Sometimes it's hard to choose between watching TV and getting on with more worthwhile pursuits on your PC. The multi-function Samsung SM940MW allows you to do both at the same time. This combined PC monitor and TV has a built-in tuner, so you can attach the lead from an aerial and tune in to your favourite shows.
Thanks to PiP (Picture-in-Picture) technology, you can consign TV programs to a small window, while attending to PC activities elsewhere on the panel. Everything's brought under control via a simple yet effective remote control, just in case you can't quite reach the monitor while you're putting your feet up.
Like almost every other TV being sold at the moment, the Samsung has a widescreen aspect ratio, which translates to a native resolution of 1,440x900 pixels - perfectly adequate for HDTV viewing. However, in comparison with increasingly popular 20in widescreen displays with 1,680x1,050 resolution, the screen is a bit cramped height-wise.
Taking its multi-function role seriously, the monitor is equipped with several inputs, including the usual analogue and digital PC video choices, as well as Composite Video, S-Video, Component Video and the obligatory SCART connector for attaching anything from digital TV decoders to games consoles. Again, the remote control makes it simple to switch between the available options.
The picture quality is bright and vivid, which makes the monitor good for watching TV from a distance, but it's a little too bright at close range, or for accurate photo editing. There's a built-in MagicBright system, which offers standard choices for Internet, Entertainment and Text viewing, but we generally found ourselves resorting to the Custom setting and applying manual corrections.
On this type of monitor, sound quality is more important than usual and, suitably enough, the Samsung is fitted with better than average 5W per channel speakers. These are powered by a BBE sound system that aims to recreate natural sound and improve clarity, along with a Virtual Dolby '3D sound environment'.
To be fair, the sound quality is noticeably better than most other LCD monitors, but it's still no match for a decent separate speaker setup. Overall, the Samsung is only really worth the money if you really want the built-in TV tuner. Matthew Richards