Samsung SyncMaster 2693HM 25.5" widescreenManufacturer: Samsung
UK Price (as reviewed): £319.00 (inc. VAT)
US Price (as reviewed): $479.99 (ex. Tax)
When it comes to PC monitors, size matters. But that doesn't necessarily mean bigger is always better. The key issue is the trade off between screen diagonal and native resolution. Bump up the screen size without increasing the resolution and the result is bigger, coarser pixels.
Unfortunately, that's an all too common ruse in the monitor market at the moment. Just about every widescreen display in the 23- to 28-inch range, for instance, currently sports a 1,920 x 1,200 pixel native resolution (though we should note that PC monitors with HDTV-esque 16:9 aspects and 1,920 x 1,080 pixel grids are expected to become increasingly common
over the next 12 months). Needless to say, at the top end of that range you're looking at some fairly fat pixels.
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For gaming, that's probably not a problem. It could even be viewed as a benefit in terms keeping a lid on 3D rendering loads. It's not a major drawback for video playback, either, since the availability of content coded in beyond-HD resolutions is slim to none. But for just about everything else you do with your PC, you could argue that increasing the screen diagonal without scaling the resolution up is at best of no benefit and at worst merely serves to degrade image quality and sharpness.
Certainly, without more pixels you can't see more of that webpage or get any closer to viewing that high resolution digital photo without scaling. Likewise, as pixels grow in size, fonts and other screen furniture become coarser and harsher on the eye.
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It's in that context that Samsung's rather oddball 2693HM model looks rather intriguing. Oddball, that is, because it sports a 25.5-inch screen diagonal despite being nominally a 26-inch monitor. That puts it towards the smaller end of the range of monitors currently offering the popular 1,920 x 1,200 16:10 aspect pixel grid.
In other words, this oddly-sized Sammy might just offer a great compromise between the drama of a really large LCD panel for gaming and movies and the clarity of a reasonably tight pixel pitch for web and Windows jockeying.