Samsung SyncMaster 226BW review

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Samsung’s first 22in TFT, the SyncMaster 225BW, was best described as functional, eschewing elegant design for a plain grey exterior and a height-adjustable stand. Its image quality was pretty good, though, so full marks to Samsung for following it up with the 226BW just months later.

See also: Read our review of its successor, the SyncMaster 2232BW.

The 226BW is clearly aimed at home users, with its glossy black bezel and blue-backlit power button. But rather than the software-only approach to image adjustment of some of its previous consumer TFTs, this time Samsung has included physical control buttons on the underside, with labels etched into the silver bar beneath the screen.

This makes the initial setup easy, especially as the only tweak we needed to make was a slight reduction in the red level. In our DisplayMate tests, we found the 226BW to have an impressive and uniform white level, with the backlight giving a maximum brightness of 300cd/m2 – but more important is the fantastically deep black level.

We saw no light bleed at the edges of the screen, and the 1,000:1 contrast ratio means colours were vibrant and the level of detail was high in our test videos, with no blurring or ghosting thanks to the 2ms response time. Greys were tinged with blue, but the colour-blending tests showed smooth gradients.

Samsung makes much of its Dynamic Contrast feature. It offers a theoretical 3,000:1 ratio when enabled by altering the intensity of the backlight on-the-fly, but the constant shifts soon get irritating during movies. Without it, the picture quality is impressive enough.

The 226BW is HDCP compliant over the DVI connection, and it sensibly does away with integrated speakers. The stand isn’t very adjustable, but the screen sits at a comfortable height from the base.

At £220, there are cheaper 22in TFTs, but the SyncMaster 226BW compares well with last month’s Labs-winning Dell E228WFP at £262. The Dell can’t match the Samsung for vibrancy or value, so the 226BW moves onto the A List.

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