When milliseconds do matter

The Samsung SyncMaster 172x takes up little room for such a big display, and it weighs only 8.3 pounds. Its fast response makes it ideal for graphics-heavy training tasks.

12 milliseconds is the magic number to see action on new Samsung LCD

Are you free later today? How about 12 milliseconds from now?

A millisecond doesn't seem like much time. In the Olympics, it can make the difference between the coveted gold medal and runner-up silver. But ordinarily a millisecond passes without notice. Thousands of them passed while you read that last sentence.

The high-performance Samsung SyncMaster 172x LCD makes you respect milliseconds. It's the first monitor I've seen with a response time of only 12 ms.

In real-world terms, images show up from the computer with very, very little delay. The difference is obvious when the 172x plays a video or streaming media beside a standard LCD with 20-ms or longer response time.

You can test this with Microsoft Windows' scrolling-message screen saver. On the 172x, the image flows across the screen and looks crisp. On other LCDs, there is usually some distortion.

The 172x has other fine features, one of which might at first sound strange. There's only one button, used to turn the LCD on or off, and no other controls.

To adjust the monitor, you must use Samsung's MagicTune software, which is quite good and lets you fine-tune every aspect. As a bonus, it links your monitor to your log-in. Someone else who logs in to your computer and changes the monitor settings will not affect your profile.

If the MagicTune software were not so easy to use, I would consider this a major negative because I like to adjust the brightness and contrast of my monitor on the fly.

In the windowless GCN Lab, lighting conditions don't change much, but users who work near windows might prefer fast brightness controls at their fingertips.

The lack of controls does give the 17-inch-diagonal LCD a clean, uncluttered look. The display goes up to the edge of the narrow, 1-centimeter bezel. At 14.2 inches tall, 14.3 inches wide and 7.6 inches deep including the base, there's no wasted space, so the 8.3-pound 172x can fit almost anywhere. The monitor tilts forward and backward and also adjusts for height. The viewing angle is around 160 degrees, or 140 degrees when you look at it vertically. Maximum resolution is 1,280 by 1,024 pixels with a 500:1 contrast ratio and 0.264-millimeter dot pitch.

Both analog and digital inputs are located in back, which is becoming the standard for LCDs and particularly Samsung products.

In theory, this means you could hook up two PCs to the same monitor, but realistically it means the monitor will work with either a digital or an analog video card'one less component to worry about.

If you work with video applications such as training, it makes sense to have a monitor that doesn't take up a lot of space yet gives the fastest possible response.

And the 172x is not expensive considering the quality of its images. We found it on the General Services Administration schedule for $618.

It's always nice when cutting-edge quality doesn't cost an arm and a leg

About the Author

John Breeden II is a freelance technology writer for GCN.

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