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Samsung 172W LCD - Life at 16:9

Widescreen is a new way of viewing life, at least your computer life. Widescreen or 16:9 started to become popular as Plasma displays entered the market. Today Shawn "Toxic" Baker, the man addicted to 16:9, takes a look at Samsung's 172W LCD monitor. Interested in viewing life at 16:9? If so, read on and discover the benefits of the new dimensions.
Shawn Baker
Published Wed, Oct 1 2003 11:00 PM CDT   |   Updated Tue, Apr 7 2020 12:25 PM CDT
Rating: 95%Manufacturer: Samsung

Samsung 172W LCD - Introduction

The LCD market has become huge over the past 12 months due to the decision by many manufacturers to place them into mass production. Last year some of the larger factories decided to start creating more and more LCDs, one particular company has been Samsung and thanks to the increased production, LCDs have dropped in price, increased in quality and overall become more common. The problem that a lot of people come to when they want to choose an LCD is that when a sales person simply tells them it's a "15" LCD", people assume that its smaller then their current 17" CRT. LCDs are measured in screen size compared to full monitor size with CRTs. A 17" CRT monitor will have a screen size of about 16", while a 15.1" LCD has an actual screen size of 15.1".Samsung has been producing high quality LCD monitors for a long time now and we hope to find that the 172W is no exception. LCDs do still have flaws in them and we will look more into them later on but for now we will get straight into it and see what the Samsung 172W has to offer and what exactly the W at the end of the model name means if you haven't already guessed.

Samsung 172W LCD - Specifications and 16:9 Rundown

Specifications- Viewable Image Size: 17"- Brightness (Typical): 450 cd/m2- Contrast Ratio: 400:1 - Viewing Angle (H/V): 140/110 (degrees) - Interface: Analog/Digital - Horiz. Frequency: 30-81 (kHz) - Max/Native Resolution: 1280x768 - Emissions Standard: TCO '99 - Available Color(s): Silver - Special Features: Wide format, dual CPU input, new slim design, retractable base, wall mount included, multimedia speakers. DIMENSIONS:- Physical (WxHxD) 17.0" x 14.6" x 8.5" - Packaging (WxHxD) 20.9" x 14.9" x 5.7" WEIGHT- Net(Physical) 10.6 lbs- Gross (packaging) 15.0 lbs16:9 RundownThe Samsung website is quite limited as far as specifications go on the LCD. As stated above, the monitor is of Wide Format or 16:9 as most people may know it as. 16:9 has been around for a long time but only over the past two years has it become available at a reasonable price to the average consumer. The introduction of plasma screens a few years back brought with it wide screen viewing and since then we have been blessed with 16:9 on multiple type of displays. Plasma screens are still quite new to the market and are far from perfected, over time they will get better but as far as size to dollar ratio goes plasma screens are terrible. Also because it runs on a gas, in the event where it has to be refilled, it can become very expensive. When it came time to bring the people 16:9 in a more affordable format, Rear Projection and normal CRT was the answer. Due to this new format being quite different, new technology had to be implemented into the latest CRT, Rear Projection TVs as well as the latest LCDs. For this reason Rear Projection, CRT and LCDs now look better then ever giving plasmas an excellent run for their money as greater value can be found in these devices.

Samsung 172W LCD - Features

Features- The BoxThe first thing you notice about the box is how thin it is. While LCDs are thin, most the time the box can still be quite thick due to the fact that the stand is quite big. There isn't too much you can say about the particular box, its thin, has a handle, states what model is on the inside and has a small picture of the LCD. All in the entire box is nice and thanks to it being quite small shipping costs should be kept down. - The ContentsOpening up the box you see a very well compacted LCD that is packed superbly. Moving it out the way you find yourself with a load of extras on the inside including a analogue VGA cable, digital DVI cable, power cable with transformer, mounting plate with screws and a software CD. The mounting plate included can be used to mount the monitor to the wall. Some people may prefer to do this as it gives you even more desk space.You may be curious to know why the monitor comes with not only a DVI cable but also an analogue VGA cable; the reason for this is due to it having support for both inputs. We will have a look later on how this works and if it's better or worse for the user.- First GlanceAs soon as you pull the monitor out of the box you simply can't help but go, "owwww.ahhhh" - it really does look quite amazing at first glance and you find yourself quickly diving into the bag of accessories to get your DVI cable and power adapter. Once pulled out of the box you also notice why it was so slim, thanks to the stand design it can be bent right down making transportation an ease.
Having a quick look of the back, you see the word Samsung embedded into the monitor and the black/silver finish around the monitor makes it look very nice. They say first impressions last and at first glance this monitor looks to be a real winner. We will soon see if it simply looks good or is actually out there to compete with the best.

