Monday, October 24, 2011

Samsung SyncMaster 2333T 23" Monitor

Rating: 4 out of 5
Pros: Lots of screen real-estate, full quality 1080p HD, relatively inexpensive
Cons: No DisplayPort or HDMI port, controls on the side instead of the front

Introduction

I had used an older 4:3 Samsung SyncMaster 19 inch flat panel monitor for many years. The whole time I owned it, I never had a single problem with it. It looked great, had no dead or stuck pixels and had plenty of screen real-estate at it's native resolution of 1280x1024. I liked it so much that I never bothered upgrading to a larger monitor or to a widescreen. Well, after about 10 years of nearly 24/7 use, it finally decided one day that it no longer wanted to power on so off I went browsing Newegg for a replacement.

I obviously was going to get a bigger monitor since I was replacing it anyway, and I was long overdue for a widescreen. Even if I hadn't wanted a widescreen, the standard 4:3 monitors seem to be getting phased out and aren't as common anyway. Newegg was the logical choice as a retailer as they usually have competitive pricing and I've racked up tens of thousands of dollars worth of purchases from them over the years.

I looked at a number of monitors in my price range of about $150, and was almost set on a nice 23" Acer. I even had the Acer monitor in my cart, but when I got to the last page of monitors I noticed this 23" Samsung SyncMaster 2333T for only a few dollars more. Since I loved my old SyncMaster so much, I knew instantly I wanted the new SyncMaster instead of the Acer. It happened to be $159 with free shipping and a $10 mail in rebate, so after the rebate it ended up being $1 cheaper than the $150 Acer anyway.

Unboxing

My SyncMaster 2333T arrived in a standard brown box cardboard box from Samsung, and was packed well enough to remain undamaged while traveling from New Jersey to Michigan via UPS ground. The screen itself was surrounded by 2 rigid pieces of Styrofoam to keep it secure and hold it in place for transport. Also include in the box was the monitor base, a standard power cord, a dust cloth, a cable arrangement link, a D-Sub cable, a driver CD and a user manual. Yea, I said D-Sub cable, Samsung didn't include a DVI cable with this monitor for some reason.

I was pleasantly surprised by just how much bigger this monitor was than my old one. I had already gotten rid of the old one, but the 2333T appeared to be approximately the same height -- but a good 50% wider than the old one. This monitor is 21.94 inches wide, 14.4 inches tall and 2.81 inches deep. The stand adds a couple of inches to the height, and the base of the stand is about 8 inches deep to support the monitor. The Samsung SyncMaster 2333T weighs 11.68 pounds.

The whole monitor is black, with the front being a little glossy. It looks nice, but unfortunately collects dust and fingerprints. The bezel around the actual screen is approximately an inch wide, except for the bottom where it's closer to 2 inches on the sides and probably 3 inches in the center where it rounds down to the blue power LED. The LED appears to be diffused through a piece of plastic so it's not overly bright, and thus the power indicator light ends up being a couple inches wide across the center of the bottom of the monitor.

The central back portion of the monitor is a flat black, and has about 10 strange looking flower-type designs of various sizes engraved in the plastic. I was glad to see a standard 100mm square VESA wall mount, despite the fact that I don't currently use it. When I pick up a second monitor, I had planned to grab one of those dual monitor stands and put both monitors on it side by side. I figured the VESA mount would help to facilitate the process.

Unfortunately upon closer examination of the monitor, I realized that may be a little more difficult than I had anticipated. The power and control buttons for this monitor are on the side of the monitor instead of the front face. Directly on the side. This means that any dual monitor mount that butts two monitors up against each other like I wanted would make it impossible for me to access the power button or adjust the monitor in any way. Not a deal breaker by any means, but it means that when I get a second one it will be sitting on the desk on it's base beside this one instead of in a mount.

At least the base is decent, so that won't be so terrible. The screw that goes from the bottom of the base up into the monitor seemed a little short to me when I first got the monitor -- but the base has been attached for nearly a year now and been jostled and bumped around many times with no issues. While the monitor will wobble a bit if I shake my "desk" (my desk is a six foot long folding table, so it's a little less stable than most) or slam the door, it otherwise seems to hold the monitor pretty steady. It also tilts from -1º (forward) to approximately 16º (backward), give or take a degree. Every few days I notice the monitor is almost straight again, so the tilting mechanism must very slowly release as the monitor gets jostled around from my desk wobbling.

Details

The Samsung SyncMaster 2333T is a 23 inch widescreen TFT/LCD monitor. It features a default resolution of 1920x1080, a 16:9 aspect ratio and a viewing angle of 178 degrees both horizontally and vertically. The viewing angle is great, and allows you to view the screen from far off to either side as well as above or below the monitor. It has an 8ms response time, which is the time it takes a single pixel to switch from a full black color to full white and back again. There are some expensive monitors that have 1ms response times, and some old ones that have upwards of 16ms. Lower values help to prevent ghosting in movies and games. There is a slight amount, as 8ms isn't all that terrific, but it's not enough to hamper my gameplay. In comparison, my old 19" SyncMaster had a 5ms response time.

It has an operating temperature of 50ºF (10ºC) to 104ºF (45ºC) and operates in a range of humidity from 10% to 80%, non-condensing. You can store the monitor in temperatures ranging from -4ºF (-20ºC) to 113ºF (45ºC), and in humidity ranging from 5% to 95%, non-condensing. When the monitor is on it uses approximately 45 watts of power. When it's off, or in power saving mode (the power LED is flashing) it uses less than 1 watt.

