Samsung 971P
Simon Baker, 23 Feb 2007




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The Samsung 971P was shown at CEBIT last year, and was immediately noticed for it's unique design and adjustability. The 971P is available in either white or black versions and offers a glossy finish to the plastics which form the versatile stand and relatively thin bezel. Not only does the display offer an impressive appearance, but it features an excellent spec on paper. Nowadays, it is quite rare for manufacturers to use technology other than TN Film in the 19" market, but the 971P makes use of Samsung's own PVA panel:



Colour Depth

16.7 million colours


1280 x 1024

Viewing Angles

178 / 178

Response Time

6ms G2G

Panel Technology


Contrast Ratio



DVI-I (Analogue and Digital)


250 cd/m2


Black or White

Special Features

Extremely diverse stand, rotate, tilt and height adjustable. 2x USB 2.0 Ports. MagicColor, MagicBright2, MagicTune with Asset Management, MagicRotation (Auto Pivot)




Above: Normal front view (left) and rotated into portrait mode (right)
Below: Rear view of the screen



It was hard not to fall immediately in love with the design of the 971P as I set it up on my desk. The stand is extremely versatile, and the glossy finish of the plastic looks very attractive. The range of positions possible from the tilt adjustment was very impressive and the monitor was very easy to set up at a suitable level for every day use. The screen can be easily tilted from a vertical position to as far back as you like, in fact the screen comes packaged completely folded down (as shown below), so the range of motion is very good. The height adjustment is a little limited, but at least there is some variation there to offer. The movement is smooth and well balanced and the rotation feature is also easy to use. One minor thing which was a little annoying with the rotation is that when you move it back to the landscape mode, there is a point at which the rotation is automatically restricted so you know when you're back at a normal level. However, this is a little too far on the 971P and so if you move it back all the way, it actually rotates a little too far and you have to fiddle with the angle to get it level.


While the glossy plastic finish of the screen looks nice, it can show finger prints up quite easily when you move the screen around, and taking pictures was a little tricky due to reflections. Samsung however, have provided a small cloth to wipe the screen and keep it smudge free, which is a thoughtful touch. The screen itself uses traditional matt finish AR, rather than any glossy finish, coating.


Above: Animation showing stand functionality

Above: Side views and various tilt and height adjustments
Below: Folded down (not all the way either!)


The monitor features an external power brick, and as such, the DC input to the back of the monitor is discreet and well hidden. The monitor features only a single interface which is cleverly hidden underneath a section of the base, with a small opening at the back where the cable can lead out. The interface available is a DVI-I connection which means you can connect it to your PC using either a DVI > DVI cable, or using a VGA > DVI cable. Both are provided in the box. One minor complaint I have about the hidden DVI-I interface is that it leaves no room for a DVI cable with a plastic section to it (as shown below), so I could not use the DVI cable I already had connected to my PC from my main monitor.


Above: Showing DC power connection at the back of the stand along with 2x USB 2.0 ports (and USB upstream)

Above left: Underside of stand showing DVI-I connection and groove
Above right: DVI cable with plastic section on cord not suitable for this screen

Above: Power button on edge of stand, and illuminated blue when turned on.

The power button is touch sensitive and located on the side of the stand. This button glows blue when the monitor is turned on which looks very nice. There is also a single button on the opposite end of the stand which can be used to operate a few functions. If you hold this button down while you turn the screen on, you can choose to set this button to operate 'MagicBright', 'MagicColor', 'auto adjust' (runs analogue auto image adjust), 'source select' (digital vs analogue) and 'Color Tone' (cool, normal, warm). Probably the most functional option is to have this single button cycle between the MagicBright preset modes, which can be quite handy for movie viewing and gaming.


Above: MagicTune software used to calibrate RGB and other settings instead of using an OSD

Apart from 'power' and 'select', the 971P doesn't feature any further buttons to operate the screen. Instead you need to install and use Samsung's MagicTune software to operate the equivalent of the OSD. All the settings for colour, brightness, contrast, analogue/digital etc are software controlled. I'm of two minds about this personally. On the one hand, the software was easy to operate and proved efficient in setting up the screen correctly. It made calibration of the screen with the LaCie Blue Eye Pro pretty simple and it also meant the monitor was clean and free from extra operational buttons. On the other hand, you can't do anything with the settings without software, so you have no choice really but to install the MagicTune package. I would have liked the option to do either really and it limits the monitors 'plug and go' feeling.


Colour Quality and Accuracy

The Samsung 971P utilises an 8-bit Samsung PVA panel, capable of producing a 16.7 million colour palette. The standard CCFL backlighting used offers a gamut covering 72% of the NTSC colour space. An important thing to consider for most users is how a screen will perform out of the box and with some basic manual adjustments. Since most users won't have access to hardware colorimeter tools, it is important to understand how the screen is going to perform in terms of colour accuracy for the average user. I restored my graphics card to default settings and set it to its standard profile. The Samsung 971P was tested at default factory settings out of the box using the LaCie Blue Eye Pro and their accompanying software suite.

