Samsung 2493HM Monitor Review

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I’ll start this review with a wee bit of back story:

I picked this monitor up in April, basically as a combined birthday gift from several rather generous relatives. I got the first unit home and unfortunately had to return it to Futureshop, due to its inability to display an image (it wouldn’t even show the on-screen menu). After exchanging the dead screen, I picked up another identical unit that luckily wasn’t broken. This review is going to be an overview of my experience with this monitor since April. Since there are only a couple of other reviews for this unit on the web, I figured this would be welcome for anyone considering picking up one of these units.

The first thing that strikes you when you see the 2493HM is the sheer amount of screen space available. I had been using a 17″ Samsung 730B LCD for quite some time before I picked up the 2493HM. Of course the 24″ 2493HM indicates that this is a 24″ model, and 24″ is a heck of a lot of real estate for any PC monitor. I actually unpacked the 2493HM next to my old, dilapidated Sony 27″ CRT TV.

Everyone in the house came to investigate when they heard my maniacal laughter emanating from the second floor living room. The truth is that you imagine the CRT’s screen size as being much larger then it is, because the TV itself is so enormous. So when I parked the 2493HM beside my TV I was stunned at how large the LCD screen size was when compared to the CRT. I had another instance of maniacal laughter when I parked the 2493HM on my desk for the first time. This monitor truly dwarfed my 730B, so much so that I had to keep leaving the room and coming back to make sure my eyes weren’t deceiving me. Of course they weren’t – the 2493HM truly is a screen of epic proportions. But I guess you’ll want to see for yourselves right?

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Now you can probably tell why a former 17″ user like myself was so stunned at the proportions of this beast. I was fully adjusted to the 17″ size and had told myself countless times that I needed the 24″ screen only for its excellent resolution (1920 x 1200) and HDMI input. Of course now that I’ve become used to this size I could never imagine going back.

It’s great being able to have two full pages side by side in Word 2007, and it’s great having the extra space for video editing. I haven’t mentioned gaming or watching movies yet, but I’ll get to that later. It’s also weird after you finish adjusting to the screen size when you visit a friend or relative’s place and look at their puny 15″ screen. Now you can scoff at them and say, with honesty, that “mine is bigger than yours.” Of course I was making this apparent to many people before I got the bigger monitor, and it was still true……. yeahhhhhhh……

Adjustment

One of the most important aspects of purchasing a new monitor is figuring out how it will fit into your workspace. One of the easiest ways to ensure that a new monitor will suit your needs is by selecting a monitor with plenty of physical adjustment options. On this front the 2493HM is the polar opposite of the 730B. The 730B has NO physical adjustment options. With the 2493HM I can adjust height, and rotate the monitor on the X,Y, and Z axes. This means I can tilt it forward and back, rotate it so the screen is taller than it is wide, and turn it on its base (the base works in a way similar to a Lazy Susan, allowing for a good degree of smooth rotation.).

The 2493HM at its lowest height:

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The 2493HM at its tallest height:

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The 2493HM can be easily rotated to a 90 degree angle like so (just make sure your wires have enough slack)

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The 2493HM tilted with the top as far forward as possible

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The 2493HM tilted with the top as far back as possible

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Here’s a better look at the stand. It’s very VERY beefy and can be removed to allow a standard VESA mounting plate to be installed.

Interface

Being able to use the OSD to make adjustments is an important feature of any monitor. Unfortunately, accessing and navigating the OSD on the 2493HM is not an easy task. It’s not because Samsung laid out the menu poorly – quite the opposite in fact. I was easily able to find all the settings I wanted to tweak.

The problem with the 2493HM is that it uses a set of touch sensors for buttons, instead of physical “clicky” buttons. Now normally I love touch sensor buttons, but the problem with the ones on this monitor is that the labels for the sensors are utterly impossible to read unless this area of the monitor is having a serious amount of light thrown at it. I literally have to grab a flashlight and shine it at the lower right hand side of the screen to see what “buttons” I’m pressing.


I can’t feel my way around either, since there are no buttons to feel for. If only Samsung had made the labels luminescent in some way this system would have worked perfectly. Moving on I’ll show you some of the OSD’s options:

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As you can see, the options are fairly extensive. One of the most interesting options is MagicBright, which sets the color output settings of the monitor based on either profiles or custom settings.


