The 23-inch Samsung SyncMaster XL2370 is thin, sleek and light. It's as if Samsung's own SyncMaster P2370 has a thinner, prettier sister. The XL2370 also has an LED backlight that lets it perform better with movies and games. It's available now for around £300.
The XL2370's display measures just over 25mm in depth. That's remarkably thin. Most monitors of this size, such as the Dell SP2309W, measure over 64mm thick. The bezel measures 28mm on the sides and 44mm on the bottom, where a light-grey Samsung logo resides. On the edge of the bezel is a plastic transparent overlay. The overlay gives the impression of changing colour based on the hue of the light in the room.
The full width of the display is 22.4 inches -- about the same as that of the P2370. The screen has a matte finish. The neck is made of transparent glass, with bluish crystals at the bottom. The glass reflects the crystals, which creates a blue hue within the neck. The effect is subtle, but it makes the XL2370 -- and the P2370, which sports the same neck design -- stand out visually among other monitors.
The oval-shaped footstand measures 279mm wide by 191mm deep, but, despite such a wide footstand, the display wobbles considerably -- even with just a small shove. This is, in part, because of the display's light weight. It weighs less than 3.6kg -- about 680g lighter than the P2370. The 24-inch, LED-backlit Dell G2410 weighs 5.4kg.
The bottom of the bezel sits about 61mm above the desktop, but, unfortunately, the screen height isn't adjustable and there isn't a screen-rotation or pivot option for portrait mode. The capability to tilt the screen back 25° is the only ergonomic feature.
The XL2370 is thinner than the P2370 but has more connection options, including DVI-D, HDMI, and analogue and digital audio out connections. All the connections sit on the back, in the lower section of the panel, and face backwards, instead of down, as on most monitors. The connections are recessed only about 13mm into the monitor, making for easy access.
Pressing your finger against the bottom right-hand corner of the bezel brings up the hidden on-screen-display button array. The white, glowing buttons disappear after a couple of moments of inactivity, but there's an option in the OSD to illuminate them at all times for easier calibration. You can also set the OSD to remain on-screen for 5, 10, 20 or 200 seconds.
The array consists of 'menu', 'up', 'down', 'enter' and 'auto' buttons. The up and down buttons also double as brightness and preset shortcut buttons respectively. Picture options consist of 'brightness', 'contrast' and 'sharpness'. You can also set the colour tone to 'cool', 'normal', 'warm' or 'custom', which lets you change the red, green and blue attributes individually.
There are seven presets, including 'custom', 'text', 'Internet', 'game', 'sport', 'movie' and 'dynamic contrast'. Each preset varies the colour temperature and brightness of the display according to the task in hand. While not as intuitive as Dell's brilliantly designed OSDs, seen on the G2410 and SP2309W, the XL2370's requires only a short learning curve for you to get the hang of it. Also, we like that the preset menu is only one button press away -- a perk missing from the G2410.
There's an option in the OSD to set the refresh rate of the monitor from 'slow' to 'fast' or 'faster'. Adjusting this setting didn't noticeably affect performance. Samsung didn't get back to us about what this setting is for, but it could be the company's version of overdrive. By sending out bursts of voltage to the liquid crystals, increasing their transition speed, overdrive can effectively reduce the amount of noticeable ghosting effects.
The XL2370's 16:9 aspect ratio supports a 'Full HD', 1,920x1,080-pixel native resolution. This continues the trend among more and more monitor vendors of moving towards 16:9 from 16:10, because high-definition content -- in particular, 1080p movies -- can fit onto a 1,920x1,080-pixel screen in full-screen mode without stretching the image.
We tested the XL2370 with its DVI connection. The display posted a composite score of 96 in our DisplayMate-based performance tests, besting the P2370's 93 and the SP2309W's 90, but coming in just under the G2410's 97. The P2370 achieved nearly perfect scores in our colour tests, and the colour-tracking error that hampered the P2370's score failed to rear its head. In our dark-screen test, clouding and backlight bleeding were noticeable on the top and bottom edges of the screen.
The XL2370 achieved a brightness score of 344cd/m2. That's much higher than the P2370's 239, the SP2309W's 297 and the G2410's 234. When we set the brightness of the P2370 and XL2370 to 100 and 75 per cent respectively, we found that, when looking at the same image, the XL2370's whites were noticeably brighter, without compromising the dark detail and deep blacks of the image. This makes for higher contrast between the blacks and whites, and for a much more natural-looking image.
We used the XL2370's movie preset to check out Kill Bill: Vol 1 on DVD and a number of 1080p movie files from Microsoft's WMV HD Content Showcase.
In both Kill Bill and the 1080p movies, we found the colour quality on the XL2370 better than that of the G2410 and P2370. While the P2370 had a slightly washed-out, muted look, the XL2370 was bright in places it needed to be and appropriately dark when it was called for. In comparison to the other monitors, the G2410 had a slightly bluish hue that threw its colours off. Deep blacks -- a critical attribute for good movie playback -- didn't elude the XL2370 as they did the P2370. The G2410 also sported deep blacks, but sometimes its picture was too dark and made seeing dark detail difficult.
As good as films looked under the movie preset, we found that the dynamic contrast preset worked best for watching flicks. With dynamic contrast on, we only noticed the screen darkening in scenes where the image was 90 per cent black or more, such as the end credits and during fades to black. Blacks looked darker and colours slightly fuller.
We looked at World of Warcraft and Unreal Tournament 3 and noticed no signs of input lag or any streaking or ghosting during fast movement. Under the game preset, whites were brighter than on either the G2410 or the P2370, and blacks were appropriately dark.
Much of this great performance can be attributed to the XL2370's LED backlight. Most monitors use CCFL-based backlights, comprising several fluorescent tubes stretched horizontally across the screen. The XL2370 relies on individual LEDs all over the back of the screen that turn off or on independently, giving the display more precise control over the amount of light that comes through. The purported advantages of an LED backlight are better energy efficiency, more accurate colour reproduction, a potentially thinner panel design, and a higher brightness level. The XL2370 seems to enjoy all of these benefits.
The optimal viewing angle for a monitor is usually directly in front, about a quarter of the way down from the top. At this angle, you're viewing the colours and gamma correction as they were intended to be seen. Most monitors aren't made to be viewed at any other angle. Depending on the panel type, picture quality at non-optimal angles varies. Most monitors use TN panels, which become overly bright or dark in parts of the screen when viewed from non-optimal angles. The XL2370 uses a TN panel, and, when viewed from the sides or bottom, darkens about 6 inches from the centre. When viewed from the optimal angle, we had no problems.
In our power-consumption tests, the XL2370 had a high default operational power draw of 30W. This is due to Samsung setting the monitor's default brightness to 100 per cent. Its standby power draw is a fairly low 1.4W. With a calibrated brightness of 200cd/m2, the XL draws about 21W, compared with the G2410's 19.4W and P2370's 27.5W at the same brightness.
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
The Samsung SyncMaster XL2370 is a great monitor, but we still think that, overall, the best 23-inch monitor you can get is the £210, 23-inch Dell SP2309W, with its high, 2,048x1,152-pixel resolution, plentiful ergonomic options, webcam and USB ports. While the XL2370 offers better looks, a thinner design, good portability and great performance, the SP2309W's features means it wins out in the end.
Additional editing by Charles Kloet