Samsung 172W LCD - Features Continued

Features Continued - ConnectionsThe monitor comes with a Digital DVI cable as well as an Analogue VGA cable. The 172W is capable of handling both inputs at one time. If you wanted to run the monitor off two PCs (one with a DVI cable and the other with a normal VGA cable) you wouldn't have any trouble as you simply just have to press the source button and you can switch between the two computers with ease.
The DVI connector on the monitor is known as a DVI-D connecter and a DVI-D cable must be used, while this isn't a problem as the monitor comes with the necessary cable in the event that you did loose the cable you would have to purchase a DVI-D cable. The DVI-D cable is a few pins shorter then your more common DVI cable and the reason for this is due to the fact that this cable will only carry a digital signal. The Hercules ProphetView 920DVI we looked at only had one cable coming from it , this cable was capable of sending an analogue and digital signal, so if you didn't have a video card with support for DVI you could still use the monitor with the converter that came supplied with the monitor.The 172W unfortunately doesn't come with an RCA port which is a bit of a disappointment as when we used the one on the ProphetView 920DVI it opened up a whole new set of uses for the LCD. The only other connector on the back of the monitor is the power one which doesn't really take much explanation. It would have been nice to see an RCA port or maybe an S-Video one built into the monitor, hopefully this is something that Samsung will look at in the near future. - Build QualityWhile the Samsung does look amazing, it still doesn't have that same sex appeal that the Hercules has. The build quality is superb and this can be seen across the whole line of Samsung LCDs. The best way to get the general feel of build quality is to just handle it, you can feel how cheap it is or if the company has gone out and made it for the more rugged user aka the lanner.Moving to the bottom of the screen you see the buttons that help you navigate the menu. The buttons are quite nice and match in with the whole color scheme; it doesn't feel like the buttons are going to break if you spend all day using them which is always a good thing.
Moving right down to the bottom we find the stand which is very sturdy. Between the stand and the monitor we have two hinges which bend with ease but always stay in the same position. With these two hinges we are able to move the monitor up and down as well as tilt it back and forth with great ease. While you can't twist the monitor from side to side being an LCD and not weighting much it doesn't take much effort to turn the whole monitor.The overall build quality of the monitor is excellent and it shows that you really do get what you pay for. While the cheaper LCDs on the market don't feel as good it doesn't necessarily mean that they are a bad LCD. To help reduce costs for the user some companies choose to make it of cheaper materials and if your someone who simply places the LCD on the desk and doesn't move it this is fine as the chances are your not going to run into any problems. The 172W really feels like a monitor you could carry around and not have to worry too much about.

Samsung 172W LCD - Features Continued Again

Features Continued Again- Contrast and BrightnessWhen compared to the Hercules ProphetView 920DVI, which we looked at a few months back, you notice that the contrast and brightness settings are a lot higher. While the Hercules LCD used a contrast ratio of 350:1 and a brightness of 250cd/m2, the Samsung 172W uses a contrast ratio of 400:1 and a brightness of 450cd/m2 which should get rid of the darkness problems we had with the ProphetView 920DVI. This is something that we will look at in just a moment when it comes to testing. As far as paper specifications go, the Samsung 172W does look to be a better monitor but we will find out first hand in just a moment if it can live up to what it says. - OSDThe On Screen Display (OSD) for the Samsung LCD is very basic; using the buttons you will navigate through the LCD and proceed to adjust settings. Changing sources from Analogue to Digital and vice versa is made a breeze with the push of the source button found across the bottom of the screen. All your settings are there from brightness and contrast to what language and menu display time. It shouldn't take more then a minute to figure that the + goes right and the - goes left.- MagicBrightMagicBright is a built in setting on the LCD to help give users pre adjusted setting of brightness and contrast depending on what they are doing. There are three built in settings as well as a user defined setting that is stored.
Text - Text is the darkest out of the three presets built into the 172W. It is designed to be easy on the eyes and not be too over powering. Text is definitely the worse to game with as the brightness and contrast are set quite low. Internet - Internet is slightly brighter then Text, the main reason would be for the pictures you start seeing when on the Internet. The Internet setting adds a bit more contrast and brightness to help make pictures look better.Entertain - Entertain is the brightest out of the three pre sets. If you're going to be watching a movie or playing a game, this is the setting you are after. Sometimes you will find that the brightness and contrast still isn't high enough for some games so this is where the user defined setting comes into play.User Defined - User Defined is where your preset settings are, in the case that any of the above presets don't suit your needs when you do a particular task - this is the option you may choose. For example most games might be just fine using the "Entertain" setting but when you jump into a game that is slightly darker then others, you may find that a little bit more contrast or brightness is needed to make the game look better. This is where these settings are stored.MagicBright is a very handy feature and gives you those settings that you normally wouldn't think about. Most people think that having higher brightness and contrast is better but when just reading text on the screen, it is easer on the eyes to have it dimmer over long periods of time. Overall MagicBright is a very unique feature that is making an appearance on a lot of Samsung monitors and is definitely a big plus for the 172W.

