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Samsung SyncMaster 226cw review

Ardjuna Seghers

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Reviewed:

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Samsung SyncMaster 226cw
  • Samsung SyncMaster 226cw
  • Samsung SyncMaster 226cw
  • Samsung SyncMaster 226cw
  • Samsung SyncMaster 226cw
  • Samsung SyncMaster 226cw
  • Samsung SyncMaster 226cw

Summary

Our Score:

7

User Score:

The SyncMaster 226cw is one of those monitors whose high price makes it immediately obvious that this is not another run-of-the-mill addition to the already overcrowded 1,680 x 1,050 22in market. You see, the relentless race for the fastest LCD millisecond response times seems to have stabilised at 2ms (a figure the 226cw sports too), and now there's a new horizon that seems to have captured the popular imagination, and thus manufacturers' budgets: wide colour gamut.

Wide colour gamut is by no means a new technology, being present well before the HC upgrade to Dell's 2407WFP pushed it more into the mainstream. Unfortunately, most manufacturers quote their figures in the NTSC gamut, which is far less extensive than the AdobeRGB colour space. But anything's better than nothing, and wide colour gamut monitors are slowly making their way into the enthusiast entertainment section of 22in monitors, claiming a better experience for gaming, movies and casual photo-editing.

Wide colour gamut is no longer limited to the more expensive IPS and PVA panel technologies, and is filtering down to TN. We saw a rather impressive example of this with the professional-orientated ViewSonic VP2250wb, which covered 102 per cent of the NTSC space. While the monitor we have before us today does not boast quite as high a figure, at ‘only' 97 per cent, let's hope it still manages some of the improvements over traditional TN the ViewSonic has led us to expect.

Unusually for Samsung, the quick guide to attaching the stand is definitely not the best, as poor print quality makes some of the black and white images difficult to distinguish. It's a good thing that it's so easy to set up then. Samsung has (sensibly) dropped its hideous ‘ball-and-socket' system we saw on its SyncMaster Pebble range, and in this particular case all one needs to do is clip the base in and tighten a screw (which can be done by hand, no tools required). Thankfully, the company has not given up on its policy to include a soft cleaning cloth.

But any joy at these positives is immediately tempered when we come to the included video cables, of which there are exactly one: analogue VGA. Many words spring to mind, most of them NSFW. The most pressing one is ‘why?'. Why make the consumer have to go and purchase an extra cable? More importantly, why cripple your monitor's quality out of the box? We have seen another example of this recently with BenQ's V2400W, but that was more forgivable as the BenQ was not a wide colour gamut screen and favoured looks over image quality.

Though if looks were all we had to go by, Samsung would already be onto a winner with its 226cw, as this really is a gorgeous screen. The bezel and edges of the monitor are all mirror-finish piano black, apart from a white-silver inset along the bottom edge. The only visual spoilers are the usual Samsung logo in white, the model number on the top-left corner, and two fairly modest stickers. The power button is a striking metal affair with a subtle blue glow illuminating it from the bottom, while the stand is a pleasing mixture of matte and glossy plastic, and the back consists of a single, textured black curve.

Ron Royce

June 19, 2008, 3:02 am

I read this review after sending two of these back and I can't believe we saw the same product.





OK, first the good points...colours were vivid, very fast panel response and it does look very good on the desktop. It functions well although the out-of-the-box settings were, to be frank, awful.





Now the bad. Both my samples had horrendous light leakage and my test game, Doom 3 (old but great for showing up black level problems!) was ruined by a red 'sunset glow' at the bottom of the display. I also found the viewing angles to be very poor, especially in the vertical plane. Backlighting was very uneven and the panel suffered with quite excessive mura. I found the perimeter backlight method to be a major distraction as well, which I felt was a major contributor to the poor black levels I experienced on both samples. Using powerpoint I displayed a background of 20% white and the lack of uniformity from bottom to top of the display was staggering. I can't believe a company like Samsung would allow this past QC.





From the samples that I had I am suspecting we have another 226BW instalment here? Your thoughts would be appreciated.





I decided to spend a lot more money in the end after looking at several 22" monitors and being thoroughly underwhelmed by what was on offer, and now have a LaCie 324, which I am very pleased with. Fabulous colour, excellent, uniform black level, viewing angles are very good with moderate colour shift off angle but nothing like as bad as a TN. More importantly it passed the Doom 3 test :) This shows that you do indeed get what you pay for. It is a worthy replacement for my old IIyama Vision Master Pro 454, which finally gave up the ghost this week but was a stunning CRT monitor... RIP

TechVegan

July 1, 2008, 4:33 pm

I wouldn't be suprised if this was "another 226BW instalment", since in terms of backlight bleed especially our experiences seem to have been very different. The viewing angles were poor on my model too though. If one wants a decent-quality monitor, one's best bet right now is still a non-TN 24in, like the LaCie you have - nice choice, btw :)

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