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8/10

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There's a school of thought that a good display is the single most important computing investment you can make. After all, what use is your new system sporting brand spanking new components like the Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9650 or nVidia's 8800 GT, when you're stuck with a dodgy old 19in 1,280 x 1,024 LCD? It's hardly an ideal state of affairs and when you consider a good monitor will last you for years to come, there are plenty of compelling reasons to invest in something bigger and better. For many this has meant stepping up to a 1,680 x 1,050 22in display, often referred to as "the new 1,280" by virtue of the resolution striking a nice balance between viewable area and the processing power required to power it.

This may be all well and good for many, but anyone in the know will tell you that what you really want is a 24in LCD. With a 1,920 x 1,200 native resolution you get appreciably more desktop real-estate, while the 1,920 pixel width means it's the closest thing to 1,920 x 1,080 (1080p) 'Full HD' short of buying a 1080p capable TV. However, though the likes of the Iiyama ProLite B2403WS and Samsung SyncMaster 245B have bridged the gap somewhat in terms of price, the best 24in LCDs will set you back a fair pennyworth and today's example is just such a specimen: the long awaited Samsung 245T.

This is the follow-up to the excellent SyncMaster 244T, which received an Editor's Choice Award when we reviewed it back in March of last year but which has since been superceded by any number of releases, in particular BenQ's FP241W but also the 'High Colour' versions of Dell's 2407WFP. In the 245T, Samsung is attempting to redress the balance, paring a high quality S-PVA panel of its own making with a raft of connectivity that includes an HDCP enabled HDMI port. Thankfully, unlike Viewsonic's VX2435wm, the inclusion of HDMI isn't at the expense of the DVI port so there's no need for complaint there.

Indeed, as far connectivity goes there's nothing to complain about whatsoever. In addition to HDMI and DVI you get a good old fashioned D-SUB port, along with Component, S-Video, composite and four USB ports, with the USB and Component ports situated handily on the left outside edge where they can be easily accessed. There are no RCA audio inputs, however unlike the FP241W there is a 3.5mm audio output jack enabling one to pipe audio from the HDMI to speakers or a sound bar. This can be found on the back along with the rest of the connections and though it's hardly a definitive advantage, those using games consoles may find it of particular benefit.

This touches upon one important aspect of the 245T: its versatility. It's a fact it shares with the likes of the FP241W, providing the kind of connectivity that enables you to connect any number of devices at the same time. For example, with this arrangement you could connect a PS3 through the HDMI, Xbox 360 via D-SUB and Wii via the component outputs, making it a great space saving solution for those lacking exclusive access to the living room. Naturally enough there's also scope for connecting standalone HD DVD and Blu-ray players, though you'll need to get hold an HDMI switch such as AVTool's AVT-5941 or the Belkin Pure AV HDMI 3-to-1.

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