THE GOOD: The Samsung SyncMaster 2233SW has a low price, good performance in movies and games, and a robust onscreen display.
THE BAD: The Samsung SyncMaster 2233SW's screen has a low brightness and its OSD can be difficult to navigate. Also, it lacks an HDMI connection and is missing many ergonomic features.
THE BOTTOM LINE: The Samsung SyncMaster 2233SW lacks many bells and whistles, but makes up for its shortcomings with a low price.
At $190, it's difficult to care too much about the Samsung SyncMaster 2233SW's shortcomings. Sure, it has low screen brightness, no HDMI connection, a clumsy onscreen display, and no ergonomic features aside from tilt. However, most people will be willing to looking past these shortcomings, thanks to the display's sub-$200 price--especially if they're only looking for a general-purpose monitor. Throw in its good movie and games performance and a useful and robust OSD, and you have a worthwhile investment. Compared with other displays, such as Samsung's own XL2370 and Dell's S2409W and SP2309W, the 2233SW's overall performance and lack of features can't compete against more feature-rich displays. It relies on its low price as its trump card and is currently at least $50 cheaper than the others are.
Design and features
The 21.5-inch Samsung SyncMaster 2233SW has a design that closely resembles the Samsung SyncMaster 2233RZ. The Samsung display is 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 3.75 inches between the bottom of its screen and the desk. On the sides and top, the Samsung's glossy bezel measures 0.75 inch and 0.8 inch, respectively. The Samsung's oval-shaped footstand measures a bit larger than 10 inches wide and 8.5 inches deep. When knocked from the sides, the Samsung wobbled minimally, but it did slide a few inches across the desk with each knock. 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. With these measurements tallied, the display's panel is about 2.5 inches deep. The complete width of the panel is 20.3 inches--which is average for a 22-inch model. 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 an interesting lighting effect. On this model, Samsung ditches the usual glossy screen seen on monitors these days, instead opting for a matte finish.
Its video connection options are limited to VGA and DVI, and Samsung includes connection cables for each. However, an HDMI connection is not included--which is surprising, considering most monitors with a 16:9 aspect ratio include this connection. All connector ports are on the back and to the right of the monitor. Also, Samsung recessed the ports in a way that makes them a bit difficult to access.
The Samsung SyncMaster 2233RZ's onscreen display buttons are located on the lower right side on the monitor, 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 the display in a low lighting, you can easily tell the buttons apart.
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 the duration the menu stays on screen when idle (up to 200 seconds). Its 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 more of a red push than the other presets do that look bluer. However, this was not detrimental to the image.
The Samsung SyncMaster 2233SW's 16:9 aspect ratio supports a "Full HD" 1,920x1,080-pixel native resolution. This continues the trend of more and more monitor vendors moving toward 16:9 from 16:10 because high-definition content--in particular 1080p movies--can fit onto a 1,920x1,080-pixel screen in full-screen mode without stretching the image.
Resolution: 1,920x1,080 pixels
Pixel-response rate: 5ms
Contrast ratio: 1,000:1
Connectivity: VGA, DVI
HDCP compliant? Yes
Included video cables? VGA, DVI
Panel Type: TN
We tested the Samsung SyncMaster 2233SW using its DVI connection. The display posted a composite score of 96 on CNET Labs' DisplayMate-based performance tests, the same score as the Samsung SyncMaster XL2370 and higher than the Dell SP2309W's 90 score. In our dark screen test, the 2233SW showed only a small amount of backlight bleed through, less than the Samsung SyncMaster XL2370.
The 2233SW achieved a brightness score of 231 candelas per square meter--much lower than the XL2370's 344 cd/m2, and the Dell SP2309W's 297 cd/m2. The difference between the monitors is readily apparent, as the 2233SW's screen looks noticeably darker in comparison. When we set the brightness of the 2233SW and XL2370 to 100 and 75 respectively, we found that when looking at the same image, the XL's whites were noticeably brighter without compromising the dark detail and deep blacks of the image. The 2233SW displayed whites that were noticeably darker than the XL2370's and took on a bluish tint.
We used the 2233SW's Movie preset to check out "Kill Bill: Vol. 1" on DVD and a number of 1080p movie files from Microsoft's WMV HD Showcase. Other than the red push in the movie preset, the 2233SW exhibited deep blacks and decent color when playing movies.
We looked at World of Warcraft and Unreal Tournament 3 on the monitor and noticed no signs of input lag, streaking, or ghosting during fast movement. We tested both games in the display's Game preset and while we were able to play the games with no problems, the overall presentation was darker than what we prefer and spots in the game that were indented to be overly brightly didn't look as bright as they did on the Samsung XL2370. The Samsung's colors in games just didn't have the same pop as the XL2370 did, thanks to its relatively low brightness.
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 that get overly bright or overly dark in parts of the screen when viewed from nonoptimal angles. The Samsung SyncMaster 2233SW uses a TN panel, and when it is viewed from the sides or bottom, we perceived the screen to darken about five inches off from center and we noticed that from the left, right, and top, the display darkened and colors at the same pace as the SyncMaster XL2370. Of course, when viewed from the optimal angle, we had no problems.
In our power consumption tests, the Samsung SyncMaster 2233SW had a high On/Default power draw of 37.31 watts. Its standby power is a fairly low 0.52 watts. Based on our formula, the 2233SWEco would cost $11.49 per year to run, compared with the XL2370's $9.96 per year and the SP2309W's $12.98 per year cost.
Find out more about how we test LCD monitors.
Service and support
Samsung backs the SyncMaster 2233SW with a three-year parts and labor warranty that covers its 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. Documentation and support software for the 2233SW were not yet available on Samsung's Web site at the time this review was published.