Pros: Excellent colour reproduction; bundled calibrator and top-notch software.
Cons: No ambient light adjustment; pricey.
Samsung isn’t a brand that you’d usually associate with high-end monitors for colour-accurate design work, but its XL range is excellent.
The latest model is the 24-inch XL24. Like the 20-inch XL20 and the 30-inch XL30, the XL24 features LED backlighting. This offers a better level of brightness control than conventional LCD backlights, so the user sees finer gradation of colours and subtle shading, and a much higher colour gamut (123 per cent of NTSC).
LED technology is pricey, although it’s become less costly recently. Last year, an LED-based monitor would have cost you more than three grand. Samsung’s model is less than half that, and HP has recently announced the £1,760 Dreamcolour LP2480zx.
The XL24 comes bundled with X-rite’s Eye-One Display 2 colourimeter, and Samsung’s own Natural Color Expert and MagicTune software for both Mac and Windows; there’s also a hood to block glare. MagicTune provides basic control over brightness, contrast and other functions, but Natural Colour Expert is the tool most creatives will be interested in, as it provides monitor calibration tuned to the XL range.
Natural Colour Expert calibrates the XL24, and allows you to set brightness levels, emulate other monitors or standards such as Adobe RGB, and test consistency over nine areas of the screen. It’s missing an ambient lighting adjustment, but overall it’s a nifty and easy-to-use piece of software.
After calibration, the XL24’s output was both vibrant and subtle where needed – and around the best we’ve seen. The XL24 is pricey, but if you need colour accuracy, it’s a winner.