Customer Review

26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Stellar image quality once you get past its near fatal flaws, September 24, 2011
This review is from: Acer S231HL bid 23-Inch Widescreen Ultra-Slim LED Display - Black (Personal Computers)
Acer's software doesn't report firmware version number. I have a manufacture date, "ISO week 30", 2011 and my serial serial number.

I compared the 231HL against existing higher quality LCDs: the $400 IPS based Dell U2410 Dell UltraSharp U2410 24-inch Widescreen LCD High Performance Monitor with HDMI, DVI, DisplayPort and HDCPand Sharp's $1000 VA technology 46SE94U Sharp Aquos LC46SE94U 46-Inch 1080p LCD HDTV, both with CFL.

Pros
Plug and play using HDMI input
The bright power light isn't annoying. The light points down, and softly lights up the bottom right of the screen without projecting light towards a room, whether its blue or orange light
The tilt stand adjusts the viewing angle for the best spot depending on the users sitting position; its minimum compensation for lack for a height adjustment
The Acer LED back light is uniform without back light bleed
The Acer calibration software is slow, functional and bug free. Acer's proprietary calibration scheme is easy to use.

Cons
The default colors settings are very bad, compared to the Dell or Sharp. There is no black, colors are washed out by the bright light, and it hurts the eyes. Images appear washed out and small fonts are blurry.

The viewing angle is smaller than advertised. Monitor tilt by its maximum 15 degrees will cause a color or grey shift. The images is best looking perpendicular at the monitor, head on.

Custom settings do not stick: switch one Acer mode to another, resets all to Acer defaults, regardless whether its set by the hardware buttons, Acer's software or third party.

The monitor settings adjust only contrast and brightness. It does not make complex RGB and gamma adjustments such as by the Dell and Sharp LCD.

These bugs are on the HDMI port connection. Its possible they may not occur if I use the VGA port, which I did not test, but that won't improve the worst flaw: the black or white levels.

You cannot rotate the screen to use it lengthwise, like the Dell, its permanent as a panorama view just like the Sharp TV.

Undocumented power features

Inky blacks and better whites can be adjusted via RGB controls through the DDC interface using your video card client software; its otherwise not accessible from the hardware nor Acer's software. Settings stick regardless of any future settings of the monitor's hardware keys. Alas, black level will be reset to factory default if the monitor is unplugged.

It took ~ 6 hours of adjustment to decipher what the controls do and get colors right. Here are my settings for blacks and white hot to guide your personal settings:

Monitor to USER, Insure DDC is ON through the configuration menu. Turn OFF ACM, the Acer contrast management.

I use "Intel graphics media control panel" to adjust the color settings:

1: Color enhancement settings

brightness 50
contrast 40
gamma 1.0

To adjust the monitor occasionally for brightness or contrast, use the Intel control panel, not the Acer hardware keys to avoid losing your custom settings. The Intel gamma adjustment has a bug at 1.0, it sometimes sticks to 1.1 and needs to be toggled between 1.1 and 1.0 to set it correctly to 1.0

2: Acer Monitor Settings via Intel graphics media control panel:

brightness 12
contrast 0
video gain: r,g,b = 80
video black level: r,g,b = 50

Video gain sets white level. reduce blue to 75 or lower for warmer whites. Reducing black levels will intensify black and darken the whites. I found 50 through laborious experimentation; Acer's firmware default was 128.

Readers can use basic online calibration tests to check your adjustments, see comments.

Conclusion:

The undocumented adjustment of white and black level puts this monitors imaging at 5/5 it its class but reduced by 1 star due to its firmware. True color based on professional settings is another thing, but users won't quibble if official red is 255,0,0 [ such as the Dell] and Acer's is 253,2,3 due to the actual spectra of the LEDs. While limited by viewing angles, monitors used for desktop are typically viewed in one position by a single user, reducing annoyances by color shifting.

This monitor isn't made to be viewed by multiple users or for rotation like lengthwise viewing, like a newspaper.

The Hannspree SL231 SL231DPB 23" LED LCD Monitor - 16:9 - 5 ms, its striking similar to the Acer. Its likely these monitors are actually made by an OEM, and can share similar virtues, but Hannspree may have fix the firmware vices.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Sep 24, 2011 8:50:37 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 29, 2011 7:02:40 AM PDT
For DIY online calibration see:

www.lagom.nl/lcd-test/

tft.vanity.dk/monitorTest_scale.html

Photos of the monitor with and without calibration are posted.
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