ASUS MG24UQ and MG28UQ Monitor Review

Introduction


ASUS has rapidly become a dominant force in the gaming monitor sector due to the popularity of its ROG range. According to Digitimes, the company has seen a staggering growth rate of 30 percent throughout Europe in 2015. Models such as the PG278Q, commonly referred to the ROG Swift beautifully catered towards users requiring a high refresh monitor and G-Sync functionality. This combination proved to be extraordinarily successful and inspired future products such as the PG279Q. The advent of responsive IPS panels featuring enhanced viewing angles and colour reproduction compared to their TN counterparts, forged a new audience for the ROG series.

Today, we’re taking a look at the company’s latest gaming monitors which opt for FreeSync technology instead of the NVIDIA’s proprietary alternative. As a result, these products provide a fluid user experience at a more digestible price point. The MG24UQ utilizes a 4K IPS panel, 4ms response time and 178 degree viewing angles. This is targeted towards consumers who enjoy stunning image quality and yearn for a high pixels per inch display. In contrast to this, the MG28UQ is based on TN technology and has a 1ms response time. While the colour gamut isn’t as impressive on TN monitors, they have a quicker response time and better suited towards professional gamers. Of course, it’s all about your individual priorities and whether you care more about image quality or responsiveness.

Packaging and Features

ASUS MG24UQ

Firstly, it’s important to note that the press samples I received contain the MG24U and MG28U branding. After performing extensive research, I discovered these are now known under the UQ title instead for retail channels so please disregard the box’s naming scheme. As you can see, the packaging adopts a really bold, stylish design and lists the monitor’s key features.

The monitor’s base and cables are housed within the top section to allow for easy access. On another note, the hardened polystyrene inserts offer superb protection and ensures the display arrives in perfect condition.

ASUS gaming monitors incorporate a number of unique features including:

Rather bizarrely, the information here is incorrect and the PPI rate should read 185.


ASUS MG28UQ

The 28-inch model utilises identical packaging apart from the 1ms response time icon.

Here we can see the larger variant has a lower ppi rate, 1ms response time and USB 3.0 hub.

Neptune Triple 32″ OCUK Monitor Stand Review

Introduction


I’ve never personally been a fan of the desktop monitor stands, they’re large, heavy and expensive. Although the main reason I’ve never liked them is because I’ve never had enough monitors to buy one; until now. Since upgrading our test bench to triple 4K 28″ monitors, I’ve had to resort to putting the monitors in portrait just to fit on my desk; despite it being custom-made and a lot larger than most other that you can buy on the market.

There are many options on the market, but something caught my eye back at iSeries in April that OverclockersUK had made available. It was an OCuK designed monitor stand that could support up to THREE 32″ monitors. The stand looked simply stunning and was finished off with red highlights to incorporate the colour scheme from the OCUK logo. This was announced around a year ago and seemingly went under the radar, it seems monitor stands just aren’t that important to review, yet make a triple monitor set-up so much easier and pain-free.

The Neptune stand is an absolute beast with one of the largest base plates I’ve seen and it weighs just under 15Kg excluding monitors. There’s not much more to say, so let’s just get cracking and see what this thing can do.

AOC G2460PG 24″ G-Sync Monitor Review

Introduction


I’ve never really been a fan of buying a monitor, I tend to only look at three key aspects; screen size, resolution and the overall appearance. While that is generally a good way to choose a monitor, there are a multitude of other features that require your attention depending on your intended use.

If you are a gamer or avid video editor, the response time and refresh rates would be of key interest to you to ensure that there is little input lag from your input device and that there is little screen tearing. Professional photograph editors may be less interested in those features, but the contrast ratio, brightness and available colours are more important.

Today we have the gaming orientated AOC G2460PG G-Sync enabled monitor. One of the cheapest G-Sync enabled monitors on the market at approximately £300. While this still isn’t cheap, you have to pay for the quality and performance that G-Sync will bring to your gaming experience. This monitor packs in a great feature set, with an ultra low 1ms response time, 144Hz and a huge 80m:1 contrast ratio. This monitor also features Ultra Low Motion Blur (ULMB), which drastically reduces the blur on screen which can occur in some face paced games such as the racing genre. I will not be testing this feature as it can only be activated with G-Sync off.

Packaging and Features

The front of the box is very plain, focusing primarily on the logo, screen and key details regarding the monitor such as QHD and IPS panel type. The image displayed on the monitor itself leads itself to be desired more by the professional buyer than the general gaming enthusiast.

AOC kept the website clean with more professionalism for those looking for information. The key features that were outlined apart from the QHD and 3-Year warranty are AOC flicker-free technology, integrated speakers and ergonomic stand.

 

AOC Q2577PWQ 25″ IPS Monitor Review

Introduction


I’ve never really been a fan of buying a monitor, I tend to only look at three key aspects; screen size, resolution and the overall appearance. While that is generally a good way to choose a monitor, there are a multitude of other features that require your attention depending on your intended use.

If you are a gamer or avid video editor, the response time and refresh rates would be of key interest to you to ensure that there is little input lag from your input device and that there is little screen tearing. Professional photograph editors may be less interested in those features, where the contrast ratio, brightness and available colours are more important.

Today we have the professional grade AOC Q2577PWQ. This monitor is one of the best-looking units I’ve seen with a brushed metal base and matching lower bezel on the monitor itself. The looks aren’t let down by poor features either, this monitor comes packing a very respectable 25″ 2560x1440p@60hz IPS panel and AOC’s own Flicker Free technology to give the best possible viewing experience.
Packaging and Features

The front of the box is very plain, focusing primarily on the logo, screen and key details regarding the monitor such as QHD and IPS panel type. The image displayed on the monitor itself leads itself to be desired more by the professional buyer than the general gaming enthusiast.

AOC kept the website clean with more professionalism for those looking for information. The key features that were outlined apart from the QHD and 3-Year warranty are AOC flicker free technology, integrated speakers and ergonomic stand.

