capsule review

Samsung SyncMaster 206BW LCD monitor

Today's Best Tech Deals

Picked by Macworld's Editors

Top Deals On Great Products

Picked by Techconnect's Editors

The Samsung SyncMaster 206BW is an affordable, wide-screen, 20-inch LCD monitor. And though it’s a pretty bare bones model in terms of extra features, the 206BW is anything but skimpy when it comes to its specifications, boasting a super-fast 2ms response time.

The 206BW sports a shiny black case with silver accents and rounded edges. The buttons used to navigate through the on-screen menus are located on the bottom of the display, and each button’s function is clearly marked just above it, making them easy to use. The base is relatively stationary, with no height adjustment or pivot capability; it will tilt back a few degrees and can swivel from left to right easily. There are two inputs—one analog port and one DVI digital port—for connecting up to two computers to the display. When I plugged the 206BW into both a MacBook Pro and Mac Pro, it booted correctly into its native 1,680-by-1,050-pixel resolution.

The 206BW was overly bright and blue when first connected; most displays are right out of the box. After calibrating the monitor with an Eye-One Display 2 device, grays were more neutral and light areas were no longer overblown. If you don’t have an external calibrator, take heart: I was able to get the 206BW looking just about as good using the on-screen menus. Text was clean and clear and very legible, even at small point sizes. Our color test images looked great.

The display’s viewing angle was not one of its standout features. As with many of the 20-inch wide-screen monitors we’ve recently tested, color shifts and loss of contrast were very noticeable when looking at the display from left or right of center. The up-and-down viewing angle wasn’t great, either. If you don’t use your display to collaborate with coworkers very often, then a limited viewing angle is not really a big deal. But if you do have folks looking over your shoulder or seated next to you on a regular basis, then chances are that they won’t be experiencing the same colors that you are seeing on this monitor.

jury tests

Viewing angle Fair
Color fidelity Very Good
Text legibility Very Good

Scale = Superior, Very Good, Good, Fair, Poor

How We Tested: We connected the display to a 2.66GHz Mac Pro with 1GB of RAM and an Nvidia 7300GT graphics card, running Mac OS X 10.4.10. We noted the performance of the display with its default, out-of-the-box settings and then calibrated it to 6,500 Kelvin with a gamma of 2.2, using a Gretag Macbeth Eye-One Display 2 colorimeter. The Macworld Lab viewed a number of on-screen test images and rated each display as Superior, Very Good, Good, Fair, or Poor on its color, text, and viewing angle compared with a sampling of similar displays.—Macworld Lab testing by James Galbraith


Size 20 inches
Native resolution (in pixels) 1,680 x 1,050
Connections 1 DVI, 1 VGA
Viewing angle 160 degrees
Brightness 300 cd/m2
Response time 2ms (gray to gray)
Contrast ratio 1,000:1
Dimensions (height x depth x width, in inches) 15.6 x 8.6 x 18.7
Warranty 3 years

Macworld’s buying advice

The Samsung SyncMaster 206BW is a very good wide-screen desktop display. It is competitively priced and, once calibrated, performed very well in our text and color tests. But, of course, you get what you pay for. If you can live with a limited viewing angle and a relatively inflexible design, and without a lot of extra features, the 206BW could be a fine choice if you’re looking for a medium-sized display on a small budget.

[ James Galbraith is Macworld ’s lab director. ]

Samsung SyncMaster 206BW LCD monitor
1 2 Page 1
Page 1 of 2
Shop Tech Products at Amazon