The SyncMaster’s controls are actually the simplest I’ve encountered in a while, with just a few niggles. The main one is the power button, which like many other touch-sensitive buttons needs pressure from your full fingertip. Worse is that when turning the monitor on, it takes about five seconds for the screen to actually display an image, and because the LED is barely visible in strong ambient light and there is no other indicator of success, I actually ended up turning the monitor off again thinking I had failed to turn it on in the first place. But once you know, this isn’t a problem.
The menu-controls, meanwhile, are physical buttons, and despite being around the right side of the display I only had to look once to use them from then on. This is partially because of their smooth but distinct shapes, and partially due to logical layout. From top to bottom we have menu/back, brightness/up, assignable-function-button/down, source/select and finally auto for analogue configuration. This means that much like on a piano (or in Guitar Hero), you simply place your fingers over the top four buttons by feel, and adjustments are effortless.
The assignable-function-button especially is a masterstroke, and can be dynamically assigned to act as a shortcut to MagicBright, MagicColor, Color Effect or Image Size. It is a feature I’ve long wished to see on all monitors, and I can’t praise Samsung enough for finally making it happen on an entry-level model. Let’s hope other manufacturers follow suite.
The menus themselves should be familiar to previous Samsung users, but now have more options than ever before. Apart from the usual ones such as brightness, contrast gamma and menu-settings, we find a wide range of colour settings. MagicColor can be set to off, Demo, Full and Intelligent. Whether you’ll want to turn it on (and if so, I would recommend the Intelligent setting) depends on if you like your movies bright and vibrant or prefer subtler, more muted tones. Color Tone offers Cool, Normal, Warm and Custom presets, while Color Control speaks for itself, offering RGB adjustments. Color Effect, meanwhile, is reminiscent of the LG Flatron W2252TQ‘s fun function, in that it allows you to make the displayed material greyscale, green, aqua or sepia. I wonder if this is a new trend in budget TN monitors, though despite offering more effects than the LG, Samsung does not mention it anywhere in its press material.
Furthermore, the LED can be switched on or off, and RTA (response time acceleration) can be toggled between three settings. There is also basic aspect ratio control under the name Image Size, where Auto will occasionally stretch the image, but usually offers true 1:1, while Wide just fills the screen (which is helped by excellent interpolation). MagicBright offers the usual presets: Custom, Text, Internet, Game, Sport, Movie and Dynamic Contrast. In this case though, they’re not quite as well configured as might be expected, and you’ll want to avoid Movie mode altogether, as it adds a strong yellow cast.