Samsung 225BW 22 inch LCD

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Product: Samsung SyncMaster 225BW LCD
Provided By:
Samsung Canada
Price: ~ TBA

Introduction:

Widescreen LCD's have taken the world by storm over the past few months.  I even jumped on the bandwagon back in March with a 21" 8ms 1680x1050 Gateway display - which I love (Thanks Tia!!).  Today you can buy 19" widescreen units cheaper than 19" standard ratio displays.  This has prompted consumers to get into the widescreen mode, and companies have responded by offering bigger and faster displays at lower prices than ever before.  Samsung has announced the SyncMaster 225BW LCD, but has yet to bring it to market.  At this point you cannot get this LCD anywhere, so consider this review your first look at Samsungs new 22" HDCP 1680x1050 5ms LCD.  Is it worth getting excited about?  Read on and you'll find out.

Normally, I don't include a box picture of an LCD, but there is no information about this LCD on the web, so the specs listed on the box is your best way to see what this unit can do.

Imagine Infinity
Imagine Infinity

Samsungs slogan with this display is "Imagine Infinity", and for those of you that have never used a large widescreen LCD, that slogan will pretty much ring true.  This is a large display that should be priced quite affordably for the average consumer.  Granted, there are larger 24" and 30" LCDs on the market, but most of us cannot afford to drop $2000+ on a monitor.  I'm guessing that this unit will hit the street for around $700 at launch and in a few months you should be able to snag it for less.

First Look:

This LCD ships in a very large box and weighs in at 15.2 lbs.  That is pretty hefty for a LCD but once you pull it out of the box it looks like it's worth it.

225BW - First Look
 225BW - First Look

225BW Bundle
 225BW Bundle

Back View - w/Adjustable Stand
 Back View - w/Adjustable Stand

The 225BW comes with a standard bundle for a quality LCD.  Samsung includes some sparse documentation, a power cable, DVI-D cable, and a standard VGA cable.  They also throw in a CD that includes drivers, color tweaking applications and a full manual.  This LCD is HDCP ready so if you are in the mood to run some BluRay or HD-DVD video on your widescreen LCD, it is up to the task.  All you'll need is a BluRay or HD-DVD drive and a video card that is HDCP enabled.

 

The display has a height adjustable stand that also features a very wide side-to-side swivel.  It doesn't support pivoting to display 10:16 as some other LCDs do.  I believe that this can be a good thing as many people don't actually use the pivot feature.  Without including it Samsung should be able to keep the cost down on this unit and get it on the desks of more people faster.

Closer Look:

A few of the LCDs that we have reviewed from Samsung are adjustable by software only.  They were very stylish and had no buttons on the display, but under alternative Operating Systems, they couldn't be adjusted.  I'm very glad to see that Samsung has equipped the 225BW with menu buttons.

Menu Buttons!!
Menu Buttons!!

As you can see they are quite small and don't detract from the overall appearance of this display.  The buttons functions are as follows: Menu, MagicBright/Down Arrow, Brightness/Up Arrow, Enter and Power On/Off.  The Power Button is illuminated while the other buttons remain dark.

As we investigate the bottom of the display, we find the DVI-D input as well as the standard VGA input.  You can connect two different computers to this display and toggle between them.  This could be handy if you have a DVI-D BluRay video player sitting next to your computer and you want to watch movies on this display.  You could plug in your computer to the VGA input and also use it for general computer use.

DVI + VGA
 DVI + VGA

225BW Power
 225BW Power

The power supply for the 225BW is built into the LCD case and the unit takes a standard computer power cable to operate.  Located just beside the power input is a rocker switch that allows you to cut the power going into the display.  This is a great idea if you are leaving your computer off, or if you are going to be away from it for an extended period of time.  If you simply push the power button on the front of the display to power it off and there was a power surge, it could still possibly damage the display because the power is live inside of the unit.  With the power switch off on the back, the circuit is open and a power surge should have no affect on the display.  This is not a bad idea.

