"Juicy Screen, Big Base, Yin & Yang"4.0 starson by Capt. HM Murdock
Pros: Screen is super juicy, looks amazing.
Cons: Weak warranty. Big Base. Presets aren't great. Text legibility could be better.
Summary: Here it is, the 22" title match (in my opinion...). After reading countless reviews, I narrowed my search to the best (IHMO) two monitors on the market today. Those would be:
In one corner - the HP w2207, weighing in at 9kg... sporting a juicy rotating screen and fully adjustable base - the HP clearly stands out as soon as you look at it.
In the other corner - weighing in at 7kg, the Samsung 226CW (yes, CW, not BW). Many reviews on the 226BW complain about the LCD being of the A series, C series, S series... anyway this is not what I am talking about. The 226CW offers a "new" technology they brag about called Samsung's Wide Color Gamut (97%) which supposedly makes colors more true to life, more amazing, more WOW factor.
Here's what I did - I (being a proud Canadian) went to my local Best Buy store, which offers a 14-day no-questions asked refund policy and I bought both monitors, with full intent on returning the loser of my showdown.
I am writing this review in day 3 of the contest, and will update it periodically as I go. I have benefitted from and enjoyed CNET reviews over the years, and decided it was time to give back to the community with this review. Here goes:
As of Day 3, it is a close race with no clear winner yet.
The HP w2207: I REALLY enjoy looking at this screen. It's just... I can't find a better adjective than juicy. On occasion, I enjoy Pirate-style games, and with this monitor I find I am often blinking my eyes for fear of getting splashed by the Carribean seas... the color richness and unreal clarity make games incredibly immersive. I've never seen anything like it. Call the HP a 10 out of 10 for image beauty. It's just bloody well gorgeous. I tested with other games, like NHL'06, Medal of Honor, Call of Duty 2, Civ4, and others. I was concerned that maybe the 5ms refresh might be a problem - but it wasn't. Liquid smooth at all times, this monitor was absolutely GORGEOUS in all tests, and performed amazingly. The best way I can describe it, is that it was so clear and juicy that it made you feel completely immersed in the game environment. I've not seen anything quite like it before.
How about everyday use - the internet, email, work stuff... The HP is amazing when compared to my previous monitor (a nice 19" CRT). I find the clarity better than what I'm used to. Easy on the eyes, and colors just brighter, more vibrant... I'm pleased with everyday use, but not as overjoyed as I was with the in-game graphics.
Final Note: 1 year warranty. Whaddup with that? Samsung has a 3 year warranty, as do many others. LAME on HP's part. Also, the monitor's base is large and cumbersome when compared to the Samsung 226CW, which has simple clean lines and a small elegant base.
The Samsung 226CW: This is also a great monitor. You absolutely CANNOT go wrong here either. I had hoped that one or the other would be clearly and obviously better than the other, but sadly, it is a close race. I can best sum up the Samsung as follows: it is the best computer monitor on the market. But, there is no mistaking that it is a computer monitor. It also is very beautiful to look at, the colors are AMAZING. However, it lacks that certain "I-don't-know-what" that I described about the HP that really immerses you into games, that sucks you into it's juicy world and won't let go.... the Samsung looks great, but doesn't do that.
For games, the Samsung is flawless, but without character. Like an A+ student who lacks personality, I cannot find any fault with this monitor, I cannot cite a weak area with it. But my "gut" tells me I'm not "WOWed" by it. I don't squint when water splashes, expecting full well to get wet. I look at the screen, my brain knows it's perfect. But unlike the HP w2207, my mouth doesn't salivate... it's a very subtle difference, but it's there. HP has a prettier screen, that's that.
Everyday use - well here's the thing. The Samsung, under ANY preset was super easy and wonderful to read even the smallest font. It's great and super easy to work on when you are seated in front of a screen for countless hours. I found myself preferring the Samsung for everyday use, and come "game" time wishing I had the HP plugged in. The HP wasn't BAD at displaying text, like I said it was better than my previous CRT monitor. The Samsung tho, was that perfect A+ student. Flawless. Drew no attention to itself, just displayed your screen without any flaw. No flash, no "juicyness" no glitz or glam, just a damn fine computer monitor.
This was apparant when I tested them watching movies. The HP was "holy f*#k is that GORGEOUS!" and the Samsung was.... well it was flawless and I have no complaints, but I didn't drop my jaw on the floor either. The Samsung was a little dark, even at the brightest setting, movies didn't quite look as immersively perfect as they did on the HP. I played with the Samsung settings, and have still not been able to make them as good as the HP.
HP wins for games and movies. I was worried about maybe the 5ms refresh being slow, it has not been, it's been perfect. Love it. Flaws include text displays well on only 2 out of 5 presets, the other 3 presets make text quite blurry. The 2 that display well - note that it displays "well" but not "great".
Samsung 226CW is great for being clean, simple, uncluttered and light. 'Net browsing is great in ANY preset mode, they all look great and read perfectly. Text NEVER goes blurry in any setting I have tried. Super easy on the eyes, it is so far my preference if I am working (3D modelling) for extended periods. Games play great. It is a great monitor, but you never lose yourself and forget you are looking at a computer monitor.
