THE GOOD: The Samsung SyncMaster 2233RZ offers great movies and games performance and has a useful onscreen display. The monitor is aesthetically pleasing and is compatible with Nvidia's 3D Vision Kit. We saw cleaner textures in fast-moving games in the 120Hz mode.
THE BAD: The Samsung SyncMaster 2233RZ is expensive for what it offers. It only supports DVI. There's no screen height adjustment, rotation, or pivoting.
THE BOTTOM LINE: The Samsung SyncMaster 2233RZ is the best choice for 120Hz 3D stereoscopic gaming on the PC, with great movie playback to boot. For all other needs, there are cheaper alternatives.
If you're interested in Nvidia's 3D Vision Kit and trying to decide which of the two available 120Hz LCD computer monitors to get, we recommend going with the $399 Samsung SyncMaster 2233RZ. Compared with the other 120Hz monitor, the ViewSonic FuHzion vx2265wm, the Samsung has better performance in movies and a useful onscreen display menu with many presets and contrast control. It also has a more pleasing aesthetic and better overall color reproduction. The Samsung 2233RZ performed better than our current 22-inch darling, the Gateway HD2201 did; however, the Samsung is priced about $200 more than the Gateway. Therefore, if you're looking for a 22-inch monitor with a low price and great performance, we still recommend the Gateway HD2201. That said, if you're looking to get your stereoscopic 3D gaming on, walk right past the ViewSonic FuHzion vx2265wm and go straight to the Samsung SyncMaster 2233RZ.
Design and features
Since the Samsung SyncMaster 2233RZ and the are currently the only two computer monitors on the market compatible with Nvidia's 3D Vision Kit, it's only fitting that we directly compare them whenever possible.
Each display is mostly devoid of useful ergonomic options such as screen rotation and height adjustment, offering only a 25-degree backward tilt. When placed on a desktop, the Samsung leaves about 3.75 inches between the bottom of its screen and the desk. Thanks to its longer neck, the ViewSonic sits about an inch higher at 4.75 inches. On the sides and top, the Samsung's glossy bezel measures 0.75 inch and 0.8 inch respectively. The glossy bezel of the ViewSonic measures 0.7 inch all-around. The Samsung's oval-shaped footstand measures a hair larger than 10 inches wide and 8.5 inches deep. When knocked from the sides, the Samsung wobbled only minimally, but it did slide a few inches across the desk with each knock. The ViewSonic, with its 13.5 inch by 8.5-inch footstand wobbles a lot when knocked, but it stays in one place. Given the choice, we'd take the wobbling over the sliding any day. On the bottom middle of the Samsung's bezel is a light gray, painted-on Samsung logo.
The Samsung's panel measures about 1 inch deep and extends another 1.5 inches behind it to include the ventilation system, backlight, and connection options. The ViewSonic has a narrow panel measuring just larger than 0.5-inch thick; but like the Samsung, once its caboose is factored in, this number is extended nearly 2 inches more. With these measurements tallied, the two displays' panels are each about 2.5 inches deep, which is about average for a 22-inch model. The complete width of the Samsung's panel is 20.3 inches compared with the ViewSonic's 20 inches. Compared with other 22-inch models, this is about an average width. Running across the bottom of the Samsung's bezel is a clear fiberglass "lip" about half an inch tall. When the monitor is on, a blue LED radiates from the bottom of the bezel and reflects off the lip, creating a cool-looking effect. Each display's screen forgoes glossy, in favor of a matte finish.
The Samsung's chassis is mostly glossy all-around; however, about two-thirds of the back has a matte finish accompanied by engraved pictures of flower petals. Each flower had a bumpy texture engraved into it. The back of the ViewSonic is a plain glossy black. Overall, we felt the Samsung had the more elegant, eye-pleasing design.
The Samsung SyncMaster 2233RZ's onscreen display buttons are located on the lower right side, on the outside of the panel. It includes five buttons, stacked on top of each other. The buttons include Menu, Up, Down, Enter, and Back, with the power button below. The Up and Down buttons also double as shortcuts to brightness and contrast controls, respectively. Each button is nearly a half inch in diameter with a convex shape. Pressing the buttons delivers a satisfying clicking sound and each depresses enough to make it obvious when it's been pushed. The buttons have enough space between them so that when calibrating in a low light situation, you can easily tell where one button ends and another begins.
Pressing the Menu button brings up the OSD menu. Here you have options for brightness and contrast in addition to OSD menu options for setting its duration on screen when idle (up to 200 seconds). Presets include Text, Internet, Game, Sports, Movies, and Dynamic contrast. Choosing each preset appropriately adjusts the brightness of the display; however, the movie presets seems to change the color temperature to have a redder push than the other presets that look bluer. This, however, was not detrimental to the image. The ViewSonic includes no OSD menu and only has button controls for brightness and volume controls for its built in speakers. The Samsung doesn't include any built-in speakers.
Both the Samsung and ViewSonic include a DVI connection, but lack HDMI and VGA connections. Both are HDCP compatible, so HD content is viewable on them. The lone DVI port is easily accessible with no obstructions or awkward angles to get in the way. However, the Samsung's DVI port is tucked in more snugly, making it a bit of a pain to access. Each screen has an aspect ratio of 16:10 with a 1,680x1,050-pixel native resolution.
