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Samsung SyncMaster 226BW C
by Vincent Alzieu
Published on May 30, 2007

Samsung 226BW C :
We start the tests again for the same product
After the S and A versions, here is the C – which we hoped to avoid in Europe and which has already hit the US and Australia for several weeks now. It’s a game of Russian roulette: Without unpacking the screen and accessing its hidden menu, it’s impossible to know in advance which version we’ve just purchased. This is too bad, because performance and screen quality are variable.

The C version has a bad reputation preceding its arrival. It’s accused of all the evils. In reactivity, brightness homogeneity, and color rendering, if we listen to what some users have posted in forums, it has it all wrong.

We got our hands on a C. The verdict ?

Right now, for those that missed previous episode, a little return in the recent past is necessary.

Review of the facts : Samsung launched a new family of screens at the end of a 2006. From the outside they were distinguishable by their shiny body, while from the inside they all had very fast TN 2 ms panels. In tests, the SyncMaster 931BW, 206BW and 226BW also showed another common characteristic, they all were pre-calibrated. There was no need for adjusting colors manually as they were true and close to perfection. This was impressive !

These screen brought everything together : reactivity, design, color rendering, and a moderate price. Logically, sales exploded and everyone wanted one to the point that there were ruptures in stock.

Then a rumour was started in forums : Samsung had supposedly started selling two versions of its screens under the same name. There was an S series, that which we tested, equipped with a Samsung panel and an A series, which stood for AU Optronics, another panel manufacturer.

One reader that ended up with an A brought us his screen and we tested it. There were indeed differences.

We told you last month that only certain regions, and particularly not Europe, would receive a third version, the C, this time with CMO panels. We are indeed living in an era globalization, the same thing for everyone, and in this case C screens for Europe as well.
Testing a 226BW C
One reader responded to our search for testimony and he brought us his C screen. We turned it on in clone with another calibrated screen right next to it and the C really does have a dominance in blue. For tests, we did however leave it on for one hour before starting, but this really didn’t change much. Here are its grays compared to what they should be:

Overall, the differences in almost all shades don’t look good for the C. Here are the gaps measured by our probe on 18 colors. As a reminder the higher it is, the more variation.

On the screen we tested, we found better settings by manually correcting certain values in the OSD. Here are ours without any promises that they will work well for other screens :

- Brightness = 48
- Contrast = 75 (in principle, up until here everything should be fine as these are basic adjustments)
- Red = 62,
- Green = 31,
- Blue = 26.
We went from an average difference of 5.9 to 4.9 and concretely we were able to rectify the disturbing blue dominance on our configuration.

If our manual adjustments for the 226BW A seemed to work for everyone with this type of screen, unfortunately for the C, they appear less universal. Some readers tried them, and it was rare that these values resulted in an improvement. Our conclusion is that the C series doesn’t seem to enjoy the same consistency as the A panels. This isn’t a good point for Samsung! While the A has some defects compared to the S, at least this was something we could often remedy ourselves. It doesn’t look like this is the case here.

The calibration test made this even worse in confirming that the 226BW C cannot be calibrated. Or rather it can, but the result is still imperfect after the procedure. This is exceptional and very deceiving. Color differences are always sensitive after installing the profile, maybe even more so than with manual adjustments, because we end up with a dominance in grays that was light rose. Overall, however, colors are better and we go from an average dE of 5.8 to 2.4. It is though significantly less pleasant than the S series:

For those who do want to try (it costs nothing and you can easily reverse the process), here is the profile calibrated with our probe.

>Profile created for the Samsung SyncMaster 226BW C

All the information to use this is given here.
Brightness homogeneity
Backlighting was also « under fire » and it was rumoured to be imperfect with brighter areas especially on the lower part of the monitor. In this test, we display a black image in a dark room. By accentuating the contrast of a photo of the monitor, here is what we got:

We see a sideways « H ». However, if we put this into perspective, the brightest zones are only 21% more, which is relatively small compared to the average. Classic LCDs can show up to 35% differences between any two points. What’s bothersome here, though, is that the differences are not spread out but are concentrated on the upper and lower edges as well as middle of the screen. On a dark image, like black strips in movies, this could be bothersome.
Reactivity : also deceiving
Already, we could be disappointed with the C’s color gaps. However, knowing the standards of some users, the worst is yet to come. Some wrote on forums that according to them the screen is a 5 ms. We aren’t quite there, as it is indeed a 2 ms, however, the overdrive is poorly managed. As a reminder, we realized that the 226BW S and A were actually 5 ms but simply with optimized overdrives, which does noticeable accelerate transitions and effectively decrease afterglow.

It’s the same for the 226BW C, except that increases in tension are not as well controlled. This results in going beyond colors, which translates on the screen to a bright or dark halo around moving objects as if they were highlighted. Not everyone will notice this, but to some this effect is unbearable. If this is the case, there is only one solution. Go into the OSD and manually deactivate the RTA function. Some prefer a little more remenance to this white halo and it all depends on your eyes.

We clearly see a negative behind the object on the C screen and we can almost see a second one behind it. The S is much better with a better reactivity despite equivalent response times.
One reader complained directly to Samsung that they received an A while they hoped to have an S. The manufacturer, or at least its representative in customer support, said it was impossible to do anything and that he did indeed have a 226BW, Samsung never promised anything else. Then after insisting, the representative answered that the reader was lucky to have an A panel while others were given Cs.

How sadly true this statement was! Yes, S panels are preferable to As, which are in turn preferable to Cs. And yet these three series are sold under the same name without any apparent external distinction. This has given birth to a new breed of consumers, which disturb stores by asking if they can unpackage the screen to see labels (to the sighs of salespeople) or even if they can turn them on to check panels in hidden menus. We can understand stores, which can find this tiring. However, we are 100 % with consumers here and we want S panels !
Epilogue : from worse to worse
We just finish this express article on the model C when we hear that a fourth version of the 226BW has been released. It’s still a 226BW C, but this time the C is for CPT – another panel manufacturer with a poorer reputation than CMO. Enough is enough !

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