Samsung 172W LCD - Testing

Testing- Normal Computer UseLike most LCDs, when it comes to normal computer use they are excellent, because they are easier on the eyes and they are just a lot nicer to use overall.If you're going from a 17" CRT, it will take a little bit getting use to as the monitor isn't as high. It is measured 17" corner to corner so for this reason it's not as high because it's a wide screen. This will take some getting use to for people, while others will be able to get straight into it and will enjoy the extra width they now have to play with.- GamingThe worst thing about gaming with a widescreen is finding games that support wide screen resolutions. Some games don't have any problems, while others have to run in 1024 X 768 which of course stretches the image which can be annoying sometimes. As far as the overall gaming experience goes this would have to be one of the best LCDs on the market. Thanks to the low ms the 172W carries with it, you don't get any ghosting at all. Ghosting is when you are in game and moving around and where you see a trail follow it. This is due to high ms commonly found on cheaper monitors and can be quite annoying when playing games. - Movie PlaybackMovie playback is awesome and this is where you see the 16:9 resolutions come into affect. Load up anything with widescreen support and you will find your self watching movies without any borders - pure bliss. At first you may find it a bit dark but this is where MagicBright comes into affect. Simple change it over to the entertain mode and you will be watching the latest movies better than ever. If you're a big movie watcher, you will love the 172W as it really goes out to those people who love the whole 16:9 concept.

Samsung 172W LCD - Conclusion

ConclusionSamsung are very well known for creating an excellent LCD and the 172W is no exception. One of the worst things about the monitor is its height but all we can say is "Bring on the 192W," which we hope Samsung decide to produce. 16:9 is the in thing at the moment and because companies needed to go back to the drawing board to create these widescreen products, we also get to see some of the best specifications on 16:9 equipment since newer parts have had to be used.Gaming with the 172W is excellent and it's nice to see an LCD monitor not give any form of ghosting - something which has plagued the LCD monitor for a long time. Since the whole widescreen concept is new to personal computers, the choice to play games in widescreen is still quite limited. Although with most games you are limited to 1024 X 768, you do get use to the picture being stretched slightly very quickly. While the 172W only has the height of a 15" LCD, with a 1280 X 768 resolution you get a lot of desktop space. 15" LCDs usually carry a maximum resolution of 1024 X 768 so you are quite limited as far as space goes.Overall we have one of the best speced LCD monitors on the market and its 16:9. The worst thing about the monitor is the height but of course 16:9 computer equipment is still new to the market and we are sure that we will be seeing bigger and better models from companies in the near future. The only problem is when you go bigger the ms speed usually increases and this is where we begin to see ghosting. Some people are going to love the monitor while others will not. At the end of the day it's going to be personal opinion but as far as how it runs, it's undoubtedly one of the best if not the best on the market right now. - Pros16:9Excellent specificationsNo ghosting in gamesNo borders in those widescreen moviesVery sturdy standBoth DVI and normal VGA outputsExcellent maximum resolution for an LCD this size - ConsNot as high as some might thinkGame support for 1280 X 768 (16:9) quite limited
Rating - 9.5 out of 10 and TweakTown's Editors Choice Award

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Shawn takes care of all of our video card reviews. From 2009, Shawn is also taking care of our memory reviews, and from May 2011, Shawn also takes care of our CPU, chipset and motherboard reviews. As of December 2011, Shawn is based out of Taipei, Taiwan.

We openly invite the companies who provide us with review samples / who are mentioned or discussed to express their opinion. If any company representative wishes to respond, we will publish the response here. Please contact us if you wish to respond.
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