End User Testing
Testing by the end-user is extremely subjective to personal tastes and attributes. Through this testing, I will be as unbiased as possible towards the monitor itself in regards to panel type and branding and offer my experience with the actual display itself. I will be testing both calibrated and uncalibrated versions at a range of different brightness settings.
I first set up a YouTube video with qualities ranging from 720p to 1440p; finally settling on this GoPro 4K video at the 1440p resolution. This video is extremely diverse, with a huge colour range in a multitude of different environments to put the monitor through its paces.
The uncalibrated view was probably the best performer throughout the video test in regards to the vibrancy of the colours on offer. The festival scenes came alive and the car lights were intense, just as if you was looking at them in person. This setting started to slip throughout the Arctic scenes with the large white presence as the whites look almost animated and picking out detail on the ice was difficult. I lowered the brightness and contrast settings here to try to counteract this, but then the colours were lost.
Once the monitor had been calibrated using the Datacolor software, the overall impact of the video was lower as the colours lost all contrast and it was almost like watching the video with a pair of sunglasses on. However, once the video moved onto the Arctic scenes, the calibration made sense as you could see more of the detail on the ice. This was helped by setting the brightness of the monitor to 75 instead of the calibrated 18 and from there everything took off. The colours were warmer, although not as vibrant as the uncalibrated view, but you could pick out a lot more detail. Obviously this could be a localised issue due to my office being slightly darker than most and the Datacolor software calibrating the monitor to compensate for this, however, I like my screens at 75%+ brightness no matter what the environmental conditions are.
Something I love about IPS panels is the overall vibrancy of colours when compared to the competition of TN and VA panels, even if it does come at a slightly higher price. Along with this, the brightness of the entire screen is uniform and dark corners are less obvious compared to some of the larger and poorer quality screens.
Generally speaking, the built-in speakers of all monitors are poor when compared to additional speakers on offer. Sadly the experience on offer here was less than impressive, but I was expecting that. There is a small slit across the back panel to allow the sound out of and the way that it projects is directly backwards, I have this monitor in the corner of a desk, so there is no immediate surface to bounce the sound back towards me. Even with something placed there, the sound was still extremely quiet and almost inaudible from around 5 foot away with the settings at 100% volume.
Despite the very poor volume, the sound clarity was actually good. AOC must have removed the volume head room to allow for the sound quality to improve. Something we all know is that when small speakers get too loud, they become tinny and awful to listen to; however, I could have listened to a generic playlist all day long. That being said, anything bass intensive is lost and would definitely require an additional amplifier and speaker system.
For this test, I chose to run the benchmark tool for Grand Theft Auto V because of the diverse landscape, sounds and vehicles it offers. What I am looking and listening for is picture immersion, picture clarity and sound clarity.
Much like the video test, the uncalibrated playback was very vibrant, especially around the pier area. As there were no areas with a large amount of white, the overall benchmark was quite immersive compared to the calibrated version. However, things changed when the brightness was increased to 75% again for the calibrated test and the entire benchmark looked amazing. The blacks were rich as were every other colour and there was no blurring of colours either. At 1440p resolution, the image quality is superb and ideal for a 25″ monitor such as this, however, some text was difficult to read such as some number plates on the cars. As with the sound test, the overall clarity was good, but the explosion at the end wasn’t as satisfying as I have experienced with other monitors.
Now with an IPS panel and a 5ms response time, ghosting is a slight issue, especially in dark areas with bright objects moving. GTAV didn’t provide a dark enough setting, so I ran Battlefield 4 for a short while. This panel does suffer with slight ghosting, but don’t forget that this monitor isn’t particularly aimed at the gaming market.