The Good: Ultra widescreen display; sleek design
The Bad: No built-in speakers; will leave you with little to no desk space
The Bottom Line: A strong monitor for those in need of extra real estate, but impractical for everyday home use
The U.S. is quickly becoming a land of extremes. We either like our gadgets extremely small, as in the case of Apple's (AAPL) iPod, or ridiculously oversized, like the Hummer H2. This drive toward extremes is also quite visible in the world of computer monitors, where screens range from a few inches to more than a few feet.
A perfect example of a monitor on the large end of that range is the Samsung SyncMaster 305T. Boasting a 30-in. widescreen display, this model is quite a sight to behold. But bigger does not always equal better. If your work demands an enlarged viewing area and extra space, then this is a monitor for you. If you're hunting for a monitor on which to compose e-mail, take a pass on this one.
Half of the battle with a monitor this size is removing it from the box. After opening the top and realizing the scope of the task at hand, I needed a moment to compose the most practical plan possible. Instead of being smart and asking for help, I went it alone. I maneuvered my hands around the monitor, gently slid it from beneath its protective bubble wrap and awkwardly placed it on the desk in front of me. Unlike with the NEC (see BusinessWeek.com, 12/22/06, "A Monitor for All Seasons") and Gateway (GTW) (see BusinessWeek.com, 12/18/06, "This Gateway's Good to Go"), I did in fact break a sweat. Between the 30-in. display and the base, I had my hands full, literally.
Luckily, I did not need to do very much in the way of setup for this monitor as it came preassembled. After 30 minutes, I was good to go. Be warned though, the Samsung SyncMaster 305T requires a DVI connection. An Apple MacBook Pro would work fine, but a Dell (DELL) Latitude D600 or Apple MacBook won't help you. Before you purchase this monitor be sure to look into any possible connectivity issues that may arise.
Once in action, the SyncMaster 305T is, in a word, impressive. The screen smoothly slides up, down, and out, allowing users to customize their viewing experience. But they may also quickly realize that this monitor will monopolize most, if not all, of their desk space. If you work with multiple programs and/or windows open at once, then a display of this size makes sense. The 30 inches of viewable real estate, widescreen design, and 2,560 x 1,600 resolution make it ideal for graphic-design, engineering and other professional applications. Otherwise, this monitor seems a bit extreme. Typing an ordinary Microsoft Word document was fine, though after a few minutes of staring intently at a screen of this size, my head was spinning.
But have no fear; the Samsung SyncMaster 305T does take advantage of its size in one important respect. It combines its 30-in. screen with a crisp display, so users will enjoy video playback of the highest quality. While the monitor doesn't play video games as well as the NEC, its display is impeccable. The movie Airplane looked great, although sitting too close is not advised.
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On the other hand, Sierra's hit game F.E.A.R.: First Encounter Assault Recon didn't scare me nearly as much as it did on the gamer-driven NEC model. Whereas the movie playback was crisp, the video-game display left something to be desired. Another area where the SyncMaster doesn't stack up to its competitors is in the sound department. This Samsung offering does not come with speakers, making it less conducive to a home-entertainment setup.
Its lack of speakers and bulk aside, the SyncMaster 305T scores a coup when compared to other oversized monitors. Samsung clearly has recognized that when going big, the design must be clean and minimal. Anything less will leave you with a monitor so obtrusive you wouldn't know what to do with it.
My advice if you're shopping for a monitor this big: Know exactly how you'll use it. You shouldn't buy a monitor this large for size alone—it's far too bulky. If your work requires it, then by all means go for this behemoth, but if you get a headache composing an e-mail, don't say I didn't warn you. Plus, with a hefty $1,999.99 price tag, being sure you need it becomes all the more important.