 

Datacolor Spyder5 Elite Monitor Calibrator Review

Introduction


We have already posted our first review of the impressive Philips BDM4065UC 40″ 4K monitor, but to review this kind of product we need a specialist bit of hardware. Sure, we could do it all by eye, but that would be completely dependent on the reviewer at the time. Their perception could change massively at different times of the day with different light levels or even sitting at a slightly different angle. While that would make for great reading, it doesn’t give the readers tangible information that can be compared between reviews and it turns into a “he said she said” unprofessional mess.

This issue led us to look for a consistent calibration tool and we found the Spyder5 Elite. This nifty little tool is the creation of Datacolor, a company that has more than 40 years experience in the colour management solutions so know a thing or two about color perception.

Philips BDM4065UC 40″ 4K Monitor Review

Introduction


The humble desktop monitor has come a long way since the early days of huge CRT and even the chunky first generation LCD screens. Nowadays we can pick up a new monitor that is thinner than a Blu-Ray case, albeit those panels are expensive and few and far between but you get the idea. We use them for almost all of our viewing needs that can’t be handled by a smartphone or tablet, they have even replace most TV’s due to the reduced price and higher compatibility with computers and games consoles, with no resolution issues.

Back when LCD and plasma screens first hit the consumer market, the resolution was an overlooked specification to compensate for the novelty of owning such a futuristic piece of technology. That has changed in recent years and especially since the HD format was released and standardised. Everyone then moved to resolutions such as 1280 x 720, 1440 x 960 and the most famous 1920 x 1080. The 1080p format held the crown for many years, but now times have changed and 4K (2160p) is becoming the resolution of choice.

Today we have the simply massive Philips BDM4065UC monitor in for testing. I know I’ve already said massive, but this is MASSIVE. Yes there are screens that are bigger and they have been around for years, but having this much screen space with such a high resolution at relatively close range to your face just makes you feel small. This is one of the few monitors on the market to boast such as massive screen size with 4K capabilities and bundle it into a very attractive package thanks to the re-use of a chassis from a popular 40″ TV that Philips produce; I guess the line “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” was said during the production meeting.

Packaging and Features

The front of the box is very plain, focusing primarily on the logo, screen and key details regarding the monitor such as Ultra HD and Wide Viewing Angle.

The key details pointed out by Philips are Ultra HD panel of 3840×2160, VA LED panel allows for an almost 180° viewing angle, Built-in speakers which aren’t uncommon but this monitor packs twin 7W speakers and SmartConnect.

21:9 Monitors – a Viable Alternative to 4k?

Introduction


4K monitors have been touted as the next mainstream standard to replace 1920×1080 displays, but the Steam Hardware survey suggests this may take over a decade. Currently, 34.33% of gamers are using 1920×1080 and 26.89% play at a surprisingly low, 1366×768 resolution. The problem with 4K revolves around Windows’ poor scaling on high PPI displays, and the graphical horsepower required to drive 300% more pixels than 1920×1080. It seemed for some time that 4K was the only option on the horizon, but 21:9 ultra-wide monitors have been gaining momentum in two variants. Typically, you can choose between 2560×1080 panels or 3440×1440 models. For the purposes of this feature, we decided to use the highly-regarded AOC U3477PQU and establish if 21:9 monitors are an aspect ratio worthy of your attention.

21:9 monitors are equivalent to dual 15″ or 17″ setups depending on the 29″ or 34″ screen size. The primary benefit to a single large monitor is the lack of bezels which can cause eye strain or distract you during full-screen tasks. In terms of desktop usage, 21:9 displays are nothing short of revolutionary due to the massive real estate. It’s incredibly simple to glance at 3-4 visible windows without having to press ALT+TAB.

This means you can write articles, whilst referring to sources or compare an edited photo to the original. The possibilities are endless and massively increase your productivity. Additionally, the PPI of a 34″ 3440×1440 panel is almost equivalent to a 27″ 2560×1440 screen. As a result, the text is a sharp and readable size. If you want to go down the 4K route, the minimum screen size for a pleasant desktop experience is 28″-32″ but I would personally recommend 40″. I don’t think this is a viable option for most people and believe that you would be better off with a 29″ 2560×1080 display. Similarly,  I find it rather perplexing that 24″ 4k monitors exist and wonder who the target market is.

Productivity and Desktop use


 

As you can see from the picture, this particular model utilizes a straight panel without any curvature. Many of the upcoming 21:9 displays adopt a slight curve to help the user naturally look at the extreme edges without too much head movement. However, I’m quite skeptical how much of a difference this actually makes. I’ve been using a 21:9 monitor for approximately a month and it’s surprising how quickly you adjust to mammoth size.

Within a few days, 34″ doesn’t feel overpowering and I’d struggle to go back to any traditional 16:9 display. It’s important to remember though that 21:9 panels are optimized for multi-page workloads and look terrible with a single, full-screen application. If you access a webpage at 3440×1440 and cover the entire screen, only a tiny proportion will be used to display the website.

Watching Video Content


The industry standard of 16:9 video production can cause a myriad of problems on unusual aspect ratios and results in black bars or a stretched image. This is far from ideal and you cannot utilize the entire screen or enjoy video content in an ultra-wide cinematic manner. Despite this, I adjusted to the black bars pretty quickly and my eyes began to fixate on the 16:9 image. Although, I am fairly used to watching old 4:3 footage on 16:9 Televisions, so your experience may vary.

For example, Thunderbirds was originally filmed in 4:3 during the 1960s and transferred to 16:9 for the UK Blu-Ray release. This was an abomination with parts of the set being chopped off and characters looking stranger than usual. So how does this relate to 21:9 monitors? Stretching any content from one aspect ratio to another is always going to end in tears. In theory, you can use VLC and set a specific aspect ratio, despite what the original source might be in, but the image might leave you feeling a little dejected. Personally, I tried a number of anime shows and stretched the feed, but it was fairly hard to watch.

Watching any online content via YouTube, Neflix or Amazon Instant compounds this issue and you cannot stretch the image without a third-party plugin. The snapshot above shows a 4K sample being played on the monitor’s native resolution. Obviously, the panel cannot output 4K, but it’s interesting to see how beautiful the colours and detail can be on an IPS, 3440×1440 display. If you can look past the black bars, and mentally think about having two monitors; a 34 ultra-wide and a 27 inch 16:9 panel, then video playback is wonderful. It’s all about perception and if you can accept the black bars.

