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July 18, 2007 by Mike Chin
Since the introduction of LCD flat panel monitors some years ago, their relatively low power consumption, heat, and low noise has become so normal that these aspects hardly seem worthy of comment any more. It's a far from the days when CRTs dominated. The high pitched whining and buzzing from the coils and electronics in the CRT was a source of considerable annoyance for many, and their high power consumption was little different from similarly sized TVs. Compared to then, these are the good old days, when it comes to monitors. Consider this review, then, as a kind of spot check on what most SPCR readers assume to be facts: That modern LCD monitors have very good performance, great fit and look on the desktop (and elsewhere), make no significant noise, draw little power and produce little heat.
The Samsung SyncMaster 931BW is a modestly priced wide screen LCD monitor with both Analog RGB (VGA) and DVI inputs. Its screen aspect ratio is considerably wider than the typical 5:4 or 4:3 ratio LCD screen inherited from the CRTs. The native resolution of 1440x900 tells us that its aspect ratio is 16:10. With most video cards, this setting (1440x900) will be the only one with which you can achieve the correct aspect ratio. Like all LCD monitors, it looks at its best at its "native" resolution, which is naturally 1440x900.
The Samsung 931BW's 16:10 aspect ratio is not quite as wide as HDTV's typical 1366x768 or 1920x1080 (16:9).
The unit's cosmetics are stylish, though how unique that style can be when all you have to work with is a stand and a bit of bezel surrounding the flat screen is open to debate. Still, the black bezel frame with the counterpoint of the silver strip along the bottom and the silver blue backlight power button is a combination that's easy on the eye.
Slim, but not that slim.
The top of the curved back panel is striped by many slotted vents that allow heat to escape from the monitor. The design does not allow any electronics to be seen directly through the slots; this suggests that dust does not have a direct path to settle inside.
One design choice that's not particularly user friendly is that the stand only allows for tilt angle adjustment, not height. Ergonomic recommendations for computer seating include setting the height of the monitor relative to the user's eyes. For shorter people, the vertical position of the 931BW might be OK, but most others might have to resort to books and other makeshift boosters to increase the height. The absence of built-in rotation adjustment is no big deal; it's easy enough to turn it along with the stand.
The back has jacks for the DVI and Analog RGB inputs and standard detachable AC plug.
The AC power plug tells us immediately that the power supply is built into the back of the 831BW, unlike some other LCD monitors that utilize an external AC/DC adapter. Generally, one less item in the cable clutter around the computer is a good thing.
A clip-on cover presents a smooth face that's probably preferable if the back is visible.
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