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Samsung SyncMaster 226CW: First Look

The monitor maker’s policy of producing a basic model first and then, after a while, introducing models with more advanced characteristics, refers not only to response time compensation (as you could have seen in this review, all the manufacturers rolled out RTC-less 22” models first although this technology had long been used in models with other screen diagonals) but to other innovations as well, for example to backlight lamps with improved phosphors that yield an extended color gamut.

So, the logical continuation of Samsung’s 22” series is the SyncMaster 226CW model, which is in fact a 226BW with an extended color gamut. We had a pre-sale sample of the monitor so we didn’t perform a comprehensive test of it. Many of the settings are going to be different in the final version of the 226CW. I’ll give you a brief description of it just for you to know what new products will come out in near future.

Externally, this monitor is an exact copy of the SyncMaster 226BW. It has a beautiful case made from black glossy plastic (on the photograph above the daylight lamps under the ceiling of our test lab are reflected in it) with a matte silvery strip below. Besides the monitor’s name there is a “Color Innovation” sticker that refers to the extended color gamut.

The monitor is equipped with analog and digital inputs. It has an integrated power adapter.

The control buttons are still located on the bottom edge of the case and are labeled on the silvery plastic of the decorative strip. The Power button is highlighted with a blue circle. It starts to blink with the same color when the monitor enters Sleep mode and, unfortunately, you still cannot turn the LED off in the menu.

The interface and structure of the menu have been left intact but the color temperature adjustment is replaced with the Color Innovation item that allows to choose from three image processing options: Brilliant, Mild or Custom. This must be meant for users who prefer various “image-enhancing” technologies to traditional technical settings. On the other hand, this new setting is not any more comprehensible than ordinary color temperature options.

And here is the result of the single test I performed over this monitor:

The color gamut is indeed larger than sRGB (the color gamut of the SyncMaster 226BW is shown for the sake of comparison so that you could see the superiority of the new backlight lamps). And it is large not only in greens but also in reds.

Alas, the triangle has shifted leftwards away from the area of yellow which is the payment for the purer and more vibrant green. Anyway, it is easy to see that the color gamut has indeed become larger overall.

So, while there are many considerable differences between the SyncMaster 225BW and the 226BW from their exterior design to characteristics, there is only one point of difference between the 226BW and 226CW, namely the extended color gamut of the latter. I have written in my earlier reviews that the color gamut itself is not a dominating characteristic for a monitor at large or for its color reproduction per se. It is just an addition to the other characteristics. A very nice addition, of course, but only an addition. The quality of color reproduction is mostly determined by the quality of setup of gamma curves and color temperature and by the viewing angles while the extended color gamut does not show up in too many practical situations. So, the choice between buying a 226BW now and waiting for the SyncMaster 226CW depends on whether you really need the extended gamut of the latter and how long you can wait for it.

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