So - you're at work, Neighbours is just about to start and you can't break away from your desk. What's the solution? Get a monitor that turns into a television at the flick of a switch. Luckily for the SyncMaster 1710MP it's all possible.
The 17inch variant (it also comes as a 15in size as well) is large, silver and shiny. The MP stands for Multimedia and the front therefore offers two smallish flat panel speakers that are neatly tucked under the screen. Performance is on par with what you would expect from two speakers attached to a monitor and therefore we wouldn't suggest this for merely recreating that home cinema experience. That said, for television watching they perform well enough.
Below the speakers is a range of quick access buttons if you can't find the remote and these allow you to change things like channel, volume and brightness. You can also select your source input - either PC, Television, AV and S-Video - giving you plenty of connection options.
The footprint of the monitor is fairly small and all the cables connect parallel to the screen on the rear rather than sticking out perpendicular. Like previous models in the range, Samsung has included the power pack in the casing so all you have to worry about is the kettle-style lead. This makes it suitable for connecting to some desktops and tower PC. Because of the flatness you could hang the screen on the wall (once you buy the optional bracket) to save even more space. The screen does come with its own stand attached that allows for a narrow tilt angle and for travelling it folds flat- ideal if you plan to travel a lot perhaps to LAN parties or university.
As mentioned the MP stands for Multimedia and you have an array of choice for inputting a signal to output. For the television you can connect the screen to an analog terrestrial connection, and then for video or DVD you have the option of either a SCART connection, S-Video or audio and video phono. Apart from the phono and s-video all the sockets are tucked out of sight at the rear of the machine, however it's nice to see that the ones suitable for camcorders are still easily accessible without spoiling the design on the front.
For the lazy among us, Samsung has been kind enough to include a remote control in the box and this has all the buttons you could want to control everything from volume to teletext. Annoyingly from a style perspective the remote doesn't fit in with the screen's silver styling, and this is obviously a standard remote they bundle with everything no matter what the model.
Overall quality of the LCD we felt wasn't really up to Samsung's usual standards for a monitor and especially the non-television SyncMaster variants with the PC images lacking crispness. The 1710MP came across more as a LCD television that happened to have a PC adapter rather than the other way around. If your main use will be the television with the occasional computer use then our recommendation would be only as a space saving solution. For the £429 asking price you could easily pick up a non- Multimedia version and a standard 15” CRT television and still have cash to spare. The concept is good, however in practice it's less well executed.