Huge Screen Supertest (Part 10)

5/11/2012 9:30:35 AM



Not enough real choice. Until very recently, that's been the problem with LCD panels. Almost everything remotely affordable had a TN panel and 1,920 x 1,080 pixels. But no longer. This month's screen test includes all shapes and sizes, including the welcome return of the 16:10 aspect ratio and, critically, all manner of panel types, including an all-new technology from Samsung.

Description: ASUS PA238Q

Prices at the high end are steep at $880, but there's some serious quality to be had from as little as $320. What's more, previously costly panel technology at more affordable prices has pushed decent TN monitors even lower. You can now get a very reasonable screen for little more than $160.

On to the final reckoning. Unlike previous screen group tests, there are no real stinkers this time round, but somebody has to come last and that dubious honour goes jointly to the Philips Brilliance 248C3LHSB and Samsung 5 Series T27A550. The Philips is an expensive, plain ol' 24-inch TN panel that lacks DVI connectivity, which is a pain with AMD graphics cards.

The Sammy 5 Series, meanwhile, packs a lot of features into its generous 27-inch, TN-powered proportions, including a TV tuner, but it doesn't do anything particularly well, and again, that missing DVI port could prove painful. Another screen that does no real wrong is Asus’s immense VG278H, but at well over $880, you're being asked to pay a big premium for that integrated Nvidia 3D Vision support.

Indeed, if stereoscopic 3D is your bag, we'd probably settle for LG’s 23-inch DM2350D. It's smaller, and its polarised 3D technology doesn't work as well as Nvidia's active shutter solution. But it's well under half the price of the Asus and adds an integrated TV tuner. Meanwhile, if you want to match the big Asus's screen diagonal but don't care for stereoscopic 3D, the BenQ EW2730V blows it away for raw image quality and will save you around $368.

Unexpected Wins


Description: Dell's UltraSharp U2412M

Dell's UltraSharp U2412M

Next up is Dell's UltraSharp U2412M. With so much going for it on paper, it was our favourite to come out on top. After all, an IPS panel, 16:10 aspect ratio and fully adjustable stand for under$480 are exactly what we've been begging for. It is good, but just not as brilliant as we’d been hoping for.

Which is pretty much the opposite of what we'd say for the BenQRL2240H. At $176 our expectations weren't high, and let's be clear, in absolute terms there are many better screens here. But it's still a stunning effort for so little money and a sheer delight for anyone on a tight budget. It really is a most tolerable monitor.

Right at the opposite end of the scale is Samsung's epic S27A850D and its fancy new PLS panel tech. It's a fabulous screen that delivers the best elements of PVA and IPS technology in a single screen. It's got an understated but flexible and well-made chassis, too. And it'd be a winner save for a single flaw. At $880 it's simply too expensive.

All of which means our winner is the Asus PA238Q. How Asus can deliver such a screen at this price point is a mystery. The gorgeous IPS panel would be enough, but Asus has also conjured up a great chassis and factory colour calibration and kept the whole thing within spitting distance of $320. It's a simply stunning effort.

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