22" Monitors Roundup: Part 2

We continue testing monitors with 22-inch diagonal and TN+Film matrix. We will discuss 12 models from such well-known manufacturers as Acer, ASUS, Hannstar, LG, NEC and Samsung.

by Oleg Artamonov
04/09/2008 | 10:15 AM

Our new round of tests of 22-inch LCD monitors covers twelve models. Although all of them are based on the same matrix type, TN+Film, I can’t reproach the manufacturers for the lack of variety. These monitors differ widely in terms of specs and functionality, and there has also appeared a new sub-type of them, models with a diagonal of 21.6 inches. Running a little ahead, I should confess I absolutely agree with the manufacturers who are promoting these new reduced-size models together with the true 22-inchers because all the difference between them boils down to these four tenths of an inch you can barely notice in practice.

 

Again, all the 22” monitors we’ve tested in our labs so far are based on TN matrixes. Notwithstanding the reports about the development and release of 22” models with *VA matrixes, we have not seen such monitors yet and cannot confirm or refute this information at the moment.

Testing Methodology

Click the following link for a description of our testing methodology, the equipment we use, and a brief explanation of what the specified and tested parameters of LCD monitors mean: the article is called Xbit Labs Presents: LCD Monitors Testing Methodology Indepth. If you feel overwhelmed with the numbers and terms this article abounds in, check out an appropriate section of the mentioned Description for an explanation.

Acer P223W

The letter P traditionally denotes a top (Premium, Professional, etc) model series. Acer’s P series is supposed to combine functionality, quality and appealing exterior design.

Alas, Premium doesn’t mean a *VA or IPS matrix. Like the rest of 22” monitors available in shops today, the Acer P223W is based on a TN matrix. Although the viewing angles are declared to be as wide as 170 degrees, you should keep it in mind that they are measured for TN matrixes in a more relaxed manner than for *VA and IPS and do not look as wide in reality. The vertical viewing angle is especially small: if you look at the screen from below (for example, if you are watching a movie lying on your sofa), the image gets noticeably darker.

The monitor doesn’t have Response Time Compensation (and like with the viewing angles, the low specified value is arrived at by means of a special measurement method that is different from the one employed to measure the response time of RTC-enabled monitors) but has a dynamic contrast mode (that’s why the specified contrast ratio is as high as 2500:1).

The monitor’s front panel is made from black glossy plastic. The coating of the LCD matrix is glossy, too. Such matrixes display a shaper and higher-contrast picture in comparison with matte matrixes, but have one disadvantage as you can see in the photo above: the monitor’s screen reflects the lamps illuminating our laboratory. It’s rather hard to find such a place for this monitor in which it wouldn’t reflect anything in a well-lit room.

The bottom part of the case is shaped like a protruding triangle. The name of the manufacturing firm faces upward rather than forward. This looks original and appealing and doesn’t distract your eyes at work.

The monitor’s stand allows adjusting the tilt of the screen only. The stand can be replaced with a standard VESA mount using the fastening holes on the back panel.

The bottom part of the stand is removed for transportation. According to the user manual, you just have to press the button at the back of the stand for that. In practice, I had to apply an effort to detach the base.

The monitor offers both analog and digital inputs.

The control buttons are placed in the bottom right of the front panel. They are large and easy to press. The light labels are perfectly visible under any kind of lighting. The Power indicator is designed like a large shining bar above the Power button. It is not very bright, but its large size may be distracting.

The menu is Acer’s traditional except that its first screen offers to choose between factory-set and user-defined settings rather than provides access to the brightness and contrast settings. The purpose of this selection eludes me because if you want to use the factory-set modes, you don’t have to enter the main menu at all – you can just press the e button on the front panel instead. Then, if you choose User, you still don’t access the brightness/contrast settings, but find yourself in the menu title again which now looks like follows:

The next time you evoke the menu, you have to choose between the factory-set and user-defined settings again. I don’t quite understand why you are thrown back into the menu title when you select the user-defined mode. As a result, you have to press the monitor’s buttons seven times to access the brightness setting!

The factory-set modes are accessible by pressing the e button. As opposed to many other monitors in which you browse through the modes with the same dedicated button, you have to use the “<” and “>” buttons here.

The monitor has 77% brightness and 50% contrast by default. I reduced them both to 30% to achieve a 100nit brightness of white. You shouldn’t raise the contrast value above 50% as it makes light halftones merge into white. The brightness is regulated by means of backlight modulation at a frequency of 271Hz.

 

The average brightness uniformity on white is 5.3% with a maximum deflection of 17.3%. For black, the corresponding average and maximum are 11.9% and 36.0%. The brightness patterns differ: on white, there are darker areas along the sides of the screen. On black, there are brighter areas along the top and bottom of the screen. Generally speaking, many monitors have this kind of brightness uniformity, but it usually looks like narrow bands and has little effect on the results of our measurements. The P223W has rather wide bands.

The monitor’s color gamut is standard for a monitor that uses backlight lamps with ordinary phosphors. It is somewhat larger than the sRGB color space in greens and smaller than it in reds.

The gamma curves are not ideal, yet good, at the default settings. The value of gamma is too high for green and red, and the corresponding halftones look darker and have more contrast than they should. The gamma value is all right for blue, but the contrast is too high as is indicated by the characteristic bend in the top right part of the diagram.

The monitor doesn’t have Response Time Compensation. Its response time average is 12.8 milliseconds (GtG) with a maximum of 24 milliseconds.

The differing gamma curves already indicated that the monitor would have problems with the color temperature setup, yet the numbers are disappointing anyway. Even in the Warm mode the temperature of white is normal but the temperature of gray gets as high as 10,000K! The monitor yields a very cold, bluish, picture as the consequence. The temperature of 50% gray grew so high in the Cool mode that our calibrator couldn’t even measure it. Thus, this monitor has to be calibrated (if you’ve got a calibrator) or carefully set up with your own hands.

The brightness and contrast ratio are good as today’s TN matrixes go. The time when TN-based monitors couldn’t show a contrast ratio higher than 300:1 in our test is long gone!

The monitor offers four factory-set modes which are set up wisely enough in terms of brightness. The Text mode is meant for good ambient lighting – its brightness will prove excessive under mild evening lighting at home. It’s not quite clear why it is the Graphics mode rather than Movie that is the brightest of all. Perhaps the developer devised that mode for playing computer games rather than for viewing photographs.

The color temperature quality wasn’t high at the default settings, but it only gets worse in the Graphics and Movie modes.

The gamma value is too low, resulting in a darker and higher-contrast image than it should be. Dark halftones almost lie on the X-axis, and there’s an odd bend in every gamma curve. So, this mode is obviously not meant for processing photographs and it is also too dark for playing games. The Text and Standard modes are free from such problems (the latter mode coincides with the monitor’s default settings, though).

Overall, the Acer P223W is pretty on the outside, but sloppy inside. The manufacturer should have set up its color reproduction better and thought about installing fast matrixes with Response Time Compensation into the Premium product series.

Highs:

Lows:

Recommended usage:

Acer X222Wbd

The above-discussed P223W occupies the topmost position in Acer’s 22” monitor line-up while the X222Wbd is one step lower. The X2 series is not as pretentious as the P series but features a new design as well as exceptional characteristics – so says the manufacturer. Well, the exterior design is largely a matter of personal taste while technical characteristics can be checked out objectively.

