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Samsung SyncMaster 171N Review

Highs

  • Good brightness level
  • attractive design

Rating

Our Score 7
User Score 7

Lows

  • Limited to analog input
  • noticeable ghosting
Business users who are looking to upgrade their current CRT monitors to an LCD will find the Samsung 171n very attractive.

Summary

Business users who are looking to upgrade their current CRT monitors to an LCD will find the Samsung SyncMaster 171n very attractive. The 171n performs well and has some nice extra features plus it’s very competitively priced. The entry level LCD market is gaining some stiff competition and the Samsung 171n should be able to hold its own both feature and design wise.

Introduction

LCD monitors have always had the advantage of a smaller footprint and less power output over traditional CRT monitors. However there are a few caveats associated with LCD monitors that you should be aware of. First off, entry level LCD’s usually use an analog VGA connector which degrades the image quality versus the newer DVI (Digital Video Interface) output. Secondly, they have slow response rates which usually results in ghosting and trailing when you are watch movies or playing games. Lastly, most entry level LCD monitors typically have poor viewing angles which make them hard to see unless you sit directly in front of them.   Today we look at Samsung’s entry level 171n 17″ LCD display with a street price of around $499 dollars. The 171n offers a few surprises and a good overall design.

Features

Samsung’s 171n features a 4:3 aspect ratio with 24-bit (16.7 million colors) color and a 350:1 contrast ration. Resolution on the 171n maxes out at 1280×1024 at 60Hz via a regular analog VGA connector output. There is no DVI interface available on the 171n. Two color options are available for the display casing, black and silver. The 171n weighs in at 11.2 lbs and is backed by a 3 year parts and labor warranty provided by Samsung.

In a market where LCD monitors are becoming the norm for the work environment, what sets the Samsung 171n apart? Probably the most noticeable feature is the 171n’s very slim bezel which makes the monitor a good choice if you want to purchase 2 of them and place them side by side for use in a dual monitor setup. Samsung monitors have been featured in movies such as the X-Men and The Italian Job due to their sexy design, making them ideal for the work environment.

Setup and Use

Set up is a snap: Put the monitor down, connect the power cable, connect the VGA cable and you’re done.  With a Windows XP based system your computer should recognize the Samsung 171n display due to the Plug and Play compatibility.

There are 6 discrete buttons along the bottom of the 171N which are fairly intuitive to use. There is an auto button which will attempt to optimize the viewing experience including resolution, colors, and refresh rate. If you want to get your hands dirty and adjust the settings yourself there is no shortage of features. Besides the basic contrast and brightness controls, you can adjust the screen color, geometry, and menu languages.

The AC adapter is built into the monitor which saves space and reduces clutter. There is also a slot where you can place a security device to prevent theft.

While the 171n is limited to only an analog connector the image looks just great nonetheless. We tested the 171n with an ATI All in Wonder 7500 video card and found the 171n to be razor sharp with no blurriness anywhere.

If you are a hardcore gamer, you may want to look for an LCD display with a pixel refresh rate higher than 60 Hz as there is noticeable ghosting and trailing with the Samsung 171n. Movie playback is impressive with deep rich colors and a good blackness level.  As far as viewing angles go, the 171N is quite good compared to older LCD displays. It’s pretty much a case of “If you can see the front of the screen, you can see what’s on it”.

We could only find a few things wrong with the 171N: Poor cable management and lack of mounting options.  There is a hole in the base where you can thread cables but it would have been nicer if there was something more organized.  The 171n is also not height adjustable where most entry level LCD displays are.

Conclusion

Business users who are looking to upgrade their current CRT monitors to an LCD will find the Samsung SyncMaster 171n very attractive. The 171n performs well and has some nice extra features plus it’s very competitively priced. The entry level LCD market is gaining some stiff competition and the Samsung 171n should be able to hold its own both feature and design wise.

*We would like to thank Howard Chui, Editor-in-Chief of http://www.howardchui.com/ for this review.