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With monitor prices creeping lower than ever, even the latest IPS-based models are now affordable. Today, we look at a pair of 27-inch, LED-lit, 1080p displays from AOC and ViewSonic. Both products recently hit the market and are selling for around $300.
Both of the monitors we're reviewing today employ the latest AH-IPS screen technology from LG. As we know, the original intent of IPS (in-plane switching) was to improve color quality and off-axis viewing, but it had the downside of slower response time and reduced contrast.
H-IPS (high-performance IPS) was intended to solve those deficiencies by re-aligning the individual sub-pixels so that the liquid crystal molecules moved parallel to the screen plane, rather than perpendicularly. AH-IPS (advanced high-performance IPS) further improves the design by upping color accuracy, increasing resolution, and transmitting more light, whilst lowering power consumption.
Originally seen only in high-end monitors, IPS and its many flavors have filtered down into more affordable products like AOC's I2757Fh and ViewSonic's VX2770Smh.
AOC enters the fray with its very stylish I2757Fh, sporting an incredibly small bezel, an ultra-thin form factor, and an unbelievable price tag. You may have noticed a trio of these monitors headlining Part 2 of our 2012 Holiday Gift Guide.
Although not a true bezel-free design, the I2757Fh’s actual border sits flush with the screen. It measures just 2 mm thick on the top and side edges, while the bottom edge consists of a 33 mm-thick metallic band. The glass, however, has an additional 9 mm of unused space on the top and sides, taking the total visible border to 11 mm on those edges. This monitor wouldn’t be a viable choice for professional video walls. But with an MSRP of just $300 per panel, it's still a great fit in desktop-oriented multi-screen setups.
The bottom band and base sport a light, brushed metal look. Rather than simply tacked on, AOC’s logo is polished and molded to the bottom band. While the material is actually hard plastic, the finished product is attractive enough for even the most style-conscious users. Touch-sensitive controls are found on the right side of the bottom band...and sensitive they are! It's very easy to accidentally register a double-tap when only a single touch is intended. The panel snaps onto the base with no tools required. No height or swivel adjustments are available, meaning the I2757Fh is tilt-only. Alternatively, you can forgo the base entirely, setting the monitor directly on the desktop, propped up by a permanently-attached arm. We wouldn’t recommend this though, because it makes the screen easy to tip over.
Inputs include two HDMI connectors and one VGA port, with DVI notably absent. While the extra HDMI is nice for hooking up a second video source, we’d much rather have DVI. A mini-headphone jack is also included to bypass the on-board speakers. If you choose to use the speakers, you'll notice that the sound is fairly muffled, since they're on the back of the monitor and aimed upwards. Entertainment enthusiasts won't be impressed, but they're fine in an office where you'd rarely use them anyway.
Given its color and gamma accuracy, the I2757Fh shows best with high-definition video and gaming content, but more on this as we go through the benchmarks. The power supply is external, and AOC includes a separate brick that helps reduce the display's thickness and heat signature. But there is another not-so-obvious benefit to the power brick design: it can be replaced in the event that it goes bad. We’ve lost count of the number of monitors we’ve thrown away due to failures with their internal board-mounted power supplies.
Unfortunately, this monitor lacks any means for attaching it to a mounting bracket. Also disappointing is that AOC only includes a VGA cable with its I2757Fh, leaving you responsible for finding your own HDMI cable or DVI adapter.
ViewSonic’s VX2770Smh takes a similar approach to minimalism, but in a piano-black finish.
While the flush top and side bezels measure just 3 mm thick, there is an additional border of 9 mm in the glass, making the visible dark space around those edges 12 mm. The 31 mm-thick bottom band contains only the brightly-colored ViewSonic bird logo molded into the plastic. The monitor’s touch-sensitive controls are located on the permanently-attached base/stand, and its tiny blue LED indicator can be disabled if you don't want to see it. While the base and bottom band make this screen unsuitable for video wall applications, the typical side-by-side multi-monitor setup works well. Also like the AOC, screen adjustment on the ViewSonic is limited to tilt, and there is no provision for a mounting bracket.
Inputs on the VX27770Smh include HDMI, DVI, and VGA connectors, along with a mini-headphone jack for the built-in speakers. Audio output is about the same as AOC's submission. That is to say it's muffled and thin, which is fine in an office, but begging to be avoided if you're a gamer. Like the touch controls, inputs are located on the permanently-attached base/stand rather than on the panel itself. The downwards-pointing ports mean that the cables have to be attached by feel, though you do end up with a slimmer desktop footprint in the end. The power supply is a separate brick, and ViewSonic thoughtfully includes VGA, HDMI, and speaker cables.
|Price||$300 (Best Buy exclusive)||$353 (MSRP)|
|Aspect Ratio||16:9 (1.78:1)||16:9 (1.78:1)|
|Response Time (GTG, mfr)||5 ms||7 ms|
|Brightness (cd/m^2, mfr)||250||250|
|Energy Star Qualified||Yes||Yes|
|Refresh Rate||60 Hz||60 Hz|
|Warranty||3 years||3 years|
Before we get to the benchmarks, let's take a look at how we test.