The skinny on Samsung Sync Master 215TW


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Specs at a glance

Monitor type: LCD; Viewable Image Size: 21″ Wide; Brightness (Typical): 300 cd/m2; Contrast Ratio: 1000:1; Viewing Angle (H/V): 178/178; Interface: Analog/Digital; Maximum Resolution: 1680×1050; Computer connection through: DVI (HDCP) or RGB port – cables included; External device ports: Component, RCA, S-Video; Available Colour: Black; Special Features: Built-in power supply, MagicColor Pro, MagicBright, MagicTune, MagicRotation, and PIP/PBP

The SyncMaster 215 TW looks like a business LCD monitor, but its multimedia capabilities, sleek design, and wide range of features would make it attractive to consumers as well.

Available in black, the SyncMaster 215TW delivers a maximum of 16.7 million colors. The 21-inch (diagonal) screen displays crisp images with sharp and well defined colours. You don’t notice any dead pixels or back light bleeding.

The ample real estate and sharp display (a 1000:1 contrast ratio and 1680×1050 maximum resolution) make this monitor a good option for video or image editing or gaming. These features would stand you in good stead for routine productivity tasks such as word processing as well. Using a typical font and size (such as Times New Roman, 10 pt) I found even at four or five feet away the text on screen was clearly visible.

Display brightness and contrast can be set (using buttons on the panel below the screen) to various pre-configured modes, such as: Text, Internet, Game, Sports, Movie and a Custom mode.

There are other ways to adjust the display. For instance, the CD that comes with the package includes MagicTune – a software tool that allows monitor adjustment and colour tuning using the Display Data Channel Command Interface (DDC/CI) protocol. With MagicTune all adjustments to the display are controlled via software. Yet another feature is MagicRotation – a software utility that allows the user to switch between landscape and portrait modes – enabling 0, 90, 180 and 270-degree orientations.

The 215TW offers the option of using either a digital or an analog interface. The Digital Video Interface (DVI) offers a sharper image and a more accurate representation of the original video source. This display is capable of allowing viewers to watch two input sources at the same time with its Picture-In-Picture feature.

Adjustability features, however, do not equal some other models such as the Samsung SyncMaster 204B (20-inch LCD) – whose small circular base includes a built-in lazy Susan that allows it to be swiveled from side to side.

By contrast, the 215TW can’t be swiveled. The base, however, does provide solid support to the monitor, and doesn’t vibrate as you tilt the screen. The monitor’s height can be adjusted up to a range of around 4.5-inches by removing the “fixing pin” (located on the stand behind the monitor) and it can also be titled forward and back.

In terms of user-friendliness, the 215TW could be categorized as above average, but not exceptional.

The menu buttons are all accessible from the front of the monitor.

However, not all ports for connecting external devices are as easily accessible.

While the ports at the side of the monitor (such as the Audio/Video and S-Video inputs) are located easily, those at the bottom (such as the DVI, RGB, Component In and PC Sound terminal input ports) are not. In fact, it took me some time to figure out where the PC sound terminal was located. Its placement – flush next to the Component In ports doesn’t make it easy to spot.

The 215TW’s ability to be connected directly to external video sources (camcorder, DVD player, VCR etc) allows this monitor to be used as a hybrid device – for business and entertainment.

I hooked up a VCR as well as a digital camcorder to the 215TW — connecting each device, in turn, to the RCA as well as the S-Video ports on the monitor. The picture quality that both inputs provided was good. The monitor doesn’t include any USB ports, if you’re looking for that feature.

The Samsung SyncMaster 215 TW display can be installed on any Plug & Play compatible system. The CD included with the monitor provides set up instructions and includes drivers, and a colour/mode tool.

The sound quality of its built-in speakers could be described as adequate at best. At higher decibel levels the audio does tend to become scratchy. If you want great audio, you need to get that separately.

The 215 TW has a built-in power management system called PowerSaver. This system saves energy by switching the monitor into a low-power mode when it is not used for a certain period of time. The monitor automatically returns to normal operation when you press a key on the keyboard.

The 215TW comes with a a three-year parts and labour warranty. Toll-free, 24/7 support is also available for the life of the display.

This 21-inch monitor retails for around Can$665 at two Canadian online and Premiere Computer Canada

For many the price tag may be a deterrent. Overall, though, Samsung SyncMaster 215 TW offers pretty good bang for your buck.


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