- Review Price: £99.99
Today we’re taking an exclusive look at a somewhat different monitor proposition: Samsung’s SyncMaster D190S. Part of Samsung’s LapFit concept, as that name sort of suggests the 18.5in 16:9 ratio SyncMaster D190S is specifically designed to go with a notebook as a secondary screen, though it also makes sense as a primary monitor when used with a netbook or ultra-portable laptop.
To accommodate this, the D190S eschews the traditional monitor stand in favour of a more compact design very reminiscent of HP’s TouchSmart PCs. Except that here – since the company is attempting to keep the screen as low as possible – the feet are tiny, giving the appearance that the display simply rests on the bottom of its bezel.
Setup is as easy as it gets, since the whole monitor is a single unit. When putting it down, simply roll out a wheeled ‘leg’ until it clicks, which is an effortless process yet leaves the LD190 standing firm and solid. The leg contains a circular opening to act as a cable guide. Rounded edges combine with a weight of under 4kg to make the whole display easy to pick up and transfer between various locations. Build quality on our sample was not up to Samsung’s usual standard, with creaking throughout and too much give on the top edge of the bezel, but it’s by no means flimsy and looking at the box ours came in it had clearly done a tour of Samsung’s global organisation.
Our model, the SyncMaster D190S, is actually part of a three-model family which all use the same panel and look virtually identical. The differences lie in connectivity. This model uses just plain old analogue D-SUB, while the D190SU also connects over USB using DisplayLink and the high-end LD190X throws wireless video into the mix. There will also be 22in versions available, though there’s no guarantee that all these different configurations will make it into the UK.
Right now I can already hear some of you complaining that there is a model without digital connectivity, and usually I’d be the first to agree. But keeping in mind we’re talking about a display which will cost less than £100 when it comes to market and uses a cheap TN panel, it actually makes a lot of sense. After all, practically every notebook and netbook in existence either has a VGA port or supports it using an adapter.
Of course, since this is a Samsung product, we’d hardly expect it to appear in anything but piano black. As ever, this is an attractive if slightly high-maintenance choice, and makes the monitor appear even sleeker than it already is. And though one wasn’t included with our early sample, we’re sure Samsung will provide its usual lint-free cleaning cloth to keep the D190S nice and shiny.
Its sleek lines make for an attractive display whether viewed from the front or back. Only the model name and number and of course the Samsung logo spoil the clean bezel, which is quite thin (2cm) except at the base (where it’s 4cm). There are not even any buttons to spoil its coherence. As you might have guessed from that, we’re dealing with touch-sensitive controls here, but that’s not a negative as their implementation is near flawless.
The power button is the only one which is normally visible as a slightly recessed hollow. Its shape means it’s comfortable to press and its incredibly high sensitivity allows even the lightest touch to turn the display on. Once on, the recession has a small red-backlit power icon which is very unobtrusive. Pressing anywhere within a few centimetres to the left of the power button calls up the other ‘buttons’, which appear as red-lit icons in the bezel. This is a very stylish effect and the beauty of the controls isn’t just skin-deep either, as the menu is incredibly easy to use.
As expected of Samsung, the OSD is logically laid out and its unusual sparsity makes it even simpler to use. All you get is Brightness, MagicBright, Image Size and Language; can’t ask for simpler than that. Brightness is fairly self-explanatory while MagicBright offers a selection of presets: NotePC, Internet, Movie and Dynamic Contrast. The latter’s presence is surprising on a monitor with the SyncMaster D190S’ ambitions, and even more surprising is that it works rather well – though the display still doesn’t justify its supposedly native 1,000:1 contrast ratio, let alone the ludicrous 20,000:1 Dynamic figure.
Aspect options are similarly limited, with Image Size only offering a choice between Auto and Wide. Auto stretches material while maintaining the aspect ratio and Wide does so without caring about distortion. While there’s no actual 1:1 pixel mode, fairly good scaling means Auto will do nicely in most scenarios; even feeding the 1,366 x 768 SyncMaster an 800 x 600 signal everything came across clear and sharp.
Getting onto that all-important image quality, things are a bit of a mixed bag. For all the photographers and digital artists out there thinking they might have found the ideal secondary display on a budget, as with pretty much every TN monitor out there the D190S isn’t it. Colour gradients display noticeable banding and this SyncMaster put in a very poor greyscale performance with quite a few tones lost at both ends of the scale. Text isn’t as sharp as we might have liked, perhaps due to the use of an analogue input rather than a digital one, but is passable for most uses.
Having said this, viewing angles are not too bad for a TN and the anti-glare screen coating works a rare treat in avoiding those annoying reflections while still leaving colours fairly bright and punchy. The Dynamic Contrast mode, meanwhile, makes films more of a pleasure than they would otherwise be. Basically, for office work and entertainment, the SyncMaster D190S is more than adequate. As long as you’re not dealing with projects that require colour-accuracy, it can enhance your productivity immensely.
If you have a netbook or notebook with a display diagonal of less than 13in the idea makes even more sense. Whether it’s typing, playing a game or enjoying a film, the difference between a tiny screen and an 18.5in one are significant. On this note, gamers will also be pleased to hear there is no sign of ghosting, or at least so little that 99 per cent of people won’t be concerned by it.. Aside from all this the D190S weighs less and uses less electricity (with an apparent 22W maximum) than a traditional monitor and is ideally positioned to fit in with your note/netbook due to its lower vertical height.
The only question remaining is whether it actually presents good value for money. With an MSRP of £99.99 it’s a pretty safe bet actual retail prices will be lower, but even at full price it’s still cheaper than an equivalently-sized monitor. However, it’s worth keeping in mind that high-resolution 19in monitors like the 1,680 x 1,050 ViewSonic VX1962wm are available for not much more, offering better image quality and digital input.
So though to some extent it’s a horses for courses thing and we’re not blown away with the quality of Samsung’s first effort, we certainly like the direction these products are taking. Not only that, but for many users the SyncMaster D190S will be the ideal solution as is.
A stylish display that’s tailored to be paired with your notebook or netbook, Samsung’s SyncMaster D190S has a lot of potential and lives up to most of it. It’s lighter and uses less electricity than a ‘normal’ monitor, is easy to operate and has reasonable viewing angles. If you can live with its image-quality faults it’s definitely worth checking out.
Score in detail
Image Quality 6
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