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Samsung's SyncMaster 730B

An outstanding yet affordable 17-in. LCD computer monitor By Frank Moldstad

While shopping for a new flat panel LCD computer monitor for my home office recently, I didnt hold out too much hope of finding one that fit all of my requirements, because they were pretty specific.

First, it had to work with both a Mac G5 and a PC simultaneously as I went back and forth with a Belkin KVM switcher. I wanted it to be future-proofed (at least for the near-term) with DVI connectors, as well as analog connectors because although the Mac has DVI graphics, my PC doesnt yet. It had to be pretty small, but have at least a 17-in. viewing area. And of course, it had to be affordable but have a great picture.

If I couldnt find something like this, I wasnt going to buy anything. My situation was not desperate because I had a perfectly good 21-in NEC CRT monitor the size of a Mack truck. Mostly, I wanted to free up some desk space. Id investigated a $299 17-in. Dell flat panel that was OK, but it specified PC as the platform. The 20-in Apple Cinema Display had a superb picture and would work with both Macs and PCs, but it only had DVI connectors and was a little pricey at $799.

Almost by chance, I came across Samsungs Syncmaster 730B. I went to CompUSA after seeing their ad for a 17-in. LCD flat panel carrying the chains in-house Norwood brand  Although it was just $179, it only had analog connectors, and the contrast ratio wasnt that great (450:1).  But on my way out the door, I spotted the Samsung on an endcap with a sign that said $199.

The price was right, but it was the picture that attracted me most. It stood out from the crowd of half a dozen or so other LCDs on the shelf around it. I wondered what the catch would be. On the back, I saw both DVI and analog connections. It had a 17-in viewable area. The salesperson said it worked with both Macs and PCs. I looked at the specs and saw a contrast ratio of 600:1 and a very good response time of 8ms.

There was a catch of sorts, but it wasnt a deal-killer. The $199 price involved three separate rebates, each with a form to be filled out and mailed. But thats still a bargain, considering that the Syncmaster 730B lists for $299.99.

Eventually, I plan to buy a DVI graphics card for the PC (ATI s Radeon 9600 Pro is pretty affordable at $199). But that means I will also need to buy a cross-platform DVI switcher in order to connect both computers to one monitor. So, in the meantime, I am using the Syncmaster 730Bs VGA 15-pin D-Sub analog connector with my analog switcher. The picture is sharp on the PC, but only average on the Mac because I had to use a DVI-VGA adapter for it.

For comparison, I hooked it straight to the Macs DVI input, and saw the monitors true potential. The difference was pronounced, as you might expect. And with the DVI connection, the monitor required no adjustment at all after its automatic setup routine was finished. The incredible fidelity and brightness of the digital image has certainly hastened my migration to an all-digital setup.

In addition to 600:1 contrast ratio, the monitor has 300 cd/m2 brightness, 1280 x 1024 resolution, 160/160 degree viewing angle, scanning frequency of 30-81 kHz horizontal and 56-75 Hz vertical and 0.294mm pixel pitch.

Physically, the SyncMaster 730B has an attractive miminalist all-black frame, and it sits on a sturdy adjustable stand. The controls are recessed under the front, where even the lettering is black. (If you have to adjust this in a dark room, a flashlight might be advisable to tell which control is which.) On the back is a 75mm x 75mm VESA-compliant mounting pad for hanging the monitor on a wall.

Even if you?re not a dual-platform user, the Samsung Syncmaster 730B is an outstanding choice for a small-footprint monitor with a superb picture. Ive had great results with everything from graphics and video to text. Id highly recommend the Syncmaster 730B for home users regardless of the application, and if youre lucky, you might even find one for $199. If not, you can still take solace in the fact you dont have to fill out all those rebate forms.

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Related Keywords:Samsung, Syncmaster 730B, DVI, flat panel, LCD, monitor, PC, Mac

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