Specs & Information:

  • Size 22" Diagonal (55,9 cm)
  • Display area 477.7 mm (H) x 300.1 mm (V)
  • Pixel Pitch 0.282 mm (H) x 0.282 mm (V)
  • Type a-si TFT active matrix
  • Synchronization: Horizontal 31 ~ 81 kHz - Vertical 56 ~ 75 Hz
  • Display Color: 8 bit color (16.7 M)
  • Optimum resolution 1680 x 1050@60 Hz
  • Maximum resolution 1680 x 1050@60 Hz
  • Input Signal, Terminated
  • RGB Analog, Compliant Digital RGB 0.7 Vp-p ± 5%, TTL level (V high ≥ 2.0V, V low ≤ 0.8V)
  • Maximum Pixel Clock: 165 MHz

On the next page we'll go through some of the menus and see how well this unit stacks up to a 21" Widescreen LCD.


Menu Action:

While many people probably won't bother with the menu on a display, I always adjust and tweak the displays I use in order to darken or adjust the color temperature.  At the very least, it's nice to be able to brighten or darken the display by the push of a button if you are changing from working on a review to walking through a dungeon in Oblivion.  I won't comment on each screenshot below as these are meant to show you some of the features that are available to adjust.

Menu 1
Menu 1

Menu 2
 Menu 2

   

Menu 3
 Menu 3

Menu 4
 Menu 4

   

Menu 5
 Menu 5

Menu 6
 Menu 6

The above menus allow you to change virtually every aspect and feature of the 225BW LCD.  The controls are straightforward and simple to use.  I am much happier having the ability to change brightness with the push of a button instead of a click of a mouse.

Performance - Text:

Like many other Samsung LCDs, the 225BW has a brightness feature called MagicBright.  With the push of a button, you can choose between different brightness profiles.  The profiles available are Custom, Text Internet, Game, and Sport & Movie.  Each of these profiles works very well for different scenarios.  That being said, I found many of the standard profiles a little too blue and cold.  I warmed them up a bit to make the greens appear more lifelike.

As much as I like to game, the reality of life is that I spend much more time in front of a computer typing and reading than I do playing games.  A good LCD must fill this role and exceed.  The Samsung 225BW is very clear and is easy on the eyes.  The pixel pitch of 0.282mm is a little on the large side and this causes a bit of a "window screen" effect when staring at it for extended periods.  The text is very sharp though at its native resolution, and it scales much better than other monitors I've tested.  Things look a bit fuzzier at 1280x960 than they do at native 1680x1050, but they don't look too bad.

Performance - Video:

High Definition video has taken the world by storm and after viewing some 720p or 1080i video on this LCD, you'll understand why.  The picture was very crisp, clear and the color appeared very accurate.  Watching some iMAX movies in HD was a real treat.  DVD Video and DivX looked pretty good as well, but because the resolution of these videos is so much lower than the LCD resolution, the picture looked as if it were stretched a little thin.  That is not a complaint about the monitor, but an observation of what 720x480 video looks like when stretched on a 1680x1050 screen.  At 22" this unit could almost replace a TV in a small room if you had a video source that supported DVI-D.

Performance - Gaming:

I know that many of you are interested in nice large LCDs for gaming, and at 22" of 16:10 widescreen goodness, I don't blame you.  Gaming on this unit was a mixed bag really.  The response time of 5ms was flawless and we had zero issues of ghosting when it game to playing anything from Serious Sam 2, UT2004, Battlefield 2, Oblivion, Need For Speed: Most Wanted, Call of Duty 2, F.E.A.R, Quake 4 and even some Half-Life 2: Episode 1.  I normally don't play as many games as I did when testing this LCD, but I wanted to "test" this on as many as I could.  This was possibly the best part of the review.

To compare in a side-by-side scenario, I cloned the 21" Gateway FPD2185W LCD and the Samsung SyncMaster 225BW.  I placed them side by side and took turns positioning myself directly in front of each monitor to get the best results.  On some games like UT2004, the 225BW looked much crisper and clearer than the 2185W.  However, on other games such as Oblivion, the immense green landscapes looked more impressive and lush on the 2185W.  The Samsung 225BW is definitely a gamer's monitor in terms of pixel response and color depth, but the greens just aren't as well saturated as on the FPD2185W.

