I just tried the laptop with an ancient 13" monitor that I have lying around. It worked fine.
I've known all along it was the Samsung monitor that was to blame. Is there anything I can do to fix it? It's definitely capable of showing a great picture (as it does for 1 second), but for some reason, it thinks that it can't and gives up.
You seem very experienced. So, it would surprise me if I'm the first person you've seen with this issue . I ordered a new monitor today, but am really hoping I can salvage this one. I prefer working with a 2 monitor setup, so I want to use this Syncmaster as my secondary.