Which 22 inch to choose? Six monitors tested with reaction times from 2 to 5 ms - BeHardware
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Written by Vincent Alzieu
Published on December 6, 2006
Which 22 inch to choose? Six monitors tested
Six monitors testedWe already tested the Acer AL2216W, and now it’s back. We also added to the list the Asus MW221u, Belinea 2225 S1W, HP w22, Fujitsu-Siemens L22-1W and Samsung SyncMaster 225BW.
Besides their price, they stand out with an additional VGA interface (which is always available), various designs, plastic or metal bezels and more or less accurate color rendering. There is also the "Zero dead pixel" policy on one of the screens, which is very much appreciated and an intelligent option.
Which 22 inch?We were expecting a lot of products and finally they are here. Now all of a sudden, we have the 22", which overshadow the 17, 19, 20 and 21 inch, and some barely cost 300 €. Wide format is definitively in fashion and look for it to invade homes and living rooms. Convergence is no longer an issue. It’s there and it is no longer noticeable. The 16/10 format isn´t optimised for text writing but it is very handy for movies. However, the 22" panels introduced so far are all based on TN technology. This implies rather small viewing angles, at least the vertical ones and the image turns dark when looked at from below. This mostly concerns the little ones, of course.
Also, all but one have 5ms panels. The exception is the Asus MW221u, the first one for now and only 2ms 22".
Among the 5 ms, even if there are two panel manufacturers, AU Optronics and Samsung, this survey deals with a lot of similar products. In comparing them we ended up looking at details: color rendering, interface, finishing touches, and design. If the winner for you should be the one with the best reaction time, we will save you 2 hours and say the Asus wins. All the others are all equivalent with the same behaviour in games. Take a look at the last page to see which monitor slightly stands out in each area.
The 1680 x 1050 resolution of these monitors might be a bit surprising as it’s the same as the 20"s. There is no additional data on the screen but everything will be bigger. Too big? Not in our opinion. Here are the pitch results:
We see that letters on 22" monitors are noticeably smaller than with 4/3 on 15” and 19"s. In practice, we found them perfect for those who don´t want to end up with tired eyes like with 20" monitors.
TestsWe run tests for reaction time in games, delay of display, and video rendering (SD, HD 720p, HD 1080p). We also evaluate ergonomics, viewing angles, and the quality of upscaling.
For color fidelity we use the LaCie Blue Eye Pro colorimeter, based on the Gretag tool and coupled with the new LaCie software suite. More evolved than the previous version, it helps us to compare a monitor’s display quality (color spectrum and DeltaE) in standard settings and after calibration. Results are sometimes surprising as it’s often best to take the time to manually adjust colors (or at least contrast, brightness and color temperature).
The analysis of 18 patches makes it possible to draw patterns visually resituating the variation of colors compared to an ideal gray scale.
For game tests, after developing a response time measurement procedure last year with a probe and oscilloscope, we eventually came to the conclusion that results weren’t representative of what we actually saw on the screen. We then developed a new test procedure in the summer of 2005, based on pictures of images on the monitor. In this way we can capture afterglow in two environments. The first is between bright colors, and the second is for black and white (like in wire frame mode). The software used is Pixel Persistence Analyzer (or PixPerAn for regular users). Pictures showing these ghosting effects are captured with a Canon 350D at a shutter speed of 1/1000 s. We take 50 pictures in burst mode for each test to precisely measure the progression of afterglow between images. These results are consistent with what we see in games. Finally, practical tests are the same in games, HD and DVD video, web surfing, etc.
The test computer is self-assembled, has an AMD Athlon XP3500+ processor and NVIDIA GeForce 7900 GTX card.
Reaction time tests
A car moves from left to right at high speed.
Movement isn’t perfectly fluid. Depending on its speed, the car is shown in several successive positions. If the car goes very fast, the positions are very close and the eye perceives a flowing movement.
Perfect monitor monitor with 3 ghost images
A monitor without ghosting effects would have previous images completely fading away when a new one appears. This is the theory and in practice, it´s often not the case as images progressively fade. Sometimes up to 5 afterglow images remain on the monitor and represent the visible white trail behind objects. Some monitors have strong overdrives in addition to image anticipation algorithms. In this case, an image can appear in front of the main object, creating a white halo ahead of objects in motion.
With CRTs we captured afterglow with a camera at a shutter speed of 1/60 seconds as compared to 1/1000 s for an LCD. We take 50 pictures per test. We then can see a monitor’s ghosting effects, or all the car’s position in the entire process. The most important image is the one on the left, the better one. It will be the most displayed on the monitor, while the one on the right is in transition.
Here are the two extreme states with each monitor as afterglow oscillates.