This is also the menu which allows you to enable dynamic contrast (which is its own profile). Here are some pictures of the monitor with the various settings enabled. For color comparison take note of the color of the sky and the right pilot’s hands:

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To be honest, I never ended up using any of the profiles – I found that depending on the content being viewed you may be able to see more detail, but the picture would often look unnatural. I decided to just properly calibrate the custom setting to my viewing tastes and left the monitor set to custom for the rest of the testing.


Design

By all accounts, the 2493HM looks as though it was intended as a companion product to the PS3. It has the same gloss black finish, the same chrome accent and the same touch controls. Placing this monitor next to your PS3 (like I did), you’ll realize that the two seem to be made for each other. With the 2493HM’s HDMI input with audio via built in speakers and 1080p resolution, it becomes even more obvious.

Inputs

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On the input front the 2493HM includes HDMI with audio, VGA, DVI with HDCP, and a 3.5mm audio input jack for hooking your PC up to the units built in speakers.

Audio Quality

The audio quality coming from the 2493HM’s built-in speakers is really mediocre, but that’s to be expected since they are a pair of tiny 2 watt speakers hidden on the bottom edge of the front bezel. I used the built in speakers at two LAN parties, and they were okay, but don’t expect to be able to hear unless you can convince everyone else to turn their speakers down. One of the nice features of 2493HM is that it also includes a 3.5mm output, meaning you can use the monitor as an extension cord for a pair of headphones – this is one of the features that any LAN-goer can appreciate.

Blu-ray Playback Quality (PS3)

For this bit of testing I set up the 2493HM with the PS3 outputting to it over HDMI. Then I fired up a couple of Blu-Ray movies. The excellent American Psycho, and the not so excellent Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer.

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I won’t say the video quality is excellent, but it is very good considering this is a PC monitor and not a TV. Keep in mind that these shots were taken with the movies paused; when the movie is playing it looks smoother and sharper (probably since you can’t stop to nitpick about single frames).

Game Video Quality (Crysis)

For this test I fired up Crysis at 1920 x 1200 res and all settings at medium, except for sound and shader quality, which were both set to high.

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Crysis is a truly beautiful game which is only made more visually impressive with a good monitor. With 1920 x 1200 resolution, a 5 ms response time and a 1000:1 “True” contrast ratio (It’ll hit 10000:1 dynamic), the 2493HM really does a truly excellent job with games like Crysis. Now since I like a variety of games, from Deus Ex to Mechwarrior, from Portal to Elder Scrolls, from Company of Heroes to STALKER, from Alpha Centauri to Stronghold, I think I can speak for most gamers out there. So here is what each of my inner genre gurus like about the 2493HM.

The Shooter Guru:

Fast response time means no ghosting, high contrast ratio makes detail easier to distinguish in dark corridors, large screen makes long range no-scoping much easier.

The Strategy Guru:

Big screen means more units are visible and makes micro management easier, high resolution makes it easier to find smaller units in large battles.

The RPG Guru:

The screen may be large enough to show the entire contents of your inventory, high contrast ratio an excellent feature for dark dungeons.

The Simulation Guru:

Bigger screen means more space for cockpit instruments, wide screen grants a larger and more natural view.

Performance

Of course, by upgrading to a larger screen you get a corresponding jump in resolution. In my case I went from 1280 x 1024 to 1920 x 1200, a fairly decent increase. With larger res comes a greater load on the graphics card, especially with regards to graphics memory.

Now I’m running an 8800GTS 320 MB, which was moderately high-end about two years ago. I didn’t notice any huge changes in performance between the two resolutions, but I more than likely would if the graphics card had 256 MB or less of GPU memory. You may need to lower settings like AA or turn the texture detail down a bit, but your games will still be far more visually impressive on the big screen.

Backlight Bleed

Now for those of you who don’t know, backlight bleed is a very common problem with LCD displays, so common in fact that it is hardly considered a problem unless it is a major eyesore. In all honesty you will only really notice bleed when viewing very dark material in a very dark room. In order to test the backlight bleed on the 2493HM, I set the display to a black background, darkened the room and took some shots without the flash.

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This picture should be completely dark, but notice the blue area at the bottom of the display – this is an area of backlight bleed. Luckily it is in a fairly inconspicuous area. I’ve seen pictures of monitors with bleed like this over most of the screen, so I’d say the 2493HM has a very acceptable amount of bleed.