 

Performance - Montest 2.1:

To test some of my above observations more objectively, I ran the MonTest 2.1 utility to get an idea of how this monitor stacks up to the Gateway FPD2185W.  Both of these monitors are 1680x1050 widescreen, although the Gateway LCD has a 21" screen and an 8ms response time.  I'll run through some of the applicable tests quite quickly.

  • Black To Color Scales: When scaling from black to red, green and blue, there were  no noticeable vertical bands of color as the 225BW blends color very well.  The Gateway 2185 has some vertical color banding where it is not blending the colors as well as the 225BW.
  • Convergence: The Convergence dots looked fine on the LCD, but the Convergence Lines show the limitations of the stacked matrix of LCD pixels.  They are stacked directly on top of each other - not staggered like a CRT.  The convergence lines showed a lot of "stair stepping" when drawing circles.  Much more than my DCDi Faroudja enabled Gateway LCD.
  • Gamma Tests: These tests shows viewing angle limitations and that the corners of the screen were not lit evenly.  The gamma test bands changed brightness dramatically if you view the 960BF more than 10 degree angle up and down.  The picture is still viewable, but the color becomes inaccurate.  These tests also show uneven lighting on the LCD, and we were a little disappointed to see the left side and top left portion of the Samsung LCD not lit as well as the rest of the LCD.  It is much darker and very noticeable when viewing the red and blue screens.
  • Full Black: Displaying a full black screen shows very little bleeding from the LCD backlight.  The black screen is very black and nicely done.
  • LCD Pixel Persistence: Moving a white box across a black background at different speeds shows how much "ghosting" there actually is and how fast the response time is in an white-to-black scenario instead of simply gray-to-gray.  Even though the pixel response of the 225BW is 5ms and the 2185W is 8ms, I couldn't tell the difference between the two.  Both units displayed very good results in this test.

Conclusion:

Samsung's button-less LCDs have not impressed me lately due to their Operating System requirements, and thankfully the Samsung SyncMaster 225BW has some buttons and brings new life to widescreen on the desktop.  This unit is very clear for text use, plays HD movies with stunning clarity, and does very well when it comes to gaming.  It is an all around great monitor that anyone would be lucky to own.  As more games are supporting 1680x1050 widescreen resolutions, it's only going to get better and better in the future.  Speaking of future, this monitor is built to take care of you as it supports HDCP that will be a requirement for BluRay and HD-DVD playback on your computer.  The question I ask myself is, "Would I be willing to trade my 21" FPD2185W for it?"  That is a tough question to answer.

On one hand the 225BW edges ahead in terms of size, but the Gateway LCD has more features like PiP, AutoPivot and S-Video, Composite & Component video inputs as well as a built in USB2.0 Hub.  To be honest, I'd like to keep my 2185W because it looks great beside the Samsung LCD.  A desktop of 3360x1050 is not easy to give up, but I do have to send Samsung back their display.

21
21" Gateway - 22" Samsung

Here's how it all goes down:

Pros:

  • Fast 5ms response time in 22" LCD.
  • 22" 16:10 LCD @ 1680x1050.
  • Height adjustable stand.
  • Narrow bezel around screen.
  • DVI & Analog Inputs.

Cons:

  • Unevenly lit at top left.
  • Display is quite "blue" until you tweak it down.
  • I don't get to keep it.

 

BCCHardware.com Rating
Quality:
10/10
Performance:
9/10
Software Pack:
n/a
Stability:
10/10
Features:
8/10
Value:
10/10
Total Score 9.4

 


I'd like to thank Samsung Canada for letting us take a look at this unit a little early.  Thanks for bringing back some menu buttons and giving us HDCP for the future.

If you have any questions or comments regarding this display or this review, please feel free to drop us a line in the forum at the link below.