TN 5 ms : Acer AL2216W
TN 2 ms : Asus MW221u
19" : TN 2 ms, BenQ FP93G X
TN 5 ms : Belinea 2225 S1W
TN 5 ms : Fujitsu-Siemens L22-1W
TN 5 ms : HP w22
TN 5 ms : Samsung SyncMaster 225BW
20" : TN 8 ms, BenQ FP202W
We added two reference monitors to the six 22" monitors tested: a 19" TN 2 ms and a 20" TN 8 ms. This was quite useful and simplifies the interpretation of results.
The Asus MW221u, the only 22" 2 ms, is as good as the BenQ FP93G X, the fastest 19" (except for 100 Hz monitors). The BenQ is as good as the other 2, 3 and 4ms but we had to pick one.
The most interesting point is that the Asus doesn´t have an AU Optronics panel as we thought it would have, or a Samsung . Nor is it a LG Philips. It’s a Chi Mei Electronics or CMO. This result is surprising as we were used to seeing low quality panels (with high response times) from this manufacturer.
We have to say that this is a tremendous improvement and CMO is now much ahead of other 22"s. Their product is comparable to the previous generation of TN 8ms monitors (as the picture of the BenQ FP202W shows). The latter didn´t represent a huge improvement compared to previous TN 16ms.
In games the difference is obvious and the Asus is much faster than other monitors. It is much less subject to afterglow, the blur effect resulting from character movement or the credits at the end of a movie.
As for the other five, they are equivalent. This isn´t a catastrophe but you shouldn´t expect extraordinary reaction time in games and it isn’t comparable to CRTs. There will be some blurring but if you don’t look for it, it’s unnoticeable.
Our next section should be titled, The revenge of the slow monitors!.
Color rendering quality
Color rendering quality
The quality of colors is measured with the LaCie BlueEye Pro colorimeter, which in fact is a Gretag colorimeter coupled to the software suite developed by LaCie.
Just to remind you, we work with a value called DeltaE. It represents a measurement between the color requested and the one really displayed on the monitor. The higher the result obtained, the less true colors are. The value is also counter-balanced for human eye color sensitivity.
Delta E > 3 the desired color is noticeably different from the one on the screen.
2 < Delta E < 3 color quality is satisfactory but a graphic designer probably wouldn’t be content
1< Delta E <2 colors are accurate.
Delta E < 1, the result is perfect.
Each time, 18 patches of color are studied and 16 results are reported in the graph. To facilitate the interpretation of results, here is a table based on the average DeltaE for the monitors tested.
Here are the average gaps (DeltaE 94) measured for our 18 color patches (the smaller the better):
Next to the figures, are the practical results. The gray above is the one that the monitor displays (it corresponds to the measurements made by our probe with the best standard adjustments) and the one below is perfect. It doesn´t matter if your monitor is calibrated or not. You should focus only on the difference. If it’s greener, it means that the monitor has too much green.
Belinea 2225 S1W
Samsung SyncMaster 225BW
The grays we see here perfectly illustrate the figures reported above. One monitor is particularly accurate from the start, the Acer. The Asus is the furthest from perfect colors with a strong blue dominance. This disappointing result is only half of the surprise. We have never tested an Asus monitor or CMO panel with correct adjustments. The combination of the two logically doesn´t result in an extraordinary result in this area.
Testing the delay in displaying images
Testing the delay in displaying imagesWe recently discovered that all LCD monitors displayed their images later than CRTs. It goes from 2 ms on average for the fastest monitor that we have tested to 5 for the worst. It can be disturbing to have the sound before an image and it can really be annoying in games when the image displayed doesn´t correspond to the scene. Imagine an LAN game where your opponent can see you five images before he appears on your monitor.
This delay is due to 2 factors: afterglow (not too often) and the quality of electronic components (usually the main reason).
The idea behind this test is we take a lot of pictures at a very high speed in burst mode with a precise electronic stop watch (accuracy 1/1000 of second), which is displayed simultaneously on a CRT and the LCD tested. We extrapolate twelve consecutive times and eliminate the two most extreme cases. The 10 values left are reported below in a graph. To simplify the interpretation of results we add a table with the maximum, minimum and average.
Belinea 2225 S1W
Samsung SyncMaster 225BW
Three facts are shown by these tables:
None of the 22" monitor are extraordinarily slow and they are even faster than average. This shows that the quality of electronic components chosen by manufacturers is improving and that they no longer necessarily go for the cheapest.
If the Asus is the faster in terms of reaction time, here it’s at the same level as the others. If liquid crystals move faster and blurring is less noticeable, images aren´t displayed faster on the monitor.
