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Editors' Note: There was a mistake made with the original calculation of this monitor's rating. The mistake has now been fixed, and the overall star rating has been adjusted to reflect the fix. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.
Although the ViewSonic VA2626 is part of the company's Value line, in nearly every way it is inferior to the Samsung SyncMaster 2693HM, which serves up more features and better performance for a lower price. Priced as low as $480, the Samsung is the better value between these two 25.5-inch LCDs. The ViewSonic VA2626 can be found online for about $520, and while it may suffice for office use, we ran into some issues with more entertainment-minded tasks. For example, we noticed washed-out colors in games and movies. And it also has a bad lower viewing angle, which the Samsung does as well. We appreciate the ViewSonic VA2626's sensibly laid-out OSD design that takes advantage of the display's light gray panel section and the power button's blue LED, so that you can calibrate it even in a dark room. Also, its built-in speakers sound better than the ones on the Samsung. But the screen is far from flexible, it doesn't have any rotation, screen height, or pivot adjustments. And you won't find any image presets in the OSD as you get with the Samsung. If it's a choice of 25.5-inch monitors, go with the Samsung SyncMaster 2693HM. If that extra 1.5 inches of screen real estate is not important to you, however, check out the $368 V7 D24W33, a 24-inch LCD with many of the same features as the Samsung for more than $100 less.
Design and features
The ViewSonic VA2626wm's screen is enclosed in a thin 0.8-inch bezel with a smooth black finish. The footstand is about 10 inches in diameter, which is an appropriate width for a screen of this size. The ViewSonic, however, is about 5 pounds lighter than the Samsung SyncMaster 2693HM, and although it has an appropriate-size footstand, thanks to its lighter weight, it was more prone to wobble when we knocked it around. On the back, the chassis has many long vertical grooves with a large raised ViewSonic logo at the top. Although the neck of the stand is made of plastic on the ViewSonic, it does not feel as flimsy as the neck on the Samsung.
The connection options--which include DVI, VGA, HDMI, and an audio connection for the built-in speakers--are consolidated on the right side away from the display's neck, making them easily accessible. Like Samsung, ViewSonic only saw fit to include a DVI and a VGA cable--no HDMI cable.
Below the bezel, a gray section of the panel extends about half an inch and houses the On Screen Display buttons. The four OSD buttons surround the power button--two on each side--that emits a blue LED. Unlike the Samsung, which does not have actual buttons for its OSD, each of the ViewSonic's buttons are tactile. They are 0.5-inch long and are spaced about that same length from each other. Also, since the blue LED and the light gray panel it's built on help illuminate the OSD section, we never had trouble calibrating it in the dark as we did with the Samsung.
The ViewSonic's design advantages end with the OSD buttons. Although it does tilt back 30 degrees, its height is not adjustable, nor does it rotate or pivot. The OSD menu is intuitive to navigate, but only includes the basics in control--brightness, contrast, and color temperature.
The 1,920x1,200-pixel screen is matte and includes an antiglare coating. The built-in speakers require an included audio cable and are hidden away on the bottom of the panel.
Pixel-response rate: 5ms
Contrast ratio: 800:1, 3000:1 (Dynamic)
Connectivity: HDMI, DVI, VGA
HDCP compliant? Yes
Included video cables? DVI, VGA
In CNET Labs' DisplayMate-based performance test, the ViewSonic VA2626 scored a composite score of 81, which is seven points lower than the Samsung SyncMaster 2693HM's score. While the ViewSonic has a higher brightness than the Samsung, it actually has a lower contrast ratio.
We tested the ViewSonic in the 6,500K (or cool) color temperature. It struggled with displaying accurate color in our color-tracking test, where instead of displaying a plain gray, it displayed it with a brownish/yellowish tint. We also saw that when the color was near peak white, the ViewSonic tended to wash out the image more than the Samsung did. This was made evident in our Low Saturation Color test. The ViewSonic also showed a high level of ghosting in our High Contrast Streaking and Ghosting test. We did not see evidence of ghosting in our real-world tests though.
While watching HD and DVD-based movie content we noticed washed-out color as well as a shallow black level, unlike the Samsung, which had fuller color and deeper blacks. We also noticed a slight yellowish tint when viewing dark content. When we switched to 9,300K (or warm) color temperature, the yellow tint was diminished, but it was still noticeable. In Spider-Man 2 with scenes showing high dynamic range--such as a light-colored shirt reflecting sunlight--that section of the screen became very washed out and it was hard to make out the detail. The Samsung also had this flaw, but the Dell UltraSharp 2408WFP showed that it was still possible to see detail in scenes such as this.
While playing World of Warcraft, we found the colors to be drab and lifeless on the ViewSonic and the polygonal models lacked depth. We also noticed that if we slouched in our seats--sometimes it's the best way to play--so that we were viewing the screen from below, that the top of the screen gets very dark and detail was hard to see. The side viewing angles were the same as the Samsung, which was about 1.5 feet before the detail dropped.
The speaker volume was not as loud as the Samsung's, but it was also not as tinny-sounding. The speakers on the ViewSonic VA2626wm had a better bass to treble balance.
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Service and support
ViewSonic covers the VA2626wm with a three-year parts-and-labor warranty that unfortunately does not cover the backlight. The company offers 24-7 toll free technical support and support via e-mail. Navigating its Web site and finding drivers and the user manual was simple.