Introduction

We review many LCDs, but the reality is that we don't review very many different LCD panels. The reason is simple: there aren't very many LCD panel manufacturers. Most LCD panels come from one of the top three panel manufacturers: AU Optronics, LG Philips, and Samsung Electronics. While there are minor variations in panel quality, if you choose a particular panel model and put it in two different LCDs, overall performance is likely to be very similar. Differences between panel models can be much greater, however, especially if the underlying technologies are not the same.

Besides the panel manufacturer, there are three panel technologies in widespread use: TN (Twisted Nematic), PVA (Patterned Vertical Alignment), and IPS (In-Plane Switching). MVA (Multi-domain Vertical Alignment) is also around, but without getting into the details we'll just say it's somewhat similar to PVA. All of these technologies can also have an "S-" prefix, which stands for "Super" -- indicating the use of an upgraded version of the original technology. (Nearly all modern panels are S-TN, S-PVA, or S-IPS, but we won't worry about that.)

Given the above two pieces of information -- the panel manufacturer and the panel technology -- we can come up with a pretty good idea of how a display will perform when it comes to benchmarking. More important than the panel manufacturer, however, is the technology. TN has been around the longest, and while it is inexpensive to manufacture there are certain performance characteristics that we dislike, specifically the more limited viewing angles. If you're sitting directly in front of your display -- which most of us are -- it doesn't make a huge difference, but because these panels also tend to target the budget markets, overall quality is usually lower as well. PVA and IPS are both better technologies in terms of quality and viewing angles, but they cost more to produce and they usually have slightly slower response times. Since we're at the point now where response times really don't bother us, the net result is that we strongly prefer LCD panels that use S-PVA or S-IPS technology.

That brings us to today's review of the Samsung 245T. Not surprisingly, the LCD panel is also from Samsung and features S-PVA technology. After being disappointed by the HP w2408 last month (which uses a TN panel), we're looking for a return to form. Is the latest Samsung offering significantly better than previously reviewed 24" LCDs? Let's find out.

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  • alainiala - Friday, February 08, 2008 - link

    I do A LOT of monitor testing at my work because I'm one of a handful of people responsible for setting our enterprise hardware standards. I try to steer our company away from TN-based panels, but sometimes its unavoidable (all but one 22" panel that I'm aware of are TN). I find S-PVA to be acceptable, but the true beauties are the S-IPS monitors. NEC makes some of the best S-IPS monitors around, but they are very pricey. My favorite monitors is undoubtably the NEC 2490WUXi, but you have to be prepared to sell an organ to get one. Not worth it for the average user, but anybody with color-critical apps should take a long hard look at it. I do wish more manufacturers would stick with S-PVA and S-IPS... But alas, the pricepoints demand we all get stuck with TN garbage. Reply
  • Pjotr - Friday, February 08, 2008 - link

    TVA -> PVA Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, February 08, 2008 - link

    Fixed, thanks - after writing an article for so many hours, some things start to blur past your eyes. :) Reply
  • uethello - Thursday, February 07, 2008 - link

    The panel being listed as TN is ominous to me. I've been studying monitors hard for about a month (since I found out how much of my money Uncle Sam is giving me). Seems like some manufacturers build monitors with both types of panels. Going for the "Hope" buy, I guess. The person who hears about someone getting a good panel and buying in the hopes of not getting a TN. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, February 08, 2008 - link

    I talked to my contact at Samsung and got this response on the panel:

    "As to your question, the 245T does have an S-PVA panel, which is a far superior technology than TN, not that I need to tell you that. The 245BW uses a TN panel. The proper authorities have been notified and they’re working on fixing [the PDF] immediately. I appreciate you letting me know."

    So no worries - the 245T is an S-PVA panel as reported and as the images show.
    Reply
  • Dainas - Thursday, February 07, 2008 - link

    ...all manufacturers are seemingly phasing out all mva/pva panels below $650, replacing them with TN at the same pricepoint and no one cares. It surprises me that the reviewers despite not being a big fan of $500+ TN panels, have not noted this plain as day trend. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, February 07, 2008 - link

    Ummm... did you read my HP w2408 review? I pretty much slammed on that trend and said that IMO the TN panels still suck by comparison. I also praised this LCD for not being a TN panel. How is that "not noting the trend"? Reply
  • Dainas - Thursday, February 07, 2008 - link

    ok, you noted that much :P Except for what amount to closeout deals, we are starved for choice compaired to 6 months ago. Its not just a matter of waiting for things to get back up to swing after the chinese new year. Besides the expensive stalwarts such as this and the dells line, TN is just eating up everything else was :(

    I would expect nothing short of a full blown rant about this, hehe.
    Reply
  • strikeback03 - Friday, February 08, 2008 - link

    Aside from closeout deals and Black Friday specials and the like, have there ever been 24" LCDs that didn't use TN panels available "cheaply"? Seems that when the 24" LCDs were initially all good panels and all expensive, then as more came out the prices dropped some, then someone started making 24" TN panels and those monitors formed a whole separate price bracket. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, February 08, 2008 - link

    I believe there are some S-PVA 24" panels for around $400-$450. Are they good LCDs, or are they the reject S-PVA panels that couldn't be put in $600 LCDs? I don't know - I'd like to get one to test, but unfortunately the budget LCD companies aren't interested in sending us review samples. Anecdotally, I've heard that while they are usually better than TN panels, they've got other issues - firmware, low build quality, etc. Reply

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