Hardware: VGA, DVI and HDMI
Like anything made of black plastic, the S242HL's body is very susceptible to picking up greasy fingerprints. You'll want to get a cloth out every time you touch it. But then again, given that all you can do is tip it back slightly, that won't be very often. The inputs are made up of the trio of VGA, DVI and HDMI, but Acer has unfortunately totally abandoned audio. The S242HL doesn't have speakers or a headphone jack, making it hard to pick up the audio that comes via the HDMI cable when you connect this monitor to a TV decoder or a games console.
Responsiveness: some reverse ghosting
It seems that Acer has repeated the mistakes it made with both the S243HL and the S273HL: the new S422HL suffers from severe reverse ghosting. If you've never heard of this problem, it results from a failed attempt to artificially boost the responsiveness of a monitor. It means you can see ghost images trailing behind fast moving objects which stand out a lot from the original image because of their inverted colours.
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This graph shows the 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.
Fortunately, the reverse ghosting is almost impossible to spot when using office applications. If you really like the look of the S242HL, you can use it for writing e-mails and browsing the web. But if, on the other hand, you want to play games, there's no chance that fast moving objects will appear smooth. Gamers should look elsewhere.
Colours not quite rightWith the factory settings, this 24'' monitor produces colours which suffer from a strong blue tinge, and an uneven distribution of luminance across different shades, or gamma. Its deltaE, a measure of the average discrepancy between the colours requested by the graphics card and those actually shown on screen, is 4.0. This figure usually needs to be below 3.0 before a display can be said to have accurate colours.
Compare the S242HL to other LCD monitors in our Product Face-Off
Unfortunately, there wasn't any way to improve the settings using the onscreen menu, so the only way to get accurate colours is by trying a calibration profile.
The contrast ratio can't save the day either. The S242HL is stuck at 750:1 but the average measured across monitors is around 850:1.