The analog Samsung SyncMaster 915N comes cloaked in black with a set of six buttons tucked into the lower right-hand corner. The buttons' indented labels blend in with the bezel so completely that they are difficult to read without looking closely. The bezel itself is an inch wide along the bottom and a trim 3/4-inch around the top and the sides.
The monitor's 12-by-15-inch viewable panel is supported by a relatively small, 8-inch circular base and a short, blunt neck that trades flexibility for stability. You can tilt the screen only 5 degrees forward and 30 degrees backward, but for a 19-inch display, the 915N is stable. Like most LCDs larger than 17 inches, however, it will wobble if pushed or nudged. The rear features only two inputs: a power input and an analog signal port, which makes for a relatively uncluttered setup.
The printed quick-setup guide contains a minimal set of instructions for connecting the monitor to your computer and installing the drivers. The electronic manual explains the two image-management programs: MagicTune and NaturalColor. The MagicTune program is handy if you want to bypass the user control buttons and set the brightness, the contrast, and the color levels to your own specifications with your keyboard and mouse. Within MagicTune, there are four MagicBright preset brightness levels to choose from: Text, Internet, Entertain, and Custom. The Text setting offers the least-bright setting, while Entertain is the brightest. MagicTune also supplies test screens to calibrate the 915N's colors. Alternately, you can select one of Samsung's presets: Warm, Normal, or Cool. The MagicBright color settings have their own dedicated button on the monitor so that you can quickly select from four different color tones. NaturalColor is a less sophisticated color-calibration tool that contains screens for coordinating colors between your monitor and printer.
We've come to expect digital input and a few other extras, such as S-Video, on large LCDs, but with the Samsung SyncMaster 915N, there's nothing--not a headphone jack or an accessory cup. (Think we're kidding about the accessory cups? Perhaps you haven't seen our review of the Envision EN7220.)
Tested at its native resolution of 1,280x1,024, the Samsung SyncMaster 915N performed fairly well on CNET Labs' DisplayMate-based tests. The 915N's text was dark and easily legible. On the grayscale test screens, with the colors at their default settings, the 915N created a bright white background and a full range of gray tones. The performance was slightly marred by the overuse of red, which gave the grays a purplish hue. In general, colors were bright and well saturated and progressed pretty smoothly from the low end of the scale (darker) up to the high end (lighter), with just a bit of compression of the scale at the extremes.
The Samsung SyncMaster 915N has a lickety-split pixel-response rate of 4ms, which helps it create detailed, crisp-looking game backgrounds (pixel-response time is a key feature to look for in gaming LCDs), but it fails to make the 915N a great screen for DVD viewing. It's better than average at displaying movement, and it shows a high degree of sharpness, but it was nevertheless plagued in places by the patches of flickering pixels commonly seen on all LCD screens.
The Samsung SyncMaster 915N comes with a three-year parts, labor, and backlight warranty. Technical support is provided 24/7 for the life of the display. On Samsung's Web site, there's a searchable FAQ database and a list of popular questions and answers.
(Longer bars indicate better performance)