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.

Features and Specifications
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  • Owls - Thursday, February 07, 2008 - link

    I agree. The ads are highly instrusive. Any other sites people recommend? Reply
  • GNStudios - Thursday, February 07, 2008 - link

    I read the review and got very intrested in the monitor (I have a Samsung 215TW now). When browsing some the internet I found many people complaining that it's very noisy.

    Is this true?
    Reply
  • mattsaccount - Thursday, February 07, 2008 - link

    My parents bought one of these over Christmas. The monitor they received definitely emits a certain amount of noise, but none of us found it that distracting. You can barely hear it in normal use, and it's not an irritating high pitch ring or anything. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, February 07, 2008 - link

    I haven't noticed any noise from this particular unit, but that's pretty variable. Usually the noise comes from capacitors inside the chassis, so as best as I can tell it's luck of the draw. Reply
  • kmmatney - Thursday, February 07, 2008 - link

    I'd be interested to see how my $299 Soyo 24" LCD compares. It uses a non-TN panel (MVA), and can be had from OfficeMax. Reply
  • jimmy43 - Thursday, February 07, 2008 - link

    Well I'm glad you guys talk about the different panel technologies to educate people, there is more than just the size and refresh time to a monitor. However, I'm wondering what is with the input lag taboo at these large sites? It's not too hard to measure, and it would complete your article so we dont have to go to independant reviewers to get a good idea of how laggy a monitor really is. Reply
  • nevbie - Thursday, February 07, 2008 - link

    Agreed, and also, here is a reference to such a review that tests input lag (as an example): http://www.tftcentral.co.uk/reviews/content/hazro_...">http://www.tftcentral.co.uk/reviews/content/hazro_...

    Note that in many cases here the input lag exceeds the response time, that so many reviewers pay attention to.

    Monitor reviews are very interesting, but so subjective..

    Xbitlabs (www.xbitlabs.com) monitor reviews seem to have most of the measurements that I have seen in reviews, with the exemption of input lag.

    PS. If you review HP LP2065 (I hear S-IPS or MVA), I'll give you a virtual hug. =P
    Reply
  • tayhimself - Thursday, February 07, 2008 - link

    Can the input lag be removed by disabling scaling etc? What causes input lag, and how is it measured? Thanks! Reply
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, February 07, 2008 - link

    There are a few things to consider. First, how do you measure input lag? If you use two outputs on one GPU, they don't necessarily get identical content - you can get +/-1 frame difference due to refresh rates, internal buffering, etc. Using a splitter for a signal can do the same thing. So you have a margin of error of at least one frame. I've tested with varying techniques in the past and decided input lag wasn't a real issue... or at least not an issue you can easily fix just by changing LCDs. CRTs may be better in this area, but I'm even less willing to go back to using a cumbersome CRT.

    The real issues with image lag are more complex. You have things like double (or even triple) buffering that add one or two frames of lag. Then technologies like SLI and CrossFire add at least one frame of lag when doing AFR (the most common mode), and triple and quad solutions using AFR could add up to three frames of lag internally... and no one seems to worry about that. (I asked NVIDIA and ATI about this in the past, and their response was something along the lines of "you don't actually think anyone can notice the 0.02s delay, do you!?")

    I tend to agree, at least for *most* people. Despite what many would like to think, our eyes really don't react quickly enough to notice differences of a couple hundredths of a second. If I ever encounter an LCD where I notice a problem with input lag, I'll make a note of it, but I haven't yet - even with the much-maligned 2407WFP.

    I suppose professional gamers might have more issue with input lag, but then there are multiple sources of lag they need to try to reduce. There are lots of things that most people just live with and don't notice - image tearing because VSYNC is off, lag because you can't afford a $2000 CPU+GPU setup, lag at your input device (mouse/keyboard), running on a 19" LCD instead of 30".... Internal image lag in an LCD is one of these things in my book.
    Reply
  • lyeoh - Tuesday, February 12, 2008 - link

    Please do more useful reviews of monitors.

    Input lag is an issue with nonCRT monitors. In fact significant input lag is a _showstopper_ for many people (even if they didn't know of such a thing till they experienced it :) ).

    I personally don't care about lags of 10-15ms but some LCD panels have been _tested_ and _documented_ by many to have lags of >50ms, and that is VERY SIGNIFICANT.

    Go search youtube for input lag if you don't believe there are monitors with significant lag.

    I have walked into a shop which was selling panel TVs and even the shopkeeper noticed the lag when I pointed it out, that screen had terrible lag (my guess is at least 100-200ms). Imagine playing Tekken on that and not seeing your opponent's move till 100ms after it has occurred...

    Even a nonpro gamer playing Counterstrike or other FPS will find it annoying that he keeps getting shot by someone peeking round a wall/corner before he even gets to see that person. Games like Guild Wars allow some players to interrupt skills if you do things in time. Every millisecond counts. If your round trip ping is 100ms and your reflexes are 250ms, you can easily interrupt (with a 0.25 sec interrupt skill) opponent skills that take 0.75 seconds to cast (assuming the game adds 100ms max). If the panel is too slow, what used to be easy with a faster LCD/CRT becomes difficult if not impossible to do reliably.

    Gamers might be able to tolerate colours not being so good, and even a few dead pixels (actually a dead pixel in the exact center makes it good for some games as a built-in crosshair ;) ), but high input lag badly affects the gaming experience far more.

    As for the two outputs having a difference, just use a card which doesn't (you can check with CRTs). To be rigorous, you can always swap the outputs to confirm the results.

    I'm sure you can think of ways of measuring input lag. Some people use a chronometer/stopwatch displaying on both the screen being tested and a CRT, and then take a few pictures of it with a decent camera.

    The rest of your post about double/triple buffering etc is not relevant - little to do with a monitor review.

    You can go measure system latency in a different review- PC, video card, game or even CPU review. It might be quite interesting, given a cache miss in modern CPUs can waste a lot of cycles. A CPU might perform well in throughput, but when there is an unexpected change it might take a while to reach top speed again. My guess is the time scales of a CPU make it unlikely that the latencies would reach the order of many milliseconds, but who knows...
    Reply

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