HOME / PRINT
Looking to capitalize on the increasing demand for HD content, a number of manufacturers have started offering LCD panels that conform to the ratio of 16:9, as compared to the computer industry prevalent ratio of 4:3 and 16:10. This ratio while seemingly odd to some, offers significant advantages, as it allows you to view movies without the black bands.
Acer, pushing for the 16:9 ratio in LCD panels, has recently introduced 18.5”, 22” and 24” variants of such monitors in their X series. The product we are reviewing today, is the entry-level 18.5” X193HQA. Read on to find out how it fares.
In a bid to differentiate itself from other manufacturers, Acer has taken a strange decision to release the monitor in an 18.5-inch frame. We call this decision strange because the slightly reduced size, makes the monitor look rather odd. However, this is one of those products that actually grows on you. When you have spent some time with it, you realize that what you have here is a very well constructed LCD panel. Though it only has a basic black matte finish all over, along its bezel area and base, it compensates for its odd design by offering a fairly slim profile.
Its physical construction is pretty sound and its basic black design will allow it to go through the process of wear and tear significantly better than the competition. However, there is an immediate downside to the X193, i.e. it lacks height adjustability, which could be a deal-breaker for many. It certainly was for me as I had to place 2-3 diaries/notebooks under it to bring it to a comfortable working height. Though you can tilt the monitor upwards by 30 degrees, it does not compensate for the lack of height adjustment. The base of the X193, while lacking the ability to swivel is quite stable. Instead of the standard mono-block design that is common place, the X193 has employed a Dell-like 2-prong base which makes the monitor wobble-free.
The menu buttons of the monitor, present on the right hand-side, are easy to work with. Unlike a lot of other manufacturers that don’t pay attention to this aspect, Acer has taken care to make sure that the buttons are large and easy to press and offer quick navigation across the menus. The menus themselves are very comprehensive, which came as a surprise to me considering the entry-level status of this product. Connectivity-wise, the monitor has a solitary VGA connector. While its absence is not crippling, the presence of DVI would have been nice to have as an option.
Moving onto the LCD panel itself, we found it to be a tad too glossy and reflective. While this can be controlled to a great extent by adjusting the brightness and contrast ratios, it is a very big irritant. Given the market it’s targeted at, Acer could have opted for a less reflective panel.
As you can see from the specifications below, the monitor being an 18.5-inch LCD panel has a native resolution of 1366x768. This directly conforms to the 16:9 ratio and is the salient selling point of this LCD panel.
To test the performance of the X193HQA, we utilized Displaymate to test the effectiveness of the monitor. Before putting it through its paces, we used the program’s excellent inbuilt ‘display optimization’ tool to calibrate the monitor to try and achieve optimum display conditions.
Our very first test was to check out the sharpness of the monitor. There were no surprises here. The text was clear and crisp. HD images had a few ‘jaggies’ here and there but nothing too noticeable, as these were visible on very high brightness levels only. The next level of tests we carried out was on the monitor’s gray scale. Here the monitor was above average, especially in comparison to a lot of the 19” widescreens that are commonly present in the market space right now.
The next thing we ran were the color tests. The monitor was able to display rich colors despite being used over VGA, without any bleed-ins. Our final series of Displaymate-related tests was to check the monitor’s brightness and contrast levels. There were no surprises here except the occasional “bright pixel” in some areas, which seemed to fade away after the monitor had been in use for a couple of hours.
In our next round of testing, we simply put the monitor through its paces, with the help of HD videos and games like COD-4. The results were fairly good. In FPS games there was no ghosting despite some intense action scenes. Movie playback also did not differ too much, as the native resolution of 16:9 made movie watching a pleasure. We tested all kinds of files including high-def WMVs, standard ratio DVDs and downloaded content. The monitor passed with flying colors.
The Acer X193HQA retails for a price of Rs. 8,500. At its price point, it offers a very good monitor with decent performance and a good retail price. Though 19" and 20" monitors with better features can be had for a few hundred more, the X193HQA offers enough VFM for anyone who is on a very strict budget.