If you seek a monitor geared for office applications, I'm afraid this isn't it. Text was very sharp, but the default brightness is just too intense. For photography use, however, provided you've taken the time and effort to tweak it, this display delivers fine colour with exceptional contrast. So this monitor would be a good choice for amateur photo work. For pros, though, the brightness is too high to spend entire days in front of it.
Gaming was also a very nice experience with the 215TW, and with its well controlled Overdrive, you won't pay the price of a lot of video artefacts for its good reactivity. Latency was perceptible at times, though, especially compared to other models - mostly TN panels - that are faster.
We rate the unit's suitability for FPS-, RTS-, RPG-genre games on a scale of one to five. The panel's reactivity is obviously the first point we're interested in, but the quality of the colours also has its importance with certain titles. And since this model offers good pixel interpolation, you'll be able to play in 1024x768 resolution without losing image quality.
But we were disappointed with the video performance - especially since this monitor had everything going for it on paper. While sparkling artefacts were very visible, colour masses were very noisy when we watched DVDs. The performance was a little better than that of TN panels for gamers, but still far from the standard set by some 19" panels, and a little short of 20" VA panels.
Here again we use a five-point rating system. While latency plays a role, we also evaluate the amount of video noise induced by the display. Good viewing angles are also crucial for multimedia use.
Performance / Price
Rather than estimating a quality/price ratio, we prefer to concentrate on the price/performance ratio. What's the difference? The quality of an LCD display varies from one individual's taste to another. Somebody who wants a sturdy monitor they can take anywhere even if the performance is mediocre will have a very different idea of what constitutes quality than someone who wants a fast monitor but doesn't care much about its finish. Performance, on the other hand, is measurable. So this rating is a synthesis of the monitor's performance as it compares to the Tom's Hardware Guide benchmark.
The Samsung 215TW is a good monitor. But you have to put its test results in perspective vis-à-vis the competition. The 215TW is a little more expensive than the 20" monitors we tested recently. The move from 20" to 21" doesn't really increase viewing comfort. The monitor's colour rendering is good once it's properly adjusted. Its reactivity is respectable, but more video noise was visible in movies than on other accelerated VA panels. Because of all this, the 215TW would have trouble coming out ahead of the competition.