Widescreen is becoming the desktop standard after building up an early lead in laptops. Now software is starting to adjust, from the sidebar gadgets in Vista to widescreen support in new games.

The Samsung 226BW is a fine way to show off both, with 22 inches of on-screen real estate enclosed in an attractive chassis that bears a passing resemblance to Samsung's LCD TV line. Finished in gloss black with silver trim and a hefty silver power button, it's an understated desktop presence.

Bright picture

While 22 inches isn't as impressive as the tanning-bed behemoths around the 30-inch mark, it hits the sweet spot of price and performance very well. Screen quality is very good: the viewing angle is sound, the picture is bright well before you max out the on-screen controls, and response time is fast enough to be unnoticeable.

Silence is golden

Samsung get bonus marks for not including the utterly useless mono-watt speakers that many manufacturers are still determined to cram into desktop monitors.

That means no grilles to spoil the design, although the improvement is tempered by the amount of bezel text loudly announcing the hardware specifications.

Movie machine

Home entertainment performance isn't bad. The standard 22in resolution of 1680x1050 isn't quite enough to rank as proper HD, but it'll scale up to 720p without any problem and it's also HDCP compatible.

There’s no HDMI input - only VGA and DVI – so you'll need an adaptor to watch future copy-protected content, but this is a minor blemish on an otherwise excellent monitor.

Stuff says... 

Samsung 226BW review

Affordable and attractive monitor upgrade that's ready for home entertainment