- Review Date: 03/09/11
- Bottom line:
Part desktop display and part HDTV, the Samsung SyncMaster FX2490HD is an attractive 24-inch hybrid monitor that won't break the bank. Geared towards users with space constraints, it delivers good HD imagery and sharp text, but it has tinting and uniformity issues.
Stylish design. Good text and HD image quality. Relatively affordable.
Lacks DVI port. Uneven backlighitng. Oversaturated colors.
If you've only got room for a PC monitor or a small HDTV, but not both, the Samsung SyncMaster FX2490HD ($369.99 street) has you covered. This 24-inch hybrid display is designed for the desktop but is slim enough to fit on a kitchen counter or a bedroom dresser, and its sleek cabinet and stand will compliment any room in the house. Good HD image detail, crisp text reproduction, an integrated digital tuner, and a reasonable $370 price tag make the FX2490HD a good choice for basic productivity tasks and after hours viewing, but its uneven LED backlighting produces some splotchy blacks and colors appear saturated in all but one picture mode.
As with the SyncMaster T220HD ($400 street, 3.5 stars), the FX2490HD uses Samsung's familiar Touch of Color design, only instead of the subtle Rose Black finish it is done up in an attractive hue dubbed Mystic Brown, which is actually more maroon than brown in color. The top and side bezels are only ¾ of an inch wide and are covered with clear plastic that extends 1/8th of an inch beyond the edge of the bezel to create a clear trim effect. The bottom bezel is wider (1 3/8th-inch) and sports a white Samsung logo in the middle and seven touch sensitive buttons underneath its right side, including Source, Volume, Channel, Menu, and Power controls.
The 11-pound cabinet rests upon a shiny four-legged stand that allows you to tilt and swivel the screen but has no mechanism for making height adjustments. Connectivity ports are located at the rear of the cabinet behind a removable panel and include two HDMI ports, a USB port, a headphone jack, a PC audio input, and an Ex Link port, which is a serial connection. All of these connections are vertically mounted. Horizontally mounted ports include an optical audio output, component audio and video inputs, a VGA (PC) video input, and a coaxial TV antenna/cable connector. Oddly, this set lacks a DVI port, which is still a widely used PC video interface. A DVI to HDMI cable would do the trick but you'll have to go out and get one on your own as Samsung doesn't include one in the box, nor do you get a regular HDMI cable. However, you do get a large 46 button remote that measures 9.75 inches long and includes volume, channel, and DVD player controls, a sizeable number pad, menu and tool buttons, and a four-way rocker switch that makes it easy to navigate the on-screen display (OSD) menu.
The OSD menu pages are easy to follow and provide a wealth of settings that will help you optimize image and audio quality. They also provide an explanation of each setting, which makes it easy to make adjustments without having to refer to the manual. Basic picture settings include brightness, contrast, sharpness, and tint, and the Advanced settings menu allows you to adjust black tone, dynamic contrast, gamma, white balance, flesh tone, and edge enhancement. Other picture options include color temperature, digital noise, and film mode settings. In the Audio menu you can choose between Movie, Music, Amplify, or Standard presets, and there's a Clear Voice setting that emphasizes voice over other sounds. There's also an equalizer that lets you customize audio output to your liking.
Samsung also equips the FX2490HD with a handful of their "Magic" enhancements. MagicBright offers three different preset picture modes including Standard, Movie, and Dynamic. In Standard and Dynamic modes the colors were oversaturated and skin tones were reddish. Movie mode looked much better and is your best bet whether you're watching TV or compiling a spreadsheet. That said, my test photos revealed very minor reddish tinting while in Movie mode. Images from the DisplayMate 64-Step Grayscale test also showed minor tinting in some of the lighter swatches. When enabled, the MagicAngle feature is supposed to prevent the image from appearing dark when viewed from a side, top, or bottom angle, but I saw no difference at all with any of the four settings; the TN+ panel was slightly darker when viewed from the bottom and a bit washed out from the top and sides, all of which are typical for a TN+ panel.
The MagicEco solution offers four settings (off, low, medium, high) with brightness presets that help conserve power. With the Eco mode disabled, the set drew around 39 watts of power in my testing; switching over to low mode reduced that number to 31watts, medium came in at 30 watts, and high used around 27 watts. The low setting looked fine, albeit a tad on the dark side, but I found the medium and high settings to be too dark. Still, 39-watts with Eco disabled isn't all that much and is right in line with other green displays such as NEC's MultiSync E231W ($259 direct, 3.5 stars) (31 watts). Its EnergyStar compliancy and low power characteristics earn the FX2490HD our Greentech stamp of approval.
The FX2490HD's 1920 x 1080 panel does a good job of displaying high definition TV programming and blu-ray movies. Scenes from the BBC production of Planet Earth on Blu-ray were crisp and shadow detail was impressive. The set also handled HD programming from my cable box with aplomb; the movie Sherlock Holmes on HBO was crystal clear and noise free. Standard definition TV also looked good, although some background noise was apparent, especially in darker scenes. While the LED backlighting is great for energy efficiency and delivers a very bright picture, it also produces hot spots on the screen that are most noticeable against a black background. As a result, instead of a deep solid black, some areas of the screen are not quite as dark as they should be. The FX2490HD aced the DisplayMate Scaled Fonts test; small text (5.3points) was well defined and completely legible, a plus for users who work with multipage documents and spreadsheets.
With a 5-millisecond (b-w) pixel response, the FX2490HD had no trouble handling fast motion gaming. While hooked up to a PS3 via one of the HDMI ports, the Midnight Club: Los Angeles racing game looked great on the 24-inch screen. Gaming action was smooth and blurring was not an issue. I'd suggest using the Movie mode for gaming as it provides the best overall color quality and image detail.
The Samsung SyncMaster FX2490HD is a good choice if you're looking to make the most of your limited space and limited budget, but oversaturated colors and tinting issues hold it back. That said, it'll handle your basic productivity and gaming monitor needs, and it performs admirably as an HDTV. It's easy on your utility bill, too.