The big push in movies and displays has been 3D the past few years. In movies it’s ranged from well designed and executed (Avatar) to a gimmick to charge $4 more per ticket (many examples), but for gaming, it potentially has more direct benefits. Virtually every game now is rendered in 3D, and so all of the information is there that is needed to show the game in 3D to the user, unlike the fake 2D to 3D conversions that many films use. Running in active 3D also means a panel that works at a true 120Hz, so even your 2D image can benefit. Samsung sent us their latest 3D enabled 23" LCD for review, with built in support for AMD's HD3D solution.

Samsung S23A750D Design and Setup

The Samsung S23A750D (henceforth S23A) is certainly a slick looking monitor, but it is not a design without issues. Its angular central pedestal only provides tilt adjustment, with no swivel or height adjustment at all. The connectors on the rear of the pedestal are nicely arranged in a way that keeps everything close together and makes cable organization easy for the user. There are HDMI and DisplayPort connectors, and you’ll want to use DisplayPort here, as it’s the only way to get a 120Hz signal from your video card to the display. The one bad side about the port design is that Samsung uses an external power adapter, so be prepared to hide another power brick somewhere near your workstation.

The front controls on the pedestal are all touch sensitive, with Menu, Power, and 3D buttons at the top, and 4-way arrow keys with a central Enter button in the middle. This brings up one big issue that I had with the display, in that the Enter key is located far too close to the arrow keys and is nearly impossible to hit. The Enter key is also used to select the correct input, and for a couple of days I was not able to hit Enter to change from HDMI to DisplayPort. It turned out that trying to barely hit the button didn’t work and I had to use my whole thumb to hit it, but this would often hit the arrow keys instead of Enter.

Needless to say, this drove me absolutely crazy during the review period. It was hard to change inputs, to adjust anything on the OSD, and to really adjust anything with the display. I’d strongly suggest that Samsung spread out the buttons more, or make them actual tactile buttons, and possibly include a remote as well if they want to stay with the touch sensitive options. Since the monitor is also available in a configuration with a TV tuner integrated, the remote option makes the most sense as it would let them keep the look while making it easier to adjust.

The screen and bezel of the Samsung are very glossy in use, and I likely wouldn’t use it in a room where there was going to be a lot of lighting that would reflect off of it. While taking some pictures of content on the screen it was virtually impossible to get one without a reflection, so if reflections bother you easily then you might want to look elsewhere. The glossy finish gives the screen a good amount of pop as you would expect, but there are the reflections. Here's the overview of the specs and features for the S23A.

Samsung S23A750D
Video Inputs HDMI 1.4a, DisplayPort
Panel Type TN
Pixel Pitch 0.265 mm
Colors 16.7 million
Brightness 250 nits
Contrast Ratio 1,000:1
Response Time 2ms (GTG)
Viewable Size 23"
Resolution 1920 x 1080
Viewing Angle 170 H / 160 V
Backlight LED
Power Consumption (operation) 48W
Power Consumption (standby) 1W
Screen Treatment Ultra Clear Panel (Glossy)
Height-Adjustable No
Tilt Yes, 0-20 degrees
Pivot No
Swivel No
VESA Wall Mounting No
Dimensions w/ Base (WxHxD) 21.39" x 15.94" x 7.59"
Weight 9.26 lbs
Additional Features 120Hz input, 2D -> 3D Conversion, Active 3D, Headphone Out
Limited Warranty 1 Year
Accessories Active 3D Glasses, DisplayPort Cable
Price Available online starting at $435

The OSD system of the S23A would be fine if not for the issues with the touch sensitive buttons. All the settings you expect to see are there.

Sidenote: Display Testbed Upgrades

The harder point of setup for me was that I’m not a huge gamer, so I didn’t have a video card that would drive a game in 3D at reasonable frame rates, or that had a DisplayPort output on it. AMD was kind enough to send along a Radeon HD 6950 video card for the testing so nothing would hold back the performance of the display. On the other hand, AMD's current HD3D solution doesn't have quite the gaming support as NVIDIA's 3D Vision, but that's a matter for gamers. Considering the S23A specifically includes support for AMD's HD3D solution, testing with an AMD GPU makes the most sense. It's also worth noting that running games in 3D mode puts a much higher load on the GPU, just as with NVIDIA's 3D Vision, so you're not going to want to try 3D gaming with anything much lower than a 6950; that brings us to the next point.

Not surprisingly, upgrading to a high-end GPU meant my PSU wasn’t up to the task, but OCZ helped out with a ZX series 850W PSU to replace the anemic one I had installed. Installing this into the Antec P182 was a bit of an adventure thanks to all the dividers inside the Antec case, but it worked great once installed and ran even quieter than what I had installed previously. The OCZ is also a modular PSU, whereas my previous PSU had a fixed set of cables, and I found the change helpful when rewiring my case and adding the PEG connectors to the GPU. Here you can see the result of my upgrades if you're interested.

The main reason we mention this is that anyone considering upgrading to a 3D display for gaming purposes really needs to consider their other hardware as well. Serious gamers might have all the necessary equipment already, but casual gamers—as well as many typical OEM builds—could fall well short of the desired level of performance. Now with my PC upgraded and ready for 3D testing, let's see how the S23A performs.

Viewing Angles and Color Quality
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  • DanNeely - Monday, December 19, 2011 - link

    LCDs do have potential ghosting issues from other factors; this threads so busy arguing in the weeds that it's missing the whole point.
  • cjb110 - Sunday, December 18, 2011 - link

    Minor feedback, but I think it would be better if there was a more sensible order to the pictures. I'd expect to see overview shots first and then details like the ports on the back! It's not just this article either, a few have had an 'odd' order to the pictures.

