I tried, unsuccessfully, to use an HDTV as my main computer display in the past. Although the specs of that Sony HDTV were superb, its brightness and contrast levels were made for a TV, not a computer display, and it gave me headaches when I stood close to it, as I would when I’d work at my computer. Things have a way of working out though. One of the commenters on my HDTV post, Adam Juntunen, pointed me to something that might just work for my needs.
Samsung has come up with a product that is made to work as both a display and an HDTV. It’s the first such product that I’ve heard of: the T260HD, a 26″ widescreen computer display and HDTV. The T260HD is part of a line-up of four monitors which includes the T200HD (20″), T220HD (22″) and the T240HD (24″).
What sets the T260HD apart for me is the fact that it was made to fulfill both functions from the factory. Although I haven’t used it (yet), my hope is that the Samsung engineers accounted for the difference in display characteristics that is needed when one uses it as a computer display vs. a TV. What is heartening for me is that it’s listed among the computer displays, not the HDTVs, on the Samsung website, which means it’s really more of a computer display than an HDTV, which is just what I need.
The design makes this display stand out. The enclosure is made of glossy black plastic, and it looks as if there’s a clear panel of glass set over the front of the display, which should make it easy to clean. A hint of maroon color marks the bottom of the enclosure, right below the logo, giving it a distinctive look. I do hope though that the glossy black plastic doesn’t scuff easily. Other Samsung TVs do scuff over time, which means that as you dust them, small hair-width scratches appear on the plastic, marring its glow.
The specs listed on the Samsung website are thin on the details, and I can’t make out whether its color depth is 8-bit, 10-bit or 12-bit. My guess, given its price, is that it’s 8-bit or 10-bit — probably the former, not the latter. Color depth in a display is a very important specification, because if you work with photos, like I do, and your DSLR captures 12-bit or 14-bit color images, you won’t be able to edit them competently on a display whose color depth capabilities are much lower. A 6-bit display, for example, like many laptops have, would be fairly useless to you, because it just won’t reproduce the color tones faithfully.
Let’s have a look at some of the salient features of this display:
- Full HDTV monitor: that’s good, and also to be expected since it’s a computer display as well, and its resolution is 1900 x 1200 pixels.
- Dolby Digital Surround sound: it has invisible speakers built in, and they’re rated at 3 W each; I’ve heard these types of speakers on other Samsung products, and they’re pretty good — certainly a lot better than most monitor speakers.
- Dual HDMI, DVI and VGA inputs: that’s impressive for a 26″ display. I see that Samsung didn’t skimp and even included a SCART connector for the European countries. I love that.
- Low power consumption: one spec says it uses 0.3W in Standby mode, yet another says it uses < 2W in that same mode. At any rate, it only uses 70 W max, and that’s great for a 26″ display.
- 10,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio: I think this spec is trumped up, as I see it on a lot of other, cheaper displays and TVs. I have no idea what it means. Supposedly, the increased contrast between light and dark helps you see things better. I’ll be the judge of that when I try it in person. I see that the Apple Cinema Displays are listed at a 700:1 contrast ratio, which I think is a much more reasonable figure.
- 5 ms response time: this is a little sluggish given that most displays in that size are at 3 ms. Still, it’s better than the Apple Cinema Displays, which are still listed at 14 ms. I think 5 ms is sufficient for most movies and video games, but then I’m not into the violent, fast-paced video games.
- 300 cd/m² brightness: this isn’t as bright as other displays in the same sizes, which are at 400-700 cd/m², but you know what, I’d rather not have headaches caused by too much brightness, so this should be fine for me.
What I’ve seen so far of this monitor has certainly whet my appetite, and I’d love to try it out for myself. If and when I do, I’ll let you know how it works out.
Photos used courtesy of Samsung.