The Office Workers' New Desk Friend
For a time, many manufacturers were pushing 19-inch wide screens, already a consumer hit because of their low price and broad spread, to businesses. But that market hasn't taken off as expected. Tom Mainelli, senior research analyst for monitors at IDC (and a PC World contributor), sees monitor manufacturers responding by producing a raft of 22-inch wide-screen models that may soon emerge as "blockbuster" performers for office use. "Twenty-two-inch wide monitors have been [in the market] for a while," he observes, but demand for them only recently "started gaining some traction primarily because of the dramatic price difference between 20- and 24-inch wide screens."
Currently you can buy a no-frills 22-incher for as little as $250, while few 24-inch monitors cost less than $500. Mainelli says the price difference reflects the fact that "monitor vendors have kept 24- to 30-inch [displays] as premium monitors, [so] customers are more likely to expect extras" such as high-definition video connectors, pivoting panels, TV tuners, and multiple physical adjustments. If you don't need these frills, however, you can parlay a budget for one 24-inch monitor into an enviable double-22-inch-monitor configuration. Moreover, even though 22-inch models have the same resolution as 20-inch wide screens (1680 by 1050), Mainelli thinks that most users feel more comfortable viewing that resolution on a larger panel. By contrast, 23- and 24-inch models sport a 1920-by-1200 resolution.
Our test batch of 22-inch units did indeed tend to be bare-bones displays, with just a smattering of extras such as speakers. Only the HP w2207 offered features on a par with those of larger and more-expensive monitors. But in general, the displays in our tests will provide easily readable text and high-quality graphics.
For general-purpose uses, such as word processing and Web surfing, all seven monitors we tested are good, and some are excellent. A very small room could benefit from a 22-inch wide-screen monitor's space-saving design, particularly one like AG Neovo's thin H-W22, which could double as a display for DVD movies. In our test assessing each monitor's movie-playing talents, the Samsung SyncMaster 2232GW stood out, thanks to the unit's wonderful balance of colors and its ability to handle fast action.