    Also I'd drop the power supply tale... initially thought something had gone wrong and munged two articles together! When I re-read it I thought maybe you were trying to say I *needed* a decent PSU for this monitor...which made even less sense! Still not quite sure what PSU's have to do with monitors!
  • UzairH - Sunday, December 18, 2011 - link

    AT you have lately been reviewing TN monitors, including some pretty crappy ones, and I feel this is not helping to push the manufacturers towards introducing better quality panels (since I believe that AT reviews do have some influence on hardware manufacturers).

    The monitor industry has stagnated with a glut of TN panels and few IPS ones. Instead of progressing to higher resolutions and greater bit depth, what new IPS panels we are getting are actually 6-bit. It is ludicrous that the smartphones are getting higher resolutions than new notebooks and ultrabooks!
  • cactusdog - Sunday, December 18, 2011 - link

    Stop making ignorant comments please.

    120Hz is a technology breakthrough. It is the future, actually the future is here but some people are stuck in the past, and comparing monitors based on old technolgy.

    Most guys I know are selling their U2711's for this 120Hz monitor. If you're a gamer this monitor(or another 120hz monitor) is a must have.

    This monitor compares well and has better colours than most 6 bit IPS, so saying IPS is always better is wrong. Moving image quality on a 120Hz TN monitor is MUCH better than a 60Hz IPS or VA. It also has a much clearer panel.

    Sure, if you're a photographer or use cad, the higher resolution 8 Bit IPS are the way to go but as a gaming/media panel this is much better. The clear panel looks much better than Dell's crappy AG coating.

    It would be nice if they introduce some 120Hz IPS or VA panels but this monitor is much better than most on the market today.

    Anyway, Chris the reviewer must be new to Samsung menus, I dont have any problem with mine, but there is a knack to it that comes with experience.

    Also I'm not sure if you used frame sequencial 3D when testing the 3D, most reviewers use the wrong mode when testing 3D on a AMD card.

    Other reviewers have this monitor as the fastest ever tested for response time and lag, did you use the "faster" setting Chris?

    If you're a gamer and still on 60Hz you're missing out.
  • aranyagag - Sunday, December 18, 2011 - link

    I used to get annoyed whenever my dad used to say --" video games kill your brain cells" and would argue against it.
    Now if he said the same thing today I would say " I agree and they fry the cones (retina) too". I mean there are all these gamer panels, short (nothing taller than 16:9), low bit depth, Low resolution, TN panels. If gamers buy these there has to be something wrong with their retina as well as their neurons.
  • Pantsu - Sunday, December 18, 2011 - link

    I don't know what's the deal with AT articles these days, but I jumped into this one straight from a RSS link, and it just jumped straight into action without any introduction whatsoever. I know there's a brief introductory piece on the front page, but I kinda miss a proper introduction chapter.

    This article as a whole seemed quite rushed, and didn't cover even all the basics. It's nice that there's calibration tests, but it didn't even mention that the monitor comes with Samsung's 3D glasses and Tridef software was only briefly mentioned in the conclusion. Overall the 3D section of the review was quite lacking.

    I do agree the capacitive touch buttons on monitors are annoying in general and unresponsive at times, but at least this one had them illuminated, unlike my older LG 120 Hz panel, where the capacitive buttons were impossible to detect other than in perfect lighting conditions.

    After a month or two of using this monitor I'd go as far as say it's probably the best 23" 120 Hz monitor out there at the moment. The only big problem is the glossy reflections, you really need to think about your room lighting before you buy a glossy monitor. Also the lack of physical adjustments might scare off some people. Other than that the Samsung panel doesn't have the viewing angle problems as bad as most TN. It works perfectly as my center monitor for my Eyefinity setup since it has thin bezels too.
  • ananduser - Sunday, December 18, 2011 - link

    They should take a page out of Xbit Labs' monitor reviews.
  • cheinonen - Sunday, December 18, 2011 - link

    Thanks for the feedback. I'll work on making it so the review isn't so rushed at the start when coming from an RSS feed, though I don't want to have redundant information for people coming from the front page either. When the monitor was setup and in use, I really enjoyed it, but the controls on my unit were so sensitive and often unresponsive that it led me to hate to adjust it, which was a huge issue in the end. While performance is undoubtedly important, poor ergonomics and UI can make even the best product something you wouldn't want to use on a daily basis.

    I'm trying to get out of a backlog of displays for review so everything in the future will be as fresh as possible, but I'll make sure to be more careful than usual on the next few reviews so that any issues with readability or captions are fixed. It's also always a fine line between making assumptions about what needs to be explained in detail (such as 3D) and what can be assumed as common knowledge, as many people don't want to slog through a 5,000 word review that goes into depth about things that most people might already know. Getting feedback on what was too detailed, and what was lacking, makes future reviews better as we can properly tailor them to what people expect.
  • aranyagag - Sunday, December 18, 2011 - link

    I agree the article seemed very abrupt. I also jumped to it via an RSS then went to the home page of AT and back again -- I though I had missed a page or 2.
  • Starzty - Sunday, December 18, 2011 - link

    Does the monitor not support 3d through HDMI using 3D Vision? You can usually force a 120hz signal through HDMI even on 3dtv displays. I have never heard of 120hz only through displayport before

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