So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
- Produced nice colours, has a nice design, good pixel response time
- The overall image was too sharp, the DVI-D connection was slightly noisy
Despite a few small flaws, the large size and the small price of this monitor make it one that you should definitely consider when you're shopping for a bargain. It performed particularly well when displaying photographs and its high resolution is great for viewing images taken with a high megapixel camera.
Price$ 499.00 (AUD)
AOC's 223VW 22in monitor has a price tag of $499, but it can be purchased for under $400 if you shop around, and based on our tests, we think it represents excellent value for money. It has a widescreen aspect ratio (16:10) with a native resolution of 1680 x 1050 and it has VGA as well as DVI inputs. We tested it using the DVI output from a Palit GeForce 7600GT-based graphics card and by running DisplayMate Video Edition.
In the black level test, it produced a good result. Blacks were dark and didn't suffer from any paleness. However, many shades of dark grey weren't visible in this test, suggesting the brightness of the panel is a little lacking. Neither the brightness nor the contrast levels of the panel are adjustable when using the DVI connection (a common situation with DVI-D connections), so we weren't able to correct this. When running via VGA these options become available and help somewhat in compensating for this issue.
In the extreme brightness and contrast test, the 223VW produced better-than-average results. The darkest grey colours on a black background still weren't easy to distinguish, but light grey colours on a white background were clearly visible, indicating good contrast.
As for colour, the monitor's white level was very good and not overly bright, but greys did suffer from a slightly yellow tinge when the colour temperature was set to sRGB. When we changed it to 'cool' this tinge disappeared. The top-right edge of the screen showed slight discolouration during the white level test due to the screen not being as bright in this area as it is in the centre. AOC's specifications claim the monitor can display 16.7 million colours, which means it should be able to display your colour photographs without any noticeable colour banding and in our photo tests it did well, with plenty of details and gradations. Subtle colours were also clearly visible in our photos. In DisplayMate's colour scale test, the monitor produced uniform changes in intensity and we didn't notice any aberrations in the hue of each colour.
The viewing angles from side of the monitor were adequate although it did result in noticeable colour shift, even when moving just slightly left or right. Importantly, when the vertical viewing angle was changed, colour shift was again noticeable. Grey levels became a little darker and the whites did turn slightly yellow. From right in front and with the eye level looking directly at the centre of the screen, or with the monitor positioned so that the eye level was directed slightly upward, whites took on a creamy colour. The monitor definitely looked best when the eye level was slightly above the centre of screen, looking downward. The stand's tilt function should help you find the sweet spot viewing angle easily enough.
While we used the DVI-D connection to test this monitor, which should provide a perfect digital signal from the PC, we did notice a hint of noise in mid-tones and dark tones, particularly in the grey scale. Text also suffered from over-sharpening, and this was especially noticeable with black text on a light background. This was remedied slightly by changing the font smoothing in Windows XP to 'clear type'.
Turning our attention to pixel response time, AOC claims a figure of 5ms. We tested this by using Windows XP's scrolling marquee screen saver with its speed setting set half way between slow and fast. Using white, 42-point text on a black background, the text did become blurred, but the edges did not produce trails and the letters did not blur into each other. With white text on a black background, the letters retained their colouring, but the edges did become grey. Short trails were noticeable, but the letters did not blur into each other. All up, it performed well in this test. When viewing videos and playing games, motion blur was not noticeable.
Design-wise, the 223VW has an elegant, thin bezel and logical OSD controls. Apart from the standard menu navigation controls, the 'Auto' button can be used to auto-configure the geometry of the monitor when an analogue connection is used, and the 'Source' button can be used to switch between analogue and digital connections.
Despite a few little problems, such as over-sharpening, this monitor is a great buy if you're after a large screen on which to view photos, video and play games. The widescreen panel will let you easily place two large-sized windows side-by-side, therefore allowing you to effectively multitask and boost your productivity. With its small price tag, the minor flaws we noticed can be overlooked.
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