Default settings of the screen were 100 brightness, 75 contrast ratio, and 50 for each of the RGB values (as detailed in the MagicTune software).

Samsung 971P - Default Settings


Default Settings

Brightness (cd/m2)


Black Point (cd/m2)


Contrast Ratio


Out of the box the screen looked a little too bright, but not as much as I have experienced with some other displays, it wasn't too over-bearing. This is probably owing to the modest 250 cd/m2 brightness specification of the display and even at 100% brightness setting, the screen was usable. Colours actually looked pretty good and there was no obvious tendancy towards any particular shade. The LaCie Blue Eye Pro showed a pretty decent result, with an accurate gamma level (2.1), decent colour temperature of 6175k (we were aiming for 6500k here) and a good representation of the sRGB colour space. Luminance was recorded at 237 cd/m2, which was fairly close to the specified maximum value achievable for the screen. This was obviously a fair way off from the desired 120 cd/m2 luminance suitable for LCD screens in normal lighting conditions, but remained usable in practice. Black depth was very impressive measuring at 0.14 cd/m2 even at 100% brightness setting. This gave an extremely high 1692:1 contrast ratio, and this without any dynamic contrast technologies being used!

The graph on the right shows the DeltaE values for colours tested by the LaCie Blue Eye Pro. As a reminder, the lower these bars down the Y-axis, the better, in terms of colour accuracy. For reference, LaCie describe the DeltaE readings as:

  • If DeltaE >3, the color displayed is significantly different from the theoretical one, meaning that the difference will be perceptible to the viewer.

  • If DeltaE <2, LaCie considers the calibration a success; there remains a slight difference, but it is barely undetectable.

  • If DeltaE < 1, the color fidelity is excellent.

The 971P showed a fairly good result here considering out of the box default settings were being used. Average DeltaE was only 2.9, a drastic difference to default colour accuracy of other screens I have tested, including the S-IPS based (and well regarded) NEC 20WGX2 for instance. Samsung have done a good job here with default colour accuracy, and to the eye, there didn't seem like much needed changing either, other than perhaps lowering the brightness a touch to suit the ambient lighting conditions.

Samsung 971P -
Calibrated Results


Calibrated Settings

Brightness (cd/m2)


Black Point (cd/m2)


Contrast Ratio


During calibration the screen was changed to 60% brightness and 70% contrast using the MagicTune software. After calibration the luminance, gamma and colour temperature were  more accurate and the monitor covered the sRGB gamut range more evenly. DeltaE was on average reduced to 0.5 offering excellent colour accuracy as measured by LaCie. The maximum DeltaE was only 1.6 and so any slight difference between the desired colour, and produced colour was barely detectable. While the default colour accuracy was fairly good, improvements are possible with correct calibration and the 971P was very good in this regard.

Black depth was recorded at 0.1 cd/m2 and with the luminance now set at 120 cd/m2, this gave a usable contrast ratio of 1200:1. Again, this was very impressive and the black depth of the PVA panel used is very good. In practice the colours looked vibrant and well respresented, and contrast was excellent. Colour gradients were pretty smooth with no obvious banding and only slight gradation in darker tones.


Viewing Angles

Above: (top) Viewing angles shown from front and sides
(bottom)  from above and from below

Being PVA based, one could expect good viewing angles from the 971P. This was the case in practice, as shown by the pictures above. Viewing angles were superior to those of TN Film panels, especially vertically, but remained a little behind those of S-IPS based screens. The panel did exhibit the characteristic contrast shift of VA based matrices as you move your line of sight away from a perpendicular view. This was minor, and not something I personally find an issue in normal use. Some users have commented that VA panels are difficult to use for colour critical work, but I think it is wise to see a VA panel in person before you decide whether it will suit your own needs. Viewing angles of the 971P were perfectly adequate for movie viewing and there was no off-putting colour temperature shift as you move your line of sight vertically as I have experienced on some TN Film based models.


Panel Uniformity

Above: panel uniformity of a black screen in darkened room. Click for full size

In a darkened room, there was some uniformity issues with the 971P, and backlight bleed was detectable from each of the 4 corners. This is somewhat exagerated in the above image, but gives an idea of the screens backlight eveness. In pratice, this wasn't a major distraction really, but was a little disappointing.

