Latest, fastest LCD monitors: Syncmaster 913n, FP71E+

While many of us would like an LCD monitor, they're often a poor choice for playing games or watching video on due to their relatively poor response times when compared to conventional CRT monitors (see A speedy response). However, that's set to change with the latest products from BenQ and Samsung.

While they're different sizes (the Samsung Syncmaster 913n has a 19in screen, the BenQ FP71E+ is 17in) they're both SXGA displays, and are the first to break the pixel response time down to 8ms. But this performance increase isn't without its setbacks, as both screens use 6-bit hardware, employing colour dithering to try to match the appearance of an 8-bit screen. Typically speaking, you'll not notice the difference in colour depth in everyday work, but our colour ramp tests clearly showed stepping where the colour transitions should have been smooth, making them unsuitable for graphics work. Also interesting is how the colour stepping was compressed towards the bottom end of the scale, but expanded towards the top end, giving both displays a slightly bleached look.

That said, it's most likely that the gamers who'll be buying these screens will be more concerned with the absence of image trailing and blur during fast-moving action, and neither display disappoints in this regard. While small trails are visible if you look carefully, the smearing that's apparent on typical 16-20ms screens is almost absent here, making them both ideal for gameplay.

Another shortfall of fast panels is a reduced viewing angle, though the Syncmaster 913n is less affected by this, offering 160 degrees in both axes, while the FP71E+ falls behind with 140 degrees in the horizontal and 130 degrees for the vertical. At 300cd/m2, both products are equally bright, but the Samsung takes the lead for contrast ratio with an impressive 800:1 against the BenQ's still respectable 500:1.

Surprisingly, the 913n lacks a digital signal connector (DVI) where the FP71E+ has both VGA and DVI, but neither required manual adjustment to improve on their analog signal lock. That said, we found the FP71E+'s control interface to be less intuitive than the Syncmaster 913n's (though the latter is far from perfect) and the BenQ had a very strong red colour cast that needed manual adjustment to balance, even in its sRGB mode. We failed to find any notable streaking or ghosting in our high-contrast tests - though the BenQ did develop a dead pixel a few days into the review. Both products offer quick contrast/brightness/gamma settings for different tasks, like movie watching or Web browsing, and rescale non-native resolutions effectively.

The display you choose depends largely on your budget, but size and price differences aside, we found the Samsung Syncmaster 913n to be the better monitor of the two - particularly as it comes with a zero dead pixel warranty.

A speedy response

Response time describes the speed at which a pixel can change state from black to white and back again - often described as rise and fall. Slow response times result in blurring on the trailing edge of objects as they move around the screen. Don't be befuddled by reviews that confuse response time with refresh rate - it's actually a measurement of how quickly the pixels react once a refresh instruction is given.

In brief

Samsung Syncmaster 913n
An excellent monitor for gamers with high spending power, but still dogged by the colour limitations of high-speed LCDs.
Price: $999 Vendor: Samsung Electronics Phone: 1300 369 600 URL:www.samsung.com.au

BenQ FP71E+
A more cost-effective choice than the Samsung, but lacking the contrast ratio, viewing angles, screen size and neutral colour balance. Price: $699 Vendor: BenQ Phone: (02) 9714 6800 URL: www.benq.com.au

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Laurence Grayson

PC World
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