By default, the monitor’s got 100% brightness and 75% contrast. To achieve a 100nit brightness of white I selected 55% brightness and 60% contrast. The maximum value of contrast at which you don’t lose any of light halftones is 82%. The brightness is regulated by means of pulse-width modulation of the backlight at a frequency of about 170Hz.
Color gradients are reproduced correctly irrespective of the employed matrix.
As for the uniformity of backlight, there are small brighter areas along the sides of the screen on each sample of the monitor. I didn’t find serious problems although I had heard users’ reports that monitors with the AU Optronics matrix had a more irregular backlight. Again, our three matrixes were similar in this respect.
The color gamut is normal, slightly larger than sRGB in the area of greens.
The gamma curves are not quite good on the samples with Samsung and AUO matrixes. They are lower than necessary, resulting in a higher-contrast and darker picture, but jump up suddenly in the top right of the diagram. These problems can be compensated with the monitor’s settings. The bend in the top right disappears when you choose a contrast value lower than the default. The bottoming-out of the gamma curves can be corrected by choosing another gamma value from the menu. And still it would be better if the monitor had been set up accurately at the factory.
The CMO matrix doesn’t have such problems. The curves are not ideal, yet much better than on the other two samples. I suspect this is due to the fact that the model with the CMO matrix had the latest production date of all the tested samples and its setup may have been corrected back at the factory.
As for the color temperature setup, it is best on the Samsung matrix. Best, but not ideal. The difference between the temperatures of different grays amounts to 1000K even in the Normal mode. On the other two samples the difference is even bigger, reaching as many as 3000K. This is a depressing sight indeed: a normal white is combined with a bluish gray.
Alas, this can only be healed with a calibrator. But if the monitor is used at a contrast value lower than the default (which is often the case), you can have normal colors by choosing the Warm mode or lowering the too high level of blue by means of manual setup.
Despite the rumors about allegedly slow matrixes from AUO and Chi Mei, the three samples of the monitor all had similar speeds in my tests. Above is the diagram for the slowest of them, the monitor with a Chi Mei matrix. Its average response is 3.7 milliseconds (it is lower by a few tenths of millisecond with the other two samples) which is an obvious indication of RTC. It means that the SyncMaster 226BW is a very fast monitor irrespective of the specific version and the employed matrix.
The RTC error average is 11.6%. This value is similar between the three samples. It is acceptable (compare it with the 25.7% of the LG Flatron L226WTQ discussed above) and rather typical of today’s TN matrixes. RTC-related visual artifacts can be seen, yet they won’t disturb your gaming experience or work much.
The brightness/contrast measurements yield almost identical results on the Samsung and AU Optronics matrixes whereas the Chi Mei matrix has a higher brightness but a lower contrast ratio. These are insignificant discrepancies, though, and most users won’t notice them unless they put two monitors next to each other for comparison.
Thus, the versions of SyncMaster 226BW with different matrixes only differ in the setup of gamma curves and color temperature. And these differences may be not related to the matrix manufacturer at all. They may be due to differences in the firmware profiles written into the monitors at a specific factory or on a specific production date. At least you have seen above that the model with a CMO matrix is better than the model with a Samsung matrix in terms of gamma curves setup but worse than it in its color temperature setup.
The rest of parameters – response time, contrast ratio, brightness, and backlight uniformity – are so similar between the matrixes that most users are unlikely to notice any difference.
So I think that differences between the versions of the 226BW model with different matrixes are greatly exaggerated in forum discussions. Each of the three matrixes delivers the specified parameters (particularly, each features Response Time Compensation) and the growth of interest to this issue must have been due to the indication of the matrix type on the label whereas the rest of the manufacturers often provide no opportunity to learn which matrix the monitor is based on unless you take its case apart with your screwdriver. So, the reason for the hot discussion is psychological rather than technical.
Talking about the SyncMaster 226BW in general, it is yet another modern 22” monitor with both strong and weak points. It is a direct competitor to the LG Flatron L226WTQ (with the letter Q because the Flatron L226WT does not have response time compensation and roughly corresponds to the SyncMaster 225BW). Compared with the L226WTQ, the Samsung has a slightly higher response time and a less accurate setup of color temperature, but offers a lower level of RTC errors and somewhat better ergonomics. This monitor will suit people who want a home model for playing dynamic games. If your priority is color reproduction rather than speed, you may want to consider other models, for example the above-described SyncMaster 225BW.