Well, it is already clear from the specs that the X222Wbd is just a regular TN-based monitor without Response Time Compensation. It differs from the P223W with somewhat smaller viewing angles and does not have a dynamic contrast mode.

Externally, the X222Wbd is in fact an updated and improved version of Acer’s AL series: gray plastic has been replaced with black and glossy one, and the block of control buttons now fits the overall design more organically. Such minor changes have seriously affected the impression the monitor leaves on you – it has certainly become prettier.

The stand allows to change the tilt of the screen. It can be replaced with a standard VESA mount if necessary.

The monitor is equipped with both analog and digital inputs and an audio input for the integrated speakers which are located in the bottom part of the case. You can’t see the speakers from the front.

The control buttons are on the bottom edge of the case. The Power button is inconveniently placed in the center, getting in the way of your fingers when you are setting the monitor up. It would be better if the Power button were placed to the left, apart of the other buttons, like in other monitors from Acer, but the developer has achieved the symmetry and beauty at the expense of the user’s convenience here.

The Power indicator is built into the appropriate button. It shines green at work and amber in sleep mode. The indicator is not very bright and the button itself is at the bottom, so it cannot distract you at all. I think it’s nearly an ideal solution in terms of both aesthetics and ergonomics.

This is Acer’s standard menu with a standard selection of setup options. As opposed to the P223W, you see the manual brightness and contrast settings right after you enter the menu. The X222Wbd has factory-set modes as well, but you can only access them by pressing the e button on the front panel. Besides, quick access is provided to the auto-adjustment feature and the sound volume of the integrated speakers.

The monitor has 77% brightness and 50% contrast by default. I lowered the brightness to 25% and the contrast to 28% to achieve a 100nit white. You shouldn’t increase the contrast setting above 50% as it leads to a distortion in the reproduction of light halftones. The brightness is regulated by means of backlight modulation at a frequency of 240Hz.

Color gradients are reproduced without flaws. The viewing angles are just what you can expect from a TN matrix: the image gets darker when you are looking at the screen from below. You have to look a little from above for the screen to have uniform brightness. Well, from an ergonomics standpoint, that’s exactly how any screen, irrespective of its viewing angles, should be installed.

 

The average uniformity of white brightness is 5.6% with a maximum deflection of 16.3%. For black, the average and maximum uniformity is 6.2% and 19.6%, respectively. These results are not ideal, but acceptable, especially considering the way brightness is distributed on the screen: there are no areas differing strikingly from the rest of the screen except for the darker top left corner on white.

The color gamut is just what you can expect from a monitor that has backlight lamps with ordinary, not improved, phosphors. I’ve seen a lot of such diagrams in my tests already.

The gamma value is too high at the default settings (the color curves go lower than the theoretical one). Contrast is also too high for red and green.

But when you reduce contrast in the monitor’s settings – and I doubt anyone would work with this monitor at its default settings as the screen is too bright then – the curves become normal and most of the defects disappear.

The response time average is 13.5 milliseconds (GtG) with a maximum deflection of about 22 milliseconds. That’s the typical speed of a monitor with a specified response time of 5 milliseconds or higher (i.e. without Response Time Compensation technology). Of course, the X222Wbd is no match to really fast monitors with 2ms and 4ms matrixes.

The color temperature modes are set up better in the X222Wbd than in the previous model, yet it is still a long way to the ideal setup. The image is cold even in the Warm mode and the temperature dispersion between the different levels of gray is rather large.

The monitor’s brightness and contrast ratio are normal for a modern monitor.

As I mentioned above, the X222Wbd offers a few modes with factory-defined settings. There are four modes in total, each of which is meant for a certain usage of the monitor like working with text, watching movies, etc. Unfortunately, the actual setup of the modes does not agree with the intended applications. For example, the Text mode is almost as bright as 200 nits, which is too much. In the Graphics mode the contrast ratio is so high that the lightest halftones of red and green just merge into the same color.

So if you care about accurate colors, you should use one mode only. I advise you to set the monitor up manually for working with text and switch into the Text or Standard mode for movies or games.

This monitor is nothing much overall. It’s just an average modern inexpensive model based on a TN matrix.

Highs:

Lows:

Recommended usage:

ASUS MW221u

ASUS’ monitor naming system is rather confusing. For example, what does the letter M mean in MW221u? It can hardly be Multimedia because ASUS’ VW series has integrated speakers as well, and the MW221u has no other multimedia feature. It seems that the monitor series from ASUS differ in exterior design only and various technologies can be present or absent in any series.

Judging by the specs, it is an ordinary monitor with a TN matrix. As opposed to the two above-discussed models, it features Response Time Compensation, though. The horizontal viewing angle is large but you should keep it in mind that it is measured according to the 5:1 method. For other matrix types, the viewing angles are measured by a contrast ratio reduction to 10:1.

The monitor has a typical design for an ASUS product: we have tested similar-looking models with smaller screen diagonals. It looks neat. This monitor is going to look well both at home and in the office.

The stand allows adjusting the tilt of the screen. The seemingly large case is mostly empty: there is a large square depression in the center, covered with a decorative panel, where the connectors are located.

The monitor offers both analog and digital inputs. A line audio input is located nearby. The power adapter is integrated into the case.

Located in the bottom part of the front panel, the monitor’s controls are designed as petals carved out in the thin metallic bar.

Quick access is provided to the sound volume of the integrated speakers, to switching the Splendid modes (I’ll talk about them below), and to the automatic adjustment of analog signal (you should press the Splendid button for a few second to evoke it).

The standard ASUS menu isn’t very user-friendly, particularly because you find yourself on the Splendid mode selection tab every time you enter the menu. I don’t understand that – it is easier to select a Splendid mode with the quick-access button on the front panel without even opening the menu!

Interestingly, Sharpness and some color reproduction settings are available in each mode except for Standard. It is good that you can change and save the settings of each mode (most other monitors allow changing the settings only for one mode while the other modes are non-editable).

The brightness and contrast settings are set at 90% and 60%, respectively, by default. I lowered the brightness to 70% and left the contrast default to achieve a 100nit brightness of white. The brightness is regulated by backlight modulation at a frequency of 216Hz.

You should keep the contrast setting within 35%-80%. If it is below this range, the monitor loses dark halftones. If above, you lose light halftones.

Alas, that’s not the only problem. In every mode, save for Standard, the sharpness of the image worsens greatly notwithstanding the digital connection. I couldn’t correct this with the Sharpness setting. Oddly enough, it is in the Standard mode that the Sharpness setting is just blocked.

Color gradients look striped, but that’s not very conspicuous.

 

The average brightness uniformity is 5.1% on white, with a maximum deflection of 15.0%. For black, the average is 4.8% and the maximum is 15.6%. Both results are good enough, especially for black.

The MW221u’s color gamut is standard, being somewhat smaller than the sRGB color space in reds and surpassing it in greens. Monitors equipped with backlight lamps with improved phosphors have a much larger color gamut in greens, though.

The gamma curves look normal at the default settings (Standard Mode): the blue curve coincides with the theoretical one, but the value of gamma is too high for the green and red curves.

