With an over-saturated LCD monitor market it's hard for manufacturers to differentiate their products from others - there is only so low a response time and so high a dynamic contrast ratio you can claim before people just stop paying attention to those figures.

Korean consumer electronics giant Samsung, however, have found a way to distinguish themselves in the mainstream market with their recently released F2380 LCD.

The key point of difference in the F2380 is the type of panel it uses. The "panel" is the part of the screen which turns light from the fluorescent backlight into the bright and dark pixels you see on screen, so it is of fairly crucial importance.

Almost all LCD monitors under the $500 mark will use what is called a Twisted Nematic (TN) panel. TN panels are cheap to produce and offer very low response times (great for gaming), but suffer from narrow viewing angles, low contrast ratios and lacklustre colour accuracy (not so great for graphic design and photo editing).

The F2380, on the other hand, uses a Vertical Alignment panel, or cPVA to be specific. VA panels in general are praised for having higher contrast ratios, wider viewing angles and better colour reproduction, at the expense of slower response times, colour shifting, processing lag and increased cost. This puts them more in the realm of graphics designers and photo editors, however most professionals in these areas would opt for the even more expensive and higher image quality of In-Place Switching (IPS) panels.

So where does the Samsung F2380 fit into the scheme of things? Is it a cheap professional screen, an expensive gaming screen, or somewhere in between? We put one through its paces to find out...

Features

On paper, the F2380 seems fairly high spec. The 23" 1920x1080 screen has a claimed 178 degree horizontal and vertical viewing angle, a massive 3000:1 static contrast ratio (and 150,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio, if you buy into that rating at all), a so-so 250 nit typical brightness and decidedly slow 8ms response time (although the proof is really in the pudding when you are looking at response times). Samsung also claim that the screen can reproduce 100% of the sRGB colour space, something you won't get from a TN panel.

Connections are slim pickings with two DVI inputs and one VGA input being your only options. No HDMI, USB or audio throughputs here - it's clear that this is intended as a business machine. The bezel has a practical dull matte black finish which also indicates that this screen isn't aimed at the mass market consumer.

What it lacks in glamour however is made up for in usability with a full tilt and pivot stand. The ultra-slim bezel is also good for stacking two or monitors next to each other in a multi-monitor setup, however without a Displayport connection you will be limited to two monitors per card if you are trying to use Eyefinity technology on an ATI 5000 series graphics card.

Samsung are typically above average when it comes to this quality and the F2380 is no exception. The screen has some reassuring heft to it and the stand is good and sturdy. The controls buttons are also quite heavy duty, if a little awkwardly placed long the bottom of the panel.

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