This 17-inch LCD breaks new ground in size, price and view

This 17-inch LCD breaks new ground in size, price and view

By John Breeden II

GCN Staff

LCD monitors have been improving for years, but except for the overpriced large-screen size, users have pretty much settled for 15-inch diagonals. Now Samsung Electronics Co. has come out with a true 17-inch LCD at a price to make the rest of the market blush.

The SyncMaster 700TFT's 17-inch diagonal display is all viewing area. Compared with the 17-inch CRT on my desk, the LCD has a lot more screen real estate'nearly equal to that of a 19-inch CRT monitor.

Box Score'''''''''''

SyncMaster 700TFT
Large LCD monitor

Samsung Electronics Co.; Ridgefield

Park, N.J.; tel. 201-229-4000

Price: $2,500

+ Excellent color balance

+ Tiny footprint

+ Fast image scaling

' No USB port

Once the plug-and-play installation is done, the first thing you notice is vibrant, accurate colors that make even high-end CRTs look washed-out by comparison.

Screen resolution goes as high as 1,280 by 1,024 pixels, suitable for any application. The monitor has innate intelligence, too, giving you a choice of natural or expanded mode. In natural mode, you see the image exactly as it was created. Any monitor can do that, but the Samsung also has an expanded mode, which blows the image up to full-screen size.

I have seen many LCD monitors that make a stab at this feature, but so far Samsung seems to be the only one to get it right. When an LCD image is expanded, usually either the distortion is too great or swirling patterns develop in the lighter areas.

Nothing like that happens on the SyncMaster 700TFT. You can work with it exactly as if it were a CRT.

Another area that Samsung got right is the viewing angle. If LCDs could be viewed well from any angle, they would be more popular.

If the Samsung SyncMaster 700TFT had a USB plug, it would be an almost perfect 17-inch LCD monitor.

Samsung has not reached that level, but it did change the manufacturing process enough that a true 160-degree viewing angle extends from side to side. Even vertically, you get better than a 90-degree view.

I have tested LCDs the same size as the SyncMaster TFT700 that boast a 160-degree angle, but they are prone to ghosting and their price tags approach $5,000. The Samsung costs half that. Try as I might, I could not make any ghost images appear, even for an instant.

The monitor sits on a small, 8-inch circular base that has its own surprise. It clears the desk by a fraction of a centimeter, letting the monitor pivot 180 degrees from the center axis. It can also tilt forward and backward. The only thing missing was the ability to change monitor height.

Petite screen

The display itself is 2 inches thick, increasing to only about 4 inches at the thickest point, where the LCD meets the main part of the stand above the circular base. It's tiny compared with even a 14-inch CRT, and quite a bit smaller than other 17-inch LCDs.

I do wish the monitor could plug into a Universal Serial Bus port. If Samsung wants to call it the next-generation LCD, the monitor should connect to a USB hub.

Overall, the 700TFT is nearly as functional as a CRT and has more viewing area in a smaller package. It's a great choice for space-constrained offices. And it's a lot easier on the eyes than a CRT.


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