Although the monitor is declared to have a response time of 2 milliseconds, I could find no trace of Response Time Compensation technology in it. The response average is as high as 12.9 milliseconds (GtG) – six times as high as the specified response! Looking over Web forums I found that many users had criticized early batches of this model due to gross RTC artifacts and ASUS began to ship the MW221u with RTC disabled by default but it could be enabled by pressing the Menu button for 8 seconds (the user manual doesn’t mention this).

Indeed, when I held the button pressed for a while, I saw an OverDrive menu with two options: Yes and No. Alas, it didn’t change anything: the response time remained the same irrespective of what I chose in it. So, I have to tell you that this monitor doesn’t have Response Time Compensation and its real response has little to do with the specified value.

The color temperature modes are set up rather sloppily. It is higher than 7500K even in the Warm mode (the image looks somewhat cold as the result), and there is a considerable difference between the temperatures of different grays.

The contrast ratio isn’t high, barely reaching 300:1. That’s a very modest result for a modern monitor.

As I told you above, the quality of the Splendid modes is low. The image is not sharp in them for some reason.

All the modes offer similar brightness by default: from 150 to 200 nits. On the other hand, every mode can be set up manually for any level of brightness.

The modes differ in the color gamut setup, too. For example, the Theater Mode is almost no different from the Standard Mode.

The Night View Mode is meant for games. Making dark halftones brighter, it should help you spot an enemy who’s lurking in shadows. Indeed, the gamma curves are higher in the area of darks, but then the blue and green curves are sagging while the red curve hits the ceiling of the diagram.

The Game Mode is meant for games where there are no enemies lurking in shadows, but it doesn’t differ much from the previous mode: darks tones are normal, but lights have little to do with accurate color reproduction.

The Scenery mode doesn’t please me, either. Green and blue are too dark, having a too high value of gamma. Red is high from the middle of the diagram, reaching saturation. The lightest tones of red are displayed as the same color as the result.

Highs:

Lows:

Recommended usage:

ASUS VW222u

Curiously enough, the descriptions of the VW222u and the above-discussed MW221u at the official website coincide letter for letter.

Well, there is a difference in the specs, though. The VW222u has a dynamic contrast mode (the specified value of 2000:1 refers to it). Otherwise, it is yet another TN-based monitor with Response Time Compensation. I hope RTC will really work in this monitor.

The MW and VW series have different cases, yet it’s easily to confuse them at first sight. The above-discussed MW221u looks somewhat more expensive than the VW222u – the latter has a simpler design of the front panel as well as of the stand – but they are both rather similar: neat and demure black cases with dark-gray trimming.

The stand allows to adjust the tilt of the screen. It can be replaced with a standard VESA mount if necessary. The protruding part at the back of the stand is a ring the monitor’s cables can be put through so that they lay neatly on the table.

The monitor is equipped with analog and digital inputs.

The control buttons are placed in the bottom right of the front panel flush with the decorative silver band. Traditionally for ASUS, the button to switch between the preset modes (Splendid technology) is accompanied with a Try Me sticker. You’ll see below if you do want to use this button because Splendid technology didn’t work right in the MW221u, for example.

The monitor has ASUS’ standard menu which is not quite handy due to several reasons. First, the menu doesn’t remember the last changed option. It always opens up on the first tab. Second, this first tab is for choosing a Splendid mode but it is easier to select one with the appropriate quick button – without even entering the menu. Third, some of the extended settings (e.g. dynamic contrast mode – the ASCR option) is unavailable in Standard mode.

By default (in Standard mode), the monitor has 90% brightness and 80% contrast. To achieve a 100nit white I selected 50% brightness and 59% contrast. You shouldn’t set the contrast setting higher than 75% as it leads to a loss of light halftones in the image (in other words, the contrast is set rather too high even by default). The monitor regulates its brightness by means of backlight modulation at a frequency of 220Hz.

Color gradients are reproduced normally overall but with barely visible banding.

The monitor’s color gamut is standard for a model with backlight lamps with old-type phosphors. It is smaller than the sRGB color space in reds and larger than it in greens.

 

The average white brightness uniformity is 5.7% with a maximum deflection of 19.0%. For black brightness, the average and maximum are 7.4% and 20.5%, respectively. There is a usual X-shaped brighter pattern on black and darker edges of the screen on white.

As I noted above, the monitor’s contrast is too high at the default settings, which is perfectly obvious from the gamma curves that reach saturation in the right part of the diagram. As a result, light halftones are indistinguishable: you see a white spot instead of them.

The curves become normal if you just lower the contrast setting by 5 steps in the monitor’s menu. They have a good shape too, except that the blue curve goes somewhat lower than the others.

The curves rise up a little when the contrast setting is reduced further, yet the overall picture remains unchanged: both darks and lights are reproduced correctly through a contrast range of 0 to 75%.

The response time average is 4.6 milliseconds (GtG) with a maximum of 11 milliseconds. Not a record-breaking result, it still demonstrates the operation of the Response Time Compensation mechanism. If you compare this to the MW221u, which is declared to have RTC but is not found by me to have it, you can see the VW222u is almost thrice as fast.

The average level of RTC errors is only 1.3%. That’s a record, actually. So far, only a few models based on S-IPS or *VA matrixes have boasted such a low level of errors, while TN-based monitors used to have an RTC error level of about 10%. This must be the explanation of the not-very-low response time: the developers of the monitor and matrix must have been looking for a compromise between speed and errors, and I think they have succeeded.

Thus, the ASUS VW222u has a very good speed, sufficient not only for movies but also for dynamic games, and has such a low level of RTC-provoked artifacts that you won’t notice them in most cases.

The color temperature setup is rather neat overall. The difference between the temperatures of grays is not bigger than 1000K in every mode. The only downside is that there is no mode with a really warm image (i.e. with a color temperature below 6500K) but most users are going to be perfectly satisfied with the 6500-7500K modes.

The brightness and contrast ratio are quite good just as you can expect from a modern TN-based monitor.

The VW222u has five factory-set modes you can switch between quickly by pressing the Splendid button. Many modern monitors offer such a feature, but the advantage of ASUS Splendid technology over the alternatives is that you can manually adjust the settings of each mode (other monitors usually allow to adjust one mode only while the others are dead-written back at the factory). This doesn’t give you full freedom, though: the Splendid modes change not only the monitor’s basic settings but also affect such deep color-related aspects as the shape of the gamma curves, for example.

I have tested the monitor in the Standard mode above. Let’s see now what we have with the other modes.

The values of brightness and contrast ratio do not vary much between the modes.

Darks of every basic color are indistinguishable from black. The red and green curves improve after the first quarter of the diagram, but the blue curve is just weird.

As a visual illustration of the peculiarities of such color reproduction, I made a photograph of color gradients on the screen of the VW222u. Ideally, they should all be similar in brightness and differ in color only, but you can see that most of the blue gradient is black, and green is the only color that is displayed more or less properly.

The Theater mode isn’t much better. Dark halftones of red and blue are displayed as black and light halftones of green are displayed as white. The blue curve has a weird shape again.

It is in the Game mode that ASUS set a record of cutting short the displayed color range: both darks and lights are not distinguishable for any color. The result is a picture in which all shadows are absolutely black while all light areas are absolutely white. In between them, there is a narrow range of queerly distorted colors.

