3D is still touted as the missing ingredient that will enhance our entertainment experiences, be it in movies or games. I've yet to be persuaded of this, but it doesn't stop many companies from dipping their toes into the 3D waters. On the PC gaming front, Nvidia has led the charge with its 3D Vision technology for the last few years and has done a good job of getting the technology out there, while garnering up support from game developers. To display in 3D, a monitor needs only the capability to display images at a 120Hz refresh rate, which is about double the typical rate. So, whether your 3D gaming experience is a positive one, it relies less on the monitor in question and more on the game's developer.
Fortunately the Acer GD235HZ is a monitor that does more than just play 3D games.
Design and features
The 23-inch Acer GD235HZ follows the company's typical design aesthetic for a gaming monitor, with its black chassis, sharp corners, and an X-shaped, "four-toed" foot stand with orange highlights on its edges. Knocking the monitor from the sides results in some wobbling, but, given the width of the foot stand, with its gorilla-style, front and back "toes," we weren't too concerned about it toppling. At 12.1 pounds, the monitor is lighter than your typical non-LED gaming monitor; its substantiality betrays its plastic origins.
The monitor tilts back 10 degrees, but unfortunately includes no other ergonomic options. Its profile is a fairly thick 1 inch initially, with another 0.9 inch included for its connection options, bringing the full depth to 1.9 inches. The bezel measures about an inch on the left and right sides and also includes VESA wall-mounting capability, provided via four symmetrically arranged screw holes on the back.
Connection options include DVI, HDMI, and VGA. The connections are arranged as on most monitors, facing downward instead of out, thus requiring more effort when connecting cables.
On the front, in the lower-right-hand corner, sits the power button, designated by its bright blue LED light. On the underside of the bezel are five buttons arranged horizontally. Each button is aligned under a white dot on the bottom of the bezel. Pressing any of the buttons brings up the onscreen display (OSD).
The OSD includes controls for brightness, contrast, RGB color controls, and color temperature. Five presets are featured, including User, Text, Standard, Graphics, and Movie. Navigating the OSD was fairly simple. Pressing any of the buttons brings up the OSD, which consists of five symbols, each aligned to the five buttons, allowing access to the full OSD or the presets. Navigating through the full OSD took some getting used to, but as long as we remained aware of which symbols corresponded to which buttons, we had little difficulty.
|Design and feature highlights|
|Connectivity||DVI, VGA, HDMI|
|Ergonomic options||10-degree back tilt|
|VESA wall mount support||Yes|
|Included video cables||DVI, VGA|
|Number of presets||Five|
|Picture options||Brightness, Contrast|
|Color controls||RGB, Warm, Cool, and User temperature|
|Additional features||120Hz refresh rate|
We tested the Acer GD235HZ through its DVI input, connected to a Windows Vista PC, using the included DVI cable. The display posted a composite score of 88 on CNET Labs' DisplayMate-based performance tests.
The GD235HZ's worst offence was the amount of backlight luminance, or clouding, that seeps through its screen. The monitor saw its most dramatic backlight bleeding at the top and bottom of the screen. This level of clouding disrupted our ability to accurately test using the Extreme Grayscale Bars text pattern. The test pattern evaluates the monitor's ability to display very dark gray, using dark gray blocks on a black background. If any of the blocks can't be seen, it indicates that the monitor may have trouble displaying dark detail. In the case of the GD235HZ, the clouding is so prominent in the area where the blocks appear, that it rendered the results inconclusive.
The clouding issue resurfaced in the Screen Uniformity tests (which tests how evenly the backlight light is distributed over the screen) and Dark Screen tests (which specifically looks for backlight bleeding) as well.
As for color, the monitor had good results when displaying linear, dark to light progression of color. In our Color Tracking test, however, we saw some obvious green tint issues.
Text: In text, we saw no color problems with black text on a white background. Fonts were clearly visible down to a 6.8-point size. We did see a lot of blooming around text with both blue and pink fonts on a black background.
