Review: Samsung SyncMaster FX2490HD

Our score: 4/5
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October 4, 2010 5:15 PM
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Published: October 3, 2010 11:00 PM
By Alexandre Botella
First announced at the end of August, Samsung's FX2490HD is a hybrid monitor/TV from a new generation.  With predecessors like the T240HD and the P2370HD-both of which are exemplary products in this sector-this latest 24'', backlit monitor with a built-in TV tuner can't afford any mistakes.

Hardware: lots of inputs and outputs, but not very practical

As we've come to expect with monitors like this, there's a rich selection of inputs and outputs.  Component, composite and SCART video inputs join VGA, two HDMI ports and the TV tuner at the back.  For audio, the FX2490HD has a pair of 2 x 5 W speakers, along with both a line out and optical audio output.


To save space, Samsung has reduced the size of some of the inputs.  You might not recognise the SCART socket, for instance, which has become a special proprietary mini-SCART input that you need to use with the supplied adaptor.  This technique has allowed the manufactuer to cram all of these ports into a space no wider than 2 cm across.  Once you've attached everything, you can close the case, to give the finish you can see below.


 
It's not really a magic solution to the problem of trailing cables though, as the adaptors aren't all that impressive.  Here's what it looks like when you plug them all in ...



Moving down, you might recognise the stand underneath the inputs.  It's just like the one that supports the C7000 and C8000 TVs, which certainly makes for a change from what we're used to on monitors, but it's hardly the most practical thing ever.  It means you can't adjust the height of the screen, or pivot it to portrait mode.

We'd also like to take Samsung to task for its choice of a TN panel, which produces an image that appears black when viewed from above, hardly what you want from a product which claims to work equally well as a monitor than as a TV.

Although all of the other manufacturers use this technology for their monitor/TV hybrids, it's time that somebody decided to bite the bullet and upgrade to IPS or VA, as both would make for comfortable viewing, especially as far as using them as a TV is concerned.

Responsiveness: not very fluid

The problem with 5 ms TN panels is that, a few rare exceptions aside, they're not responsive enough to display fast-moving objects fluidly.  The FX2490HD certainly isn't one of the exceptional cases, and can't expect to appeal to gamers.

 
 
Responsiveness
  Light Background Dark Background Average
 
This graph shows the time, measured in ms, that the monitor takes to entirely remove the previous frame.  The shorter the time, the more fluid moving images will appear.

The input lag is a little worse than average, but the results are still below the threshold of what viewers will be able to detect with the naked eye, so there's no imapct on your LAN parties.

Colours: you're going to have to do some work!

Set up as a monitor (connected to a computer), a VGA cable is your best choice, as the reproduction of colours using HDMI leaves a lot to be desired, with a default deltaE of 14.


Measured Colours

Ideal Colours
Compare the FX2490HD to other LCD monitors in our Product Face-Off

Using the factory settings and a VGA cable, we didn't even need to use our lab equipment to notice that the contrast was too high.  White areas are totally overexposed and soon left us with a sore head.  The distribution of light amongst various shades of grey-the gamma-as well as other problems with colour handling became apparent when we began our lab tests.  The upshot of all this is that the average discrepancy between the colours requested by the computer and those shown on screen, or deltaE, is 6.3, a figure which needs to fall below 3.0 before we can say that colours are reproduced 'accurately.'


Fortunately, it's possible to correct for a lot of these problems by using the onscreen menu to choose the following settings:

  •  Brightness: 75
  •  Contrast : 75
  •  Red: 59
  •  Green: 46
  •  Blue: 50

Set up this way, the problems with gamma and aggressive white both disappear, and the deltaE falls below 3.5.  The colours are also a lot better that way, but if these settings still aren't good enough for you, reset them and then apply a calibration profile, which will allow you to get almost perfect colours.

The contrast is very pleasing, reaching a ratio of above 970:1, even though the average contrast ratio on monitors is around 850:1. Be careful to not turn the brightness down too far, because the contrast begins to drop off below 100 cd/m².

Movies: progress at last!

When it's connected using a HDMI cable, the FX2490HD defaults to Dynamic mode, where it produces incredibly poor results.  Don't waste any time and move straight over to Cinema mode, which improves things dramatically:


Colours still aren't reproduced perfectly (the deltaE is 5.1), but at least things are much more natural.


We were glad to see noticeable progress compared to other monitors when it comes to upscaling SD sources for display in HD.  However, a dedicated Blu-ray disc or DVD player will still perform this task with much more satisfactory results, so if you can, leave the job of upscaling to one of these.
4/5 Samsung SyncMaster FX2490HD DigitalVersus 2010-10-04 00:00:00

Pros

  • Upscaling of SD content particularly good for a monitor
  • Media player
  • Lots of connectivity options
  • Above average contrast

Cons

  • Colours not very accurate
  • TN panel, so poor vertical viewing angles

Conclusion

If you stick to using it as a TV, then the FX2490HD is definitely one to beat. Unfortunately, Samsung hasn't been careful enough with its colour reproduction for it to get a five-star rating.

OUR SCORE 4/5
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