Gaming Experience


Playing games on a 21:9 display is immersive, exhilarating and adds a whole new dimension to titles you’ve already completed. This immense experience comes from the ultra-wide field-of-view which allows you to soak up the atmosphere and notice nuances in a game’s environment. From first-person shooters to racing games, the 21:9 aspect ratio provides a stunning picture which feels surprisingly natural.

Competitive shooters like CS:GO didn’t suffer from significant motion blur or latency, but this will all depend on the individual panel quality. I particularly enjoyed tense shooters like Metro Last Light and felt the panel width enhanced my connection with the gunplay overall. After using 21:9, 16:9 just seems so limiting and counterproductive. You can no longer gaze over such a wide viewpoint and games work much better on a rectangular screen shape.

There is one caveat to the gaming experience which isn’t as major as I first expected. Some titles do not support 21:9 screens, so you have to manually enable the resolution through a .ini or .cfg file. If you encounter this problem, an excellent source of information is the Widescreen Gaming Forum. This site grades each game for its 21:9 support, and includes a number of fixes to help with UI scaling and graphical abnormalities. What did shock me is the amount of games which allow for a 21:9 resolution without any tweaks. Surprisingly, most games within the last 5 years should work very well unless they are a poor PC port of a console game. If you’re thinking about buying a 21:9 monitor, but you’re worried about the lack of compatibility, don’t be! For gaming purposes, a 21:9 screen is simply magical.

Final Thoughts


Selecting any monitor requires a degree of compromise and this is especially the case with 21:9 displays. For gaming purposes, the aspect ratio is sublime and delivers a breathtaking experience. Furthermore, the ultrawide format works pretty well with most games and doesn’t require huge amounts of tweaking. Usually, the main issue revolves around the HUD becoming enlarged and not scaling to the display properly. Although, this isn’t overly prominent and documented on the Widescreen Gaming Forum. The wide FOV on 21:9 monitors enriches the experience and enhances your appreciation for the art assets.

However, 21:9 panels are not suitable for professional gamers at this time. Currently, the panels are either VA or IPS/PLS featuring a 60Hz refresh and between 5-15ms response time. In all honesty, a TN monitor would struggle to reproduce a consistent colour palette on an ultrawide screen. The situation might change in the coming months as IPS panels are now reaching 144Hz as illustrated by the Acer XB270HU.

The ultrawide format provides a splendid workspace for multitasking and led to a sharp increase in my productivity. I’m now able to browse multiple windows at the same time without any hesitation. The huge screen real estate and sensible PPI rating makes text clear without squinting. 21:9 monitors are a superb alternative to a dual monitor setup.

Video content is predominately produced to support the mainstream 16:9 standard. As a result, 21:9 panels cannot cope with non-native videos and your only option is to acclimatize yourself to black bars or stretch the video feed. Personally, the black bars didn’t irk me and I accepted this flaw fairly quickly. If you decide to stretch the image, it looks unnatural, and fairly bizarre. Subsequently, if you intend on watching movies, TV shows and don’t play games, I would recommend a large 16:9 4k monitor instead.

Using a 21:9 monitor for the past month has been an enthralling experience and despite its flaws, I wouldn’t trade the aspect ratio for 4K, multi-monitors, or 2560×1440 144hz products.

Diamond Wireless Video Stream HD 1080P HDMI Review

Introduction


A great desktop or AV setup should simply work, with as few controls needed as possible, as few cables as needed, so that you can power it up and get on with the work or entertainment you desire, with as few problems as possible. Whether you’re wanting to take your work and throw it up on the big screen for a presentation, send your video output to a projector, take the movie or website you’re working with from your desktop to the living room, it doesn’t matter, you just want to be able to do it in a few simple clicks. The Diamond wireless display transmitter is one device that promises to be able to let you do just that, but is it any good?

“Wirelessly stream HD video and internet content to your HDTV. Now you can enjoy your home computer content and stream movies from sites like Hulu®, Netflix®, Boxee®, iTunes® and YouTube® from the comfort of your own living room. There is no need to buy bulky set top boxes that limit what you can watch. Simply connect your PC to your high definition television and watch quality digital content supporting 1080p resolution. It’s your TV and your PC wirelessly!”

I’ve had a little experience with wireless display technology in the past and it was woefully inefficient. There were lag issues, display quality problems, stutter, range issues, resolution limitations and more. However, that was a fair few years ago and wireless technology has improved greatly since then, so I’m eager to see how this device holds up.

  • Watch ANYTHING from your PC or laptop on a large flat panel TV
  • Simple and Easy installation
  • Supports 1080p Full HD
  • 5.1 Digital Audio
  • 3.5 MM 2 Channel Stereo
  • MULTITASKING – Watch TV while working on your PC or laptop
  • Stream presentations wirelessly to your HDMI or VGA projector
  • Stream photos, music library or Internet radio from your PC or laptop to your HDTV home theater
  • Up to 30 foot range
  • HDMI cable included

In the box, you’ll find everything you need to get you started. The power cable, a USB transmitter, the receiver box and a HDMI cable.

The USB adaptor is simple enough and will connect to your computer easily enough, the higher and more insight of the transmitter you can get it, the better.

The receiver box is nice and compact, a lot smaller than most streaming devices and it shouldn’t be hard to integrate into your home entertainment setup, or pop next to a device such as a projector. It’s also small enough that you could keep it stored in your laptop bag. On the end, you’ll find a VGA port, great for keeping it compatible with older projectors and displays.

Down the other side, you’ve got a power input port, Mini-USB, HDMI (1080p and 5.1 Digital Audio support) and a 3.5mm jack for external 2 channel audio.

Two indicator lights on one end, to show signal and power.

The aerial can be moved to help you find an optimal signal.

It can also be removed should you need to and it features a standard WiFi antenna port, so you may even be able to add your own aerial if you really wanted to, or simply replace it should you break the original.

Diamond USB 3.0 to 4K DisplayPort Adapter Review

Introduction


So you’ve just bought that amazing new 4K monitor and you’re loving the resolution and stunning images, except every time you get back to your notebook or other older computer that can’t handle such a resolution. Diamond comes to the rescue with their BVU5500 USB 3.0 to 4K Display Port Adapter.

