The bottommost market segment is occupied by 20” models on different variations of TN+Film matrixes, with resolutions of 1400x1050, 1600x1200 and 1680x1050 pixels. There is no use to split them further into subgroups because they are all rather close to each other in parameters, which is well illustrated by Samsung that has released three models differing in the native resolution only.
The Acer AL2017 and the ViewSonic VA2012w are obviously two outsiders. They have an unassuming design and mediocre characteristics but are not much cheaper than the more decent models (at the time of my writing this the Samsung 203B costs even less than the AL2017, but I don’t suppose this unnatural situation will last for long).
The BenQ FP202W and the NEC LCD2070WNX look somewhat better, but the latter isn’t quite worth its rather high price.
Samsung’s three models, SyncMaster 203B, 204B and widescreen 205BW, are the leaders in this category. Very neatly assembled, easy to use and well set up, these monitors have only one disadvantage. They are built around TN+Film matrixes with all the consequences like small vertical viewing angles and a rather high response time. However, these monitors can make a good alternative for people who don’t have money to spend on a more expensive 20” model on an S-IPS or MVA matrix, but do not want to buy a 19” monitor. After all, the transition to 20 inches is a big step forward not only in terms of the sheer size of the display but also in the native resolution.
The next price category comprises home-oriented 20” and 21” monitors. There is actually only one 21” model here so far – Samsung’s 215TW – but I guess other manufacturers will soon follow suit. The Samsung 214T, also reviewed in this article, is considerably more expensive as yet.
So, we’ve got the following competitors in this price category: Acer AL2032WA, BenQ FP2091 and FP2092, NEC 20WGX2 and Samsung 215TW. They are all good in their own ways, but the 215TW looks a definite leader to me. Having a surprisingly low price (Samsung must have decided to give the market a shake), it is a superb product with cute looks, a fast and high-contrast matrix with good viewing angles, accurate setup, and a selection of video inputs for all your needs. The only gross disadvantage I can find in the 215TW is the inconvenient way you have to control it in. For some reason its menu is designed in a TV menu style and is inferior to the junior models’ menus in usability. I had to use the MagicTune program instead.
The NEC MultiSync 20WGX2 and the Acer AL2032WA are very good, too, but they can’t surpass the 215TW and should cost less. The NEC model boasts a very fast matrix that also has very wide viewing angles; it is one of the first monitors on an S-IPS matrix with response time compensation and is an excellent choice as a home monitor. The AL2032WA is interesting for its selection of video inputs and a rather fast MVA matrix.
Both models from BenQ are rather average-quality products. They do not differ much from each other and aren’t brilliant with their parameters in comparison with the other monitors (alas, color gradients are much more striped on them than on the 20WGX2 – the use of an S-IPS matrix doesn’t guarantee high-quality color reproduction). And again, having a price comparable with that of the Samsung 215TW, these monitors have a chance only in the eyes of people who are keen on buying a monitor with a screen aspect ratio of 4:3.