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Acer S243HL review: Acer S243HL

Acer S243HL

Eric Franklin Former Editorial Director
Eric Franklin led the CNET Tech team as Editorial Director. A 20-plus-year industry veteran, Eric began his tech journey testing computers in the CNET Labs. When not at work he can usually be found at the gym, chauffeuring his kids around town, or absorbing every motivational book he can get his hands on.
Expertise Graphics and display technology. Credentials
  • Once wrote 50 articles in one month.
Eric Franklin
6 min read

Let's get this out of the way right off the bat. If you're looking for a thin, LED-based display with a penchant for the glamorous, you'll want to go with the Samsung SyncMaster XL2370. While the 24-inch Acer S243HL shares many of the same attributes as the Samsung--ultrathin panel, LED backlight, $300 price--the Acer unfortunately falters is performance. The Acer S243HL has one of the worst contrast ratios we've seen. And thanks to its high black level, its color accuracy left much to be desired. Lastly, since it includes two HDMI connections and no DVI connection, most people will need to invest in a DVI-to-HDMI cable to connect to their computers. The S243HL does have a nice aesthetic; it's just too bad it doesn't have the performance to match.


Acer S243HL

The Good

The Acer S243Hl has a unique aesthetic; has two HDMI ports.

The Bad

The Acer S243HL has a dim screen and a high black level that adversely affects its color accuracy; no DVI port.

The Bottom Line

The Acer SL243HL is a great-looking monitor with drab colors that leave a lot to be desired.

Design and features
The 24-inch Acer S243HL is a 16:9 aspect ratio monitor with a conventional-looking panel and a uniquely designed footstand. The L-shaped footstand is 12.2 inches wide at its widest and has a depth of 7.4 inches. At its narrowest, the stand is 6.3-inches wide. The wide section of the stand is matte gray and extends to the right to include the onscreen display button array. Thanks to the L-shaped nature of the display, it's wobbly when knocked from the sides. The back of the panel is smooth, black matte color, and relatively flat.

The panel measures 0.6 inches in depth and comes in at 22.4 inches in full width, a thin depth measurement and identical to the Samsung SyncMaster XL2370's depth and 22.4 inch width. The screen bezel measures 0.7 inch on all sides, and the screen itself has a slightly frosty matte finish. The bottom of the display's bezel is about 3.5 inches above the desktop. Unfortunately, the screen height isn't adjustable and there isn't a screen rotation or pivot option for portrait mode. The Acer screen's capability to tilt back 15 degrees is the only included ergonomic feature.

The Acer has two HDMI ports and one VGA port. However, it doesn't have a DVI port, meaning that most people will need to buy an HDMI-to-DVI cable to connect the monitor to their desktop. All connections are on the back of the foot stand and face backward, as TV connections do. This placement makes each connection easy to access.

The OSD array is aligned vertically on the front of the footstand and includes the power button, a left and right button, as well as a menu, AUTO and 'e' (preset shortcut) buttons. Each button is clearly labeled, but they probably won't be legible if you are calibrating the monitor in a dark room. To the left of the OSD array are the built-in speakers. Underneath the buttons is a blue glowing LED that adds a cool aesthetic, especially in the dark.

The OSD includes five presets: User, Text, Standard, Graphics, and Movie. It also includes controls for brightness, contrast, color temperature, and has the capability to change the red, green, and blue values individually.

The Acer S243HL's 16:9 aspect ratio supports a "Full HD" 1,920x1,080-pixel native resolution. 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 in full-screen mode without stretching the image.

Manufacturer's specifications:
Resolution: 1920x1080
Pixel-response rate: 2ms
Contrast ratio: Dynamic Contrast Ratio: 8,000,000:1
Connectivity: (2) HDMI, VGA
HDCP compliant? Yes
Included video cables? HDMI, VGA
Brightness: 250 cd/m2
Backlight: LED
Panel Type: TN

We tested the Acer S243HL with its HDMI connection via our own HDMI-to-DVI cord. The display posted a composite score of 83 on CNET Labs' DisplayMate-based performance tests, coming in much lower than the Samsung SyncMaster XL2370's 96 score. The S243HL's performance was plagued with color problems. In our Color Tracking test, which uses several shades of gray squares, we noticed that the squares had a green tint instead of the expected, and preferred, pure gray.

We also noticed that the display has a difficult time displaying true black. No LCD monitor we've tested has been able to achieve perfect black, but the S243HL doesn't come close. Its black looks more like a dark gray, especially compared side-by-side with the XL2370. This S243HL's high black level adversely affects the display's colors. So, colors that should look full and have some pop to them instead look drab and dismal. We saw this exemplified in most of our DisplayMate color tests. Also, in our Dark Screen tests, we saw backlight bleeding and clouding on the S243HL, and its entire screen seems illuminated slightly.

The S243HL achieved a brightness score of 217 candelas per square meter (cd/m2) and an incredibly low contrast ratio of 238:1. This low contrast was because, in our tests, the display's black was way above normal levels. If black can be represented by 0.0 (the absence of light), using the ANSI Contrast screen we were seeing numbers as high as 0.7, depending on the section of the screen we looked at. In comparison, the Samsung SyncMaster XL2370 only got as high as 0.33. The XL2370 posted a brightness score of 344 cd/m2 and contrast ratio of 1,008:1.

We used the S243HL's Movie preset to check out "Kill Bill Vol. 1" on DVD and a number of 1080p movie files from Microsoft's WMV HD Showcase. We also looked at the same movies on Samsung's XL2370. In both Kill Bill and in the 1080p movies, we found that the XL2370 had consistently brighter colors than the S243HL. For example, in a skiing scene the snow along the mountain as well as flesh tones looked greenish compared with the XL2370's representation, which looked more natural. This isn't an egregious difference, but it's one that's noticeable when looking carefully with both displays side by side.

We looked at World of Warcraft and Unreal Tournament 3 and saw no signs of input lag, streaking, or ghosting during fast movement. The Acer S243HL's colors in games looked drab and lifeless in comparison to the XL2370's vibrant colors. In the Graphics preset, text in games looked over saturated with a "sparkly" signature to it. Overall, the games looked better when using the default User preset.

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. Most monitors are not made to be viewed at any other angle. Depending on its panel type, picture quality at non-optimal angles varies. Most monitors use TN panels, which get overly bright or overly dark in parts of the screen when viewed from non-optimal angles. The Acer S243HL uses a TN panel, and when viewed from the side or bottom, we perceived the screen to darken about 6 inches off from center. Of course, when viewed from the optimal angle, we had no problems.

We turned the built-in speakers to their highest volume without hearing any distortion in the sound.

Juice box
Acer S243HL Average watts per hour
On (default luminance) 23.3
On (max luminance) 23.3
On (min luminance) 10.97
Sleep 0.77
Calibrated (200 cd/m2) 23.3
Annual power consumption cost $7.49
Score Good

In our power consumption tests, the Acer S243HL had a fairly low On/Default power draw of 23.3 watts, compared with the Samsung SyncMaster XL2370's 30.09 watts. The Acer's standby power is a low 0.7 watts. Based on our formula, the S243HL would cost $7.49 per year to run, compared with the XL2370's cost of $9.96 per year.

Brightness (in cd/m2)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

Contrast ratio
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Dell SP2309W
Acer S243HL

DisplayMate performance
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

Find out more about how we test LCD monitors.

Service and support
Acer backs the S243HL with a three-year limited parts and labor warranty that covers the backlight; this is standard coverage compared with other monitor vendors. E-mail support is provided via a form on Acer's Web site and drivers for the display are available there as well.


Acer S243HL

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 6Performance 6Support 8Setup 0