Panel Technology

Another important aspect of an LCD monitor’s quality is its panel technology. These days most LCD monitors are based on one of one of three technologies:

  • Twisted Nematic or TN panels offer excellent response times and low cost, but are only capable of 6-bit color reproduction and can suffer from low contrast and inferior viewing angles.
  • Vertical Alignment panels, the basis of S-PVA and MVA technologies. These panels are right in the mid range in terms of price and features. They support 8-bit color, better viewing angles and better contrast, but may suffer from low response times (leading to “ghosting”) and color shifting.
  • In Plane Switching panels are the most high end panel type widely available for PC monitors. IPS panels offer all the benefits of VA panels, but have no issues with color shifting and offer response times often comparable with TN panels.

According to this monitor’s viewing angle (160 degrees horizontal and vertical), low response time (5ms) and relatively low price (they retail for around $450 CAD – I got mine on sale), the 2493HM is without a doubt based on a TN panel. Now for me this wasn’t a big deal since my old Samsung 730B was also TN panel based. If you are the average Joe Sixpack and spent under $500 on your current LCD screen, you almost definitely have a TN paneled monitor already.

So all you users out there who are happy with your TN based LCD’s won’t notice the 6-bit color or lower viewing angles. So go ahead and ignore all the forum masters who drop thousands on an LCD and tell you that you need to do the same. But, if you run a $2000 24″ display at work and want something comparable at home, you’ll want to steer clear of the 2493HM since you’ll probably end up taking it back to the store due to “inferior” picture quality. The same goes for users of Apple Cinema monitors. One of the reasons Apple Cinema displays are so bloody expensive (and look so good in your local electronics shop) is because they are S-IPS panel based. In case you were wondering, here is a list of a few monitors broken down into groups by panel type.

S-IPS:

Apple Cinema (note that the 23″ and 30″ use H-IPS, a further improvement on S-IPS)
Dell’s 3007 and 3008 Ultrasharp 30″ displays
Samsung’s XL series

S-PVA:

Samsung 245T

TN:

Any monitor with a 160 degree viewing angle.

So most mainstream monitors use TN panels and most gaming oriented displays also use TN panels. You will find that most monitors between $600 and $900 use an S-PVA panel, making them better for photo work but less capable for gaming. Finally, most $1000+ monitors make use of an S-IPS panel, or at least a panel based on IPS technology.

Manufacturer Specifications

(Insert Specs)

Overall

I really do love the 2493HM. But some of you may look at the features or specs and start scratching your heads thinking “why on earth do I need that?” Well, in the interest of condensing the article into an easy to read piece of reference documentation, here are the pros and cons

Pros:

  • Excellent 5ms response time (excellent for a 24″ display)
  • Excellent output for all types of PC gaming
  • Full 1080p over HDMI support for next gen consoles or hi-def media players
  • The non-dynamic contrast ratio of 1000:1 is quite decent
  • Minimal backlight bleeding
  • Includes built in stereo speakers, which can output from HDMI or a 3.5mm audio cable
  • The DVI input includes HDCP
  • Will not stretch out 4:3 ratio content, the 2493HM simply adds black bars on the sides
  • Very attractive appearance, matches the PS3 quite nicely
  • Touch sensitive controls
  • Extreme levels of physical adjustment
  • $449.99 CAD retail isn’t a bad price for a monitor this feature packed
  • Solid base means almost zero chance of knocking the monitor over
  • Included software allows the screen to display at 1200 x 1920 when the monitor is rotated into a vertical position
  • Monitor can be used as an extension for a pair of 3.5mm headphones

Cons:

  • 6-bit color reproduction will be a big step down for former PVA or IPS panel users
  • Touch sensitive controls difficult to find without a flashlight
  • Viewing angle isn’t the best
  • Attracts fingerprints
  • Built in speakers suck for everything but office use
  • My first unit was DOA

Conclusion

I highly recommend the Samsung 2493HM to anyone upgrading from another TN panel monitor, you will not be disappointed! On the other hand PVA or IPS panel users may want to steer clear and look at other offerings from Samsung, Apple or Dell.

IMPORTANT NOTE!

Many people online are reporting initial problems with the 2493HM (ie receiving units that are DOA or have problems). While this is an excellent monitor, I would recommend buying from a local reseller just in case you have problems out of the box. When the 2493HM is working properly it is a fantastic monitor but as I said, my first unit was dead and I was very lucky to have purchased it from Futureshop so I could easily have it replaced. So take these words of advice, they might save you time and money.

Kyle Lunau

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