The 2333T features a 4,000:1 contrast ratio, and a 50,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio. The Samsung SyncMaster 2333T monitor is Plug & Play compatible in accordance with the VESA international standard DDC 2B.

There are no DisplayPort or Mini DisplayPorts on this monitor. This means if you plan to use this monitor in an Eyefinity setup, you'll either have to use a different make/model at least for the 3rd monitor, or purchase an active DisplayPort to DVI adapter. Unfortunately, there is not a single HDMI port either. I knew this before I made the purchase, but it's still a little disappointing.

The SyncMaster 2333T will display HD 1080p video at full quality. Mine is connected via a DVI-D cable that I had left over from my previous monitor. I use this monitor for a lot of gaming, web browsing and editing text documents. I also watch my fair share of videos on YouTube, Netflix and Hulu on this monitor. The display quality is excellent -- colors are lucid and vibrant, text is crisp and clear. There is some very minimal ghosting during heavy fast-paced action, but it's barely discernible during normal use. This can be reduced by setting the monitor's response time to "Fastest" in the menu while you play fast-paced games or watch movies.

I have absolutely no dead or stuck pixels in my monitor; there is however an insignificant amount of bleed-through on the left side of the screen. It is imperceptible except for rare occasions when your screen is really dark and you are in a really dark room, then you can see the smallest amount of white light shining through from behind the left corners of the monitor. I wouldn't have even noticed it if I hadn't been specifically looking for it.

Controls/OSD

The language of the OSD (On Screen Display) menu can be set to English, German, Spanish, French, Italian, Swedish, Russian, Portuguese or Turkish.

There are six buttons on the bottom right side of the monitor. The top brings up the OSD menu while the next two scroll up and down through the menu and the fourth button is used to select an option from the menu. The final two buttons are the auto-adjust button followed by the power button at the bottom. If you press the selection button without the OSD menu on the screen, it switches the monitor between analog and digital input modes. The analog mode is used when the monitor is connected with the D-Sub cable, and the digital mode is for use with the (optional, not included) DVI cable.

Without the OSD menu on the screen, the "scroll up" button is a shortcut to the brightness controls and the "scroll down" button is a shortcut to the MagicBright feature of the monitor by default. The auto-adjust button is only available in analog mode with the D-Sub connector, and automatically adjusts the screen settings when you press it.

The MagicBright feature provides picture presets that are supposedly optimized for different uses. This can be set to Custom, Text, Game, Sport, Movie or Dynamic Contrast. Text mode is for editing a document and Internet mode is for surfing the net with text and pictures. Game mode is for playing games that require a fast screen refresh rate and have lots of graphics. Sport mode is for watching games that have a lot of fast movement, while Movie mode attempts to set your brightness and sharpness to be close to a television's settings for best viewing. Dynamic Contrast automatically adjusts the contrast so bright pictures and dark pictures are pretty well balanced overall. Finally, Custom mode lets you configure the brightness and contrast yourself.

You can perform all the standard adjustments from the OSD menu. Brightness, contrast, sharpness, and response time. Set the horizontal and vertical position and image size, the menu transparency, etc. There's also an option to switch between PC and AV (audio video) mode, which toggles the available options in the Image Size menu. Setting this to PC (default) lets you choose between Auto or Wide modes. Auto leaves the display at the default aspect ratio of the input, and wide makes it show in full screen regardless of the input aspect ratio. The response time is set to "Faster" by default, and the manual recommends you leave it on "Normal" or "Faster" when not watching a movie.

Setting PC/AV to AV mode lets you choose between 4:3, 16:9, or Screen Fit. 4:3 and 16:9 obviously do as their names imply and display your content at their respective aspect ratios. Screen Fit makes it so that if a 720p, 1080i or 1080p signal comes through the DVI cable then it is displayed unaltered and without truncating it.

Final Thoughts

I love the Samsung SyncMaster 2333T, and recommend it with a couple of caveats. First, the lack of so much as a single HDMI port is a little disappointing. Make sure you keep this in mind if you're thinking about purchasing one of these monitors. I did not plan to hook any HDMI inputs up to my monitor in the first place because they're all hooked up to the television in the living room. It's always a nice option to have though, and you never know what new gadgets I may get in the next year that I might end up wishing it did have a port for.

The other thing was the control buttons being on the side of the monitor instead of the front. Definitely a no-no if you're going to mount two of these butted up against each other, as the controls on one of them will be inaccessible. Other than those couple things to be aware of prior to purchase, I have no qualms with the Samsung SyncMaster 2333T monitor whatsoever.

Current System

AMD Athlon II X3 450 3.2GHz Processor
Antec 300 Case
ASUS DRW-24B1ST 24x DVD Burner
ASUS M4A87TD EVO AMD870 Motherboard
ASUS Radeon HD 6850 1GB Video Card
Corsair Builder Series CX600 PSU
G.SKILL Ripjaws X 8GB DDR3 1600 RAM
Samsung Spinpoint F3 1TB Hard Drive
Samsung Spinpoint F4 EcoGreen 2TB Hard Drive
Samsung SyncMaster 2333T 23" LCD Widescreen Monitor

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