The Night View mode is meant to make darks brighter to help you spot an enemy lurking in the shadows. Alas, it actually does just the opposite: darks are completely indistinguishable from each other for every color, especially blue. As a result, you’ll see a solid black spot instead of the enemy and shadows.

So, the Splendid modes are virtually useless except for the default Standard mode. They distort color reproduction in such a horrible way that you can’t cure that by adjusting the settings manually. Unfortunately, some of the monitor’s extended settings – sharpness, saturation, skin tone, dynamic contrast mode – are only available in the modes other than Standard.

Still, my impressions about the ASUS VW222u are positive overall. The main reason for that is the good response time of the matrix coupled with a very low level of errors of the RTC mechanism. Color reproduction is also set up accurately in the Standard mode. Hopefully, ASUS’ people will be working on the ergonomics of the onscreen menu and on the setup quality of the additional modes.

Highs:

Lows:

Recommended usage:

HannStar HG216D

Products under the HannStar brand, a trademark of Hanns.G, feature low prices and a wide assortment. But as we learned earlier, most of the company’s 19” monitors differ but slightly. Moreover, Hanns.G offers just a few 22” models and doesn’t offer monitors larger than 22” at all. 

The HG216D differs from the other monitors in this review with the screen diagonal in the first place. This difference doesn’t go further than the four tenth of an inch, though. The newer 21.6” matrixes are no different from the older 22.0” ones otherwise. It’s the same TN technology with all its pros and cons. It is just handier to cut the wafers into 21.6” pieces at some production lines and that’s the only reason why such monitors appeared.

The designers placed a black frame around the screen, probably to conceal the width of the front bezel and to increase the screen size visually. The monitor’s front panel is light-gray. The overall effect is rather negative: I was always catching myself thinking that the image was not just stretched out to full screen.

The stand allows adjusting the tilt of the screen. It can be removed and replaced with a standard VESA mount.

Another special feature of the HG216D is the lack of a DVI input. It has a HDMI connector instead. You won’t have to look for a graphics card with a HDMI output, though. A HDMI-DVI cable will solve the problem. Unfortunately, such a cable is not included with the monitor. The box contains a cable with D-Sub plugs for analog connections.

The sound (for the integrated speakers) is transferred to an ordinary line input across an appropriate cable.

The control buttons are placed in the bottom right of the front panel. Their labels are placed on the screen bezel and perfectly visible. The Power indicator is designed like a letter G inside a circle. It is highlighted with a blue LED – a rather too bright LED to my taste.

The onscreen menu is simple but quite user-friendly. It provides a usual selection of setup options (such as brightness, contrast, color temperature) without anything exceptional.

The monitor has 100% brightness and 70% contrast by default. I lowered the settings to 40% brightness and 50% contrast to achieve a 100nit white. You shouldn’t increase the contrast setting above 70% as it makes light halftones indistinguishable from white. The brightness is regulated by mean of the modulation of the power of the backlight lamps at a frequency of 240Hz.

Color gradients are reproduced well at any settings.

A subjective impression, I should note the low quality of image interpolation in non-native resolutions. If you need a monitor for games and your graphics card cannot deliver a playable speed at 1680x1050, the HG216D won’t be a good choice.

The monitor’s color gamut is larger than sRGB in greens but smaller in blues and reds.

 

The average uniformity of white brightness is 4.9% with a maximum deflection of 14.7%. For black, the numbers are 6.4% and 18.4%, respectively, which is an acceptable result.

The gamma curves are normal at the default settings except that the contrast is rather too high for the blue curve as is indicated by the characteristic bend of the curve in the top right of the diagram.

It’s better at the reduced contrast: the curves are all shaped well and go near each other, although lower than the theoretical curve for gamma 2.2.

The monitor does not have Response Time Compensation. Its matrix is not fast having an average response time of 12.2 milliseconds (GtG) with a maximum of about 20 milliseconds.

Although the color temperature measurements produced good results formally, I didn’t like the image in the 6500K mode as it had a clear greenish hue.

 

The color gamut diagram is built for the 6500K mode to show you the answer. The point of white (marked with a white circle) is shifted upwards, towards greens, relative to where it must be (marked with a cross). The numbers in the table above are reasonable because it virtually makes no sense to measure the color temperature with such a shift of the white point. The color on the screen is not white while the term color temperature refers to white only.

There was no greenish hue in the other modes but most users are not going to be satisfied with them as they produce an image that is too cold or too warm. So, the only way to make the HG216D reproduce colors normally is to set it up manually, achieving a correct reproduction of white.

The brightness of white and the contrast ratio are typical for a modern TN matrix. This technology has progressed recently in this respect. A contrast ratio of 300:1 is finally a thing of the past.

The monitor doesn’t have factory-set modes with preset values of brightness and contrast.

Highs:

Lows:

Recommended usage:

HannStar HW223DP

As opposed to the previous model, the HW223DP is based on a 22.0” matrix.

The specs seem to differ a lot, but it’s not really so. The difference in the specified response time – 8 milliseconds against 5 milliseconds – can hardly be perceived with the eye because neither matrix has Response Time Compensation. They are going to be equally slow in practice. The viewing angles, very modest in the HW223DP model, are measured using the more honest method with a contrast ratio reduction to 5:1. If measured by a reduction to 10:1, the numbers would grow up to 160 degrees just like in the HG216D specs.

The HW223DP looks nice thanks to the rounded-off outline of the case and the overall compactness. Strangely enough, this monitor is almost 1 centimeter narrower than the HG216D (509mm against 518mm) despite the larger matrix.

The stand allows to adjust the tilt of the screen only. It can be replaced with a standard VESA mount if you want.

The monitor is equipped with analog and digital video inputs. The latter is a standard DVI connector, and the box contains all the cables necessary. There is a line audio input for the integrated speaker near the video inputs.

Besides that, the monitor has an integrated 4-port USB hub whose ports are located on the right side of the case.

The control buttons are at the bottom edge of the case, somewhat to the right, but their labels are on the front panel making it easy to find the button you need. As opposed to the HG216D, the power indicator has reasonable size and intensity and is not distracting at work. Quick access is provided to the sound volume setting and to the auto-adjustment feature.

By default, the monitor has 100% brightness and 70% contrast. I selected 50% brightness and 53% contrast to achieve a 100nit white. The monitor regulates its brightness by means of backlight modulation at a frequency of 240Hz.

Color gradients are reproduced without banding at any settings, but dark halftones are indistinguishable at 30% or lower contrast. If the contrast setting is higher than 70%, the monitor loses light halftones.

The color gamut coincides with the standard sRGB color space in blues, smaller than it in reds and larger in greens. That’s quite an ordinary picture except that the triangle is shifted a little to the right, towards yellow.

 

The average and maximum brightness uniformity is 4.7% and 11.6%, respectively, for white. For black, the numbers are 8.0% and 20%. Although the uniformity of black seems to be high when expressed in numbers, the pictures above show you that the brighter areas are distributed on the screen in an ordinary way: an X-shaped pattern without strikingly different areas. The white brightness is quite uniform.

The gamma curves are acceptable at the default settings except that the blue curve has a too high contrast which is indicated by the characteristic bend of the curve in the top right of the diagram.

This drawback is lost when the contrast is reduced although the blue curve still goes higher than the red and green curves. Moreover, as I noted above, you shouldn’t reduce the contrast setting too much: if you set it below 30%, dark halftones will become indistinguishable from black.

