GCN LAB REVIEWS
Acer LCD monitor is built for office work
The S243HL is thin and light but delivers sharp text and quality images
As LED backlit LCD monitors become increasingly popular, more and more manufacturers are jumping on the bandwagon to churn them out. Although many can produce bright images, some are horrible for text viewing or have colors that are far from true. It can be hard to find a good mix of qualities while the dust of this market segment is still settling.
The S243HL LCD Monitor from Acer is a 24-inch widescreen monitor with a 16:9 aspect ratio. We were really impressed to discover that the monitor part is a very tiny 0.56 inches thick. This is one advantage of LED backlighting that Acer really used well. The other is the weight. The entire monitor with stand weighed a mere 9 pounds, 6 ounces. This would make it quite easy to move from one desk to another if that becomes necessary. Its stand not only has a rather small footprint but also makes the monitor look really cool and science fiction-like.
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The Acer has two HDMI ports as well as a VGA port. This makes it highly versatile in that it can receive signals from high-definition digital sources such as a DVD player, but it can also be connected to an older system. This is great for an office that has a mix of newer and older equipment. We ran our video tests through one of the HDMI ports.
In our video tests, the Acer S243HL performed fairly well, with only a few minor weak points. We measured the brightness in the center of the screen to be 166 lumens. This is somewhat dimmer than we would have liked, but it’s still adequate for use with most office lighting. While there was no appreciable decrease in brightness in the two right-hand corners; the two left corners were less bright by 30 lumens. While this isn’t discernible by the eyes of humans (people can’t detect changes of less than 100 lumens), we felt this lopsided brightness was significant enough to point out.
There was a bit of light bleed creeping out from the left and right sides, which means there might be a problem viewing exceptionally dark images in the way they were intended. However, the contrast for dark images was very good, which would help mitigate this problem somewhat.
We found the red, greens and blues to be bright and about as close to true as you can get. The blue was especially vibrant, which comes in handy when viewing movies. In our gradient scale, all colors looked smooth in the transition from dark to light, though the red gradients consistently looked darker at the top and bottom than in the middle. This is not unusual in an LCD monitor, but the Acer did this to a greater degree than most.
Where the S243HL really excelled was in an area that we did not expect it to do well: displaying text. For white text on a black background, Arial font was perfectly legible down to 7-point typeface. When viewing black text on white, we found it clear down to 6-point Arial. This was a pleasant surprise, considering other monitors in this Acer series hadn’t performed nearly as well with this test. This makes the S243HL ideally suited for office work, which of course is primarily occupied with reading and typing text.
The Acer has a single, 2-watt speaker inside the base. It’s perfectly positioned in relation to most users because it was able to put out great sound that seemed like it was in stereo. This is a great choice in a unit that is trying to maintain the smaller power requirements of LED backlit monitors. Of course, if the S143HL were used for viewing video, it might be necessary to add a set of external speakers to boost the volume.
Acer has set the retail price for the S243HL LCD Monitor at $240. This is a great bargain for a monitor that does pretty well in nearly all categories. It’s priced less than many same-sized monitors on the market.
This monitor would do well in nearly any office environment and is well-suited for most common tasks.
Greg Crowe is a staff writer covering mobile technology for GCN. Follow him on Twitter: @GCNLabGuys.