Office use is pleasant, offering a comfortably ‘dim' text mode where fonts don't lose any of their clarity or sharpness. The main caveat is again the lack of height-adjustment, or any other adjustment for that matter. Since the SyncMaster 226cw's minimal adjustability doesn't make it particularly suitable for professional use, we decided to give it a thorough run-through in games and movies, where its 1000:1 native (3000:1 dynamic) contrast ratio and various entertainment profiles ought to make it a worthy contender - and are glad to say that overall, it is.
The dynamic contrast implementation is very unusual in that there is no provision to turn it on or off; instead its activation is preset specific. But thankfully, in a marked improvement over the dynamic system on Samsung's previous 22in Pebble 2232BW, and like LG's alternative with its recent Flatron L206WU, it really does enhance the experience, making the 226cw's decent blacks even deeper without noticeable loss of dark detailing.
For movies, this is a very good display, as long as you keep in mind the limited viewing angles. Detailing is sharp, colours are vibrant enough without being oversaturated, and counting in the captivating blacks, this is definitely one of the better TNs. The ‘movie' setting makes images slightly warm, but I like the effect. If you prefer something cooler, go for ‘sports', which offers a more accurate colour reproduction. The only niggle is that Samsung doesn't manage to avoid the shimmering effect that plagues so many LCD monitors with film material.
However, the one area where the 226cw excels is in games. With overdrive turned on there is no visible ghosting or tearing, and all the advantages that help make it a good movie display make it great for gaming, especially as the shimmering and viewing angles are no longer factors. If you want a 22in to game on, this is definitely one of the better choices, as it will show you every single detail, including subtle colour tints you might not have noticed before. Though at around £230, you do pay for the privilege.
For the consumer interested in colour work or a rugged, versatile display, the SyncMaster's biggest problem can be summed up in two words: ViewSonic VP2250wb. The ViewSonic offers far superior ergonomics and viewing angles, better build quality and a USB hub, as well as an even wider colour gamut. But the Samsung does have sleek looks, a lower price and significantly less backlight bleed in its favour.
It's also worth keeping in mind that the BenQ G2400W offers a larger screen (albeit with a similar lack of adjustability), the capability to display Full HD video and more inputs for a similar price. Of course it doesn't offer as much detail, black depth or richness of colours, so you have to decide according to your priorities.
The good news is that Samsung's attractively-styled SyncMaster 226cw offers a rich and subtly differentiated colour palette and excellent contrast with deep blacks and pure whites. The bad is that it suffers from narrow viewing angles, some banding in dark tones and a complete lack of adjustability apart from tilt, which turns it from a good monitor into a merely average one. Surprisingly, its main strength is as a PC gaming display, where the high price can be somewhat justified by a vivid and extremely detailed experience.