Movies: We tested the Acer GD235HZ using the Blu-ray version of "Avatar." Dark details were easy to spot and the monitor displayed fairly dark blacks. Colors were slightly hindered by a green push, but not to an egregious level.
Games: Because of our intimate familiarity with StarCraft II (SCII), it remains our favorite tool for judging color quality and vibrancy in games.
When using the Graphics preset, characters in SCII looked smooth and the game exuded vibrancy near equal to the high standard set by the Samsung PX2370. In this preset there was a noticeable amount of green tint, however.
To test refresh rate, we used DisplayMate's motion graphics tests and watched a bunch of graphics fly around the screen, looking for evidence of streaking. The GD235HZ exhibited the same low level of streaking as the PX2370.
Nvidia 3D Vision performance: We tested 3D performance using Call of Duty: Black Ops. The GD235HZ uses Nvidia's 3D Vision technology, and Black Ops looked great running on the display in 3D, with the monitor's already high vibrancy contributing to the visual panache.
We also got a chance to see how the GD235HZ handled 3D photos and watched a short 3D movie. 3D photos are, from technical standpoint, interesting, but we don't think that the effect adds much to still images. The photo seems to move and slightly shift perspective as you move your head, but it doesn't really enhance pictures in any meaningful way. Also, it makes foreground objects look like 2D cutouts, lacking any depth.
The 3D movie of a Nurburgring race fared better, looking like native 3D content and not something post converted to 3D. The film had multiple levels of depth, and the foreground assets didn't look like cardboard cutouts.
The 3D vision glasses use active shutter lenses, and as such, when viewing any 3D content, expect it to look darker than when viewing normally.
Photos: The Acer GD235HZ delivered sharp-looking photos, but when viewing dark-skinned faces, the skin had a slight, but noticeable green tint. This was especially true when compared side by side with the Samsung PX2370, which pushed red more than the average monitor.
Viewing angle: The optimal viewing angle for a monitor is usually directly in front, about a quarter of the screen's distance down from the top. At this angle, you're viewing colors as they were intended to be. Most monitors are not made to be viewed at any other angle. Depending on its panel type, picture quality at nonoptimal angles varies. Most monitors use TN panels, which get overly bright or overly dark in parts of the screen when they are not viewed from optimal angles. The GD235HZ uses a TN panel, and indeed gets very dark when viewed from below. We were fine viewing text from the left or right sides as long as our perspective didn't pass a 30-degree threshold. Beyond that, text became very difficult to read.
The Acer GD235HZ achieved fair power consumption, with a Default/On power draw of 37.5 watts, compared with the Samsung PX2370's 25.01 watts in the same test. In our Sleep/Standby test, the GD235HZ costs 2.8 watts and the PX2370 pulled a lower 0.27 watt. Based on our formula, the GD235HZ would cost $12.25 per year to run, compared with the PX2370's lower $7.65 per year.
|Acer GD235HZ||Average watts per hour|
|On (default luminance)||37.5|
|On (max luminance)||44.4|
|On (min luminance)||13.4|
|Calibrated (200 cd/m2)||25.6|
|Annual power consumption cost||$12.25|
Find out more about how we test LCD monitors
Service and support
Acer backs the GD235HZ with a three-year limited parts and labor warranty that covers the backlight; this matches the great coverage from other monitors vendors like Samsung and Dell. E-mail support is provided via a form on Acer's Web site, and drivers for the display are available there as well.
As a gaming monitor or just a monitor to watch movies on, the Acer GD235HZ is a very good performer with a fast refresh rate, fairly deep blacks, and a level of vibrancy that matches some of the best monitors out there. While it skimps on ergonomic options and looks pretty typical design-wise, it does include the connection option trifecta and a capable OSD with plenty of usefulness.
Its cost, at $345, is slightly pricey for a 23-inch monitor, but if you're looking for a gaming monitor with 3D capability, it's actually a pretty great deal. For a non-3D, general use monitor with great performance, the Samsung PX2370 gets a higher recommendation.