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Samsung SyncMaster F2380 - Controls, Image Quality, Value and Verdict
Controls are found in a small, central extension just below the lower bezel, demarked by a silver strip and subtle, white LED. Thankfully these are physical buttons rather than the frequently-problematic touch controls often found on more consumer-oriented displays. The main buttons lie neatly under you fingers and offer up crisp feedback. As well as menu navigation and VGA re-synchronising, they offer direct access to source, brightness and a customizable hotkey that is set to image presets by default, but can be set to anything you like. This latter is a great feature that we would love to see on every monitor.
Samsung's largely monochrome OSD is also easy to navigate, and gives you full control over RGB, Tone, Gamma and even response time overdrive. Color Effect, meanwhile, lets you turn everything being displayed into shades of black & white, green or sepia, which is rather gimmicky but may be useful in seeing the effect of certain filters without the need for image editing software.
So far so good, but what's the image quality on this affordable 23in cPVA monitor like? Surprisingly, it's both better and worse than its smaller sibling. It offers up the same excellent contrast, meaning you see plenty of detail at both light and dark ends of the scale, and this without the help of any glossy screen finish.
Once brightness was turned down from its ludicrous 100 percent default, colour settings were again reasonably accurate out of the box, and here there was no sign of the banding we found on the SyncMaster F2080. Backlighting is fairly even, though there is some slight backlight bleed from the corners.
However, the one point where the F2380 is genuinely weaker than the 20in cPVA model we looked at previously is in its viewing angles. Though vertical viewing angles are faultless, subtle but noticeable colour shift occurs once you get past 60 degrees horizontally, and on some colours even the slightest move off-centre is enough. More worryingly, there is minor contrast shift when sitting fairly centrally in front of the screen.
Let's just put this into context: even with these faults the F2380's performance is still so far above most monitors using TN panels that it's on a whole other level. Everything except response time is vastly superior, and as a productivity, multimedia, casual gaming and hobbyist photo display, this SyncMaster will do a fine job.Yet for hardcore FPS players and colour-critical work it's not the best choice around.
However, it's worth bearing in mind that, at the F2380's price point of just over £200, you're not exactly spoilt for choice when it comes to quality, Full HD panels of 23in or larger. The IPS-based NEC MultiSync EA231WMi, for example, might give you superior image characteristics and more connectivity choices (including a USB hub, audio throughput and DisplayPort) but is also £100 more expensive.
The Samsung's most likely rival, then, is BenQ VW2420H, which is available for as little as £180. You gain HDMI, audio through, and the energy-frugality and slimness that LED backlighting brings, as well as slightly superior viewing angles. However, you lose out on the adjustability, matte panel and finish, so it's a matter of horses for courses.
Samsung's Full HD, 23in SyncMaster F2380 doesn't quite live up to our high expectations, but at around £200 it's still one of the best monitors going.
Scores In Detail
- Image Quality