The 21.5-inch, 16:9, 1080p Samsung SyncMaster LD220 is a multi-purpose monitor that can be used as a stand-alone display or paired with a laptop as a companion screen. This £160 monitor has USB video connectivity, bypassing connection to the video card.
The LD220 has a glossy black bezel and an equally glossy screen. The panel is 23mm deep. The back of the display, which houses the backlight, connection options and ventilation system, extends another 41mm, bringing the monitor's full depth to about 64mm.
The panel measures 20.3 inches wide. The bezel measures 19mm wide on the top, right and left sides, and 41mm on the bottom. The footstand, located on the display's back, is more of a prop, holding the monitor upright. The stand includes small, thin wheels on its bottom that let users slide the stand smoothly, thereby tilting the screen back, up to 25 degrees.
The monitor can be used as both a stand-alone display and as a companion display for a laptop. It can be connected to a computer via a VGA port or by using its embedded DisplayLink technology via a USB port. When used as a companion display, it can easily be set in 'extend' or 'mirror' (clone) mode through the DisplayLink toolbar. When sitting on a desk, the bottom of the screen lined up almost perfectly with our laptop. It may not always line up perfectly, though, depending on the size and design of the laptop you plan to use with it.
The on-screen-display button array, located on the bottom right of the bezel, remains hidden until touched. Each OSD button option -- 'menu', 'up', 'down' and 'auto' -- glows orange when revealed. Samsung uses a simple and limited OSD for the LD220's interface. It doesn't have contrast or colour controls, and brightness is the only configuration option available. There are five presets included: 'custom', 'notebook PC', 'Internet', 'movie' and 'dynamic contrast'. Switching between the preset modes only changes the brightness levels, however.
Colours lack pop
We tested the LD220 via its USB connection under the default custom preset. The display posted a composite score of 87 in our DisplayMate-based performance tests. It scored well in colour tests and its fonts were sharp, but it had difficulty in our screen-uniformity tests.
In our dark-screen test, there was apparent backlight bleeding on both the top and bottom edges of the screen. In the high-contrast streaking and ghosting tests, which look for light or dark shadows trailing a static image in areas where large changes in contrast are present, we could easily see the trailing effect in the middle of the screen. The LD220 also had trouble displaying dark, and even not so dark, greys. The LD220 achieved a brightness score of 235cd/m2 -- much less than Samsung's claimed 300 maximum.
Under the movie preset, we looked at Kill Bill: Vol 1 on DVD and several 1080p movie files from Microsoft's WMV HD Content Showcase. Movies looked good and displayed accurate colours. But the display's relatively low brightness made for a dim screen with lacklustre colours that lacked pop.
Unreal Tournament 3 and World of Warcraft both looked decent at a 1,920x1,080-pixel resolution, and showed no signs of ghosting. The monitor's video performance when displaying images via USB was extremely sluggish and choppy, though. While playing Unreal, there was an apparent input lag, which wasn't a problem when going through VGA.
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 colours and gamma correction as they were intended to be seen. Most monitors are made to be viewed only at that angle. The LD220's screen becomes noticeably dark when viewed from below and too light when viewed from above. From the sides, text becomes illegible at about 45 degrees from the middle. Viewing images on this display from any angle other than the optimal one is not recommended.
The Samsung SyncMaster LD220 has lacklustre configuration options, horrible game performance via USB, and very apparent backlight bleeding on dark screens. But, if you're looking for a general-use companion monitor, the LD220's sleek design and simple USB connectivity make it a suitable choice, as long as you're not a gamer.
Additional editing by Charles Kloet