The response time average is 12.5 milliseconds (GtG). So, notwithstanding the specs, this matrix is actually no different from the above-discussed HG216D. Of course, the HW223DP doesn’t have Response Time Compensation.

The Warm and Nature modes are set up neatly enough while the Cool and User modes (the latter at the default settings) have a big difference between the temperatures of white and gray. Well, if the monitor’s contrast is lowered to 50-60%, this drawback becomes insignificant: the color marked as white in the table above will be outside the available dynamic range.

The contrast ratio is rather high. The brightness is ordinary for this product class and doesn’t make it to the specified 300 nits.

The monitor lacks any modes with brightness/contrast presets.

Highs:

Lows:

Recommended usage:

LG Flatron L222WS

Although the name of this monitor seems to imply a 22” diagonal, it is actually yet another 21.6” model. But as I noted above, the size of the screen is the single distinguishing trait of such monitors. Otherwise, they are identical to 22.0” models.

So, it is a TN-based monitor without Response Time Compensation. The viewing angles are specified to be as large as 170 degrees both vertically and horizontally but you shouldn’t forget that these numbers are arrived at by using a relaxed measurement method. In practice, the vertical viewing angles of the L222WS are no match to the viewing angles of monitors based on *VA or IPS matrixes.

The case is matte but the stand is made from black glossy plastic for some purpose. It doesn’t make the monitor any more beautiful while dust speckles and your fingerprints are going to be more conspicuous on the glossy surface. Overall, I’d describe this exterior design as neat, yet somewhat boring.

The stand allows to adjust the tilt of the screen. It can be replaced with a standard VESA mount if necessary.

The monitor doesn’t offer a digital interface. The L222WS is actually the only monitor in this review to lack a DVI input.

The control buttons are in the bottom right of the front panel. The labels and icons are painted in black. It is easy to read them under any lighting. Quick access is provided to the auto-adjustment feature and to switching between the preset modes (LightView technology). As opposed to f-Engine technology you can see in more expensive monitors from LG, LightView affects brightness and contrast ratio only. It doesn’t affect color reproduction.

The monitor’s onscreen menu is a standard menu from LG. Among its settings I would single out such options as the opportunity to turn out the Power indicator and the option of disabling image interpolation (a picture with an aspect ratio of 4:3 is not stretched out to the full width of the screen at that).

When I turned the monitor on for the first time together with a Radeon X1650 card and Catalyst 7.7, it would stretch the image horizontally in its native resolution so that the image left the dimensions of the screen. The other resolutions were displayed properly (with interpolation and scaled up to the size of the screen). I found a way to correct that problem. I opened the Catalyst Control Panel and switched to the image size/position adjustment window. In that window I clicked on the size adjustment button and the monitor then began to show the picture normally, pixel to pixel. It’s hard to say if it’s a monitor’s or a driver’s problem, but I have to confess I’ve never had such problems with Radeon cards and other monitors.

The Power indicator is designed prettily as a shining angle. Its brightness is reasonable; it won’t distract your eyes at work.

The brightness and contrast are set at 100% and 70%, by default. I achieved a 100nit white by selecting 40% brightness and 50% contrast. The monitor regulates its brightness by means of backlight modulation at a frequency of 226Hz.

Color gradients are reproduced normally at any value of contrast. There are no problems with darks at low contrast. Light halftones merge into white at a contrast of 70% and higher.

The monitor’s color gamut is inferior to the sRGB color space in blues and reds but superior to it in greens. An interesting thing, the two gamuts are similar in reds rather than in blues while it’s usually exactly the opposite: color gamuts of most monitors differ but slightly from sRGB in blues.

 

The average white brightness uniformity is 6.0% with a maximum deflection of 16.3%. For black, the average and maximum uniformity is 6.6% and 18.8%, respectively.

The gamma curves are good at the default settings but the red curve has too much of contrast.

It’s all normal at the reduced settings: the three curves go close to each other and differ but slightly from the theoretical curve for gamma 2.2.

The monitor’s average response time is 12.5 milliseconds GtG with a maximum of 22 milliseconds. That’s the typical result of an RTC-less matrix.

The color temperature setup is average. The difference between the temperatures of grays is bigger than 1000K in every mode. The monitor yields a downright bluish picture in the 9300K mode.

The contrast ratio is about 400:1. That’s not a record-breaking, yet normal, value for a modern TN-based monitor.

The LightView technology means six factory-written presets you can switch between by pressing a single button.

According to my measurements, the L222WS is indeed set up properly in those modes. The Text modes have low brightness suitable for working with text. The Photo and Movie modes are brighter. Each mode is available in two versions, Day (for bright daylight) and Night (for mild home lighting). I’d like to remind you that it’s not good for your eyes to sit at the monitor without any ambient lighting at all.

The LightView settings affect brightness and contrast ratio and do not distract the monitor’s color reproduction.

Highs:

Lows:

Recommended usage:

NEC MultiSync LCD225WXM

This model is one of the most expensive in this review. It is only cheaper than the Samsung SyncMaster 225UW you’ll read about below. Let’s see now what NEC offers for the money.

The first thing to catch my eyes in the specs is the fantastically large viewing angles, typical of *VA or S-IPS matrixes rather than of TN technology. However, the monitor uses a TN matrix indeed, and I can’t say that its vertical viewing angles are any better than those of other such monitors. It’s hard to tell if it’s just an error in the monitor description or another “optimization” of the measurement method (to remind you, this method is already more relaxed for TN matrixes than for *VA and S-IPS), but I have no reason to think that the monitor’s matrix is something other than TN.

The rounded-off bezel around the screen makes the monitor seem larger than it actually is. This effect is not as conspicuous as with other monitors from NEC, e.g. the 20WGX2 Pro model.

Rare functionality among 22” models, the stand allows to adjust not only the tilt but also the height of the screen, even though in a small range. The stand uses a dual-hinge design you may be familiar with by our reviews of LG and Samsung monitors. Samsung’s dual-hinge stand had a larger adjustment range, permitting you to virtually fold the monitor up. Anyway, even a small height adjustment is good for a 22” monitor.

The LCD225WXM has got analog and digital video inputs, an audio input for the integrated speakers, and a headphones output. The latter is at the back panel, which is not very convenient if you have to disconnect your headphones from time to time.

The control buttons are centered below the screen. Quick access is provided to the brightness and sound volume settings as well as to switching between the inputs.

The onscreen menu is awfully unfriendly. Frankly speaking, I thought such ugly menus had long disappeared even from monitors of obscure firms, let alone large manufacturers. You have to guess the meaning of each menu item by the tiny and unclear icons because there are no text tips here at all. You cannot set the position of the menu on the screen. A good thing is that you can choose between two interpolation modes: full-screen (when the image is always stretched out to the screen’s full size in 16:10 format) or keep the aspect ratio intact.

By default, the monitor has 100% brightness and 50% contrast. I achieved a 100nit white by choosing 50% brightness and 31% contrast. You shouldn’t increase the contrast setting above 50% as this leads to a loss of light halftones which are then displayed as pure white.

Color gradients are reproduced perfectly at the default settings but appear striped at the reduced settings. The monitor’s brightness is regulated by means of backlight modulation at a frequency of 209Hz.

