Objective Image Quality
With the XL30's bleeding edge specifications, panel and backlight it would be a major disappointment if didn't blitz our objective suite of image quality tests. Fortunately, it did just that for the most part.
It dispatches basic tests such a smooth colour gradient rendering with nonchalant ease. Likewise it puts in a fantastic performance in the white scale saturation test and shows very strong extension in the black level test, too. There's absolutely bags of detail in the colour scales. All in all, there's nary a whiff of compression or loss of image data. The viewing angles are another strong point with good off centre colour stability and a particularly impressive lack of black tone inversion.
More of a mixed bag is pixel response. Given this dislay's pro-market target, you might have expected Samsung to lean strongly in favour of static accuracy and decline the use of overdrive technology. However, the XL30 does betray slight evidence of inverse ghosting with certain colour transitions.
That suggests some form of overdrive technology has been implemented. Samsung makes no mention of it in the marketing material, but whatever the technology being used, it's probably pretty unaggressive. On the downside, that means the XL30's pixel response is pretty ordinary. On the upside, it means it doesn't suffer from significant input lag like so many aggressively overdriven PVA monitors.
Subjective Image Quality
It's a little more than a year since Dell stuck an upgraded IPS panel and wide gamut CCFL backlight in the 3007WFP and created the 3007WFP-HC. Back then we'd have found it hard to believe a 30-inch display would appear any time soon that was capable of making the vibrant new HC model look dull, dingy and discoloured.
But that's exactly what the XL30 does. Of course, thanks to the PVA panel the strong colour saturation and contrast are no surprise. Indeed, Samsung's cheaper 305T 30-incher sports those advantages too. What you might not be prepared for is the sheer purity of light the XL30 pumps out. It really puts the CCFL tubes found in most monitors to shame.
White tones are incredibly crisp, clean and bright, but without even a whiff of burning, harshness or excessive coolness in terms of colour temperature. As for the subjective colour balance, it's pretty bloody marvelous: rich, neutral and extremely natural.
Side-by-side with the likes of a 3007WFP-HC, HD video is significantly more vibrant and realistic, while the strong contrast and deep black tones delivered by the PVA panel further add to the XL30's video playback qualities, but we unfortunately found some midly annoying cases of inverse ghosting in a few high-motion test scenes.
And while on the subject of pixel response, it's probably best characterised as good enough. The inverse ghosting artefacting is really only visible on close inspection. And while the XL30 does not remain as sharp as the best TN displays when showing motion video or games, it's hardly sluggish.
That said, we should point out that the LED backlight is not actually hugely powerful as the overall brightness rating of 200cd/m² suggests. Again, this is a monitor designed to be used at close quarters and deliver accuracy rather than burn your retinas from 100 paces. But at least the LED backlight's long-life properties should mean that brightness loss over time is a non-issue.
Following the battery of tests sat next to a 3007WFP-HC, we measured it up against NEC's LCD3090WQXi. Opinion was split in the office, but the XL30's colour vibrancy gave it a slight margin for victory. Even despite the relatively low brightness rating, the XL30's colours were incredibly vibrant after calibration and that's a testament to the technology Samsung has employed here - we thought the LCD3090WQXi was an accurate display, but this puts even that to shame.