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22 inch LCD monitors: the 3rd wave!
by Vincent Alzieu
Published on December 12, 2007

The exception: the Samsung SyncMaster 2232BW

We are tempted to say it’s starting over; however, this isn’t entirely true. Samsung has learned some lessons from bad experiences with the 226BW and it was explained to us that, "The polemic surrounding its panels killed the product". Samsung Korea thus had its engineers work on replacing the discredited 226BW and the result was the 2232BW.
What changes compared to the 226BW
Remedied : the difference in afterglow between S and C versions and they are now equivalent. On the other hand, it’s just unfortunate that one was improved while the other was made somewhat inferior. To do this Samsung had to reduce the intensity of the overdrive and therefore its efficiency which our tests proved. However, before even taking out our sensor our eyes immediately detected it. Of course, we admit we aren’t very representative of all users. The 2232’s reactivity is halfway between a good 2 ms and a 5 ms. This is very good but there is still faster – for example, on the Iiyama. At any rate, those who happen to receive a C will no longer have the black ghost image revealed in the tests with some 226BW versions.

The same : preset colors. The CMO panel has an overall blue dominance. It is possible to partially manually remedy this but it still remains imperfect. Ideally, each screen should be individually calibrated with a sensor. So who has 300 € to spend on a calibration system for a screen that costs the same amount? Not too many people. We are therefore going to cheat and here is its profile. The profiles created are actually the property of LaCie who’s colorimeter we use (an updated Blue Eye Pro) so please keep the information secret!!!

The essential question arises:
How can we recognize a CMO version Samsung?
This however is a trick question because no one is 100% sure on the origin of these panels. Or at any rate we aren’t 100% certain on the method used to detect panel sources. So the real question is how can we recognize the better 2232BWs?
The best answer would be with your eyes. Is color fidelity good or is there a problem? Note that even if it is highly probable, the correlation "poor colors/ CMO" is not entirely proven. In fact, the "schema" for determining the panel origin from the hidden menu is solely based on user experiences and there have already been a few exceptions. This system is not necessarily automatic nevertheless it does work most of the time. Here it is:

Set contrast and brightness to zero and then press the Sourcebutton for 5 seconds. Look at the Panel info line. There should be an incomprehensible phrase such as M-ME22W0BAA-1002. It’s the letters in bold face, especially those in the middle, which are determinant (based on current understanding) :

  • xAx-xxxx : Samsung panel.
  • xLx-xxxx : AU Optronics panel.
  • xDx-xxxx : CMO panel.
  • xIx-xxxx : CPT panel.

    This is often but not always correct.
    So why two or three versions of this screen?
    So yes, Samsung once again is using panels from different sources and moreover they admit this right off. The more or less official reason circulating from their warranty department is that S panels (Samsung) are intended for units destined for Europe (at least Western Europe),the A (AU Optronics) is for North America (sorry, no test for this screen yet) and C (CMO) is for Asia. It would be difficult to explain such a distribution strategy.

    So why are C versions being found where they shouldn’t be? Samsung responds due to the grey market. This means that the success of this monitor is so great that Samsung cannot necessarily meet wholesaler or major distributor demand. Some are therefore tempted to look to Asia which in fact will provide a supply of screens. We might also wonder if the price of the 2232BW C in Asia is the same as the 2232BW S in France. Between the difference in panel and the current euro/dollar exchange rate it could definitely be tempting to offer C versions for the price of the S.
    Samsung’s point of view
    From the beginning and start of the very first rumors, we left messages for Samsung (but without response) to know if yes or no, would the polemic start over. The first response came the day after we said we were going to test a reader’s 2232BW with a CMO panel. In short, their reaction was: "We are just finding out about this problem with your call and we will look into it. There will be no repeat of the 226BW saga which killed that screen. We will do everything in our power to rectify the situation if there is a proven problem".

    Actually, we did detect a "problem" and we even offered some solutions; however, there has been no serious reaction on Samsung’s part to address this situation.

    Other than that, there was more interesting information in our only interview with Samsung’s representative involving the 2232BW. First of all, he asked us why they were under fire for this practice when all manufacturers have the strategy of interchanging panels. Is this true? No, of course not. The question is more: who sells more than 10,000 units a month and is forced to outsource panels to meet the demand? Samsung, LG, and also Dell. And what do these three manufacturers also have in common? We have caught them all doing this and pointed it out. However, the award does not go Samsung here, but to LG who with its L2000C succeeded in continuously integrating an IPS, VA or TN panel all under the same monitor reference!

    There are others like Iiyama, Belinea and company that are happy to sell 2000 of one model per month, however, do they do the same? No, or at least very rarely. Normally, they will buy a stock of panels and will produce the monitor in question until they run out. There is then a change of model. Another advantage of smaller companies is that they are more reactive when a big problem arises. For example, following our first tests the latest Hyundaï W240D looked very disappointing. Production was suspended that month and there was a change of panels and other supposed corrections. A W240D v2 will soon arrive with much better components as shown by the first results from a revised model that we received. Finally, even a highly successful screen like Belinea’s 10 20 35W hasn’t changed panels in 3 years!

    We brought up this point with Samsung and they agreed; however they added that they are in another league and large orders are very different. This may be true, but for this reason consumers may also be forced to look to smaller manufacturers for more assurance of what they will actually receive...
    The ultimate argument by Samsung (and they are right!)
    The last subject brought up in our (long) discussion was : Samsung is wondering if we aren’t a little too curious and are overly exaggerating a problem that has been pointed out by none other than us. They clearly indicated that besides our articles and others that base their information on us without themselves testing the screens with the panels in question, no one has complained about their monitors. According to them, consumers have started returning screens to their warranty services under the sole pretext that we have said CMO panels were inferior to Samsung panel versions. This has been done without any verification by the client. Of course, we are in agreement. Also, what can we say when they tell us that in the case of the 2232BW, there was not a single telephone call from a client or store to their warranty services or offices to complain about the problems we revealed on this model? Here again, they are correct. Perhaps we should seriously ask ourselves: are we not just going a little too far and maybe our expectations do not correspond to the more normal standards of our readers?

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