Buying Guide: Best Screens For Your New PC (Part 3) - Dell Ultra Sharp U2711 A04 WQHD, AOC e2352PHz, Asus VG278H

12/13/2012 9:16:56 AM

Quite possibly the Cadillac of monitors, the Dell U2711 is one of, if not the single best value 2D monitor on the market today. Admittedly it’s expensive, but the price isn’t as bad as it seems; since release almost two years ago, it’s lost over $480 off its retail price, but absolutely none of its brilliance.

The ultra-HD resolution of 2560x1440 is worth paying for alone, and the IPS panel offers fantastic contrast, brightness and color replication. Connectivity is through dual DVI, VGA, HDMI, component and DisplayPort (so pretty much everything) and you get a 3-in-1 card reader and a four-port USB hub built in. There are no token integrated speakers, but if you’re spending this much on a monitor, then you probably aren’t planning to use a pair of tinny, on-board speakers anyway.

27” Dell Ultra Sharp U2711 A04 WQHD

27” Dell Ultra Sharp U2711 A04 WQHD

It’s fair to say better monitors are available, and the lack of 3D may put off those looking for high-end entertainment visuals, but in all other ways it’ s excellent value and a must for those who want to get the best pictures at bargain prices.

3D-Ready Monitors

3D monitors are a must-have high-end accessory, and they’re also just reaching the point where you might actually be able to afford one.

The big decision when choosing a 3D monitor currently revolves around whether you choose one with active or passive 3D capabilities. Active 3D requires you to wear powered glasses which are bulky and relatively expensive, and need to be synced with the screen’s output using a sensor. Even so, the actual picture tends to be brighter and more well-defined than the alternative.

The alternative is passive 3D, which uses a polarized screen and inexpensive, unpowered polarized-lens glasses, which people generally find more comfortable to wear. The price of this, however, is a duller, poorer-quality image. Polarized displays effectively halve the resolution of an image in order to create a 3D effect, interlacing the images to display both the left and right sides simultaneously.

By comparison, active shutters turn each lens on or off at an incredibly fast rate while the monitor flips between two images at twice the normal update speed, allowing them to show 3D at full resolution.

For reference, nearly all active 3D monitors use TN panels, although you can get passive 3D IPS and VA panels.

Good for: 3D gaming and video.

Bad for: Saving money.

Budget Choice: 23” AOC e2352PHz

A TN panel will fit most of your needs without you ever noticing a problem

It seems crazy that you can get a 3D monitor for under $320, but the AOC e2352PHz is exactly that. The 23” passive 3D screen is bundled with a free pair of lightweight polarized glasses and clip-on lenses for those who already wear glasses.

However, it’ s worth remembering that unless you’re a very heavy gamer, 3D monitors only run in 3D mode for a fraction of the time you’re using them. In 2D mode, the e2352PHz is no better than any other cheap TN panel. It is full HD, but it also has a poor picture, made poorer by the polarization required to make passive 3D viable.

23” AOC e2352PHz

23” AOC e2352PHz

Still, it’s far from the worst 3D monitor available, and the super-competitive pricing makes it a decent choice if you’re determined to go for a 3D monitor but can’t afford an active panel. Just don’t say we didn’t warn you.

Performance Choice: 27” Asus VG278H

If you’re serious about the latest 3D technology, you need look no further than the Asus VG278H. With NVidia’s 3D Vision 2, and LightBoost technology, and a 120Hz TN+ panel with 2ms response times, this is a monitor designed to give the best that any 3D monitor can. The native resolution is full HD (1920x1080), which means you should get a near-perfect picture for hi-def movies and TV, and while its 27” dimensions are slightly too small for the resolution, that helps stop the price spiraling way, way out of control.

27” Asus VG278H

27” Asus VG278H

The stand is adjustable in a variety of ways, which helps mitigate its slightly narrow viewing angles, and there are rear-facing speakers included. You get a single pair of active shutter glasses, and the 3D emitter on the top of the monitor is adjustable, meaning you can match the 3D reception to your position without having to move the entire screen should that take your fancy.

Connectivity includes a single HDMI input, dual-link DVI and VGA inputs, as well as audio-in and headphone-out jacks. At roughly $767, you might expect multiple HDMI ports or component/composite inputs but, as previously noted, this isn’t a screen that worries too much about being attractive to TV and movie viewers.

If you’re concerned about the cost, we should point out that unless you’re deeply into 3D gaming, it’s hard to recommend spending this much on any monitor, let alone this particular one. It’s impressive, but if the lack of certain features or the high price makes you hesitate, it’s definitely not for you. Gamers, however, will justifiably love it.


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