The Diamond BVU5500 features DisplayLink’s 4K technology with a DisplayPort 1.2 plug and adds this to your old laptop, tablet or computer, increasing the resolutions up to four times that of 1080P. If one extra monitor shouldn’t be enough for you, then just add some more. You can have up to six BVU5500 adapters connected at the same time, increasing your PCs capability with six times 4k resolution.

The device in itself is very simple and relative small. It has a short USB cable attached at one end, a DisplayPort 1.2 at the other end, and the side offers two 3.5mm audio jacks. On the bottom it has 4 small rubber feet for better surface grip where it’s placed as well as a sticker with the serial and model numbers. The weight of 90 grams and size of 80 x 48 x 25 mm also make it highly portable so you can take it with you where ever you need it.

This is such a simple tool, yet so useful. It is also one of those gadgets when used once, you just can’t seem to think how you ever lived without it before. At least when you own a 4K monitor like I do and also have a lot of older systems running for different tasks. It’s only the newest that support 4K natively and this already makes the Diamond BVU5500 adapter a winner in my book.

The adapter is almost plug and play, it will require you to either download the drivers or install them from the included disk. It only takes a couple of seconds and Windows will recognize the adapter and extend your desktop; It could hardly be any easier.

Inside it features a DisplayLink DL-5500 chipset that can handle a maximum resolution of 3840×2160, and the BVU5500 also supports HDCP 2.0 protected video playback. It is compatible with Windows 7, 8, and 8.1 and only requires a 1.2GHz CPU with SSE2 support to work. For 4K resolution you’ll need a system that is a little faster, recommended is an Intel Core i5 with 2GHz or more. You’ll also need to have a 4K capable display, a USB 3.0 or 2.0 port, 30 megabytes of free disk space, 1GB system memory, and either a CD/DVD drive or an internet connection to get the drivers.

“Updates to the screen are automatically detected and compressed using the DisplayLink compression technology (DL2+ or DL3). This adaptive compression technology automatically balances the compression methods based on the content, available CPU power, and USB bandwidth, providing the best possible USB graphics experience at any given moment.”

Diamond USB 3.0 to Multi Display Adapter Review

Introduction


There’s no doubt in my mind that if you’re using a computer, you’re using a display of some sorts; a PC isn’t much use without one. Having a single display is fine for most people, it’s more than enough for working, gaming and whatever else you need. However, what if you need to expand your display setup even further? There are other display outputs on your GPU, or at least most graphics cards have more than one output. However, what if you find yourself in a situation where you have no more outputs available? If you have 1-3 displays setup for your system, or you run your spare output to a bigscreen TV or projector, you’ve got no room left to add another display to your setup, without adding another video card into the mix.

Of course, the real market for this device is for notebooks and tablets with a single display output. Most ultrabooks only have a single display output, if they have one at all! So being able to have a cost-effective connectivity solution could be a great solution for expanding your workspace.

The Diamond USB 3.0 to DVI/HDMI/VGA does exactly what it says on the box, it allows you to turn a USB 3.0 port into a video output, giving you as many more display ports as you could need, at a significantly lower price point than adding an extra dedicated GPU. Of course, there are some shortfalls to this, such as the solution may not be ideal for gaming, but for work and content creation, it could be the flexible solution you need.

Specifications and features

Product weight 0.10 lbs.
Package weight 0.65 lbs.
Product Dimensions 3.2(L) x 1.9(W) x 1.0(H) Inches
Package Dimensions 8.6 x 6.4 x 2.1 Inches

Connectors

DVI (Native)
DVI to HDMI (with included adapter)
DVI to VGA (with included adapter)
USB 3.0 Micro

Chipset

DisplayLink DL-3500

Number of Displays Supported

1 per BVU3500 adapter

Max resolution

2048 x 1152 and 1080P

HDCP

Yes, Protected video playback HDCP 2.0

In the box, you will find a USB 3.0 cable, the USB to DVI adaptor, a DVI to VGA adaptor and a DVI to HDMI adaptor; virtually any monitor you can think of should be able to connect with ease.

The main unit is simple enough, with the USB connection on the end and a small LED indicator on the top.

The DVI port is self-explanatory and what is nice to see is that all the connectors are gold-plated, so they should last a lot longer without corroding.

On the underside, you’ll find a small sticker with the product model number (UGA250000S REV.A) and four small screws should you need to open the device for repairs, which is very unlikely.

Both of the connectors are of a very high quality and come with metal thumbscrew fittings to ensure your cables don’t drop out; with the exception of HDMI, which is a self-supporting cable.

The HDMI connector may not screw into place, but the mount does swivel and twist, which should further ensure that your cable doesn’t get pulled from its fitting.

Oculus Rift DK2 VR Headset Review

Introduction


Oculus VR is one of the hottest technology companies of a generation, promising huge innovations in the way we consume content such as computer games and movies. While their consumer ready CV1 (Consumer Version 1) Oculus Rift technology is still not ready, we have been fortunate enough to get our hands on their DK2 development kit hardware. The DK2 hardware is a pre-release model for testing of the general hardware and software components, allowing developers to create games that are Oculus-ready for when CV1 launches in around 12 months (estimate).

The DK2 brings some very important hardware updates when compared to the DK1 Oculus Rift headset. The resolution is higher, now offering 960 x 1080 resolution per eye @ 75Hz with low persistence; this promises smoother performance, less motion blur and a reduction in the screen-door effect that plagued the DK1 headset.

Another major update for the DK2 is the near Infrared CMOS Sensor. This is a webcam style device that detects a range of infrared lights inside the headset to allow positional tracking; more explanation on that part shortly.

The packaging on the DK2 is pretty straight forward, a rather plain brown box.

On the interior you’ll find some egg-carton style packing material around a smaller inner box.

The DK2 packaging is designed to act as a carry case; not the best, but better than just throwing it in a drawer under your desk.

There’s custom cut protective foam throughout the interior of the packaging.

Each component is split into its own section and wrapped in protective plastic.

There are even more components tucked away under the top layer.

And even more in the very bottom.

