Acer Predator Z301CT Monitor Review

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Would we buy a monitor just to get Tobii Eye-Tracking? If it performs as well as Acer’s Z301CT, that would be a resounding affirmative. And if you’re wondering about the potential cost of all this extra technology, it’s not as high as you might think. At this writing, the display is selling for under $900, which competes favorably with several other monitors that don’t offer 200Hz, G-Sync, or eye-tracking. And frankly, we’re enamored enough with Tobii’s tech that we’d consider adding the company's standalone solution to one of our existing monitors.

Gaming displays have become almost a commodity these days. While still commanding high prices, there are many products that offer great performance and a long feature list. If you have around $1000 to spend, you can get a decent-sized screen with good resolution, fast refresh, adaptive sync, and a curved ultra-wide panel from most major manufacturers. We’ve looked at many of them already and more are sure to come. But this Predator has two major features that set it apart.

First is that wonderful AMVA panel. We’ve touted the extra contrast of this technology and stated that its extra image depth is more significant to us than sheer resolution. Many reader comments focus on pixel count but ask yourself if you can truly tell the difference between 109 and 92ppi. A 3440x1440 screen at 34” will cost you around $300 more and run at a lower framerate than the 2560x1080 example shown here. With game detail levels maxed, fine textures look equally good on either panel. But that added dynamic range has a huge impact.

Second is, of course, Tobii Eye-Tracking. Some might be tempted to dismiss it as a gimmick, but once we tried it, we were hooked. It’s a leap to call anything “the future of gaming,” but we’ve seen many lesser technologies come and go. With 60 titles in its library already, it seems to have a strong following. Tobii has not rushed its product to market with half-finished software and thin support. Check out its website and block out some time for research because there is a ton of information there.

In practice, the eye-tracking feels like a polished piece. We didn’t experience any glitches and everything worked as advertised. As presented, we have no complaints. The system is extremely responsive and once you adapt to it, provides a unique and fun experience. Our only wish? More titles of course!

By keeping the price in line with the competition, Acer has come out with a home run display. Gaming performance with G-Sync, ULMB, and fast refresh is beyond reproach. Color accuracy has a few tiny flaws but is competitive with more expensive monitors. Tobii Eye-Tracking takes it over the top, though. It won’t cost you a lot of extra money and we think many users will find it to be a major value-add. For its quality, features, and performance, we’re giving the Z301CT our Tom’s Hardware Editor’s Choice Award.

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Christian Eberle
Contributing Editor

Christian Eberle is a Contributing Editor for Tom's Hardware US. He's a veteran reviewer of A/V equipment, specializing in monitors. Christian began his obsession with tech when he built his first PC in 1991, a 286 running DOS 3.0 at a blazing 12MHz. In 2006, he undertook training from the Imaging Science Foundation in video calibration and testing and thus started a passion for precise imaging that persists to this day. He is also a professional musician with a degree from the New England Conservatory as a classical bassoonist which he used to good effect as a performer with the West Point Army Band from 1987 to 2013. He enjoys watching movies and listening to high-end audio in his custom-built home theater and can be seen riding trails near his home on a race-ready ICE VTX recumbent trike. Christian enjoys the endless summer in Florida where he lives with his wife and Chihuahua and plays with orchestras around the state.

  • cknobman
    WTF, 1080 res and $800.

    Eye-tracking and G-Sync be danged, too expensive.
  • drwho1
    -$150 eye tracking
    -$200 g-sync
    Still about $100 too expensive.
  • Kridian
    All I have to do is look at the fancy base legs on these to know they're overpriced.
  • lazymangaka
    2560x1080 is the perfect resolution for most people who aren't gaming on absolute top-end hardware. My GTX 1060 runs absolutely everything at it just fine, with some room even for supersampling. I would certainly imagine that higher ultrawide resolutions would require real compromises with mainstream hardware.
  • yyk71200
    Considering the price of the monitor, I would hardly consider it mainstream.
  • barryv88
    $200 Gsync tax. No thx :(
  • Larmo-Ct
    Approximately eight plus years ago. I bought a Gateway 30 inch monitor. In those days it was hard to find a popular brand that made monitors that large. In my opinion it has taken a number of years for more companies to add 30" monitors to their inventories. It has been comparatively easy to purchase 24" and 27" monitors for years. As those sizes have become more popular, the prices have dropped consistently.
    In the past month, I purchased a Dell UP3216Q, directly from Dell for $1399.00,
    ( down from $1700.00 ) before tax and shipping. That model is a 32" monitor with
    maximum resolution of 3840x2160 at 60hz. Aside from the Gateway 30", I have purchased a Dell 30" monitor, ( which died after about 4+ years ), and an HP 30" monitor ( which is along side my 32" as I write this ). I am certainly not wealthy, and don't play a lot of FPS games, ( I prefer real world simulations like Steel Beast Pro Armored vehicle/combined arms ). I have always enjoyed working, and playing, using my large monitors.
    Lastly, I have to wonder at the calculations folks have used in this forum. Regarding the price of monitors like the Acer Predator Z301C. They have mentioned things like base price, plus the estimated cost of including various features. That is all well and good, but I don't think they have factored in a couple of intangibles. Companies maximizing their profit margin on any item. Also, the consumer base for large monitors is still rather small. People like Day Traders that use monitors in their businesses, and gamers. Are at this time, the only people that are willing to purchase anything that costs more than the current offerings of 24" and 27" monitors. So.., the scarcer an item is, the more it's going to cost. This has always been true of niche products.
  • rantoc
    Stopped reading when 1080p showed up...
  • ddferrari
    Show me a curved 34" 3440x1440p, IPS, G-sync, 100 fps monitor that isn't plagued with defects like the Predator X34, or has cheesy styling like the Asus p348q, and I'll take it. Oh, And I want it for a $1000.
  • Randy_86
    So glad to see a manufacturer stepping away from the 4k fad. My friend and I couldn't tell a difference on a 32" monitor at normal gaming distance, so why make monitors with that level of resolution other than marketing? 4K stinks for gaming on any rig without $1200+ in graphics cards. 2560x1080 is GREAT. I only wish it were 2560 x 1200.