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HP x2301 review: Functional, stylish, and cheap

HP's entry into the ultrathin monitor space, the x2301 is a worthwhile edition worth its small fee.

The HP x2301's screen is mad glossy, son. Don't let this Photoshopped screen here fool you. Josh Miller/CNET

LED-based monitors actually worth their asking price are a recent trend I can easily get behind. Displays such as the Dell S2330MX and the Samsung S23A550H are LED-based, low-priced, and, when push comes to shove, ultimately worth their low prices.

The HP x2301 is the latest in recent monitor releases following the same thin-design paradigm, but does it follow the high-quality trend as well? With its sound design, cool-looking footstand, and low $200 price (currently), all signs point to yes, but there's more to a monitor's worth than simply design and price.

One thing that sets the x2301 apart from the aforementioned TN displays is its glossy screen. I spoke to this in a more general sense a few months back, but this is the first of these recent, superslim LED-based displays to house such a reflective screen.

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While glossy displays have their pluses and minuses, overall I prefer the added perceived contrast a glossy display provides. Three years ago, I returned a 40-inch Samsung HDTV to Best Buy after realizing that I'm a total sucker for low black levels and the matte screen that was now in my home couldn't get as low as I wanted.

I've previously referred to this as "perceived contrast," since based on our own scientific measurements, the actual contrast of a glossy computer monitor screen isn't necessarily higher or lower than a computer monitor with a matte screen. Blacks do tend to look darker on glossy screens, though, and when watching a movie, especially one with lots of dark scenes, it does tend to enhance the viewing experience. As long as you can minimize ambient light.

While matte screens are better at dealing with ambient light, if room light can be controlled, I prefer glossy screens for movie and HDTV watching. Check out the full review of the HP x2301 to see how it handles light, blacks, and colors with its super-reflective screen.

More monitor reviews can be easily accessed from the monitor hub.