2006-03-19

Samsung SyncMaster 740BF

I got a better display for the Ultra 20 the other day. A Samsung SyncMaster 740BF. The box said 1280x1024 at 75Hz, but Ubuntu came up at 60Hz because xorg.conf still had the details of the CRT I'd been using. Turning to the instruction leaflet that came with the LCD, I found this section about Linux configuration:

To execute X-Window, you need to make the X86Config file, which is a type of system setting file.

1) Press Enter at the first and the second screen after executing the X86Config file.
2) The third screen is for setting your mouse.
3) Set a mouse for your computer.
4) The next screen is for selecting a keyboard.
5) Set a Keyboard for your computer.
6) The next screen is for setting your monitor.
7) First of all, set a horizontal frequency for your monitor. (You can enter the frequency directly.)
8) Set a vertical frequency for your monitor. (You can enter the frequency directly.)
9) Enter the model name of your monitor. This information will not affect the actual execution of X-Window.
10) You have finished setting up your monitor. Execute X-Window after setting other requested hardware.

What? Gibberish! And missing the vital details of what to enter as the hsync and vrefresh values. There's another section in the leaflet that says that the recommended rate for "vertical frequency" is 60Hz . But that's all the detail you're going to get from the bumf in the box.

Luckily, the device itself is more intelligent. What you really want to do is have a "Monitor" section like this, with no manually-supplied information:

Section "Monitor"
Identifier "Generic Monitor"
Option "DPMS"
EndSection

That way Xorg will use the EDID-supplied data from the display itself, which is much more complete and accurate than the useless leaflet, and you'll get the promised 1280x1024 at 75Hz.

The 60Hz mentioned on the leaflet? Not what the display itself reports. More evidence, as if any were needed, that devices should be self-identifying, and humans should be cut out of the loop. All they do is introduce error.

One warning: the display is really bright. They clearly advertise this, and I did notice that its claimed brightness was significantly higher than the other displays on offer, but the default brightness is roughly equivalent to staring directly at the sun. The used area of the display goes right up to the bezel, too, unlike Apple's displays which have a small dead area. It turns out that Apple don't just do this because it looks nice: it also prevents the display from reflecting off the plastic bevel. It's not really a problem in X11, but if you were planning on making a lot of use of the Linux console, this might be something you want to pay attention to when selecting a display.

Anyway, it's a huge improvement on the CRT I was using, and it's reclaimed a huge amount of desk space. Time to set up Synergy, now the Ultra's display can be right next to the Mac's...