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The new 30 inch monitors: Dell and Samsung
by Vincent Alzieu
Published on April 11, 2007

The new 30 inch monitors
It has been a year since our first test of 30" monitors. If, at the time we thought that they were only reserved for a few people, today it is a completely different story. The "always bigger race" is back. Has been, 19" monitors have been replaced by similarly priced 20"s, who in turn have been overrun by 22" monitors released at less than 300 euros. So why settle for a small monitor? For the bigger competitors, 23 and 24" monitors are threatened imminent extinction by 26 and 27"s. The problem of the latter is that even if they are found at approximately the same prices they havefull HD panels with a resolution of 1920 x 1200 pixels, which results in a big pitch (up to 0,303 mm with the 27"). However, some users want to have a large monitor and more information displayed such as spreadsheet columns, graphic tools, and games and not necessarily bigger text.

On the left the Samsung 305T, on the right the Dell 3007WFP-HC.
Center : Samsung SyncMaster 226BW 22"

The resolution of 30" monitors is indeed 2560 x 1600 pixels. A single monitor of this size is almost equivalent to a dual monitor configuration with two 24" (the ratio is 1.8), three 19"s or five 15"s.

In addition to the resolution, some might also want a 30" as a combined monitor and TV. It is indeed possible to directly connect an ADSL box or via a computer and that's it! If you add one of the first Blu-Ray player/burners or the Xbox 360 HD-DVD player, that your graphic card is HDCP compatible and that you have the right software player, you will be able to enjoy movies on the big screen. Such a combined use helps justify the monitor's price at approximately 1,500€. This is particularly expensive compared to 32" TVs usually found at less than 800 euros. Their resolution is nevertheless much less at 1366 x 768 pixels. For office use (spreadsheet, text, web surfing, etc.) this isn't enough and the pitch is 0.51 mm!

A good image is sometimes worth a thousand words. When we speak of pitch this may be a bit abstract for some of you. In practice, here is the size of text with the font Arial 18 displayed with Photoshop, a 30" monitor and several other monitors (including a 32" TV ):

The models in competition: summary
With two really different products, here is just the type of battle we like to see.

In the left corner, we have Dell who launched its first 30" monitor last year. This new 3007WFP-HC replaces the first 3007WF. The panel is an IPS like the first edition (manufactured by LG-Philips). The response time has improved a bit, but the major difference is the replacement of its backlighting by a new generation with a wider gamut.

Samsung uses the first PVA 30" panel produced by its own factory (Samsung being the only manufacturer to build these panels). The claimed response time is a bit better than the Dell. However, this is something that we usually don't rely on too much, so we will verify it later in practice.
The tests
We run tests for reaction time in games, delay of display, and video rendering (SD, HD 720p, HD 1080p). We also evaluate ergonomics, viewing angles, the quality of upscaling, the panel's brightness homogeneity…

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).
The results of our study of 18 patches makes it possible to create a table visually resituating the variation of colors compared to an ideal gray scale.

For game tests, after developing a response time measuring procedure last year with a probe and an oscilloscope, we eventually came to the conclusion that the measurements weren’t representative of what we actually saw on the screen. We then developed a new test procedure based on pictures of images on the monitor. The software used is Pixel Persistence Analyzer (or PixPerAn for regular users). Pictures showing these 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. We haven't given up on the games, HD and DVD video, web surfing, etc.

Finally, we measure the delay to display images compared to CRT monitors.

The test computer is self-assembled, has an AMD Athlon 64 3500+ processor and NVIDIA GeForce 7900 GTX card.

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