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For $240, the 23-inch Acer H235H includes DVI, VGA, and HDMI connections, an easy-to-use OSD, and built-in speakers. While its overall performance is solid, its games and movies performance exhibit somewhat washed-out color. Still, the Acer is a great deal for the asking price, but we recommend the Asus VH236H because of its lower price, comparable features, and slightly better performance. The Samsung SyncMaster P2370 has the same screen size, is more stylish, and has comparable performance, but its $285 price tag makes it a less desirable deal considering its lack of connection options and other missing features.
Design and features
The 23-inch Acer H235H has a flat, glossy, black bezel that contrasts nicely with its glossy blue back. The panel measures 3.2 inches in full depth; that's considerably thicker than the 23-inch Samsung SyncMaster P2370, which measured just over an inch deep. The bezel measures 1.1 inches on its left and right sides, and 0.75 inch on its bottom, where a silver Acer logo resides. Under the bezel, the panel slopes back about 3 inches to house the built-in speakers. The bottom of the panel--where the speakers are--sits about 1.8 inches from the desktop, but, unfortunately, the screen height isn't adjustable and there isn't a screen rotation or pivot option for portrait mode. The capability to tilt the screen back 25 degrees is the only included ergonomic feature. The circular footstand measures a small 7 inches in diameter, and when knocked from the sides, the display wobbles a considerable amount, given that it has such a narrow base to stand on.
Connection options include DVI, HDMI, and VGA; all three ports are fairly easy to access once the removable back panel is taken off. There are also two grooves on the back where you can place the cords to keep them organized.
Designated by a single blue light-emitting diode, the onscreen display button array sits in the lower right-hand corner of the bezel, right above the blue LED power button. Pressing the blue LED brings up the OSD in addition to five blue LED buttons that now align the bottom right of the bezel. The OSD pops up parallel to the button array, and each option corresponds to one of the five buttons. Once a new menu is selected, the function of the buttons changes dynamically, as the middle buttons become the up-and-down arrow buttons used to navigate through the newly seen menu. Since any button labels for the OSD are actually on the screen (and which would be on the bezel of other displays), calibrating the display in a dark room proved painless.
OSD options include the standard brightness, contrast, and various color options. The presets are: Standard, Text, Picture, Movie, and, of course, User. The presets don't change anything other than the display's brightness and contrast. There is an option for setting the OSD to stay onscreen for up to 2 minutes (useful for anyone who will spend a good amount of time calibrating), etc.
Navigating the menu is mostly painless; however, when in the preset menu, there is no option to return to the previous menu without exiting the OSD completely.
The Acer H235H's 16:9 aspect ratio supports a "Full HD" native resolution of 1,920x1,080 pixels. This continues the trend of more and more monitor vendors moving toward 16:9 from 16:10 because high-definition content--in particular 1080p movies--can fit onto a 1,920x1,080-pixel screen without distorting the image.
|Contrast ratio||100,000:1 (Dynamic)|
|Connectivity||DVI-D, HDMI, VGA|
|Included video cables?||DVI, VGA|
We tested the Acer H235H with its DVI connection. The display posted a composite score of 88 on CNET Labs' DisplayMate-based performance tests, coming behind the Samsung SyncMaster P2370's 93. The Acer tested well all-around, but didn't excel at anything in particular. Its biggest problem was with distinguishing between very dark gray and black.
The H235H achieved a brightness score of 266 candelas per square meter (cd/m2), just shy of Acer's claimed 300 cd/m2 max. The Samsung SyncMaster P2370 achieved a lower brightness, with 239 cd/m2, but was right under Samsung's 250 cd/m2 max. On our dark screen test, both monitors exhibited significant backlight bleed through on the top and bottom edges of the displays, but the Acer performed slightly better.
Our Kill Bill Vol. 1 DVD test yielded apparent ghosting on the Acer in the Movie preset. Color-wise, the Samsung wins with much more balanced, showing accurate colors. The Acer's color looked washed out in comparison.
Unreal Tournament 3 looked great running at 1,920x1,080 pixels with vibrant colors. Its contrast ratio was decent, compared with the P2370's more pronounced presentation. We saw no signs of input lag, blurring, or streaking during fast movement.
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 the colors and gamma correction as they were intended. Since most monitors are made to be viewed only at that angle type, picture quality at nonoptimal angles varies depending on the monitor. Like most monitors, the Acer H235H uses a TN panel, which gets overly bright or overly dark when viewed from nonoptimal angles. When we viewed the Asus from the sides or below and only a couple inches from optimal, the screen appeared to darken. From the sides and below, text is still readable until viewing from about 70 degrees. Of course, when viewed from the optimal angle, we had no problems.
In the power consumption tests, the Acer H235H drew 35.71 watts in its Default/On mode--compared with the Samsung SyncMaster P2370's lower 29.44 watts. The Acer's standby mode drew 1.4 watts compared with the P2370's 0.85 watt. Based on our formula, the H235H would cost $11.63 per year to run, compared with the P2370's $9.37 per year.
In audio tests, sound from the built-in speakers was muffled, but we reached the maximum volume easily without any noticeable distortion.
|Asus VH236H||Average watts per hour|
|On (default luminance)||35.71|
|On (max luminance)||40.27|
|On (min luminance)||20.11|
|Calibrated (200 cd/m2)||32.93|
|Annual energy cost||$11.63|
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