The monitor has a standard color gamut which is overall similar to the sRGB color space.

 

The average white brightness uniformity is 5.9% with a maximum deflection of 18.8%. For black, the numbers are 6.7% and 10.0%, respectively. The patterns are different: there are lighter bands along the top and bottom of the screen on black. On white, there is a lighter center of the screen and small spots at the edges.

The monitor’s contrast is too high at the default settings which is indicated by the characteristic bend of the gamma curves in the top right of the diagram. That’s why I would recommend you to use the monitor at a contrast of 45% or lower (it is set at 50% by default).

The gamma curves become normal at the reduced settings. They look good even though go lower than the theoretical curve for gamma 2.2.

The LCD225WXM proved to be rather slow. Its response time average is 14.3 milliseconds (GtG) with a maximum deflection of over 30 milliseconds. That’s not the best result even for RTC-less matrixes. Of course, it is far slower than monitors with Response Time Compensation.

The monitor offers four color temperature modes plus a user-defined mode that coincides with Native mode by default. The setup is not quite accurate. The color temperature is considerably higher than necessary in each mode, making the image too cold. Most users are going to prefer the warmest mode, called Normal. On the other hand, there is a small difference in temperature of different grays (except for white, which is due to the too-high contrast at the default settings), and that’s a point in favor of this monitor.

The LCD225WXM has a higher maximum brightness than most other 22” monitors I’ve tested but this difference is unimportant. 200 nits should be already quite enough for any possible application. The contrast ratio is good, too.

Highs:

Lows:

Recommended usage:

Samsung SyncMaster 223BW

The reduced-size matrixes – with a diagonal of 21.6 inches – have entered Samsung’s line-up, too. The SyncMaster 223BW has this screen diagonal notwithstanding the number 22 in its name.

These are the specs of a regular TN-based monitor without Response Time Compensation.

The 223BW is externally identical to the SyncMaster 226BW we’ve discussed in our previous 22-inch roundup: a black glossy case, a light-silver strip along the bottom edge, and a large chrome Power button. It’s hard to tell that the 223BW is somewhat smaller even if you put the two models right next to each other. The difference is very negligible indeed.

The stand allows adjusting the tilt of the screen. You can replace it with a VESA mount if you want. Note that the screen can be turned backward, but not forward. So it is not going to be convenient to watch movies on it while you’re resting on a sofa, for example.

The SyncMaster 223BW is equipped with analog and digital video inputs. It doesn’t have integrated speakers and thus doesn’t have a line audio input.

The control buttons can be found on the bottom edge of the case. They are labeled on the front panel – the labels are pressed out in the plastic of the decorative silver strip. The buttons are handy, but there soon appears a greasy smudge from your fingers on the black plastic above them.

Samsung’s typical onscreen menu is intuitive and user-friendly. Among its settings I can single out the MagicColor option which increases color saturation. The rest of the options are traditional enough. There is no option to choose interpolation mode – the image is always stretched out to full screen.

A special menu is provided for the MagicBright technology, a set of predefined combinations of settings you can switch between by pressing a single button. Besides the different combinations of brightness and contrast, you can choose a dynamic contrast mode here.

The image undergoes certain changes in the Dynamic Contrast mode. Not only dynamic contrast proper is enabled (it is the automatic adjustment of the backlight brightness depending on the displayed image) but also color saturation is increased. The MagicColor settings (this technology is responsible for making colors more saturated) are blocked, which doesn’t look right to me. The adjustment of the backlight brightness is not connected technically with the adjustment of color saturation, and I don’t understand why the two should be combined together so that you can’t enable dynamic contrast without also enabling MagicColor.

The monitor has 100% brightness and 75% contrast by default. I achieved a 100nit white by selecting 25% brightness and 35% contrast. Dark halftones are always distinguishable irrespective of the contrast value. Lights are distinguishable too whatever contrast you select up to the maximum (in most monitors you shouldn’t lift the contrast setting up above the default value).

The brightness is regulated by means of backlight modulation at a frequency of 193Hz.

Color gradients are reproduced perfectly at the default settings. Barely visible banding appears in them at reduced values of contrast.

A funny thing, the color gamuts of the SyncMaster 223BW and the above-discussed LG L222WS (which has a 21.6” matrix, too) are identical and differ slightly from those of most other monitors: they coincide with the sRGB space in reds rather than in blues. These two models from different brands seem to be based on the same matrix.

 

The average white brightness uniformity is 5.3% with a maximum deflection of 18.7%. The average and maximum uniformity of black brightness are 9.7% and 27.5%, respectively. This result is worse than average. The pictures above show that the monitor has brighter areas along the top and bottom of the screen, especially on the right.

The gamma curves are good at the default settings except that the blue curve is somewhat higher than the others.

The curves all get lower at the reduced settings, and color reproduction improves as the consequence. The curves are now closer to the theoretical one.

The monitor is slow as it doesn’t have Response Time Compensation. Its response average is 12.7 milliseconds (GtG) with a maximum of about 22 milliseconds.

The color temperature setup is most inaccurate. The image is cold in every mode and there is a few thousand degrees of difference between the different levels of gray.

The monitor’s max brightness and contrast ratio are normal.

As mentioned above, the SyncMaster 223BW features MagicBright technology, a set of five combinations of settings you can switch between quickly by pressing a single button.

These preset modes are set up adequately enough for the intended applications. The Text mode is indeed bright enough for working with text, and Movie is suitable for watching movies. None of the modes leads to color distortions.

Besides, the same button enables the dynamic contrast mode but it is not mentioned in the table. Obviously, our testing method is unsuitable for making any measurements in such a mode.

Highs:

Lows:

Recommended usage:

Samsung SyncMaster 225UW

The letter U made me remember the SyncMaster 940UX, which is capable of receiving video signal via USB interface. Did Samsung make a 22” version of it? No, unfortunately. Well, the 225UW does have something to do with the USB interface, in a different way.

In its specs, it is an ordinary 22” TN-based monitor without Response Time Compensation.

The monitor’s exterior design is original. Although it’s not the first time Samsung uses black glossy plastic, the company’s earlier models were prone to have rounded-off shapes whereas the 225UW is angular. It doesn’t look bulky, though. Its black coloring makes it look smaller than it really is.

Of course, the glossy surface has its traditional drawback. Dust and fingerprints are more visible on it than on a matte surface. That’s why a soft napkin is included with the monitor for cleaning it.

The monitor’s stand allows adjusting the tilt of the screen. It can be replaced with a VESA mount if necessary. Take note that the back panel is absolutely flat while the connectors are placed in a niche so you can fasten the monitor right against a wall.

In the above-mentioned niche you will find a power connector, digital and analog video inputs, and a USB input. The monitor’s side panel carries a second group of connectors: two ports of the USB hub, a headphones output and a microphone input.

You may be wondering where the audio inputs/outputs the headphones and microphone are to be connected to the PC with? They are absent here. Besides everything else, the SyncMaster 225UW has an audio card with a USB interface to do without extra cables. Of course, a PC without a sound card is quite a specific solution today, but the 225UW may be valuable for making the connection simpler.

By the way, you don’t even have to install any drivers for the 225UW if you’ve got a modern OS. Microsoft Windows XP successfully identified all the devices available in the monitor.

