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Is it possible to base an LCD purchase strictly on the display's bezel? If so, Samsung has an LCD to sell you. The Samsung SyncMaster T220 features the company's new Touch of Color bezel, which presents a most attractive visage. The black frame features slightly curved edges along the top and bottom, and a pleasing translucent strip of deep red runs along the bottom edge. The bezel is covered with a smooth, clear plastic coating, which extends past the display's black frame to create a narrow border around all four sides. Its design looks like that of an HDTV destined for the living room than a computer display, which makes it even more surprising to find only the most basic features onboard. The $299 Dell SP2208WFP costs less and provides an HDMI jack, USB ports, and a Webcam--all of which are absent on the T220. The SP2208WFP proved itself to be a better performer, too, though we found the Samsung T220 provides a more than adequate image overall. Samsung quotes a street price of $359 for the display, though it can be found for closer to $300 at the time of this writing. The Dell SP2208WFP remains our pick among 22-inch LCDs, but the Samsung T220 makes a strong case for those who want a great-looking monitor and can do with a thoroughly average feature set.
The Samsung T220 has a similar shape to the Samsung 2232GW we looked at last month. The new Touch of Color bezel adds a clear plastic coating over the black bezel and subtle red highlights, which is most visible along the bottom edge and under the power button, in particular. The result is a striking look and one we prefer to the plain, glossy black design of the 2232GW or the Dell SP2208WFP's silver bezel.
Unfortunately, the T220 uses the same oval base as the 2232GW, which is prone to wobble and even more so in this case since the T220 sits up a bit higher than the 2232GW. If you bump your desk, the screen is sure to shake. The only physical adjustment the T220 affords is about 30 degrees of backward tilt.
Samsung hides all of the menu buttons along the right edge of the display; the only control on the front panel is a touch-sensitive power button (really, it's just an icon). The onscreen display is straightforward and easy to navigate. You can also adjust the brightness, switch between analog and digital inputs, and select among seven image presets--Custom, Text, Internet, Game, Sport, Movie, and Dynamic Contrast--without entering the OSD.
Pixel-response rate: 2ms
Contrast ratio: 1,000:1
Connectivity: DVI, VGA
HDCP compliant? Yes
Included video cables? DVI, VGA
Underneath its shiny exterior, the Samsung T220 has a sparse feature set. You get the basic pair of VGA and DVI ports; no HDMI here. Also missing are USB ports and a Webcam. If those features are important to you, we'd direct you to the Dell SP2208WFP.
The T220 does include HDCP support for displaying high-definition copyright-protected content. As with any 22-inch display, the native resolution of 1,680x1,050 means you won't be able to display 1080p video without scaling.
Like the Dell SP2208WFP and the Samsung 2232GW, the T220 boasts a fast 2ms (gray-to-gray) pixel response time. Movies and games showed no signs of ghosting, though it lacks the glossy screen coating found on those other two displays. Finer details in DVDs appeared soft and not as sharp as we would have liked, but the argument for a matte finish is reduced glare and reflection from overhead lights and windows. The choice between a matte and a glossy screen finish is largely personal preference, though we'd say a matte finish is best if you are buying an LCD for office use. If it'll be used more for entertainment purposes rather than productivity, a glossy screen might suit you better.
Like its feature set, the Samsung T220's performance was merely average. It posted a composite score of 83 on our DisplayMate-based suite of tests, which is a good score in and of itself but trails the scores the Dell SP2208WFP and the Samsung 2232GW achieved. It did well on the sharpness, grayscale, and screen uniformity tests, but it struggled with color accuracy. We saw compression on the color scales and intensity color ramp tests. Color tracking errors were evident, with some red visible on the grayscale. Also, its reproduction of color near peak white was very lackluster.
Samsung trumpets a 20,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio (Dynamic meaning the backlight is manipulated to improve black levels in dark sceens). The static contrast ratio is rated as a pedestrian 1,000:1. On CNET Labs contrast ratio benchmark, we got an acceptable 894:1 ratio, though Dell's leading SP2208WFP was better in this regard. Its brightness score was right in the middle of the pack of 22-inch LCDs we've seen recently, and we found that its maximum brightness was more than sufficient in a bright office on a sunny day.
In anecdotal tests, we found the picture to be quite good, with accurate skins tones and vibrant colors. The Royal Tenenbaums on DVD exhibited no color problems, showing accurate colors from Royal's ruddy complexion to Richie's tennis whites to Pagota's pink slacks. Finer details were a bit blurry, and edges weren't as sharp as we would have liked. A glossy screen finish would have likely helped smooth the rough edges, though we had no such sharpness issues when playing F.E.A.R.
Service and support
Samsung backs the T220 with a three-year parts-and-labor warranty, which includes the backlight. Also included is 24-7 toll-free support for the display. The drivers, quick guide, and user manual were very easy to find on Samsung's Web site.
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