ConclusionThe winner: at least it is clear and for once our choice is obvious. There is only one big winner of this test, the Samsung SyncMaster 226BW. Reaction time, finishing touches, design, color quality, it is better than all others. The principle downside is in its ergonomics with no height adjustment, USB hub, pivot mode or memory card player. You may also have noticed that one of the champions in this area, Dell, has also chosen not to include these functionalities. This shows that each manufacturer made the choice to offer a satisfactory product, good even, but not too expensive.
One last point…Samsung has chosen a glossy bezel and a mat panel. This is the opposite of what we usually find but a combination that we prefer.
The second choice
: Samsung's monitor is interesting, but expensive and not always available. If you want to save a little money, and have a good 22" monitor, even if it has a slower reaction time, our second choice is the Dell E228WFP. Great colors, HDCP compatible, nice design…One important point is to not buy it at the highest price. It varies between 364 and 455 euros, depending on promotional offers - something that usually happens for Dell. Take a look at the manufacturer's website once in a while. The super economical choice
: if the most important factor is money, choose the Acer AL2216WD, sometimes found at less than 300 euros. You will have to take some time to adjust colors (choose a photo that you know well and like for this task), but at least you won't be restricted by the DVI interface. It's HDCP compatible and you will have the possibility to watch HD movies if you decide one day to invest in a Blu-Ray or HD-DVD player.
Letter to manufacturers : What's always missing in monitors (continued)
Now we can afford a little digression regarding our visit to the CeBIT. We were hoping to find the next 22" monitor and most of all other type of panels for this size. We found one in the Samsung SyncMaster 226CW
to be released next summer. This is also a TN 2ms, but the innovation is that is has a wide gamut. This improvement comes from the integration of new CCFL backlighting. This is interesting but not outstanding. Also, it will be more expensive than current monitors.
What we would like to see is a 22" with a MVA, PVA or IPS panel. We didn't see a single one after looking hard on panel manufacturer websites and all we could find were upcoming TNs, the featured technology even for larger sizes and which was never used in these products up until now. For example, Samsung is going to launch a 24" TN, obviously an economy model, for around 600 euros. A few last thoughts. Is TN technology really problematic, etc. ?
For viewing angles, finally, not really. If at the beginning they were catastrophic, lateral ones are now considerably larger and can be compared to those of MVAs', sometimes even a PVAs'. On the other hand, from below, this angle still darkens quickly. This doesn't affect side by side dual screen configurations (two TNs, for example), but becomes problematic when watching a video from far away on your couch.
When watching videos, there is also the accentuation of compression defects, which is common to all TN screens. There is only one type of monitor that isn't subject to this, the MVA. Films are displayed in higher quality, with softer shades, and large colored areas are homogenous. There are two solutions to this problem. Either graphic card manufacturers better correct the video noise in SD and HD sequences, or screen manufacturers integrate image correction circuits comparable to those found in some of the better TVs.
Finally, we just have to face the fact that there is another transition in diagonal sizes. 22"s are quickly becoming entry level, and 24"s are mid and high end products for the general public. At this point, manufacturers will avoid like the plague screens that will increase the prices of their products. Currently, there is a price war and volume of sales is of high importance. In this same line of thinking, what is the future of a 22" for more than 450 euros? Rather bleak, in our opinion, especially in their actual state. Some manufacturers have nevertheless bet on a future market for screens of this size at a higher price and with more functionalities. After many a failure, Samsung and Miraï will try again and offer before this summer 22" multisource screens for a mixed computer/TV use at as high as 600 euros. So, will it finally work for them? Let's hope these monitors at least have image correction circuits that are more evolved than current components!
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