We started off our technical testing with Display Mate running all the tests relating to LCDs. Generally, the MP730 handled itself very well, particularly with colour. Colour purity was strong, and colour scaling was superb with smooth, gradual fading, right to the end. However it struggled with the 256 intensity level ramp test, showing distinct stepped changes when it should have been smooth. As a result we wouldn’t recommend using the monitor for image editing tasks.
Moving to more subjective tests, we played a DVD with the panel hooked up to a PC by the optimal DVI connection. The panel specifications are pretty decent with Samsung quoting a 16ms response time a 140 degree viewing angle. The hardest test for the former is gaming, and I found the Samsung up to the job. That said, I’ve not been bothered gaming on displays with supposedly slower response times. The quotes contrast figure is 450:1 and the screen did a good job with both the bright colours and dark murky scenes of the film, The Fifth Element. I started off hunting for artefacts and smearing but after watching for a few minutes I was drawn into the movie rather than picking faults in the screen, which has got to be a good sign.
There are four preset image settings that can be switched between at the touch of a button – Internet, Text, Entertain, and a Custom setting, enabling you to tweak things to your liking. Samsung clearly feels the need to brand everything and it has named this simple feature as MagicBright. Internet and text are essentially less bright than the Entertain, but I preferred to use Entertain even for general Windows use.
Hooking in an aerial to the connector at the back and the LCD becomes a TV. The signal strength in our Bracknell offices is unfortunately quite poor and as a result image quality wasn’t optimal. However, with the remote, the display was perfectly intuitive to use as a conventional TV, displaying the channel number as you switched to it. The only real gripe is that the tuner is not a Freeview digital receiver, as this would make for better pictures, give more viewing choice and make it more future-proof. The panel also features a picture-in-picture function so you can keep an eye on TV while you’re using Windows. There’s also an FM radio, again easily controlled by the remote.
Overall, I like the Samsung 730MP. It’s a versatile device that does a good job with all the tasks we threw at it and is one of the best looking displays around, which is important if you want to use it as a TV. If you like the idea of being able to watch TV and listen to the radio while you work on your PC it will serve you well, as long as you are happy with a 4:3 display. It’s also a great solution for console gaming, as you can hook up to it by any connection you want. I would have preferred if it was widescreen, and featured integrated DVB and DAB tuners. However, even as it stands, the price is reasonable, making the Samsung 730MP a good buy.