The Samsung SyncMaster 244T And 214T LCD Displays; Sometimes Bigger Is Better

Not long ago the last of the 21/22" quality graphic CRT monitors disappeared from the marketplace and a new era of LCD displays came into play. For many doing digital photography editing it was a new and unfamiliar world. It became a particular challenge because many of the models were configured and targeted at a market that is distinctly different from digital photography requirements.

Whether CRTs of the past or the current LCD displays, all are derived from what is designed primarily for television reproduction. In other words, without the much larger TV market, monitors/displays for computers might not even exist as we now know them. What is even more of a challenge to photographers is that we are a small niche, a little, distinct fraction of the main computer user marketplace. And what works best as an ideal display for general home/office applications in some ways is a disadvantage to photographers running Photoshop and similar editing programs.


(Top): Samsung's new SyncMaster 244T is a 24" very wide and generous HD format LCD display that's rich in color performance and features that ideally supports the demands of digital photography. (Above): Other than a smaller 21.3" size that's a more typical monitor ratio between height and width, the Samsung SyncMaster 214T offers virtually the same high-performance quality and the same features at a more affordable cost.

Unlike CRTs, which were inherently limited in brightness and contrast, the LCD display is driven internally by a backlight that can provide twice as much or more brightness. And in the home/office environment, the brighter the better. The same goes for contrast, which is a product of the screen design and construction, which really amounts to a very elaborate way of filtering and diminishing brightness with little electronic valves the size of each pixel at native resolution. And again, the contrastier the better for home/office use. But to display the values in a digital photographic image, the perceptual values on screen must allow an effective perception of both highlight and shadow values. This should allow a photographer to see and evaluate detail and relative densities as they can be reproduced in a photographic print.

A photo print is quite different than a display. The display reproduces images with light coming through the screen; a print reflects light differentially between the maximum of paper white and the maximum density ink can produce on paper. That is a much shorter scale of differences than a typical LCD computer display produces, but was very close to the range of brightness CRTs reproduced.

Color Gamut

One of the concerns photographers have had about replacing a CRT monitor with an LCD display is whether the LCD will display an equally large range (gamut) of colors that support effective Photoshop editing and print matching. In this 2D graph of the profile color space of a pro-graphic CRT overlaid on top of the profile color space of the Samsung SyncMaster 244T, this LCD's color gamut is as large, although with slightly greater range in the blues and greens, and slightly less in the red portions of the spectrum.

Is the answer to make an LCD that is throttled down to the performance levels of a CRT, thus useable by photographers? No, as that does not really work to any advantage. But with enough adjustment range you can create a balance of contrast and brightness to accommodate photographic requirements. In addition, the range of colors an LCD displays, or its color gamut, should also be similar to what the best pro-graphic CRTs were capable of displaying, which was fairly close to what can be reproduced in a high-quality color print.

It was in this mindset that I approached the recently announced LCD displays from Samsung, the SyncMaster 214T and 244T. I tested the 244T 24" model, the 214T being the 21" model and comparable in features and performance to the 244T. Both offer the same wide range of adjustability with Samsung's MagicTune, MagicBright, MagicColor, MagicContrast, MagicSpeed, and MagicRotation technology. Both provide a high level of solid physical build, a slim bezel, and a substantial stand that adjusts for height, tilt, and angle, as well as 180Þ rotation (so the display can be used in portrait mode). The suggested price at the time of the release of the models was $1699 for the 244T and $859 for the 214T. As I write this prices can be found as low as $1370 for the 244T and $684 for the 214T.

Screen Real Estate

The very wide Samsung SyncMaster 244T HD format display will reproduce a landscape mode 2:3 aspect ratio 35mm photo image fully with room on the side for application dialog windows. It's really even better than the old two CRT monitor setup side by side.