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Samsung SyncMaster 226BW

For many makers it is a common practice to use different LCD panels in one and the same monitor model. It can even be two different types of panels (for example, the Dell 2007FP and 2007WFP may come with both S-IPS and S-PVA panels). Using same-type panels from different manufacturers or different revisions of the same panel is a widespread practice. The specific panels are picked up basing on price, availability, shipment terms, etc.

Considering this, it is hard to understand the reason for the sensation provoked by the news that the SyncMaster 226BW comes with panels from three different manufacturers: Samsung, AU Optronics (AUO) and Chi Mei Optoelectronics (CMO). These are all TN panels with identical specs. I guess it is due to a psychological effect. In some batches of this monitor the panel type was indicated on the label and everyone could see what exactly panel was installed in the particular sample. As a result, any differences, including imaginable ones, between specific samples were attributed to the different panels.

I tested three versions of the SyncMaster 226BW for this review. The earliest one was offered to us by Samsung before the official release of the model and before the issue of different panels was brought to light. It had a Samsung matrix. Later we took two samples from retail shops. One had a matrix from CMO and the other from AUO.

The three versions all have the same specs, but a dynamic contrast of 2000:1 was indicated on the case of the very first 226BW whereas the off-the-shelf models we took from retail shops declare a dynamic contrast of 3000:1.

To learn the name of the matrix manufacturer, take a look at the sticker on the rear panel, under the connectors. If it reads “Model: 226BW [R] [S]”, then this is a Samsung matrix. If the last letter is A or C, then the matrix is manufactured by AUO or Chi Mei, respectively.

This method is not accurate, though. Sometimes the label doesn’t tell the panel type right. And there are batches of this monitor that don’t indicate the panel type at all (see the photo above).

In this case you can take a look at the monitor’s service menu. Set both contrast and brightness at zero, press the Menu button, then press and hold the Source button for 5 seconds. The screen will appear to show you the manufacturer and name of the panel. It is CMO M220Z1 in the photo above and AUO M220EW01 in the photo below.

If the appropriate line contains “AMLCD 220M1” instead of the manufacturer’s name, then the matrix is made by Samsung (the LTM220M1 model).

Now I put the matrixes aside for a while to discuss the rest of the monitor. I will describe the three versions all together because they are perfectly identical in most of their parameters.

The monitor has a black glossy plastic case with a matte silvery strip below the screen. This looks good, but dust and fingerprints are much more visible here than on a rough surface.

As opposed to the 225BW, this monitor uses a simpler stand that only allows to change the tilt of the screen and rotate the monitor around the vertical axis. The stand can be replaced with a VESA mount if necessary.

The monitor has analog and digital inputs and an integrated power adapter. It doesn’t permit to attach any kind of speakers.

The control buttons are located on the right of the bottom edge of the case. Their labels are pressed out in the plastic of the decorative silver strip and are perfectly visible at daylight. Their visibility is poor in semidarkness. From the point of view of ergonomics, labels made with ordinary black paint are still unsurpassed.

It’s easy to press the buttons. They are placed closer to the front of the case than in the above-described monitors from LG and have an elongated shape. This makes it simpler to control the monitor. Quick access is provided to switching MagicBright modes, to the brightness setting, to choosing the input, and to the auto-adjustment feature.

The Power button located nearby is highlighted with a blue LED along the perimeter. When the 226BW is in Sleep mode, this circle begins to blink. Unfortunately, it is impossible to disable the LED from the monitor’s menu.

It is a standard onscreen menu from Samsung. It offers the usual selection of options for monitors of this class. As opposed to the SyncMaster 225BW, the MagicBright menu now includes a dynamic contrast mode. The user-defined brightness settings are disabled in it.

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