THE GOOD: The Samsung SyncMaster B2330HD has an impressive number of connection options, built-in speakers, and a remote control, with (once calibrated) good movie and game performance.
THE BAD: The Samsung SyncMaster B2330HD requires heavy color calibrating to get the picture quality to an acceptable level, and its color performance in DisplayMate produces some egregious results; its lack of DVI connection means you'll need to purchase an adapter or a new cord to get it working with a modern PC.
THE BOTTOM LINE: The Samsung SyncMaster B2330HD takes some calibrating before it performs well, but is low priced and offers lots of features.
Editors' note: Although they performed differently, the Samsung SyncMasters B2330HD and FX2490HD have some common design traits, so don't be surprised if you get a sense of deja vu when reading the reviews back to back.
The Samsung SyncMaster B2330HD is a $260, 23-inch monitor with more connection options than most monitors that are more than $300. If connection options are important to you, that fact alone is a big deal. The monitor also includes a remote control and built-in speakers. Unfortunately, there's no DVI port, so you'll need to invest in an additional cord if you want a digital connection. Also, the default performance includes our old friend, the dreaded green tint. We were able to marginalize its adverse effect on movies, games, and photos, but it took a lot of patience and calibrating. If you're looking for an HDTV/monitor combo, we recommend the more expensive FX2490HD, thanks to its better performance; however, if price is a concern, the B2330HD is a great second choice.
Design and features
The 23-inch Samsung SyncMaster B2330HD has a semiglossy black chassis with smooth, rounded corners. The bezel measures 0.8 inch wide on the right and left sides. The initial depth of the panel is 1.1 inches, but it extends back to include the connection options, adding another 1.5 inches, for a total of 2.6 inches of depth. That's a lot thicker than the Samsung FX2490HD's 1.4-inch depth. The distance from the bottom of the bezel to the desktop is 3.3 inches, and the panel tilts back 10 degrees, but no other ergonomic options are included. The monitor's full width measures 22 inches; about the same width as the Samsung PX2370.
The oval-shaped foot stand is 10.2 inches wide and has a depth of 8.3 inches. When knocked from any side, the display wobbles quite a bit, but we only felt it was in danger of toppling when knocked from the back. The back of the display has a wide, deep groove across the top that acts as a ventilation area, but also doubles as a convenient carrying space. The connection options are located in the lower-right-hand corner of the back and face outward, making them easy to access. The connections include two HDMI ports, component and composite ports, a coaxial antenna in, an optical audio port, a headphone jack, a USB port, and an Ex-link port. In the middle portion of the back are four holes to attach the monitor, VESA-style, to a wall or stand.
The monitor's onscreen display array is located on the bottom middle of the bezel and consists of several touch areas/buttons, including a Menu button, a Source button, an Up and Down button, and a Plus and Minus button. Attempting to use the array to navigate the OSD, however, is a frustrating experience: as with the FX2490HD, the buttons aren't as sensitive as we'd like, but unlike the FX2490HD, the touch areas are located on the front of the bezel, instead of under it. The lack of an onscreen menu lining up next to the buttons to guide you makes navigating in this way even more difficult. We found it easiest to navigate the OSD with the remote control. The options function very much like a typical Samsung HDTV; however, when connected to a PC, picture options include controls for brightness, contrast, and sharpness, and presets include Custom, Dynamic Contrast, Text, Internet, and Entertain. Also, there's a color temperature option, allowing you to choose Cool, Normal, Warm, and custom. The custom color temperature allows you to adjust the red, blue, and green values individually. Its audio options include presets for Music, Movie, Standard, Amplify, and Clear Voice. In addition, there's an audio equalizer, allowing for granular fine-tuning of the sound.
DisplayMate performance: We tested the 23-inch Samsung SyncMaster B2330HD through its HDMI input, connected to a Windows Vista PC using an HDMI cable supplied from our own vast array we've collected over the years. The display posted a composite score of 88 on CNET Labs' DisplayMate-based performance tests, several points lower than the Samsung PX2370's 96. Its black level was visible down to the optimal level of 2, and the Dark Screen test displayed very noticeable amounts of backlight breakthrough all over the screen. Also, in our Motion Bitmaps test we saw slightly more streaking on the B2330HD than the PX2370 showed; however, this did not carry over to our real-world games and movie tests.
Color tests were where the B2330HD had the most trouble. In our color scales test we saw an egregious amount of color compression at the light end of the scale, indicating that the monitor may have trouble differentiating like colors when near peak white. In our two color ramp tests, both the 64- and 256-level tests, we saw lots of jumps and a nonlinear progression from low to high intensity, indicating that the monitor may be prone to color banding. In Color Tracking, we noticed an obvious green tint that carried over to movie watching; we were able to alleviate this by adjusting the Red and Green attributes, detailed in the Recommended settings and use section.
Text: In text, we saw no color problems with black text on a white background. Fonts were visible down to a 6.8-point size.