Only the HP slightly stands out with a delay always inferior to 18 ms. The delay is from 0 to 1 image, which is not bad at all!
Viewing anglesThe six monitors tested are equipped with TN panels. They are easily recognisable as their lower vertical viewing angle darkens and this is the case here. However, the latest generation of TN panels can be equipped with filters to improve the side viewing angle. Only one monitor – the AU-Optronics (Belinea) – seems to have this filter. Other results are really average and it’s best to be right in front of the monitor. Slightly moving results in noticeable modifications of colors. In the case of a dual monitor configuration, you will have to pay special attention to facing the monitors toward the user.
Belinea 2225 S1W
Samsung SyncMaster 225BW
22" wide screen monitor… We would dream of movies displayed almost in full screen….It’s indeed possible, but it is best to have a graphic card capable of reducing compression defaults and at least partially masking twinkling. These TN monitors strongly accentuate the two of them: Overdrive, upscaling, incomplete color scales, the defaults add up and affect images. As we explained recently, in this area we have a preference for NVIDIA´s cards when they are used with the latest drivers. We invite you to take a look at the article ATI and NVIDIA correct the twinkling effect of LCDs in movies to have more information.
As you will see below only a few monitors are compatible with the HDCP norm, the real time encrypting norm that was about to be released for graphic cards, monitors and new HD media, HD-DVD and Blu-Ray. Imposed by the movie industry and developed by Intel and Microsoft amongst others, it was supposed to degrade or simply prevent the display of movies on monitors that weren´t compatible.
There was a change of direction. If this norm was supposed to be released in mid-2006, it is postponed until…2010 according to Microsoft. According to them, we are assured not to see it for the next 2 to 3 years, probably 4 or maybe even 6. We even heard 2012, which could also mean that HDCP could be replaced by an even more intelligent norm. They are in a very good position to see that the last generation of consoles Sony PS3 and Xbox 360 will soon have HD players and aren´t necessarily compatible with HDCP. The Xbox 360 or entry level PS3 don’t even have digital output.
Conclusion: According to Microsoft, you won´t necessarily have to have a HDCP monitor, unless you are planning on using it for more than 4 years and want to watch HD movies. But in this case is the 22" diagonal really appropriate? These monitors have a resolution of 1680*1050 pixels and they do not have the 1,080 lines required. For this type of use, it will be best to choose a 24" or 30".
The Acer 22" is one of the cheapest and most of all, the 22" with the best initial colors. The difference compared to its competitors is obvious. If you aren´t a natural for manual adjustments, it really is the best.
Apart from this point, you will have to make do with its downsides. The main ones are the very basic design, average finishing touches, not the best quality plastic materials, lack of DVI input, and like all the others, very small viewing angles. Finally, as it is a TN 5ms, it’s much more subject to afterglow than the Asus monitor.
We also had a problem each time we switched on the monitor: it was blurred. We don´t know if it was only the test unit or a problem of the entire series. Either way, it’s due to recovery of the phase and clock after the conversion of the signal received by the numeric input. However, if you press the Auto button located on the front of the monitor, the image becomes perfectly sharp without any other adjustments.
Asus has chosen the first and for now the only 2ms panel. The best thing is it’s as good as the TN 19" 2ms. This isn´t a low quality 2ms. The only thing that we found unfortunate is that the panel manufacturer first and then Asus do not really care about color rendering. The average DeltaE – 6.6 – is already very impressive and the graph even more:
It is hard to make any manual improvement. As we have seen in the previous pages, we noted a strong blue dominance. You might want to at least correct this problem in the OSD and ideally, it would be best to use a good colorimeter. Ours was completely off with this monitor and didn´t obtain good results. We ended up with neutral grays without a color dominance but the other colors were still quite unsatisfactory.
This is too bad, because the design and finishing touches are as good as the reaction time. We also very much appreciated the DVI interface and compatibility with the HDCP norm.
Unlike other Asus monitors, this one doesn´t come with a zero dead pixel warranty. The foot isn´t vertically adjustable and it doesn´t have a pivot mode.
Belinea 2225 S1W
Belinea 2225 S1W
The Belinea monitor has another advantage compared to the Acer. Even if it doesn’t have a numeric input, it has a perfectly sharp image from the start and it doesn´t need to recalculate the phase and clock each time it is switched off. This is an ultra classical 22" monitor. It doesn´t have any specific problems but neither does it have anything too outstanding. Its specificity is to be the first 22" monitor with an AU Optronics panel. We hoped to have slightly different afterglow, but the behaviour in games is strictly identical.
