Objective Image Quality

Absolute objective image quality is rarely a strong point for TN+Film panels and so it proves for Samsung's SyncMaster 2693HM monitor. The viewing angles are very ordinary with fairly epic colour inversion taking place at even moderate angles. Black tones also rapidly wash out which isn't ideal for watching movies or playing games that major on darker scenes or environments.

Moving onto the black and white scales, at default gamma settings, white tones are severely crushed and lacking in detail. Blacks are admittedly a little better but as we'll see in the subjective section, they take a beating when the gamma is adjusted to offset the panel's innate lack of contrast.

In terms of absolute accuracy and fidelity, the 2693HM's colours are also, quite frankly, all over the shop. Better news comes in the form of the backlighting which is strong and pleasingly clean and consistent. As you would expect with a TN panel, the 2693HM also puts in a good showing in the pixel response test with some fairly impressive stability apparent.

Samsung SM2693HM 25.5 Samsung SM2693HM 25.5
Samples from the Lagom LCD test page

Subjective Image Quality

Out of the box the 2693HM's TN underpinnings are immediately apparent. Colours are washed out and clearly quite compressed and the overall effect is watery and lacking in depth and solidity. Sadly, a dive into the OSD menu with a view to patching things up will only get you so far. The options don't offer quite as much flexibility and range as you really need.

It's therefore the graphics driver to which you must turn to get the best out of this typically wonky TN+Film panel. The key tweak that needs to be made is to the gamma plane. Once suitably adjusted, the image is much more punchy and vibrant. However, the overall improvement does come at the cost of detail in very dark tones which must be brutally crushed to dial out the watery default balance.

Samsung SM2693HM 25.5 Samsung SM2693HM 25.5
Click to enlarge

For most tasks, that's not a major problem. But it does strip significant detail out of dark movie and game scenes. Factor in the generally poor black levels and you have a recipe for a pretty mediocre multimedia panel by some metrics.

Still, for brighter sequences and your average Technicolor frag fest, the lack of dark tone contrast and colour accuracy is less of a burden. What you do get is a dramatically proportioned panel with bags of brightness and zippy pixel response. It may not be subtle, but it does pack a punch. Crucially, if you've got to the stage where a 24-inch monitor seems a little ordinary, you'll definitely appreciate the extra inches offered up by the 2693HM. It feels much bigger than a boggo 24 incher.

But not, thankfully, at the cost of pixel coarseness. In fact, the subjective feel of the pixel pitch isn't that far removed from a 24-inch panel. The 2693HM will be sharp enough for all but the most discerning eyes.
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