The Samsung SyncMaster 173P's stylish matte-silver and glossy-white plastic makes it fingerprint-resistant; it also makes it look like an Apple iMac's cousin. The display sits on a small but stable circular base, under which is an embedded lazy Susan that swivels 360 degrees. With a dual-hinged neck similar to that of the SyncMaster 192T, the SyncMaster 173P's screen tilts 5 degrees forward and an impressive 135 degrees backward. You can also raise the panel about three inches--just a bit less than with the extremely adjustable Dell 1703FP. The panel pivots from Landscape to Portrait mode--a nice extra on a 17-inch LCD--and Samsung includes Pivot Pro software to adjust the picture accordingly.
Some LCDs have limited viewing angles, a fact that makes the picture hard to see from the sides or from above or below. The SyncMaster 173P's viewing angles--178 degrees horizontal and vertical--are the largest of any LCD on the market, according to Samsung. Although the SyncMaster 173P's screen does appear slightly dimmer at extreme angles, it is indeed superior to the other LCDs we've tested.
The SyncMaster 173P's design cuts down on connection clutter. The display features both analog and digital signal inputs (Samsung includes both cables) that are neatly housed and easily accessed in the rear of the base, along with the power jack. This keeps cables flush with the tabletop, and it prevents dangling cords from messing up your work space. Samsung also includes a VESA bracket for wall-mounting--an extra that is usually sold separately.
Most LCDs have at least three or four buttons on the front panel, but the SyncMaster 173P has only one: power. Samsung's MagicTune software lets you make all image adjustments--to geometry, brightness, contrast, color, and so on--via the mouse, which is a nice feature. Another helpful extra is the included grayscale and phase patterns that help you optimize your image (some adjustments are not available when using the DVI connection).
The SyncMaster 173P performed well in CNET Labs' tests, producing deep blacks, sharp text, and vivid colors. We did find some minor flaws, such as a slight color shift in the grayscale, but the SyncMaster 173P's image quality is still far above average. We ran an informal DVD test and saw some digital noise in large blocks of color but very few detectable artifacts overall.
Samsung backs the SyncMaster 173P with a three-year warranty on parts, labor, and the backlight. The company also offers toll-free, 24/7 phone support 365 days a year; that's far above and beyond most companies' tech-support business hours. The MagicTune software features a support link to troubleshooting tips for image adjustment and the Pivot Pro software.
CNET Labs DisplayMate tests (Longer bars indicate better performance)
Brightness in nits
Find out more about how we test LCDs.