In the box you will find the DK2 headset, two sets on lenses, the camera, a cleaning cloth, some cables and a user setup guide.

AOC Q2770PQU 27″ PLS Monitor Review

Introduction


For content writers and image editors such as myself, having a large display with a high-resolution to work on and maximise our workspace is virtually a must have and whilst a 1920 x 1080 workspace is usable, it’s not ideal – especially when you’re referencing from a data sheet or a reviewers guide. There is of course the option to have two displays side by side and this is great as it does give you the capacity to view two separate items at once with loads of space to work in, but having even more space to work within is highly sought after – in short a 1920 x 1080 resolution doesn’t quite cut it for me these days.

Going up from a standard HD resolution does mean that we generally have to go up in a physical dimension as well and above 24″ the next step is 27″. At this point we move to the 2560 x 1440 and 2560 x 1600 set of resolutions and whilst there is only a small difference in the height of each resolution, surprisingly there is a bigger gap in the price. This is part of the reason why many users stick to the standard HD workspace. Fortunately for the professional user group the number of monitors coming to market sporting the slightly lower 1440 pixel height is quickly growing and with 4K panels appearing in growing numbers, the price associated with moving up from 1920 x 1080 is dropping at a steady pace.

The Q2770PQU is one of AOC’s latest creations and like a number of their other products it’s not short of any features. On top of the 2560 x 1440 resolution, the display boasts a 80,000,000 : 1 dynamic contrast ratio, 5ms GTG (Grey to Grey) response time, 300cd/m² brightness, a pixel pitch of 0.233 x 0.233 mm and a super wide viewing angle of 178° (horizontal & vertical) – all from a LED backlit PLS panel. Top this off with a set of built-in 2W speakers, DVI-D, VGA, HDMI and DisplayPort inputs, a height adjustable and rotatable stand and finally a pair of USB2.0 & USB3.0 ports and what you’ve got is one mouth-watering package.

Like the spec list, the accessory set is by no means short-staffed. A cable for DVI, VGA and DisplayPort connectivity is available along with a 3.5mm to 3.5mm audio cable and a USB3.0 host cable. A regional kettle lead is also bundled in with a CD and user manual to get you up and running.

Aside from the accessories, I will make a note that the box suggests that this is an IPS panel and not a PLS as listed. I can confirm that this is a PLS panel and any sources that list IPS are incorrect – all other listed specifications for this panel are correct – an error was made during the beta stages for this product that resulting in review samples having IPS printed boxes – all final production boxes and sources have been corrected.

Philips 231C5 23″ IPS Touch Screen Monitor Review

Introduction


When Microsoft announced the imminent launch of Windows 8, one of the revolutionary aspects of the new operating system was its more streamlined integration into touch screen devices. Since that time we have seen touch screen capable notebooks and Ultrabooks swarm the market and the era of the touch screen computer has changed the way that many of us have interacted with our systems. For the most part, this interaction has been on mobile devices such as Microsoft’s Surface 2 Pro Tablet and Intel’s range of Ultrabooks, however we have also seen a number of touch screen enabled AIO’s (All-In-One Systems) appearing on the market, however their appeal is not as great as that of mobile devices.

The reason for this general lack of interest is the relative performance that they have to offer in comparison to an enthusiast or gamer spec system and this is where the deciding point has been left for many users. Touch screen monitors are obviously not that new to the market, but up to this point there has not been that much of a strong appeal within the consumer markets, however since the launch of Windows 8, the interest in purchasing an after market monitor with touch screen capabilities has been growing at a steady rate.

Philips as some may or may not know are very closely related to AOC who produce some of the top gaming monitors that we have seen over the last year or so and with this partnership we have seen a range of monitors that almost covers each and every sector of the tech market. To broaden their product catalogue that bit more, Philips have been developing an all new multi-point touch screen LCD panel that offers up all the image clarity that we have come to expect from the brand, with the quality and precision that the Philips brand also has to offer.

Built in to a 23″ frame, the SmoothTouch 231C5 offers users a glorious 1920 x 1080 LCD IPS panel with a touch screen element added on the top. To set the 231C5 apart from other panels as well, there is not a stand as we would typically see, but instead a foot that extends out from the back of the panel, allowing the screen to either sit upright, or lay right back for easy use of the touch screen in design applications for example.

Included alongside the monitor Philips include a wide variety of cables including VGA and HDMI display cables, a USB3.0 lead for the touchscreen element, a kettle lead and AC adaptor, 3.5mm to 3.5mm audio cable and also a quick start guide and driver CD to install the drivers for the touch screen element of the display.

AOC Q2963PM 29″ UWHD AH-IPS Monitor Review

Introduction


Over the last few years, we have been [in general] demanding higher and higher resolutions from our monitors, and before we even think about using a multi-screen setup – the most common resolution of choice has to be 1920×1080. Over the last year or so, we have been seeing a slow transition over to the 2560×1600 bandwagon as some users opt for bigger 27″+ panels. The problem with these through is that the cost is far greater than a 1920×1080 panel so having a pair of 22″ or 24″ panels is not uncommon – it gives a balance between the desktop space and cost that many people look for.

In a bid to give users the best option of desktop space and display aspect ratio, the 2560×1080 resolution has slowly been cropping up within the market place and in effect it is an ideal alternative for anyone that is looking at a dual 1920×1080 screen setup. The super-wide aspect of this 29″ monitor gives a single desktop space to work within, however when we move over to the gaming side of things, the extra pixels allow for a wider peripheral vision without the distraction of a bezel right in the middle of your view.

AOC’s super-wide monitor is just one of the few to now offer the new resolution, but it doesn’t just give more pixels; it also has one of the best panels on the market to show the image as well. The AH-IPS (Advanced High-Performance In Plane Switching) panel that AOC have chosen produces a mixture of supreme colour accuracy, high pixel density and a high level of brightness, oh and let’s not forget that it has a superb viewing angle as well. All the ingredients are there for certain, but does having a 21:9 aspect monitor really make that much of a difference?

Before we even get a chance to delve inside the box, AOC are keen to show off the screens super-wide aspect ratio and its ability to house multiple windows with ease. The blue box also has a row of the panels highlighted features laid out along the lower edge with a front and back view of the monitor found to the right.

