Not content with looking at simply one LED monitor, I sourced a competing product from Samsung and managed to obtain the 23″ XL2370 which also runs at 1920×1080.
I’ll come right up and say that the Samsung XL2370 is the inferior product in many respects, and it’s evident that either the Samsung brand has leant it an artificially high price tag or the slightly higher picture quality is a costly addition, as this 23″ display will set you back around £280, which is about £30 more than the larger LG.
Let’s go into a bit of detail, shall we?
It’s only far to attempt to break down and tick the same boxes I was interested in when looking at the LG W2486L, these break down into Looks, Features, Inputs, Picture and an overall mulling. So here we go.
The Samsung is a tough one to call, it’s certainly aesthetically pleasing but is a slight detachment from the simply black Samsung of a year or so ago. The display has a transparent edging to the bezel which is about 6mm wide and seems to serve little purpose other than making the bezel larger than it needs to be. The transparency is a poor imitation of Sony’s “floating glass” style which, in turn, was probably an imitation of something else. It’s not executed terribly well but I can’t really say it looks bad. I would, however, prefer a solid, uninterrupted black front without even the SAMSUNG logo, but apparently products need to continue to market themselves to us even after we’ve bought them…
The screen suffers from the same deeply-inset-into-the-bezel problem I complained about with the LG, however Samsung have built the whole thing out of extra super shiny plastic which makes for quite an attractive reflection effect. The dock, for example, is reflected in the bottom edge of the monitor, the finder bar in the top, and anything close to the left and right edges also gets reflected. It’s probably unintentional, but makes for a nice aesthetic touch.
Like the LG, the Samsung XL2370 has a strange hint of colour on the “neck.” This time it’s blue, and the stand itself is transparent with a black plastic base that features the same transparent plastic rim as the display bezel itself. The stand flows very nicely into the transparent part and generally looks really nice.
The lights on the front of the display are very tastefully done, much better than the LG. The power indicator is extremely toned down and subtle, making it the least overpowering power indicator I’ve ever seen on the front of a monitor. It’s almost as if a portion of the plastic is, itself, glowing.
The touch sensitive buttons are where it really shines though. Unlike the LG they are actually back-lit, and clearly visible in any lighting conditions. The same subtle LEDs light them, and the backlighting can be turned off by default, coming on in response to a touch. Not only are the options easier to see, but the function of each button is clearer.
The Samsung XL2370 is pretty well endowed when it comes to features. It lacks a USB hub, which is missable, and makes up with this shortfall with a great compliment of display pre-sets which are easy to access and switch between with a single button. These include settings for Text viewing, Internet, Game, Sport, Movie and a Dynamic Contrast setting which does actually make a noticeable difference to the picture contrast.
Absolutely trumping The LGs audio output the Samsung XL2370 has both digital optical and analogue audio out, it’s just absolutely tragic that there’s only one HDMI port. Yes. Just one..
The Samsung XL2370 would be pretty good for a games console/PC combination, but you can’t plug anything more into it without an HDMI switcher- a costly requirement for an already costly display.
Well, I’ve blown this one already above. The Samsung XL2370 has one DVI input and one HDMI input. There’s no additional HDMI, no VGA, no analogue inputs of any kind. It’s a bit sad, really, as it can’t be that difficult or costly to toss extra digital inputs onto a monitor, and with the ticket price of the Samsung being on the high side it would be nice to have something other than a good picture and digital audio pass-through (something that’s entirely redundant on a monitor with one input anyway) to justify the cash.
And that bracketed point is a good one, if I may say so myself. The audio out on the LG is important simply because it has two HDMI inputs, letting you switch from one console to another without having to physically plug cables around or switch a setting on an audio subsystem. With just one HDMI input you might just as well run your audio out of the PS3/Xbox 360 via Tos-link (possible with both consoles) and straight into your sound system. That’s if you’re using digital at all and not just jacking in a pair of headphones. The analogue audio out is still valid as it’s necessary for jacking in headphones but the digital, with one HDMI port, is just a pointless extra step in your sound signal path necessitating yet another cable running into your monitor and not directly to your sound system.
The Samsung XL2370 does actually have a VGA input if your computer is sufficiently archaic enough to warrant one… or if it’s a netbook that didn’t quite arrive recently enough to have HDMI. A cable is supplied that adapts the DVI port on the Samsung to become VGA… a disturbingly sad waste of a decent digital input.
The picture on the Samsung XL2370 is where it really shines. If there’s any justification for that steep price tag then this is it, and that’s only when you’re enough of a videophile to warrant the better black detail, slightly better gradient performance and better OSD pre-sets that the Samsung XL2370 has to offer. In short, it’s got a stunning picture for a non IPS display and I can only lament that the cheaper LG doesn’t have the same. If I were buying one of these displays, though, the relatively minor increase in picture quality that the Samsung has over the LG wouldn’t win out in the face of its thorough input nerfing.
There’s no nonsense in the OSD, no silly fun or smart modes, simply the one-touch ability to switch between MagicBright presets (okay perhaps that’s “Smart” in another guide) and quick access to the brightness level. It’s a better, more concise and easier to navigate OSD than the LG and, in fact, many displays that I’ve come across.
There’s no denying that this is a great monitor with good looks, a good picture and well thought out design. The trouble is that it lacks inputs and has a price tag sufficiently high enough to make it a very hard product to recommend. If you’re a Samsung brand-loyalist with deep pockets and an eye for detail, however, you’ll love this screen… it’s so slim and so light that you can detach it from its stand and use it like a giant, non touchscreen iPad…. yeah, I went there. Savastore have the Samsung XL2370 for £275.70, only £37.25 more expensive than the LG W2486L. A good buy if inputs don’t matter to you!