SyncMaster doubles as a PC monitor and TV set

SyncMaster doubles as a PC monitor and TV set

By Carlos A. Soto

GCN Staff

I can't decide whether the Samsung SyncMaster 170mp is more like a 17-inch flat-panel monitor or a 17-inch TV set. It serves both functions well.

The SyncMaster isn't completely in sync with every PC, however. Its bundled software could be allergic to some of the programs you might be running.

The SyncMaster170mp works well as a monitor or a TV set but has some software conflicts.

Each pixel of the SyncMaster's active-matrix, thin-film-transistor screen is controlled by up to four transistors and is refreshed frequently for high clarity.

There are only two settings, both at 1,024- by 768-pixel resolution. The Optimum Mode displays at 60 hertz, and the Maximum Mode at 85 hertz. I couldn't tell from the documentation whether one is for television and the other for computing, but the choice of mode seemed to make little difference.

The SyncMaster 170mp weighs only 14.3 pounds in a large, 17.6- by 17.2- by 2.5-inch, wall-mountable frame. The monitor looks bigger than some 18-inch screens I've tested.

Images were clear and sharp even before I installed the device driver and the color-enhancing Colorific software from E-color Inc. of San Francisco.

I ran into the first software problems with the Colorific setup. My test system froze completely at the Microsoft Windows StartUp menu options.

I rebooted and reinstalled the software. The installation stuck in the same place, but only for a minute. Then an error message warned me that the operating system was unable to install the Colorific uninstall software.

An E-color spokesman told me that if Adobe Photoshop 5.x's executable Adobe Gamma Loader program were present in the Microsoft Windows StartUp tab, it would conflict with the Colorific software.

Box Score

Samsung SyncMaster 170mp

17-inch flat-screen monitor and television set

Samsung Electronics America Inc.; Ledgewood, N.J.;

tel. 800-726-7864

Price: $1,200

+ TV and monitor in one

+ Good image quality

' Intricate software setup

Real-life requirements:

Win9x or NT, 2M of free storage, 4M of RAM; or Mac OS 7.1 with 1M of free storage

I did a little further research and learned that when you load Photoshop 5.x, you might see error messages such as, 'Adobe Gamma Loader caused an invalid page fault in module kernel32.d11' or 'Adobe Gamma Loader.exe caused a general protection fault in module gdi.exe.' Both error messages relate to the PC's video card. To avoid them, you must either update the video card driver or remove Gamma Loader.

Adobe Gamma Loader is part of Adobe Gamma Control Panel, a program that optimizes image clarity in Photoshop by distributing colors more evenly. If your video card is too old to work with it, the Adobe Gamma Loader Control Panel launches a warning message. I never saw such an error message.

Even so, Adobe Gamma Loader resided in the StartUp tab of my Start menu. To fix the conflict with the Colorific software, I had to remove the Loader from the StartUp tab and place it somewhere else, such as the desktop, before installing the Colorific software.

Worth the price

After I got the software conflict out of the way, I discovered what makes this monitor worth its $1,200 price tag.

It comes cable-ready with a PAL-NTSC connector that screws onto the back of the monitor and connects to a cable outlet.

Hooking the monitor up to a VCR or DVD player is as easy as hooking up a television through a receiver. You can use either RCA cables or the newer S-VHS cable.

The SyncMaster 170mp has a picture-in-picture feature. While you type a document, for example, you can view a live news feed.

There's even a remote control, not to mention a V-chip. You tell me: Is it a monitor or a TV set?

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