Acer S273HL review: Acer S273HL

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CNET Editors' Rating

3 stars Good
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Relatively cheap 27-inch offering. Power frugal. Large pixel pitch will help those who find themselves squinting at screens.

The Bad No DVI port. Little adjustment of stand. 3.5mm in only functions with VGA port. Auto-switches input when machine goes to sleep. TN panel. Awful speaker. Annoying button placement. Display is overly sharp. Poor HDMI movie performance. Excessive backlight bleed. Comparatively poor pixel warranty. No quick input switching button.

The Bottom Line For AU$599, it's hard to be too unkind to the S273HL. Still, for a little more you could get the far superior U2711 — it all depends on your wallet.

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Screens of 27-inches are the "acceptable" big monitor, slightly cutting down on the bulk brought by the giant 30-inch screen. Dell kicked things off with its 2707WFP, and lately the market has seen entries from Dell, ViewSonic and Apple in the fray.

While Dell and Apple push the envelope with native resolutions of 2560x1440, ViewSonic opted to stay at 1920x1080 — useful for those who find themselves often squinting at a monitor and thinking that the details are too small. Acer follows this methodology, with its incredibly thin, LED-backlit S273HL supplying the same resolution.

Acer S273HL front

Ah! The funky foot returns.
(Credit: Craig Simms/CBS Interactive)

Specs at a glance

Size 27-inches
Resolution 1920x1080
Aspect ratio 16:9
Pixel pitch 0.311
Panel technology TN
Viewing angles
(10:1 contrast)
H: 170°
V: 160°
Response time 2ms G2G
Max vertical refresh 60Hz
Connections VGA, HDMI x2, 3.5mm line in
Accessories VGA, 3.5mm audio cables

Stand and ergonomics

Part of the S273HL's thinness is due to moving electronics about — the power supply has been broken out into its own brick, and the inputs have all been shunted down to the stand. While the S273HL looks thinner, thanks to the stand it probably takes up just as much space as any other monitor.

It also greatly limits flexibility, with the S273HL having one adjustment: tilt; and that's it. This is extremely poor for a monitor of this size. A blue light that can't be turned off is also on the stand, which may distract some.

Acer S273HL stand

A great amount of the electronics have been moved into the stand, making for some chunky support.
(Credit: Craig Simms/CBS Interactive)

Connections

Acer S273HL inputs

HDMI x2, VGA, 3.5mm line in, power jack.
(Credit: Craig Simms/CBS Interactive)

It's here that we need to complain a bit — the 3.5mm jack will only accept sound when the VGA port is being used. Given that Acer hasn't supplied a DVI port, and that computers would likely be hooked up by a DVI > HDMI cable, wouldn't it make sense to enable the 3.5mm port for HDMI use, or at least allow the user to choose the audio input? Then again, we probably shouldn't care; the included speaker is rubbish.

We should also mention auto-input switching at this point, a technology that attempts to be useful, but is anything but. While it's meant to assist by finding what's plugged into the monitor and then activating that input, it has a horrible by-product: if you have a PC plugged in and it goes to sleep, the monitor auto-switches to whatever else is plugged in. This is bad in two ways: firstly, when you come back to your computer, you have to manually switch the monitor source back, and secondly, it's also a horrific waste of power to keep the screen active when it's meant to be sleeping.

Buttons and on-screen display (OSD)

Acer S273HL buttons

Hi. Monitor manufacturers, we need to talk. This "funky" button thing you're doing? It doesn't work.
(Credit: Craig Simms/CBS Interactive)

Acer's found a new annoying place to put the buttons for the S273HL — under the monitor itself, on its stand. This makes it not only incredibly difficult to see what button you're pushing, but it also means that you have to contort your hand to make it fit under the screen's bezel. Looks great, but it's about as friendly as a spike in the face. There's no quick input-switching button — you'll have to go through the menu to change.

Acer S273HL OSD

Acer's OSD is incredibly simple, in both contexts of the word.
(Credit: Craig Simms/CBS Interactive)

The OSD is incredibly simple, although interestingly, for the first time we can remember, it has "colour" spelled correctly for the region. There are five presets: User, Eco, Standard, Graphics and Movie, although we recommend that you ignore them all and stick to User for the best colours. There's also colour temperature settings of Warm, Cool and User, and our above recommendation applies here, as well.

Scaling is a sad affair, only offering full-screen or aspect scaling, with no 1:1 — but it appears broken in implementation. Set your resolution to 1600x900, and there are black borders all the way around, regardless of the scaling mode. At 1680x1050, there are black borders on the left and the right, once again ignoring the scaling mode set. It manages to get 1440x900 right, but other resolutions freak it out. You'll really want to stick to native resolution for the S273HL, which may concern some gamers who have lower-end hardware.

Performance

Lagom.nl LCD tests
After calibrating to a target brightness of 140cd/m² with an X-Rite i1Display 2, Eye-One Match 3 and tweaking with HCFR, the S273HL was run through the Lagom.nl LCD tests.

The Acer turned out to be too sharp with no way to adjust this, and failed two of the inversion tests. The latter isn't so much of a problem — most monitors fail between two and four of these tests — but the first certainly is a concern.

Image tests
Contrast Sharpness Gamma Black level White saturation Gradient
Pass Too sharp Pass Pass Pass Pass
Inversion pixel walk tests
Test 1 Test 2a Test 2b Test 3 Test 4a Test 4b Test 5 Test 6a Test 6b Test 7a Test 7b
Pass Pass Slight flicker Pass Pass Flicker Pass Pass Pass Pass Pass

Input lag
Measured against a Samsung SyncMaster 975p CRT, and using a Canon 40D set to a shutter speed of 1/320, an average of over 60 photographs was taken using StoppUhr. The S273HL showed no measurable input lag over HDMI, meaning that it should be fine for PC gamers.

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Where to Buy

Acer S273HL

Part Number: CNETAcer S273HL

Typical Price: $599.00

See manufacturer website for availability.

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