The Samsung SyncMaster 940BF is an average-looking, average-performing LCD that's hampered by a high price-to-features ratio. Its performance on DVD and gaming playback was good, but in our other image-quality tests, merely average. Though the 940BF comes with a few useful image-control extras, its $499 price is simply too high. We'd rather spend less and get more with the Philips Brilliance 190P6. If you need strong DVD and gaming performance, check out the ViewSonic VX924, which offers a similar set of features at a lower cost.
The SyncMaster 940BF is a reasonably well-designed, if uninteresting-looking, LCD. The matte-black monitor has a very narrow bezel that runs a mere 0.5-inch wide all around the screen. A circular base keeps the monitor stable. Six discreet adjustment buttons on the bottom bezel are marked with easy-to-read white lettering. The neck securely holds the display 3.5 inches above the desktop, but the height isn't adjustable. In fact, the only adjustment the SyncMaster 940BF offers is 15 degrees of backward tilt; it neither swivels nor pivots. It doesn't even have a clip to corral the cables. It does, however, have a plastic cover that hides the digital and analog inputs (both cables included), making it a good candidate for high-visibility areas.
The onscreen menu (OSM) is easy to navigate, but if you prefer using a mouse to adjust display settings, the install CD comes with MagicTune, a mouse-and-menu-based program. MagicTune also includes a color calibrator that simplifies gamma correction, allowing you to standardize color across your computers. For the home photographer, the install CD comes with Natural Color, an application that makes sure the color you see on the display is the same as the one you print out. Another handy image-control feature is the MagicBright button, which scrolls through application-specific presets for viewing text, Web pages, movies, and even sports. Through the OSM, you can access MagicZone, a square that overlays a portion of the main screen and allows you to adjust hue, saturation, brightness, contrast, and sharpness without disturbing the rest of the image. MagicZone may be useful for graphics pros under special circumstances, but the average user will probably find (like we did), that it makes colors unnaturally bright.
The SyncMaster 940BF's performance on CNET Labs' DisplayMate-based tests was average overall, though slightly better than average on our DVD and gaming tests. The display's text looked as sharp and legible as on a typical LCD, though we noticed some compression at the dark and light ends of the grayscale. We also saw some greenish and reddish hues where the display should have shown pure gray. We noticed subtle problems with screen uniformity, including darker areas along the top, the bottom, and the edges. When viewed at an angle, the display looked noticeably brighter on the bottom half of the screen, and the quality of the color-test screens changed quite dramatically. The SyncMaster 940BF's extremely low 2ms pixel-response rate resulted in smooth movement and slightly less ghosting than we usually see in our DVD and games tests. Colors in our DVD test were rich and bright.
Samsung's industry-standard three-year warranty for the SyncMaster 940BF covers parts, labor, and backlight. Toll-free phone tech support is available 24/7, and Samsung's Web site has FAQs, driver downloads, and an e-mail tech-support form. It will also automatically generate a support page customized to your particular product.
(Longer bars indicate better performance)