Too early to be conclusive. I will update this review over the 2 weeks I have until one monitor goes back to the store. So far, I prefer the Samsung for work and 'Net stuff. The HP is most certainly better for pictures, movies and games. Wow, the screen is just juicy.... you GOTTA see it yourself to believe it... but be sure to spend some time looking at text on the web in various settings. You may not like it. I'm finding it pretty decent so far, but I'll update this review in a few days. I guess the bottom line is you can't go wrong with EITHER of these amazing monitors.
Hope this helps someone somewhere.
Cheers and good sailing,
Capt. HM MurdockUpdated
Hello again CNET,
After 2 weeks of use and constant monitor swapping back & forth, I have had friends and guests come over and give me their opinions - it took me a long time to decide but in the end it was clear that everybody preferred the HP. All who viewed them back to back were convinced that the HP w2207 just looked "nicer" or "looked juicy good!" when compared to the Samsung 226CW. After two weeks of obsessive trials (yes, I'm a perfectionist...)
here's my COMPLAINTS list for the two great monitors I've tested. This list includes suggestions from my friends who came over to help me decide.
HP w2207 Complaints:
- 1 Year Warranty is shorter than most others.
- Base/Stand is larger than Samsung's. Maybe slightly awkward by comparison to Samsung's clean simple lines.
- In 3 modes - Gaming, Movie, Photo modes - dark text on any background darker than a white background had a "halo" effect around the letters, making them blurry and not nice to read. This halo is not visible when the dark text was on a very bright background (ie: a normal white background). This was most commonly found in the drop down menus of my Firefox web-browser (ie: file, edit, view, history, bookmarks, tools, help). Those menus are black text on a grey background. In those 3 modes, there was a white-ish halo around the black letters, which actually made the small font blurry. In TEXT mode or CUSTOM mode - this was not a problem at all, and the text displays wonderfully.
- Screen just isn't as beautiful as the HP
- When watching movies, you never forget you are staring at a computer monitor.
- Movies are dark, after much playing with settings and brightness/contrast levels I still could not get it to display as nice as the HP. I mean, the Samsung looks great compared to my old CRT monitor, but against the HP it falls short.
- The 2ms refresh rate of the Samsung vs. the 5 ms refresh rate of the HP did not yield any advantage in gaming tests. With graphic levels cranked to the max, rapid movement looked just as fluid on the HP as it did on the Samsung. However, the color and clarity of the HP was superior. So no advantage to Samsung for it's supposedly faster refresh rates.
- The Samsung's color and brightness degrades VERY rapidly when you look at the monitor off-center. That is to say if you are looking slightly up or down at the screen, there is a VERY big change in the image quality, you must be absolutely centered on the screen to get a good image. While this is true with all LCD screens, we found the HP was a little more "forgiving" and had less obvious image deterioration if your eyes were not perfectly centered on the screen. The HP was nicer to view for someone seated beside you - viewing from an angle.
- The Samsung's monitor menu - to adjust settings right on the monitor - was not as nice as the HP's. The HP's menus have more to offer and are laid out nicer
- The Samsung, although it was very close, simply did not look as nice as the HP. That in the end, was the deciding factor.
So there we have it. Here's a few more points that I liked about the HP that I thought I'd mention. I liked the 2 USB ports on the HP monitor, they are very handy for plugging in cameras, gamepads, my cell-phone when I'm tranferring songs or my contacts list... a nice useful feature. The rotating screen is really kinda cool. Not sure that I'll use it much, but it's still really cool. Everyone who saw it exclaimed some version of "WOW". The very adjustable base (although large) is very nice to be able to set the monitor exactly how you like it.
I kept the HP, and took the Samsung back to the store for a refund. It took me 2 weeks of testing, obsessing, and opinion gathering, but in the end my gut knew on day one that the HP just simply looked better. After all my testing, I am certain I have made the right choice. The HPw2207 is the most beautiful monitor on the market I have ever seen.
Hope you all find this review helpful!
Cheers, and good sailing!
Capt. H.M. MurdockUpdated
Well, after 2 months I am still super happy with my purchase. The monitor is truly incredible and I love it.
After re-reading my original reviews, I think I may have over-emphasized my concerns on how the HP displayed text. Just to be clear, and so that I don't give anyone the wrong idea, the HP displays text wonderfully. However, there are several "preset modes" in the monitor that set brightness, contrast, color balance and so on. With 3 of these modes (out of 5 available) it seems that HP overboosts some of the levels, which makes a "halo" effect when dark text is on a semi-dark background (ie: black text on grey backgnd...). So, I just don't use those presets. The other 2 presets look fantastic - every bit as good as the Samsung did. I just leave my monitor in the "CUSTOM" preset mode at all times and it's prefect for all uses with no compromise.
I am finding the HP to be VERY easy on the eyes, and indeed prefer it for everyday use. I strongly recommend it for anyone who spends alot of time staring at their screen like I do.