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AOC 212Va-1 review: AOC 212Va-1


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.


AOC 212Va-1

The Good

Low price; decent image quality; movies and games look good; integrated speakers aren't bad; HDCP support; neat and trim design.

The Bad

Can't match competing LCDs on brightness; struggled to produce colors near peak white; evident backlight bleed, even under normal conditions; no USB ports.

The Bottom Line

The AOC 212Va-1 LCD monitor sticks to the basics and does it well, delivering a better-than-average but not terribly bright image at a low price, but sacrificing extras that you may not need anyway along the way.

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.

Manufacturer's specs
Resolution: 1,680x1,050
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.

The LCD exhibited more backlight bleed than we like to see; bleeding was evident along all four sides of the display with a dark background under normal lighting conditions. On the Gateway FPD2275W, by contrast, we had to really stretch (and turn off the lights) to see the backlit bleeding through along the top and bottom edges.

While the backlit bleed may annoy some while watching a movie, the monitor's fast 5ms response time make it a good fit for movies and games. The slow pan through Mickey's at the beginning of Fast Food Nation looked natural, with smooth movement with no image blur or stutter. The action in F.E.A.R. was also smooth with pleasing colors. The integrated speakers were more than passable for movies, and they even provides some entertainment value for listening to music while sitting at your PC (they certainly can't fill a room).

CNET Labs' DisplayMate tests
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
AOC 212Va-1

Brightness scores
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
HP w2207
HP w2007
AOC 212Va-1

Contrast ratio
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
HP w2207
AOC 212Va-1
HP w2007

Find out more about how we test LCD monitors.

Service and support
The AOC 212Va-1 is backed by a standard three-year warranty that covers parts and labor, while the LCD panel itself is backed for the first year after purchase. The AOC Web site lists a short, somewhat useful FAQ page and little else. A support e-mail and toll-free phone number (fielding calls from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. PST) are listed should you not find an answer to your problem online.


AOC 212Va-1

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 6Performance 6Support 7Setup 0