

With Delta E > 3 the desired color is noticeably different from the one on the screen.
With 1 < Delta E < 2 colors are accurate. With Delta E < 1, the result is perfect.

The monitor obviously isn’t calibrated in the factory, but at least standard parameters are good. Some of the bars are still beyond DeltaE 3, but most are below. For comparison, here is what two monitors of reference are capable of:



After calibration, the result is, of course, even better. We remind you that we can’t send our color profiles as they are only valid for the computer which created them.


Excellent!

And here are the graphs of the two reference monitors.



As usual we measured the monitor´s real contrast ratio to compare it to Samsung’s 1500:1 claim. Before and after calibration, white is around 230 cd/m˛. For the first time we weren’t able to measure darkness as it was too deep for our first instrument and gives us a zero result. The second tool, which is supposed to be more precise, was unable to go below 0.2 cd/m˛. The final result is then “0.2” but we are probably below this. Based on this measurement we can only say that the contrast ratio is at least 230 / 0.2 cd/m˛ or 1150: 1.


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3D, video games

3D, video games
Samsung made a strange move regarding its partners. They announced the release of supposedly revolutionary 8ms PVA monitors and six months later only released them is some regions. Europe even decided to skip them and directly move on to the next generation, the PVA 6 ms. They justify this with the significant difference and quality between the two generations. Samsung even refused to send us the 193P+, equipped with the same panel as the Fujitsu-Siemens P19-2 (that we strongly criticised).

As Samsung says (and we verified this) there are two panel periods and qualities in their products. In PVA from 25 to 8ms, Samsung improved characteristics but not really reaction time. All PVA monitors up to 8ms feature strong ghosting effects as we systematically said with wide Dell and Eizo monitors, or even the Fujitsu Siemens P19-2.

This 770P has nothing in common. Finally, Samsung has reached the same level as AU Optronics. The following results show this perfectly:

Reaction test 1: quality in games

A car moves from left to right at high speed.

Movement isn’t perfectly fluid. Depending on its speed, the car is shown in several successive positions. If car goes very fast, the positions are very close and the eye perceives a flowing movement.
A monitor without ghosting effects would have previous images completely fading away when a new one appears. This is the theory and in practice, it´s often not the case as images fade progressively. Sometimes up to 5 afterglow images remain on the monitor and represent the visible white trail behind objects. Some monitors have strong overdrives in addition to image anticipation algorithms. In this case an image can appears in front of the main object, creating a white halo in front of objects in motion.

We capture afterglow with a camera at a shutter speed of 1/1000 s. We take 50 pictures per test. We then can see a monitor´s ghosting effects, or all the car´s positions in the entire process. The most important image is the one on the left, the better one. It will be the most displayed on the monitor, while the one on the right is in transition.
These are the two extreme cases between which afterglow can oscillate:

Samsung S-PVA 6 ms panel: Samsung SyncMaster 770P
The ghosting effect is from 2 to five images. The maximum (on the right) is 3 colored and 2 transparent.

This is the afterglow captured on our reference monitors:

AU-Optronics P-MVA 8 ms panel: Belinea 10 19 20

Afterglow at its least is a little more noticeable than with the fast Samsung panel. The third ghost image is more visible and the second one is colored. On the other hand, the “worst” image (the one with the most afterglow) is better. There are only three simultaneous images including one white and possibly a fourth very light one. In use, both VA technologies are equivalent and for games we didn´t have a favourite for reaction time. However, if we take colors into account, Samsung takes the lead thanks to it greatly contrasted shades. Its image is really a step above.

AU-Optronics TN 4 ms panel: BenQ FP91V
At its best, the image is perfect. Those who really have good sight will barely distinguish a transparent image between the main object. At its worst there are two simultaneous images. It´s very short and quite hard to capture. Most of the pictures were closer to the better result than the second one.


CRT : Mitsubishi Diamond Pro 930SB

Even if BenQ provides better results with its best image (more contrasted, clearer, with even less afterglow, a ghost image behind the car on the CRT monitor), the CRT is still in the lead thanks to a very small and consistent ghosting effect.

Reaction test 2: 3D design, games dark scenes

This time we looked at afterglow with two opposite colors, white and black. This can represent the afterglow generated when a scene in a game goes from dark to white or is even of interest to graphic designers when an object moves in wire frame mode in a different colored background.

Samsung S-PVA 6 ms panel: Samsung SyncMaster 770P


AU-Optronics P-MVA 8 ms panel: Belinea 10 19 20

Once again the S-PVA and P-MVA are equivalent. We would really have to go out of our way to notice that the Samsung’s afterglow is a little higher. In practice, we´ll just say the difference is unnoticeable.

Dalle AU-Optronics TN 4 ms : BenQ FP91V

Afterglow is constant and zero with this 4ms. This is proof of the progress made this year. Afterglow is really less than a CRT monitor´s:

Tube : Mitsubishi Diamond Pro 930SB


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Films, viewing angles, verdict

Films : DVD, HD
Samsung increased reaction time, but not the quality for movies, at least as not as much as we expected. The contrast ratio has been considerably increased, mostly thanks to a higher deepness in black. It looks better, the image is very contrasted and black is more intense than usual. It isn’t perfect, however. For example, as long as the monitor isn’t calibrated, it´s hard to obtain an image with accurate colors. As we said earlier, adjustments are complex, multiple and sometimes contradict themselves. It´s easy to misadjust the monitors and obtain images with very intense black but overly saturated colors.

Compare the black outside the film (which is perfect because it´s created with Photoshop) to the black of the movie shadows captured with our camera. They are identical and this shows good monitor quality. Now colors still need to be corrected.

Also, like all Samsung monitors with overdrive, we noticed a strong twinkling effect in movies, stronger than on AU Optronics panels. The monitor is small so you just have to step away six feet for this effect to fade away. It´s still quite unfortunate.

Viewing angles
With IPS, VA monitors usually have the largest viewing angles. The 770p has wide viewing angles but not as wide as the previous generation´s, like the recently testedEizo S2110W.

Samsung S-PVA 6 ms panel: Samsung SyncMaster 770P



On the left, the 770 has smaller horizontal viewing angles but not smaller than AU-Optronics P-MVA panel. Once again, these two are comparable. They are better than the BenQ monitor in this area, whose lower viewing angle darkens. This is a characteristic of TN panels

Verdict
The good news is that Samsung now has a fast panel for games. Finally, the claimed response time is consistent with the panel´s practical results. We remind you that this wasn’t the case for S-PVA 8, 12 and 16 ms series. The bad news is the price. This 17” monitor is as expensive as a high end 19”. We just have to hope that this price is justified by a very nice panel capable of superb colors, great ergonomics and attractive design. We also hope to find this panel in other cheaper monitors manufactured by Samsung or not.



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