The wonderfully slim world of the flat panel display has been moving in several directions of late in a bid to ensconce itself on more users’ desktops. Naturally, the biggest development is the fall in price over the last couple of years, meaning that you can now snare yourself a 17-inch screen like the SyncMaster 710TM (roughly equivalent in diagonal screen size to a 19-inch CRT) without breaking the bank (or indeed the stock market).
While price falls might be old news now, the latest trend to promote greater accessibility is the low response time. Many LCDs are now coming out with a response time of 16ms or less. The SyncMaster 710TM is one of them, being rated at 12ms.
So what’s the big deal about response time? Put in very basic terms it’s the time taken for a pixel to change colour. If it’s too sluggish when playing 3D games you get a horrible “ghosting” effect, as when you move quickly the display can’t quite keep up with the rapidly changing scene. Also, you’ll notice effects like a slight trail on the mouse pointer in Windows. For a long time now, this drawback has put off people who enjoy gaming as well as more serious uses of the PC.
But does the SyncMaster 710TM’s nippy 12ms panel solve this problem and perform as an all-rounder? The monitor is certainly pleasurable under Windows, having a pin-sharp picture with clearly defined colours. Adjusting the display is a simple matter using the well designed on-screen menu. There are also four set modes that you can switch between at the touch of a button; one for text work, one for Net browsing and one for entertainment, with a final custom offering which you can modify to your own liking.
The entertainment or gaming mode is a retina-burning affair, set with overkill brightness, so we used the custom setting to invent our own gaming scheme before taking Quake 3 and some other fast action games out for a spin. We’re pleased to report some impressive results in terms of ghosting, with none detectable as far as we’re concerned, although display perception is of course a subjective matter.
There was only one negative and that was the dark scenes, which the display’s black levels didn’t do justice to, giving them a slightly washed out, dark grey feel. However, this isn’t an uncommon phenomenon with LCDs, which can struggle to display a deep, true black because they are permanently back-lit.
The rest of the display quality news is all good – the viewing angles are quite wide, the screen deals adeptly with glare and there were no dead pixels evident on our review model. And the build quality of the SyncMaster 710TM is similarly impressive. It’s solid, with a large circular base that allows the screen to be titled vertically for the portrait mode. The bulky base is surprisingly heavy, making this a little less portable than your average LCD (but still preferable to a hulking CRT monitor).
The “M” of 710TM stands for multimedia, meaning that the unit has a built-in speaker, although it’s fairly tinny as you might expect.
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