The 225UW features integrated speakers which are hidden in the front panel inside the slit under the silver strip.

A web-camera is a third USB device integrated into the monitor, after the USB hub and the sound card. It is centered above the screen and can be turned up and down. There are small grids to the left and right of the camera – these are microphones.

The monitor has touch-sensitive buttons at the bottom of the front panel. They react sharply and only to your fingers. The buttons won’t respond to such things as an accidental touch of a cable. The monitor emits a quiet squeak on your pressing a button which gives you feedback the lack of which is a big problem of many other implementations of touch-sensitive buttons.

As opposed to ASUS’ monitors for example, the labels are written in paint and are visible always, not only when the menu is active.

The Power indicator is placed on the right. It is blue and of modest brightness. It won’t be distracting at work. The Power button is located nearby.

The monitor has a standard Samsung menu, clear and user-friendly. Quick access is provided to the auto-adjustment feature, to switching between the inputs, to the sound volume setting, and to the MagicBright modes.

The monitor has 100% brightness and 75% contrast by default. I lowered both settings to 40% to achieve a 100nit white. You should not increase the contrast above 78% as this distorts the reproduction of lights. The brightness is regulated by means of backlight modulation at a frequency of 367Hz.

Color gradients are reproduced by the monitor without banding.

The monitor’s speakers sound good. The sound volume is high enough for a workplace with a hint of low frequencies even. But of course, these speakers are no match even to inexpensive standalone speaker sets.

This is an example of a picture taken from the integrated web-camera (at a reduced resolution). The camera is not ideal, of course. It makes the center of the shot too bright and the edges of the shot too dark, but its color reproduction is quite adequate. Of course, the resolution of 2 megapixels is just a marketing trick. In reality, the quality of shots taken with such cameras is always limited by the quality of the lens rather than by the matrix resolution.

The color gamut of the 225UW is ordinary enough; it is inferior to the sRGB space in reds, but larger than it in greens. The two gamuts coincide in blues.

 

The average uniformity of white brightness is 6.8% with a maximum deflection of 16.0. For black, the numbers are 6.1% and 16.2%, respectively. The numbers are indicative of a rather non-uniform distribution of brightness, but there are no clearly outlined brighter or darker areas – the maximums would be higher otherwise. The pictures above show that quite clearly.

The gamma value is somewhat lower than necessary at the default settings for green and blue – the corresponding curves go higher than the theoretical one.

The curve move closer to each other at the reduced settings, but still go higher than the theoretical curve. This makes the image look somewhat faded.

There is a gamma adjustment option in the monitor’s menu. You can choose one out of three variants without specific numeric values. If you choose Mode 2, the curves go lower, restoring the saturation back to normal.

Lacking Response Time Compensation technology, the monitor is slow: an average response of 16.5 milliseconds GtG with a maximum of 30 milliseconds.

The color temperature modes are set up badly: every mode is too cold, the temperature reaching 8000K even if you select Warm. For most users the Warm mode is going to be the only acceptable choice but if the image looks bluish to you even in that mode, you have to set the temperature up manually. Besides, the temperature of white differs greatly from the other temperatures in every mode. This defect won’t show up if you use the monitor with the contrast set below the default value (75%).

The monitor’s max brightness and contrast ratio are at a normal level for a modern TN-based model.

Like other monitors from Samsung, the SyncMaster 225UW features MagicBright technology which means five presets you can switch between by pressing a single button. Each preset mode is meant to correspond to a specific usage of the monitor.

The presets are indeed adequate to the intended applications. The Text mode is not very bright just as you need for working with text (it may be somewhat too bright under mild ambient lighting, for example in the evening at home). The other modes are brighter. Well, I had expected that from Samsung. The MagicBright modes are accurate in nearly all of the company’s monitors. They are indeed handy and helpful at everyday use.

The contrast is slightly too high in the Game mode: the picture is bright but the lightest halftones are not distinguishable. I didn’t observe this problem in the other modes.

Summing it all up, the SyncMaster 225UW is surely an interesting, yet questionable, model. Its technical parameters are all rather average for today but it can appeal to the customer with its exterior design (the combination of black gloss with restrained shapes is unusual for Samsung), with the integrated web-camera and the USB-interfaced sound card, which not only makes it simpler to connect to the PC but also – if your software can do that – allows to separate audio streams, for example directing the output of your MP3-player to “grownup” speakers attached to the PC while the output of Skype and other such software is sent to the monitor only.

On the other hand, the 225UW is more expensive than other 22” models and the price difference is bigger than the price of a simple standalone web-camera together with a microphone.

Highs:

Lows:

Recommended usage:

Samsung SyncMaster 226CW

We talked about this monitor in an earlier review but that was a presale sample which was not to make to the shelves. Today I will test an off-the-shelf sample.

Judging by the specs, it is a TN-based monitor with Response Time Compensation and dynamic contrast mode (this explains the high specified contrast ratio). What sets it apart from the other monitors in this review is that the 226CW features backlight lamps with improved phosphors that ensure a larger color gamut.

The 226CW has the same exterior design as the SyncMaster 226BW. The two are very similar in their specs except for color gamut. The 226BW has an ordinary, sRGB-like, color gamut.

The stand allows adjusting the tilt of the screen. It can be replaced with a standard VESA mount if necessary.

The monitor has analog and digital inputs. Its power adapter is integrated into the case. The connectors are placed in a niche covered with a decorative panel.

The control buttons can be easily found on the right of the bottom edge of the case. Their labels are written on the silver strip on the front panel. It’s easy to read them. The Power indicator is designed as a circle around the Power button; it is shining in blue at work (rather brightly) and blinking in sleep mode (without getting less bright or changing color).

That’s a standard menu of Samsung monitors except that it doesn’t offer preset color temperature modes. Instead, you can set it up manually using three sliders (red-green-blue). Moreover, the MagicColor feature, which used to increase color saturation, is now replaced with Color Innovation which seems to do the same.

Quick access is provided to the automatic adjustment of analog connection, to switching between the inputs, to the brightness setting and to the MagicBright modes.

By default, the monitor has 100% brightness and 75% contrast. To achieve a 100nit white I selected 30% brightness and 40% contrast. You shouldn’t set the contrast setting higher than 75% as it leads to the loss of light halftones. Color gradients are reproduced without banding.

The small viewing angles of the TN matrix have an odd effect on the reproduction of yellow: if you take a look at the screen from below, yellow appears to have a greenish tincture. Moreover, yellow has this tincture at the sides of the screen even if you are sitting right in front of the monitor at a distance of 50-60cm from the screen.

This is a rather annoying effect. What’s surprising, I’ve never seen it in my tests before. Yes, TN matrixes can’t have large vertical viewing angles, but it was a surprise for me to see them have such a strong effect on color reproduction.

I should note that Samsung may ship the same model with matrixes from different manufacturers and of different revisions, especially as there is something to correct in this case. However, you can only be sure the monitor is free from this effect if you check it out at the shop. It is the most conspicuous on yellow.

The monitor’s color gamut is really different from typical, especially in greens. There is also an improvement in reds. If you place the 226CW next to a monitor with ordinary backlight lamps, you can see it right away that the latter doesn’t yield a pure green but a yellowish green. Well, I’ve written about the pros and cons of the enhanced color gamut in my reviews already.