Taking everything out of the box, we find the monitor in two parts and alongside a two-part DC power adaptor we also have a VGA display cable, HDMI cable, 3.5mm to 3.5mm audio cable, a cable tie, rubber feet and a CD containing a set of display drivers and AOC’s accompanying software for this panel.

Silverstone Single Monitor Arm Review

Introduction


Following my recent look at a monitor arm from Peerless AV, I’ve been a little intrigued to see what other options are on the market and after a little searching around and finding a number of other arms, I found a new line of products from no other than Silverstone. For the most part, we commend Silverstone for the high level of quality that go into their cases and power supplies and also their many other system accessories such as magnetic fan dust covers.

Monitor arms are a new line for Silverstone, and without even getting a chance to get the arm out of the box, I have the impression already that what I’m about to play with is going to be an item of top quality, both in its feel, but also looks and more importantly its use.

The arm that we are having a look at today is capable of holding a single panel, whilst there are also models that can hold two or more panels accordingly. As we can see from the top right of the box, the ARM11 comes with one of three mounting solutions but we’re going to have a look at the most commonly selected option – a desk clamp. The rest of the box gives us an indication on the design of the arm and inside the arm comes in a number of parts with a user manual to show you through the setup process. Silverstone promise that this arm can handle panels up to 10kg in weight, so for the purpose of this review I’ll be using on of Dell’s 30″ monsters – the 9.2kg U3011.

Philips 242G5 144Hz LCD Gaming Monitor Review

Introduction


Over the last few months, monitors that are built for gaming have been cropping up within the marketplace and at last people can get a panel that compliments their high performance gaming system, delivering better image quality and faster refresh rates with a typical 144Hz refresh rate. The refresh rate is the key part to what sets this new type of panel apart from the rest of the crowd. As I’ve highlighted before, it’s all and well having a GPU that can pump out in the region of 100fps, but if your monitor is only running at 60Hz as the vast majority do, then it can only show a maximum of 60 frames per second itself. As a result there are frames that have been rendered effectively going to waste and it may be one of those frames that could make a crucial difference to the outcome of a tournament for example.

This is where the new 144Hz standard comes into play. With this higher refresh rate, the panel is able to display up to 144 frames per second. This means that not only are those extra frames not going to waste, but the image will appear to be much smoother and fluid in motion as scenes are displayed.

Recently I took a look at one of these new 144Hz panels from AOC, namely the G2460PQU and on the whole I was impressed with the quality of the build and the feature set on offer, but most importantly, the difference that the faster refresh rate made to not only game play but also during day-to-day usage.

Philips as some may or may not know is related to AOC through a parent company known as TPV. Whilst the two rand names run side by side, it is worth noting that some aspects of the monitors from each brand may appear to be the same, but on the whole they are run as two completely separate brands within the market place.

Philips ship the monitor in is probably one of the biggest boxes that I’ve seen for a screen of this size. The box is wrapped in a bold space styled scene with an image of the screen itself and along the lower edge are a set of smaller images highlighting certain aspects of the screen.

With everything taken out of the box, it’s immediately apparent why the box is so thick. Where most screens come with the base plate completely separate from the rest of the stand, the 242G5’s stank is one complete unit and as a result the dimensions of the box are increased. Alongside the stand and the LCD panel, there are a set of manuals and an information and driver CD, IEC power cable, USB3.0 cable, two display cables (VGA and DL-DVI) and finally an OSD remote control pad.

Peerless AV LCT420A LCD Desktop Mount Review

Introduction


When it comes to increasing the flow of work in the office, increasing the monitor real estate that I have to work with is one simple yet effective way of doing just that. The advantage of going from a single to a dual screen setup and from dual to triple screen is extremely beneficial and it means that I can do far more in one workspace as opposed to constantly using ALT-TAB to switch back and forth between windows. There is a catch though with adding extra screens on to my desk and this obviously is going to be the space. More display real-estate consequently means that more space is going to be needed and when you’ve got a desk crammed full of bits of hardware, notepads, keyboards and mice etc, you soon start running out of places to place another screen.

After mulling over a number of options, the idea came about using a set of monitor arms to suspend the screens above my desk area giving me the space that I need on the desk, whilst still allowing me to have the much needed space that I need on screen when writing reviews. Further more, having an arm means that I can rotate the screen through 90° to have it held up in a portrait orientation. Normally this wouldn’t be the way I would have a screen, but with the editor that we use at eTeknix, having the screen in portrait is far more beneficial as we can see more of the written content at one as opposed to scrolling up and down all the time.

After a bit of searching around, the guys at Overclockers UK came up with a set of arms from Peerless AV, which they regard as having an easy setup, whilst being strong and light to use. Peerless AV are a well established brand that make mounting solutions for a whole host of needs and environments, ranging from desktop mounted screens to wall or ceiling mounted, be it for a computer screen, TV, projector, Advertising board plus more. It’s clear with a product catalogue that is packed with products that they have something to cover virtually every situation we can think of that might arise.

The arms that Overclockers have sent across are designed for 12-30″ screens with VESA 75 or VESA 100 mounting points on the rear and with a weight of no more than 9kg. this consequently gives us a huge range of compatibility with many monitors on the market, however my Asus 24″ VS247 panels are well within this range and are the ones that I’ll be using on my desk with these arms in place.

Peerless include a concise yet well equipped kit along with the to mains parts of the arms. For fitting the VESA mount to the back of a compatible screen there is a section of four different screw types which have slightly different threads for use on different panels. A set of four plastic stand-offs are also included for fitting the bracket to monitors with a curved back to them – allowing the plate to sit back from the panel without bending or damaging either part. Rubber feet are also included for attaching to the bottom of the base plate to protect a desk or table top whilst a plastic cable tidy and cable ties keep all the cables secure and out of the way.

AOC G2460PQU 24″ 144Hz WLED Gaming Monitor Review

Introduction


As we have seen recently, there are a huge number of components that make up any system setup and unfortunately there is one key component that many people fail to put any attention to, thus making that gloriously expensive graphics card not give as good as it can. This of course is the monitor that we spend every minute looking at whilst using the system for whatever the task may be – whether it be office work, watching a film, image editing or even gaming. What these panels do for each task has a major impact on our user experience as a whole. If the image that we see is not crisp and defined with a great balance of colour, brightness and vibrancy, in the long run there is the chance of the poor image having an effect on the eyes or in the mind of a gamer, this can have a detrimental effect on the outcome of a game.