The SyncMaster 2233RZ and VX2265wm are two of the first consumer LCD computer monitors with a 120Hz refresh rate. Supported by a dual-link DVI cable, the 120Hz refresh rate ensures the displays' compatibility with the $199 Nvidia 3D Vision Kit stereoscopic 3D glasses. The glasses give 3D games added depth to the image. For example, when playing Unreal Tournament 3, your map and menu items look like stickers, stuck to the screen and the rest of the graphics--characters, vehicles--look much farther away.
Check out our review of the Nvidia 3D Vision Kit for more information.
Resolution: 1,680x1,050 pixels
Pixel-response rate: 3ms
Contrast ratio: 1,000:1
Brightness: 300 cd/m2
HDCP compliant? Yes
Included video cables? DVI-D Dual link
We tested the Samsung SyncMaster 2233RZ with its DVI connection. The display posted a composite score of 89 on CNET Labs' DisplayMate-based performance tests, besting both the 22-inch Gateway HD2201's 86 and the ViewSonic FuHzion vx2265wm's 85. I expected the 2233RZ to test similarly to the vx2265wm and it mostly did; however, there were a few key places it beat the vx2265wm. Overall color reproduction was more impressive on the Samsung with our Low Saturation Color test acting as a prime example. Low Saturation Color tests the LCD's tendency to oversaturate the grayscale (a bad thing) when producing a bright white image. The Samsung scored well in this test; the ViewSonic did not. When the grayscale is oversaturated, colors appear washed out and we saw this manifest itself while watching "War of The Worlds" on DVD. The movie, when played on the 2233RZ, had accurate colors and a deeper black level. In comparison, the same scenes looked washed out with a yellowish tint on the vx2265wm. This difference is because of our capability to customize the 2233RZ's picture beyond simply adjusting the brightness, which is all the VX2265 offers. We found that the Movie preset and Dynamic Contrast preset worked best for movie watching. With Dynamic Contrast on, we only noticed the screen darkening on scenes where the screen is 90 percent black or more, such as the end credits and during fade to blacks. We found the Samsung's overall movie watching picture quality to be even better than the Gateway HD2201, one of our best-performing 22-inch displays.
The 1080p Blu-ray version of "House of Flying Daggers" saw many of the same full colors and deep blacks that we saw on the "War of the Worlds" DVD. It's not going to rock anyone's world, but for a 22-inch, 16:10 computer monitor, we were impressed.
The Samsung SyncMaster 2233RZ posted a brightness score of 280 candelas per square meters, according to our test, which is somewhat lower than the 300 cd/m2 maximum claimed by Samsung display. This score is lower than both the Gateway HD2201's 289 cd/m2 brightness and the VX2265wm's 266 cd/m2 brightness ratings as well. Our tested contrast rating for the 2233RZ actually exceeded Samsung's 1,000:1 claim by scoring 1,024:1, slightly lower than the vx2265wm's 1,057:1 tested contrast ratio. Bear in mind that the methodology used by most vendors for determining contrast ratio is unknown; however, you can read about CNET Labs' methodology here.
We tried out Crysis on the 2233RZ and while our testbed cannot come close to the hardware requirements the game demands to run with all the prettifying graphic features turned on, we liked what we saw. With a 3ms response time, there was no evidence of streaking and ghosting. Colors looked accurate and the Game preset worked appropriately. The ViewSonic also ran Crysis well, with slightly more washed-out textures. Unfortunately, viewing the game from a lower-than-optimal viewing angle made the screen darken to the point that we couldn't see graphic details of the game--typical of most TN panels and has nothing to do with the game's performance. (See the paragraph at the bottom of this section for more details on viewing angle.)
When we played movies at 120Hz refresh rate--be they DVD or Blu-ray--we did not notice a difference from playing them in 60Hz. For the 2233RZ and the VX2265wm, there is no advantage to playing movies at 120Hz when connected to a computer. We did not test either with a standalone DVD or Blu-ray player. With games, we did see some difference. In Unreal Tournament 3, when we panned our viewpoint back and forth very quickly in 60Hz mode, we noticed that the wall textures were blurry compared with if we did the same in 120Hz mode where the textures remained clear.
The optimal viewing angle for a monitor is usually directly in front, about a quarter of the screen's distance down from the top. At this angle, you're viewing the colors and gamma correction as they were intended. Most monitors are not made to be viewed at any other angle. Depending on its panel type, picture quality at nonoptimal angles varies. Most monitors use TN panels, which get overly bright or overly dark in parts of the screen when viewed from nonoptimal angles. The Samsung SyncMaster 2233RZ uses a TN panel, and when it is viewed from the sides or bottom, the screen appeared to darken only a couple inches off from optimal. Of course, when viewed from the optimal angle, we had no problems.
Service and support
Samsung backs the SyncMaster 2233RZ with a three-year parts-and-labor warranty that covers the backlight. It also offers support through a 24-7 toll-free number, as well as 24- to 48-hour turnaround e-mail and Web chat support. Currently, documentation and support software are not available for the 2233RZ on Samsung's Web site.