Office and Windows Use

The 971P offered a sharp image when using both analogue and digital connections. Remember, the screen itself only features a single DVI-I connection and so the signal type is determined by the interface selected on the graphics card. There was perhaps a very slight improvement with DVI in picture quality, but once auto adjustment had been used in VGA mode, the image was sharp and clear. The monitors rotation feature is easy to use, and along with MagicRotation software (discussed below), this makes the screen genuinely quite usable in either portrait or landscape. I personally feel that 19" is perhaps a sensible limit for using a rotation feature, as larger screens become a little unusable in portrait mode, and moving them around is often difficult. The 5:4 aspect ratio of the 971P meant that it was not possible to run windows side by side for multitasking, and I really feel you need a 20"WS or larger model to achieve this properly. Once you've used a WS format screen of 20" or above, it's hard to adjust back to only having a small 5:4 aspect desktop to work with. However, I won't hold that against this screen since it isn't designed to offer this functionality. The screen's viewing angles and excellent contrast make it suitable for office applications and photo / colour work. Colour accuracy is good and the modest lumincance is suitable for comfortable office use, without excessive brightness and the risk of eye strain.

Responsiveness and Gaming

Above: PixPerAn testing showing best case (left) and worst case (right) images captured with a camera on fastest shutter speed

Despite the quoted 6ms G2G response time of the 971P, I didn't feel the screen had really made any real improvements in responsiveness compared with the Dell 2405FPW which uses a 12ms G2G rated PVA panel. In PixPerAn tests in clone mode, the 971P actually showed slightly more obvious blur of the moving image, and it was also certainly a step behind modern S-IPS and TN Film panels. In gaming, this was also evident, with motion blur being comparable to the older PVA generation, and not competing with the smooth appearance of models such as the NEC 20WGX2 and LG L1980TQ I've tested in the past. Having said that, in practice the screen was usable in some gaming conditions, and I found it adequate in many cases. However, I would suggest it probably isn't as suitable as some other 19" models for FPS gaming or for those who are 'pro gamers'. It appears that Samsung haven't really made any major improvements in responsivenss of their 19" PVA panels, and so if you're wanting a gaming screen, perhaps something like the LG L1980TQ might be more suitable, or some of the other highly regarded 19" models like the ViewSonic VX922 for example.

Movies and Video

The Samsung 971P performed pretty well in movie tests using Microsoft's HD content. There was some twinkling from close range, but colours looked vivid and black depth was impressive. I was actually quite please with it's performance in this regard, and certainly from a metre or two away there was no real problem with watching movies on the screen. The panel uniformity issues were noticeable in some circumstances, but not overly obtrusive. The 5:4 format of the screen is not ideal for movie viewing, but the PVA panel technology is a nice change from TN Film in the 19" market. At least PVA offers decent viewing angles for multiple person viewing. Particularly important here I find is the vertical viewing angle, allowing you to watch comfortably from a distance without needing to worry too much about the distracting contrast shift shown vertically on TN based models. Combine the decent viewing angles with a good contrast and black depth, and I was quite happy with the 971P's performance here.


Bundled Software

The Samsung 971P came with several pieces of software on the accompanying CD including MagicTune, MagicRotation and Natural Color Pro:

MagicRotation installs a plugin which means that when you rotate the screen between landscape and portrait modes, the image is automatically (after a second or two) rotated with it. This is obviously pretty handy if you think you might use the rotate function much, and with a screen as flexible as this, and at a small enough size, this is a realistic possibility. The MagicRotation software also integrates into the right click functionality of Windows as shown below for manual adjustments.

Above: MagicRotation integration into Windows right click menus

MagicTune I mentioned a little earlier as well. This is used to control all the settings of the monitor, and on this particular model, it is used in place of any OSD control from buttons on the monitor. You can set up brightness, contrast and RGB colour levels as well as selecting the interface used (analogue vs digital) and selecting any of the preset 'MagicBright' settings. A handy configuration tool and easy enough to use.

Above: Natural Color Pro software for monitor calibration and profiling

Natural Color Pro offers the user the ability to calibrate their screen through a series of steps as well as create an ICM profile for their set up. I had no real cause to use this, having the LaCie Blue Eye Pro available, but did try it out. It made no real difference in hardware colorimeter testing but did help a little to make the gamma level more accurate and the colours more even. If you don't have access to any hardware tools, this is a pretty decent software calibration process which can help you set up the screen.


I was suitably impressed with the design of the 971P and it certainly has the feel of a 'premium' range 19" model. The adjustability and sleak curves of the stand, combined with the glossy finish to the plastics made for an attractive monitor for anyone's desktop. It was a pleasant experience to see a PVA panel used in a 19" model, and some of the improvements over even modern TN Film panels was evident. Contrast ratio and black depth were excellent on this model, and colour accuracy - even at default settings, was very good. I think the 971P is a screen suitable for those who want an attractive design and a good screen for office and general use. The responsiveness was not as good as modern TN Film or S-IPS based screens, but adequate for average use. The screen was let down a little by it's relatively slow response times in practice, and some panel uniformity issues; but overall I felt the 971P was a good performer in other areas.




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