On the market there are so many generic ‘all-round’ performing monitors that are designed to perform for any task with reasonably good results, but nothing special. As we have seen recently though, there are many panels as well that are built for a specific user group in mind and this was a prime case when I looked at the ProArt PA249Q from Asus not too long ago. This panel is optimised for professional users who perform tasks such as image and video editing, where the need for precise colours and a definitively sharp display is fundamentally important.

Across many users, there is one task as such that many people carry out and this is where many people spend hundreds, if not thousands of pounds getting the best system they can. This of course is gaming. As highlighted in my ProArt review, its quite a sad sight so see when someone has spent hundreds of pounds on the latest and greatest graphics card, only to have a cheap, generic TFT panel connected up to it that can only give a mediocre / average image that consequently doesn’t do the card much justice. As a result this is where gaming orientated displays come into the playing field.

The most critical gamers on the planet are the professional team players. This select group of dedicated people strive to win and being able to see and respond to what they see with accuracy – and fast, is what can be the make or break of any match. Anyone who has seen a professional team in action will note that each and every one of them can have differing mouse and keyboard setups and this comes down to what they find is the best for them and what they are comfortable with and all the time they are looking at the best screens they can get their hands on.

AOC have been developing some of the most sought after panels for a number of months now, including the super widescreen 29″ Q2963PM with its 2560×1080 UWHD resolution and the i2369Vm IPs panel which AOC market as the IPS panel for everyone. One of the more recent focus points for the AOC development team has been the gamer. Whilst the vast majority of screens sold worldwide for offices and professionals alike will never see a game displayed upon them, we cannot forget that the world of gaming is growing ever more rapidly and the need to have the best screen for the job is too. To develop this new panel, AOC have taken their development to the people who will push them to their limits – the professional gamers. By working with this select group of users who know specifically what they are after, AOC have been able to craft a screen that has been made for gamers – by the gamers.

Like many a large number of other panels on the market, the G2460PQU comes in a brown based box with some simple monochrome styling around it to show what model is inside.

Inside there is the usual selection of cables included with the panel, including VGA and DVI display cables, a UK kettle lead, USB2.0 A-B, 3.5mm to 3.5mm audio cable, clip on cable tidy, a CD with the user guide and some software and last of all a copy of Shoot Mania to play.

Asus ProArt PA249Q 24″ AH-IPS LCD Monitor Review

There are many components within a system setup that are mandatory for the system to be usable or even perform for that matter,and these days there is so much focus from vendors to consumers alike about getting the best for the money and at the same time to avoid compromising on performance or quality. Take power supplies, they are a prime example of the obsession of most users and rightly so – I would not dream of putting a power supply in to a system where I thought the quality was not up to standard. After all, if that fails, then it can be ‘bye bye’ to your system and an expensive repair bill.

What does the quality of a power supply have to do with a monitor I hear you ask? Well it is a notable fact that for a large percentage of users, so much focus is put in to the system and the graphics output, a consequent side step is made around deciding what screen is going to be used to display the graphics. Take a moment to think about it, you’ve spend the best part of £1500-2000 on your top end system, but then skimp out on a £100-150 panel, because it ‘does the job’ of displaying your top end system’s output. Doesn’t make a lot of sense really – does it?

Since LCDs have been around, the introduction of LED backlit panels vastly improved the quality of the image that we saw on the screen with better depth of colour and brightness to go with it. More recently, the IPS (In-plane Switching) panel has made the LCD screen even more clear and crisp with superior colour output as well as wider viewing angles and more importantly for gamers, a faster response time.

With nearly all users these days using LCD screens, getting the true colours out of the panel is nigh on impossible and whilst there are expensive calibration kits available that will assist in doing so, for a large number of the panels on the market, this is going to be a battle against the odds to get things just how they should be.  But why should we be looking for perfection? If you’re a graphic designer or someone who does a lot of photo or video editing, the answer is a no-brainer really, it makes a hell of a difference when getting the work right – first time.

Bringing that bag of challenges to the design table, the R&D team at Asus have been busy working away to get a panel to market that will tick all the boxes for graphics designers and gamers alike with a pre-calibrated panel that will give near perfect colour outputs whilst offering up a 1920×1200 resolution that will give some extra pixel real-estate to play around with over a 1080p panel. Bring forward the PA249Q a 24″ IPS panel that offers all this plus more, but the real question is, is Asus’ pre-calibration really that noticeable to the eye?

The PA249Q comes in a relatively colourful box, showing off the screen in both its portrait and landscape orientations. On the lower half of the box there are a number of logos, some which have a significant feature within this panel such as the Adobe RGB colour profiling, a supreme level of colour accuracy and a factory colour calibration.

 Before we move on to the panel itself, there are a number of accessories to sort  through, including VGA, DVI and DisplayPort cables, a USB3.0 lead, an EU power cable (although regional SKUs will have the required cables included), quick installation guide, Asus VIP notice and a CD with the manual on. Additional to these, there is a pack with Velcro cable ties in which is a welcome addition to keeping everything tidy behind the scenes and most importantly a dedicated report for the calibration of this particular panel.

Asus VG278H 3D Vision 2 Monitor Kit Review

Recently we took a look at one of Asus’ entry level LED backlit LCD monitors and we were very impressed with its clarity, colour reproduction, and most of all its price. But this is common ground and something that everyone is used to – where do you improve a great image? Well the next stage is to take things to the next dimension, quite literally.

3D viewing of films is something that has been around for ages on cinemas, but bringing this into the home environment has only started becoming the standard as of latem but this is typically on the TV side of entertainment. Apart from watching 3D films, what else can the enthusiast do? Well how about playing games in 3D? Now we’re talking.

