The Samsung FX2490HD very definitely wants to be the display that makes the most of all that high-def content out there. From the front, it looks like a conventional 24-inch display – albeit one that sits on four shiny chromed feet that might have been borrowed from an office chair. The stand offers the usual tilt and swivel adjustments.
The FX2490HD supports a Full 1080p HD resolution of 1,920×1,080 pixels, surrounded by a bezel that’s pleasingly slender when you consider that the Samsung also accommodates stereo 5W speakers.
Monitor meets TV
But when you turn the display round and take a look at the back, your view of the FX2490HD will change, both literally and figuratively. What at first glance appears to be a PC display is, in fact, a full-blown TV.
To this end, Samsung has crammed in a huge number of ports and connectors. It hasn’t taken the obvious approach of arranging the connectors in a row across the back of the panel, but has instead arranged them around a hub in the middle of the screen with the ports radiating outwards.
On the left side of the hub you get an audio mini-jack input, an HDMI port, a Common Interface slot, a USB port and a headphone jack. Pointing downwards there’s an optical audio output, TV aerial RF input, SCART input, composite/RCA input, component input, VGA input and a second HDMI input.
You might think that all of this hardware would make the FX2490HD horribly bulky; however, Samsung has managed to keep the display admirably slender. Admittedly this has required Samsung to include dongle adapters for the SCART, component and composite connectors, along with an external power supply. This is a practical way of addressing the problem of squeezing a quart into a pint pot (one litre into 500ml for modern types who think in metric) – although it does have the potential to look untidy.
We doubt that many people will use all the connectors the Samsung has to offer – instead, we suspect that most will simply select the two or three they need. In the unlikely event that you decide to connect eight or nine cables, you’ll have an unholy mess piled up behind your screen.
If we had any remaining doubts that the Samsung is a TV that can be connected to a laptop or TV, rather than a regular monitor, everything became clear when we fired the FX2490HD into life. There are no control buttons on the screen, and all of the functions are managed from the full sized remote control.
The technology inside the Samsung is relatively basic and uses a cost-effective ‘twisted nematic’ (TN) panel that offers relatively tight viewing angles of 170 degrees horizontally and 160 degrees vertically. Those figures are the absolute viewing limits, however: both colour and brightness alter significantly if you move far from the centre of the picture.
The brightness rating is typical of the breed at 250 nits, the response time of 5ms is a little slow and the dynamic contrast ratio of 5,000,000:1 is the type of massive number we have become used to seeing these days. So no real surprises here.
As this stage we were confident that the Samsung FX2490HD would deliver reasonable picture quality that would be nothing out of the ordinary. Little did we know, we were in for a surprise. When we used an HDMI cable to connect the Samsung to an AMD Radeon graphics card, the picture looked terribly unclear. Conversely the image perked up no end when we switched to an analogue VGA connection – pretty much the opposite of what we’d expect.
The FX2490HD left us with the feeling that it's trying rather hard to be a multipurpose wonder-display. Certainly it packs in heaps of connectors - but we have to question how many people in the UK have any use for a Common Interface slot. The styling of the FX2490HD is very successful but picture quality over an HDMI connection is worrying, and the price is rather steep.