Review: Acer S235HL

Published: January 30, 2012 11:17 AM
By Alexandre Botella
Translated by: Sam McGeever
Attractive and affordable, the new Acer S235HL is a slim, stylish monitor that measures less than 15 mm from front to back.  Better still, it's on sale for around £150, leaving us with just one question: is it possible to make a 23'' monitor for this little money, and still make a decent fist of it?  Let's take a look and find out.

Build Quality & Design: all in the stand

The S235HL might look nicer than the majority of monitors, but it's hardly a star performer in terms of usability.  The stand, which is the same as on other monitors like the Acer S273HL, only allows users to tilt the display back by a degree or two.  Unusually, the video inputs are made up of a VGA port and two HDMI ports, rather than VGA plus one each of HDMI and DVI.  All of the connectors are down at the bottom of the stand.

S235hl connectique


That choice of inputs means that you can easily plug in--and leave plugged in--a Blu-ray player or console, an IPTV decoder and your desktop PC.  There aren't any speakers, so you'll need to use the line out to pick up audio carried by the HDMI signal.

These features hardly help it stand out from what's available on rival monitors, meaning it struggles to score more than two points in this section.

Colours: contrast or colours, which is it?

With its default settings, the S235HL doesn't reproduce colours accurately, with a deltaE score of 6.8.  Fortunately, though, you can a lot better, starting with evening out the gamma, which leaves the white a lot less garish.  You can do that by turning the contrast down from 50 to 30.  After that, you need to switch the colour space from 'Warm' to 'User', and set custom values for each of the colours: Red to 95, Green to 86 and Blue to 95.

S235hl av ap reglage
The deltaE score before and after adjusting the settings


Once you've made these adjustments, the deltaE, or the discrepancy between the colours contained in the video source and those really shown onscreen, falls to just 3.1.  Only the most demanding users will be able to spot the remaining discrepancy with the naked eye.

The downside is that the contrast falls off dramatically, tumbling from 910:1 with the default settings to just 670:1, but that's a necessary evil if you want anything approaching normal colours.

Responsiveness: a good one for gamers

With a response time of 2 ms, the spec for the S235HL would have you believe that it's the perfect partner for avid gamers.  Our own tests confirmed this, with a ghosting time of just 11 ms.  It might not be the fastest monitor out there, but it can do a good sharp of keeping fast-moving objects looking sharp, which is important for first-person shooter games for instance.



Responsiveness
S235hl remanence
 Light
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Dark
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Average
This graph shows the ghosting time, measured in ms, that the monitor takes to entirely remove the previous frame. The shorter the time, the more fluid moving images will appear


The average input lag of 16 ms is low enough to be invisible to the naked eye, so while the S235HL doesn't follow the action flawlessly, it won't hold you back during multiplayer gaming sessions.
3/5 Acer S235HL DigitalVersus 2012-01-30 12:17:00

Pros

  • Accurate colour reproduction after calibration
  • Responsive enough for gaming
  • Attractive design

Cons

  • TN panel, so poor vertical viewing angles
  • Below average contrast after calibration: 690:1
  • Scores poorly for usability
  • No line in for picking up audio if you're using VGA

Conclusion

The Acer S235HL is an attractive monitor that boasts a responsive display and accurate colour reproduction once you've set it up properly. It does have a few problems, though, including below average contrast and a rather short list of extra features. If it didn't have a TN display, it might have hoped to score four stars instead of three, but the poor viewing angles offered by that technology really hold it back.

OUR SCORE 3/5
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