capsule review

Samsung SyncMaster 970P

At a Glance
  • Generic Company Place Holder SyncMaster 970P

Samsung SyncMaster 970P
Photograph: Rick Rizner, Chris Manners

If monitors entered beauty contests, the Samsung SyncMaster 970P could count on a bouquet and a tiara. With its soft lines, one-button design, and translucent white finish, it certainly attracts attention (the button turns on the unit). Its screen, though acceptable for most uses, doesn't excite the senses as well as the design does. And its price of $615 is nearly as breathtaking as its design--in a different way.

The 970P shows text tolerably well; Microsoft Word documents looked crisp on our test screen. But text looks better on most other recently tested LCDs. At default settings, the 970P stumbled on the small type in our real-world Excel and multi-sized font tests. It had more trouble with our graphics tests, delivering unsatisfactorily pale images on all three graphics screens: a Web page with art, a photo of a colorful fruit tart, and group portrait photo showing various skin tones. To make the screen look good, you'll need to use the MagicTune screen adjustment software.

The MagicTune software has undergone a change; Samsung now builds the screen adjustment program itself instead of licensing it from Portrait Displays. The disadvantage to this is that although it has basically the same functions as any of the licensed versions of Display Tune (seen in Hyundai, LG, and ViewSonic products, to name a few), its layout is slightly different. This can take some getting used to. However, it has the usual functions to walk you through adjusting the screen to the color, brightness, and other settings that work best for you. It also introduces Magic Rotation, which--once enabled by checking a box--automatically rotates the image when you pivot the screen. The new Magic Zone feature lets you apply settings to a specific window; this makes a big difference for videos.

Attractive as the 970P looks, the beauty goes more than skin deep. It provides a very nice swivel function; the cabinet swivels atop the stand, instead of taking the stand with it as it would with a typical lazy-Susan mechanism. This keeps cords in place, and it feels very steady. All four adjustments--tilt, height, swivel, and screen pivot--move smoothly.

In short, the handsome 970P's strong point is its customizability. Its weak point is that customizability isn't an option, but something you're forced to use to get acceptable image quality. So much went into the design, and the price is so high, it seems a shame it isn't easier to work with out of the box.

With its sleek, one-button design and IPod-like white finish, the Samsung SyncMaster 970P has style to spare--if you can spare the cash to buy it.

Laura Blackwell

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At a Glance
  • With its one-button design, this semi-translucent white model has style to spare--but its images looked pale.


    • Attractive cabinet with stable stand


    • Screen requires adjustment to look good
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