Fresh from claiming the top accolade in our large screen LCD group test, Samsung has submitted another monitor for me to scrutinise – the 17in SyncMaster 173P. Now, as far as screens of this size go, the 173P is not the cheapest TFT monitor you can buy and at just over £350 at the time of writing, many users may find that their budgets fall a little short. However, the old adage of ‘you get what you pay for’ is definitely one you can apply here.
First up, I’m of the opinion that many consumers are not only looking for IT equipment that performs well, but also stuff that looks the part. Just look at the way the old beige-coloured PC case has pretty much been superseded by fancily designed ones and how Apple’s iPod has taken the portable music player market by storm. Aesthetics clearly play an important part in the success of a product and Samsung has certainly taken this into account when it’s designers sat down to draw up the plans for the 173P.
Clearly Samsung has taken a leaf out of Apple’s book and clad the 173P in a very attractive white lacquered chassis. This is heavily evident when you view the monitor from the rear as opposed to the front where the bezel has been finished in matt silver. The top of the almost circular base gets the same silver finish, and also shares the metal bezel's highly polished bevelled edge – a small design feature, but one that really adds to the overall quality that the 173P exudes.
Now the design and functionality do not stop there, as the 173P also comes with dual connectivity in the shape of a DVI port and a D-SUB one, both neatly mounted into the rear of the base next to the power input. In that respect you have the option of choosing between an analogue signal and a clean and crisp digital one, so no limitations are placed on the end user there. In fact, Samsung includes both cable types in the box and if you wish you could simultaneously hook up these ports to your graphics card if it sports both connectors, or to two PCs as long they have the appropriate ports too. Of course, the 173P will have to be told which port the signal is being fed to, but this can be done with ease using the clever button-less OSD, which I’ll come back to later.
I mentioned functionality earlier because the 173P also offers a great range of movement and a variety of options that won’t limit you to using it in the typical way. For instance, the panel can be pivoted not just through 90 degrees for a portrait view, but also all the way around through 178 degrees.
The 173P’s base also has a swivelling turntable and a dual hinged neck that allows the panel to be folded flat, which when used in conjunction with the supplied 75 x 75mm VESA mounting brackets, can be fitted flush against a wall with the signal connectors pointing downwards – ideal if you want to give yourself more room on your desk and don’t want to fork out extra cash for an extending arm. And because the 173P has a very slim panel profile, once folded and mounted it only juts out around 10 centimetres from the wall.
''The Samsung SyncMaster 173P has an impressive range of movement, allowing for multiple positions that should suit many individual preferences.'