By David English
With its relatively bright screen, wide viewing angles, and 360-degree swivel, the Samsung SyncMaster 151S is especially well equipped for group presentations. Best of all, it doesn't cost much more than the bargain-basement brands.
Superior image quality for the price
At $429, the analog-only SyncMaster 151S costs about 10 to 20 percent more than the lowest priced 15-inch LCDs, but its image quality outshines that of all the rest. Better still, the Samsung ranks in the upper quality range for all the LCDs we've evaluated—regardless of price. In CNET Labs' DisplayMate tests, we found the screen to be bright and sharp with a wide range of rich colors. Digital photos looked natural and clearly defined, and DVD movies moved smoothly with no visible ghosting.
|Samsung SyncMaster 151S – CNET Rating: 9 out of 10|
Credit the display's superior image quality to its superior feature set. With a brightness rating of 250cd/m2, a contrast ratio of 330:1, and a pixel-response rate of 30ms, this monitor exceeds the norm for a low-cost LCD. With its liberal 140-degree horizontal and 120-degree vertical viewing angles, it's particularly well suited for presentations. Only the Samsung's lack of a DVI connector disappointed us; it's cut itself off from the better overall image quality of pure digital video.
Slick design is also functional
The SyncMaster 151S's eye-catching design elements combine form and function. Both the left and the right sides of the cabinet are extra wide to accommodate the onscreen display buttons to the right of the screen. The cabinet feels sturdy, though the small base makes the monitor a little wobbly. The column and the base are angled toward the back, however, making a screen-damaging nosedive less likely. A hidden swivel lets you rotate the display a full 360 degrees (180 degrees to the left or the right). The screen also tilts vertically, though it felt tight and required more strength than expected to move it up and down.
Installation and setup proceeded without incident. The SyncMaster 151S is ready to go right out of the box, as the base is permanently attached. Samsung includes its monitor manuals on a CD-ROM, along with an HTML-based user guide, troubleshooting guide, and instructions for installing the included driver. A printed quick-setup guide is provided as well.
Easy onscreen menus; slightly funky buttons
The onscreen menu system is straightforward and clearly marked, though it might be hard to read the recessed button labels in dim light. It may also take some time to become used to the functions of the six oddly shaped, interlocking buttons, but overall, the menu system is easy to use. The choice of adjustments is routine, with the exception of separate geometry and color-reset controls. The plus (+) and minus (-) buttons double as brightness controls when the menu system isn't engaged.
Samsung's service and support is laudably generous. The Web site provides updated drivers, product registration, and downloadable manuals. An impressive variety of online support materials includes FAQs on the specific limitations of the warranty, service policies and procedures, information on purchasing replacement parts, and help for locating authorized service centers. The warranty lasts a full three years and includes the backlight. Tech support is free for the life of the monitor and includes access to a 24/7 toll-free support line.
Pay more, get more
The SyncMaster 151S earns its price with good engineering and thoughtful styling. The wide viewing angles and the 360-degree swivel make it an excellent choice for presentations. This is a high-quality monitor for a very reasonable price.
This article was first published by CNET on April 4, 2002.