GCN LAB REVIEW
A rare 3-D monitor that’s also good at 2-D
- By Greg Crowe
- Dec 01, 2011
It’s a fact that 3-D monitors are still trying to find a place in the government workplace. Even so, these beauties are gaining increasing attention for their usefulness in tasks such as training simulation, computer-aided design and molecular modeling.
Many monitors in the market can ably render 3-D images. However, not many of them can also display conventional 2-D material as well, and many are uncomfortable to look at for an extended period of time. And as most people involved in tasks where 3-D is required are also often occupied with tasks more suited to a 2-D monitor, this can be a problem.
The HN274H bmiiid LCD Monitor from Acer solves this problem handily. To start with, it is a 27-inch 16:9 ratio widescreen monitor. We found its maximum resolution of 1920 pixels by 1080 pixels to be roomy, while not making everything so small you couldn’t read it anymore.
Acer HN274H bmiiid LCD Monitor
Pros: Even brightness; 2-D function is easy on the eyes.
Cons: Power button difficult to operate.
Ease of Use: A-
10 ways telework will change in the next 10 years
Laser-based mapping a boost for troops in Afghanistan
We were pleased to find that the HN274H put out 497 lumens in our brightness test. This meant that the image on the screen was always bright and clear, even with daylight streaming in through a nearby window. At this level of brightness this monitor would only begin to have problems when in direct sunlight. But short of that, we found it performed well in any lighting condition it would normally run across. And we were using the default settings. So if you really needed it to go brighter, you could make it do so, though you might sacrifice quality.
While a measurement of 497 lumens was only moderately bright at the center of the screen, what impressed us was that the HN274H averaged only 40 lumens less at its corners. Since the human eye isn’t precise enough to register a difference of less than 100 lumens, this means we saw an evenly lit screen throughout. This is helped by the white LED backlighting, which tends to light more evenly than with other methods.
For a monitor of average brightness, the HN274H does a good job of displaying even the minute color gradients and differences in saturation. Using DisplayMate benchmarks, we were able to discern differences in both white and black saturation of 1 percent. We were also able to identify individual hues in color gradients of up to 128 steps. It was a pleasure to find this level of clarity in this monitor.
What makes this monitor one of the more versatile in its class is the number of inputs it sports. In the back we found a VGA port, a DVI-D dual-input port, and an HDMI port. What impressed us even more were the two extra HDMI ports located on the side. This would allow a user to have several computers of varying graphics capabilities connected to the same monitor.
With the NVIDIA 3-D Vision glasses that came with the monitor and a compatible video card, we were able to set the HN274H to display 3-D images. Although it is a bit onerous to wear glasses in order to make the 3-D rendering work, the NVIDIA eyewear was at least moderately comfortable to wear. The depth of field that the 3-D rendering provided was one of the best we’ve seen, and the common 3-D headache was pretty much nonexistent. Hands-down, for 3-D applications the HN274H is one of the best we’ve tested.
The only flaw
The only major flaw we found in this monitor was in one of its most-used parts: the On/Off switch. It has a teardrop shape that is recessed quite a bit. It is not clear whether we were supposed to simply make contact with it, press it, press part of it, or what.
The manual merely identified the switch’s location. We were eventually able to get it to turn on and off, but it was never with any regularity and we had no way to know what we did exactly to make it happen. Now, once it is on, the monitor can go into power-save mode, so this is not as big a problem as it would be in a more power-hungry monitor. But we felt it was worth noting considering how much trouble we had with it.
Acer is retailing the HN274H bmiiid LCD Monitor for $700, which is what we’d expect from an average 3-D monitor. Since this has features that make it better than average, this is a great price. In fact, it earns our Reviewer’s Choice for December based on its high performance and value. If 3-D is ever going to make it into the mainstream for consumers and government, it's monitors such as the Acer HN274H that will be leading the charge.