WE'VE JUST GOT our hands on the monitor of the moment, the Samsung Syncmaster SM226BW, and it's truly lovely.
The monitor boasts a response time of 2ms, and a 3000:1 dynamic contrast ratio.
We put it through its paces using a variety of games, DVDs and high-motion videos, and it performed admirably on all occasions, with no lag, excellent image quality, and vivid colours. There was relatively little back-light bleeding - a common niggle of modern panels.
It's also got the newly ubiquitous HDCP compliant DVI connection, which is necessary if you wish to view DRM infected HD content via Vista. It's probably not worth purchasing a screen nowadays unless it supports HDCP.
There are no extras such as USB ports or built-in speakers, but it does feature a VGA connection. This allows a slimline look, with a black and silver finish, similar to that of a Sony Bravia TV.
Samsung also has the rear ports completely covered by a plastic cover (not shown above), which allows a tidy, cable captured finish at the back.
The native resolution of 1,680 x 1,050, standard for 22-inch panels, is just short of 'full HD' in terms of vertical resolution, so it needs to scale down for full HD and scale up for 720p content, but the screen dealt nicely with both.
The only snipe we can manage is that the A and C panels used in some of the monitor batches are allegedly inferior, and you may wish to ensure your supplier is stocking the S panel stock.
The S version denotes the use of a Samsung LCD panel, the A version uses an AU Optronics panel, and the C monitor utilises a Chi Mei panel.
While people have been reluctant to get the A and C panels, it appears that fears may not be well founded, and that you'll probably get a similarly performing product. We noticed a tinge more blue on the A panel than the S (we've not managed to get a C yet), but this is configurable to closely match the performance of the S.
We must mention that a lot of forum feedback has been more critical of the C panel than that of the A. We must also state that we're more than happy with the performance of both the S and A monitors we received for review, but the S does have the edge considering it's out-of-the-box calibration.
The control panel up-close
Our A panel stated it was the A variety on the back of the monitor, but to truly check what panel you have you need to turn the screen on and look at a hidden engineers menu option, stating exactly what panel it is. Oddly, our A version had this specification missing from the menu, and we suspect Samsung has done this purposely to stop people from knowing exactly what they have.
If you want to examine your 226BW's details, consider using this link from BCCHardware to help you in your quest.
The most impressive performing 22-inch monitor on the market at the moment, coupled with its gorgeous looks, make the SM226BW a real winner.
We love it.
Fast response (2ms)
Cheap, at around £230
Beautiful good looks
Ensuring you have the 'S' panel.
Cable tidy is a bit flimsy
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