The ergonomics are basic and correspond to the low price of the monitor. The foot is basic and doesn’t allow any adjustments (pivot height). It doesn´t have a USB hub, a DVI input and it isn´t HDCP compatible. The initial color rendering is satisfactory on average but we can’t really call it "good". The only practical aspect is that the monitor features a pair of low quality speakers. This is enough for the occasional video.
In the end, for this budget it isn´t our favourite. The Fujitsu monitor has more solid selling points.
If you do choose it, you should know that we obtained better results with the following adjustments: red 73, green 75 and blue 70. With these parameters, the DeltaE falls to 3.9.
If you really want to find the best deal, the biggest monitor at the lowest price, this is the one. There are three reasons for this:
1 – the quality of the bezel, quality finishing touches, and robustness (not plastic but aluminium). The foot is nice, and even if we have pictures of many versions seen, the actual one is above.
2 – It has two analog inputs in the back. That surprised us. Why two VGAs when we would largely have preferred DVI + D-Sub 15b? Probably because it’s cheaper and it doesn´t restrict the use of the monitor. With an adaptor will be able to connect a console, camcorder or DVD player in addition to a computer.
3 - Fujitsu-Siemens has a very nice"zero dead pixels" warranty (this page is in French). It is very intelligent because they give you a choice and you have to make your decision in the month following your purchase if you want to take it or not. Our recommendation is that if you have dead pixels from the start, ask for a replacement directly from the manufacturer. If you don´t have dead pixels, then you can avoid the warranty and save the 39€ for one year, 59€ for two and 69€ for three years. Without the warranty, the replacement will only happen after black/white dead pixels, or 7 colored sub-pixels.
For color rendering, we preferred the cinema mode. To have the most accurate shades, it’s best to use a colorimeter as it’s really complicated to manually correct all colors.
It is 100€ more than the Fujitsu. Maybe the price gap is justified by the brand (not really convincing) and replacement of the analog input by a DVI (again not really convincing). DVI fans will be pleased, but the others, and this includes us, will find the price gap unjustified, especially when the VGA input is good quality. The design isn´t really attractive and ergonomics are reduced to the minimum (non adjustable foot and no USB hub). Color rendering is really average and sometimes even disappointing for the gray shades (strong blue dominance).
About this point, the initial adjustments sRGB set the contrast at 80 and brightness at 90. We found that it was best to invert them (contrast: 90 / brightness: 80), in order to have a better color rendering and especially for grays.
Samsung SyncMaster 225BW
Samsung SyncMaster 225BW
It is one of the most expensive and also one of the most popular, because it seems to be one step ahead of the competition. Four points clearly put it above the rest:
it has a DVI input;
it’s HDCP certified. This isn´t indispensable today but what about in 2, 3 or 5 years?
The monitor is vertically adjustable ! It is really handy to adjust the monitor position compared to the keyboard and your eyes;
With the MagicBright function, you can instantly choose between 6 color modes: text, Internet, Games, Movies, Sport and personalised parameters. The contrast and brightness change according to the environment. It’s just a shame that none of them are really accurate. Each new step provided by the software contradicts the previous step, changes everything and doesn’t improve the final rendering. Even if we follow the directions step by step, we end up by having less accurate colors.
For reaction time, however, Asus wins. For colors Acer is better, and finally for design Fujitsu Siemens gets the first position. Despite the very high price, the 225BW only wins the ergonomics trophy.
All monitors tested are based on the same panel technology (TN). In consequence results are more or less the same. This doesn’t mean that we don’t prefer some monitors based on the requirements of each user. If you are looking for:
a big monitor as fast as possible, the Asus MW221u is the next reference for its kind. Reaction time is comparable to the Nec MultiSync 20WGX˛ with two more inches and a price 100€ less… this is a bargain! Also, the design and the finishing touches of the monitor are really nice. The most important drawback compared to the NEC is the viewing angles are like most TNs very narrow, especially the vertical ones. Compared to the other 22"s, it’s just unfortunate that colors are so inaccurate.
the best deal, the monitor with the best quality/price ratio: Fujitu-Siemens L22-1W. It is the cheapest and we very much like the thin metal bezel. And there is the optional zero dead pixel warranty. It is a good thing that a manufacturer finally decided to do something about this.
the 22" monitor that we would choose regardless of the price and reaction time is the Samsung 225BW. We are now used to vertically adjusting our monitors as here in the office we all use two monitors simultaneously. Not having this option would be difficult for us.
And, even if we are going to praise all monitors, we have to point out the good color rendering of the Acer. It’s just unfortunate it doesn’t have much more.
If you are allergic to the downsides inherent to TN technology, such as the viewing angles, for now you will have to choose a 20" (see our article published in May). They aren´t necessarily cheaper, and are smaller, but they do have the same resolution.
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