The AOC 212Va-1 sacrifices more features than performance to hit its low price. It's far from the brightest display in the bunch, but aside from a couple of minor flaws, its image quality is rock solid. It provides only the basic video connections and no USB ports but does serve up a pair of passable speakers. It can be found online for as low as $239, making it a good fit for offices looking for a large LCD for little money. Students looking for a dorm-room upgrade will appreciate its proficiency at handling both movies and games, and it supports HDCP, which is something you don't always find with a low-end LCD monitor. If price and performance are your chief concerns (and brightness is way down the list), the AOC 212Va-1 merits consideration as a budget productivity LCD.
The AOC 212Va-1's understated design matches its utilitarian focus; it certainly won't detract from your office decor. The 22-inch, wide-screen display is framed by a thin, matte-black bezel and rests on a sturdy, oval base. The thin bezel makes the monitor a good candidate for setting up dual monitors side by side (and at this price, you don't have to do much to convince yourself you need to double down). There's nothing in the way of a cable-routing system on the back of the display, but the neck that connects the display to the base is rather wide, which does a pretty good job of hiding the video, power, and audio cables.
The onscreen menu features a traditional look and feel, making navigation straightforward. You're given the usual controls for adjusting the image, but instead of preset controls for movies, gaming, photos, and so on, you're given the option of adjusting the color temperature, including a user adjust mode that lets you tweak the amount of red, blue, and green to your liking.
Pixel-response rate: 5ms
Contrast ratio: 700:1
Connectivity: DVI, VGA
HDCP compliant; 720p, 1080i
Integrated 3-watt stereo speakers
Included DVI and VGA cable
The most notable features of this no-frills LCD are the integrated stereo speakers. They're a watt stronger than the typical 2-watt variety, and they're much louder and clearer at louder volumes than others, including the 2-watt pair found on the ViewSonic VX2255wmb. Given the presence of stereo speakers, we were dismayed to find a headphone jack absent. It would have been an easy addition and a convenience for cube dwellers and office sharers everywhere.
There's not a USB port to be found, and you're limited to basic VGA and DVI ports. If you want more video connections for a display that might pull double duty as an entertainment display, check out the Gateway FPD2275W.
The AOC display is HDCP compliant, which means you can view Hollywood's copyrighted content on high-definition Blu-ray or HD DVD discs. The display's top resolution of 1,680x1,050, however, means you just miss 1,080p output.
The AOC 212Va-1 was able to hang with pricier 22-inch LCDs on CNET Labs' DisplayMate suite of tests that are designed to isolate common phenomena such as digital noise, streaking and ghosting, ringing and overshoot, and color-tracking errors. The only area where it failed to hold up was in displaying different colors near peak white; we saw oversaturated colors at the lightest end of the spectrum, and the lightest grayscale gradients looked washed out. It was far from the brightness LCD we've seen recently, which makes it a less than ideal choice for offices that enjoy lots of natural light and those that suffer under harsh florescence. Text was crisp, however, down to 9-point font.