 

The average uniformity of white brightness is 5.1% with a maximum deflection of 19.0%. On black, the numbers are 5.1% and 18.0%, respectively. The average values are good while the maximums are due to the four symmetrical dark spots at the sides of the screen.

The gamma curves are acceptable at the default settings but deflect from the theoretical curve.

The curves improve at the reduced settings: they now go close to each other and to the theoretical curve.

The response time average is 3.5 milliseconds (GtG) but one transition took as long as 14 milliseconds.

Of course, if there is response time compensation, there should also be RTC-provoked artifacts. This monitor could not match the record-breaking result of the ASUS VW222u – its average RTC error is 9.9%. Black-to-gray transitions are performed almost without errors but there are big errors accompanying transitions from dark-grays into light-grays – that’s going to be visible in games.

This monitor doesn’t have color temperature modes at all, so I performed the measurements in the manual setup mode at the default settings. The results are very good: the temperatures of grays are within a 100K range. The only downside is that the image is too warm, but this can be easily corrected with the manual settings.

The monitor’s max brightness is quite ordinary while the contrast ratio is low. It doesn’t even make it to 300:1.

Like other monitors from Samsung, the SyncMaster 226CW offers MagicBright technology for switching quickly between preset image modes.

The MagicBright modes are very accurate and appropriate to the intended applications. Well, if you are using your monitor at home under mild ambient lighting, you may want to set it up manually for text applications and switch into the MagicBright modes when you need more brightness, i.e. during the day and for watching movies and playing games.

Besides the five mentioned modes, the MagicBright menu offers a Dynamic Contrast mode (automatic adjustment of backlight brightness depending on the displayed image). This mode can be valuable for watching movies, but provides no advantages for office applications.

Highs:

Lows:

Recommended usage:

Samsung SyncMaster 2232BW

This test session is ended with one more 22” monitor from Samsung, the SyncMaster 2232BW model. Samsung is quite prolific as concerns the amount of product models. On one hand, the customer is offered a broader choice, but on the other hand, it may be difficult to find your bearings among such an abundance of products.

The specs are similar to those of the SyncMaster 226BW: a TN matrix with Response Time Compensation and a dynamic contrast mode. While the above-discussed 226CW differed from the 226BW with the enhanced color gamut, the 2232BW doesn’t have such an advantage. In fact, it is a redesigned 226BW: the same specs but with a new exterior.

Our readers should already know this variant of exterior design: the rounded-off case made from black glossy plastic looks somewhat unusual, yet appealing. Some people don’t like this emphasized roundness. For them, the SyncMaster 225UW is offered (see above).

The designers didn’t stop at the front panel. The back panel is sleek and rounded off, too.

The stand allows to change the tilt of the screen only. It is fastened in an original way: there is a rubberized groove in the bottom of the monitor the pole of the stand is inserted into. This provides flexible fastening with an elegant side view as opposed to classic monitors in which the stand is screwed up to the back panel. Unfortunately, the default stand cannot be replaced with a VESA mount – there are no fasteners for the latter.

The monitor is equipped with analog and digital inputs, and an integrated power adapter. All of its connectors are located in a recess of the back panel which has no decorative cover for some reason.

The control buttons are centered on the bottom edge of the front panel. They are labeled on the front panel and can be read easily under normal lighting (you can’t see them in the photo above as they are placed on a protruding ledge facing upwards, at the user).

This is Samsung’s standard menu except for one item: the SyncMaster 2232BW allows you to adjust the brightness of the Power indicator from barely visible to very bright. This is very handy as many users would criticize large blue LEDs that were distracting at work and annoying in sleep mode. This model’s indicator can be set at the minimum and it won’t disturb you any longer.

By default, the monitor’s got 100% brightness and 75% contrast. I achieved a 100nit white by choosing 20% brightness and 25% contrast. The monitor regulates its brightness by means of backlight modulation at a frequency of 332Hz.

Color gradients are reproduced perfectly at the default settings. Barely visible banding appears in them at low values of contrast.

The monitor’s color gamut is perfectly standard. It coincides with sRGB in blues, smaller than it in reds and larger in greens.

 

The average white brightness uniformity is 5.4% with a maximum deflection of 16.9%. For black, the numbers are 5.5% and 14.5%, respectively. The pictures above show that there is a brighter horizontal band in the center and three brighter spots at the top and bottom in both cases.

The gamma curves are acceptable at the default settings but sag in the second half of the diagram, deflecting from the theoretical curve.

The reproduction of colors improves at the reduced settings: the three curves go in a single group, almost coinciding with the ideal curve.

The response time average is 5.4 milliseconds (GtG) with a maximum of 19.3 milliseconds. The 2232BW is not the fastest monitor available, yet it’s far faster than RTC-less models. Interestingly, Response Time Compensation doesn’t work for black-to-gray transitions and you can see a barely visible “ghosting” effect at ordinary work (for example, when dragging about a window with text).

The average level of RTC errors is 9.3%. That’s normal for this matrix type, but not impressive in comparison with the superb results of the ASUS VW222u (discussed above). RTC-provoked artifacts are going to be inconspicuous at work but may be noticeable in games.

The color temperature setup is quite accurate. The difference between the temperatures of different grays is not higher than 1000K in any mode. And if you disregard white (you can do so if you select a contrast value lower than the default one), the difference is within 500K even. The monitor doesn’t offer really warm modes, but most users are going to be satisfied with Warm or Normal mode.

The contrast ratio is good, over 400:1.

Like the above-discussed monitors from Samsung, the 2232BW offers five preset MagicBright modes. I’d say the Text mode is rather too bright – a brightness of 80-110 nits is considered optimal for reading text, depending on ambient lighting. I guess most users will set the monitor up manually for working with text and will switch to the MagicBright modes for photographs, movies or games. I have no other complaint about this feature.

I am overall pleased with the SyncMaster 2232BW. It’s not exceptional in its parameters but I didn’t find serious flaws about it, either. It’s a balanced model that meets all the requirements a home monitor must meet.

Highs:

Lows:

Recommended usage:

Conclusion

If asked to mark the most interesting models in this review from the customer’s point of view, I would single out the ASUS VW222u and the Samsung SyncMaster 2232BW. The former offers an unusual combination of a fast matrix and an almost total lack of RTC-provoked visual artifacts. Surprised as I am, I can even forgive ASUS the sloppy implementation of Splendid technology and call the VW222u one of the leaders of today’s tests.

The SyncMaster 2232BW, on the contrary, set no records, but proved to be one of the best products I tested in the total of its characteristics. It is actually free from drawbacks (for its class and its price, of course). Thanks to that, it takes a place on the podium next to the model from ASUS.

From a technical viewpoint, the Samsung SyncMaster 225UW is most original, coming not only with integrated speakers and microphone but also with an integrated sound card. The high price of this product makes the user’s choice not so obvious, though.

The other models don’t provoke such strong emotions. Most manufacturers do not hurry up to introduce monitors with Response Time Compensation. For example, Acer uses outdated matrixes with a specified response time of 5 milliseconds (ISO) and a real response of over 13 milliseconds (GtG) even in its top monitor series.

Especially queer is the ASUS MW221u model that is declared to have Response Time Compensation but doesn’t have it actually. The real response time of this monitor is six times worse than the specified value!