Movies: We tested the Samsung B2330HD in its Movie preset, using the Blu-ray version of "Avatar." The Samsung displayed dark detail just as well as the PX2370, missing none of the Na'vi's braids during the bonfire scene. Like on the FX2490HD, what stood out most was the apparent green push, noticeable in character faces, making them appear sickly compared with the healthy-looking faces on the PX2370; we were able to make some color and settings adjustments that improved things greatly. Check out the Recommended settings and use section below for more details.
Games: Because of our intimate familiarity with World of Warcraft (WoW), it remains the best tool for judging color quality and vibrancy in games. We looked at WoW in the Samsung SyncMaster B2330HD's Entertainment preset and found that it delivered vibrant imagery and no hint of the green color tint problem after calibration.
Photos: The Samsung SyncMaster FX2490HD's Custom preset displayed photos that lacked red in faces and looked noticeably greenish. After calibration, things improved greatly, but we were still unable to get red to look as accurate as on the PX2370 and it instead looked slightly orange.
Sound: The built-in speakers were capable of producing medium-volume sound, but it didn't have the same impact as the sound that emanated from the FX2490HD. However, music was still clear and dialogue was crisp and easily intelligible as long as the volume wasn't too high. When we turned the sound to maximum volume, we did notice a lot of tinny distortion in movies and music.
Viewing angle: The optimal viewing angle for a monitor is usually directly in front, about a quarter of the way down from the top of the screen. At this angle, you're viewing the colors and gamma as the manufacturer intended. Most monitors are not made to be viewed at any other angle. Depending on the panel type, picture quality at nonoptimal angles varies. Most monitors use TN panels, which get overly bright or overly dark in parts of the screen when viewed from nonoptimal angles, making for inaccurate color representation. The Samsung SyncMaster B2330HD uses a TN panel, and when it is viewed from the sides or bottom, we perceived the screen as darkening about 6 inches off from center, which is typical for a TN.
To help out with this somewhat, Samsung includes the Magic Angle feature in the B2330HD. The Magic Angle mode prevents the screen from darkening when viewed from certain angles. Magic Angle has four settings: Lean Back Mode 1, Lean Back Mode 2, Standing Mode, and Side Mode. Switching to each mode will improve screen brightness when viewing the monitor from that angle. For example, after switching to Lean Back Mode 2 and then sitting back in your chair to play a game, the screen doesn't darken nearly as much, and as a result, game details can still be seen, while you do irreparable damage to your spine, all in the name of "fun."
Recommended settings and use: The Samsung SyncMaster B2330HD doesn't include a DVI input, and by default, only the VGA input is optimized to be used with a PC. To optimally use a digital connection with a PC, go into the Source menu, choose Tools > Edit Name > choose whichever HDMI connection you wish to use, then select PC. Fonts and edges will look PC proper after that.
During general use, we preferred the standard, default settings of the Custom preset. When watching movies, the best settings for the Samsung SyncMaster B2330HD were default settings with the preset set to Entertain, Red to 65, Green to 35, and Blue to 66, and the Contrast set to 70. For games, we still preferred the Entertain preset, with Red set to 53, Green to 37, and Blue to 54, with the contrast set at 98. For photos, we preferred the Movies settings with the contrast set at 95. Even after calibration, we still could not get movies to look as good as they did on the FX2390HD. There was still a hint of green in the B2330HD's picture.
As with most TN-based monitors, the Samsung SyncMaster B2330HD shouldn't be used if pinpoint accurate color reproduction is required; however, the monitor is great for watching movies, casually viewing photos, and for general use, although it's not the best for playing games. If you do have stringent color needs, we suggest you narrow your search to IPS- or PVA-based panels only. The more expensive Dell UltraSharp U2711 is a good place to start.
Power consumption: The Samsung SyncMaster B2330HD achieved poor power consumption, with a Default/On power draw of 53.6 watts, compared with the Samsung PX2370's 25.01 watts in the same test. Conversely, the consumption delta was switched in our Sleep/Standby test, with the B2330HD drawing less power than the PX2370, at 0.18 watt and 0.27 watt, respectively. With both monitors' center point calibrated to 200 candelas per square meter (cd/M2), the B2330HD drew 46.5 watts, whereas the PX2370 drew a much lower 19.9 watts. Based on our formula, the Samsung SyncMaster B2330HD would cost $16.13 per year to run, compared with the Samsung PX2370's $7.65 per year.
|Samsung SyncMaster B2330HD||Average watts per hour|
|On (default luminance)||53.66|
|On (max luminance)||53.66|
|On (min luminance)||27.1|
|Calibrated (200 cd/m2)||$16.13|
Service and support Samsung backs the SyncMaster B2330HD with a three-year parts and labor warranty that covers the backlight. It also offers support through a 24-7 toll-free number, as well as 24- to 48-hour turnaround time for e-mail and Web chat support. The display's documentation and support software are available on Samsung's Web site.