Nvidia have for a while offered up their 3D vision kits as a separate offer that work with most monitors, but what we have here is a full on bundle with a 27″ LCD & LED backlit screen with a whopping 120Hz frame rate and an impressive contrast ratio of 50,000,000:1 and Nvidia’s 3D vision wireless glasses. Sounds like a mouth watering bundle doesn’t it? The real question is though is this a screen that works as an all round player in both 2D and 3D environments or is it something only for the weekend? Well there is only one way to find out and so I had to take a dive into the world of PC gaming in 3D, this is going to be fun!

 

Display Panel Size: Wide Screen 27.0″(68.6cm) 16:9
True Resolution : 1920×1080
Full HD 1080P : Yes
Pixel Pitch : 0.311mm
Brightness(Max) : 300 cd/㎡
ASUS Smart Contrast Ratio (ASCR) : 50000000:1
Viewing Angle (CR≧10) : 170°(H)/160°(V)
Response Time : 2ms (Gray to Gray)
Display Colors : 16.7M
Video Feature Trace Free Technology
SPLENDID Video Intelligence Technology
SPLENDID Video Preset Modes : 6 Modes (sRGB Mode/Scenery Mode/Theater Mode/Standard Mode/Night View Mode/Game Mode)
Skin-Tone Selection : 3 Modes
Color Temperature Selection : 4 Modes
HDCP support
Audio Features Stereo Speakers : 3W x 2 Stereo RMS
Convenient Hotkey SPLENDID Video Preset Mode Selection
Auto. Adjustment
Brightness Adjustment
Contrast Adjustment
Input Selection
I/O Ports Signal Input : HDMI , D-Sub, Dual-link DVI-D (support NVIDIA 3D Vision)
PC Audio Input : 3.5mm Mini-Jack
AV Audio Input : HDMI 1.4
Audio Output : HDMI 1.4
Earphone jack : 3.5mm Mini-Jack
Signal Frequency Analog Signal Frequency : 24~140 KHz(H)/ 50~122 Hz(V)
Digital Signal Frequency : 24~83 KHz(H)/ 50~85 Hz(V)
Power Consumption Power On< 65W
Power Saving Mode< 1W
Power Off Mode< 1W
Mechanical Design Chassis Colors : Black
Tilt : +15°~-5°
Swivel : Yes
Height Adjustment : Yes
VESA Wall Mounting : 100x100mm
Security Kensington lock
Dimensions Phys.Dimension(WxHxD): 643x460x220mm
Box Dimension(WxHxD): 732x560x176mm
Weight Net Weight (Esti.): 8 kg
Gross Weight (Esti.): 10 kg
Accessories Dual-link DVI cable
VGA cable
Audio cable
Power cord
Quick start guide
Warranty Card
Nvidia 3D Vision Kit
Regulation Approval Energy Star®, ErP, UL/cUL, CB, CE, FCC, CCC, BSMI, Gost-R, C-Tick, VCCI, J-MOSS, PSB, RoHS, WEEE, Windows 7 WHQL

Asus VE228 21.5″ LED 1080p Monitor Review

As we all know, there are a few items that are a necessity to owning a computer, and one of them is your screen. Most of us will remember back a few years when the rage was all about what CRT you had – mine for example was made by Packard Bell and packed a modest 1280×1024 resolution over VGA. Fast forward a few years and LCD screens started to crop up and fast forward even more and we now see the CRT to be virtually extinct in the computing world. So where can things go from here? There is always a way to improve technology and the latest focus is getting a far superior picture whilst using less and less power whilst doing so.

This is where Asus have stepped upto the mark with the VE228. From the outside, it looks pretty much like any other recent widescreen LCD monitor, and to the majority of people it is, but peel away the layers and you’ll soon realise that this is not an LCD as we once knew it.

LEDs are becoming more and more popular in the tech market and with their extreme light output from such a small power source, its understandable why. So to produce one of their latest screens, Asus have taken away the cathode tubes that traditionally light up and LCD and have replaced them with LEDs to give a brighter, crisper image which also allows for a better colour reproduction and contrast level at the same time.

Typically we see LED lit screens on the higher end of the market and more commonly in TVs, but have Asus been able to harness this technology into an affordable package for the mainstream consumer that doesn’t want to pay over the odds for a 22″ screen? Well that what we’re here to find out…

 

Display Panel Size : 21.5″(54.6cm) Wide Screen
True Resolution : 1920×1080
Pixel Pitch : 0.248mm
Brightness(Max) : 250 cd/㎡
ASUS Smart Contrast Ratio (ASCR) : 10000000:1
Viewing Angle (CR≧10) : 170°(H)/160°(V)
Response Time : 5ms
Display Colors : 16.7M
Video Feature SPLENDID Video Intelligence Technology
SPLENDID Video Preset Modes : 5 Modes
Skin-Tone Selection : 3 Modes
Color Temperature Selection : 5 Modes
HDCP support
Audio Features Stereo Speakers : 1W x 2 Stereo RMS
Convenient Hotkey SPLENDID Video Preset Mode Selection
Auto. Adjustment
Brightness Adjustment
Volume Adjustment
Input Selection
I/O Ports Signal Input : HDMI ,D-Sub,DVI-D
PC Audio Input : 3.5mm Mini-Jack
AV Audio Input : HDMI 1.3
Earphone jack : 3.5mm Mini-Jack
Signal Frequency Analog Signal Frequency : 30~83 KHz(H)/ 50~76 Hz(V)
Digital Signal Frequency : 30~83 KHz(H)/ 50~76 Hz(V)
Power Consumption Power Consumption < 30 W
Power Saving Mode < 1 W
Mechanical Design Chassis Colors : Black
Tilt : +20°~-5°
VESA Wall Mounting : 100x100mm
Security Kensington lock
Dimensions Phys.Dimension(WxHxD): 512.84×385.96x201mm
Box Dimension(WxHxD): 576x468x148mm
Weight Net Weight (Esti.): 4.1 kg
Gross Weight (Esti.): 6.1 kg
Accessories DVI cable
VGA cable
Audio cable
Power cord
Quick start guide
Warranty Card
Regulation Approval Energy Star 5.0, CEL, UL/cUL, CB, CE, EuP, FCC, CCC, BSMI, Gost-R, C-Tick, VCCI, PSB, J-MOSS, WEEE, Windows Vista & Windows 7 WHQL