We test 13 monitors across three size categories – 21.5”, 23”-24” and 27” - ranging from $199 to $1299.
With so much digital entertainment content on offer these days, the line between the desktop monitor and flatscreen TV is becoming blurred. As technology changes push
screen size up and prices down, the desktop monitor is doing double-duty for work and play. Larger screens and higher resolution can be a boon for productivity, while Blu-ray movies, HD streamed videos and super high quality graphics in games look fantastic on a big screen. And you can get one as big as 27" for as little as $400.
We put 13 widescreen desktop monitors to the test, across three size categories – 21.5”, 23”-24” and 27” – to see how they compare. We also looked at a high quality 32” (81cm) LCD TV to see how well it would work as an alternative when connected to the desktop.
- Dell U2211H
- Viewsonic VA2238wm
- AOC e2343Fk
- ASUS VG236H
- BenQ GL2440HM
- LG E2340V-PN
- Philips 244E2SB
- Viewsonic VX2450wm
- Apple LED Cinema Display A1316
- ASUS VE278Q
- BenQ M2700HD
- Dell U2711
- LG W2753VC-P
How we test
All monitors are warmed up for 30 minutes before each test and all were tested with out-of-the-box settings. No adjustments were made to brightness, contrast, or colour.
Image quality is assessed by an expert panel, which views high quality still images, a text document and a scene from a Blu-ray movie on each monitor, finally arriving at a consensus score.
Ease of use takes into account how easy the monitor is to set up ready for use on the desktop. For the most part, very little assembly is required. Four of the screens on test - the Apple, AOC, BenQ M2700H and Dell U2711 - come fully assembled, requiring only unpacking and connection to a computer and power. We also consider each monitor’s range and ease of adjustment, stability, physical controls (size, position and labelling), onscreen menu and user manuals and documentation.
Energy use measures each monitor for the amount of energy consumed, both in normal use and on standby. This result is not included in the overall score. The power figures translate to an estimated annual energy cost figure, based on the average usage scenario of having the monitor in use each day for five hours and on standby for 19 hours, calculated at 20c per kilowatt hour (kWh).
Sound is assessed where monitors have built-in speakers. The tester connects the monitor to a standard PC and plays several music tracks used for testing audio equipment and evaluates the sound quality of each. Of those monitors with speakers we found the Apple Cinema Display had the best sound, followed by the BenQ M2700HD. The others had only acceptable sound, and for any serious listening external speakers or headphones should be used. Sound evaluation doesn’t contribute to the overall score.