While many of the major monitor manufacturers have waited for CES 2013 to announce their new Windows 8 product lines, Acer got a leg up on the competition with the release of its T2 line of touchscreen monitors late last year.
We got our hands on the Acer T232HL, a 23in model that isn’t cheap, retailing for £380. This monitor and its larger sibling, the Acer T272HL (which is £520), meet the requirements to be Windows 8-certified displays, which includes support for at least five simultaneous touch points and a bezel design that does not interfere with the user's ability to interact with the Windows 8 interface.
Design and features
The T232HL looks more like a high-end HDTV than a desktop monitor. The 1,920 x 1,080 IPS panel is covered by a single sheet of shiny edge-to-edge glass with no raised bezels, a design that is both stylish and functional as it makes for easy gesture control and swiping. The reflective glass can be distracting when the screen's background is dark, however.
Beneath the glass, a 32mm glossy black border frames the screen, and there's a 60mm-high strip of tinted plastic trim attached to the bottom edge of the display to give it some height. The picture frame-type stand is done up in a silvery metallic finish and can be folded up flush to the cabinet when not in use. By applying pressure to the top corners of the panel you can tilt the screen as far back as 60 degrees, or as little as 8 degrees. There are four VESA-compliant holes at the rear of the cabinet for mounting the T232HL on a wall.
There are six thin buttons embedded in the right side of the cabinet that are used to power up the monitor and adjust settings. Pressing any button (other than the power switch) launches on-screen labelling for each button. They include menu, input, auto-adjust, volume, and "e" empowering technology buttons. Acer's empowering technology is actually a selection of picture presets including Standard, ECO, Graphics, Movie, and User modes.
You can tweak individual settings in the picture menu but adjustments are limited to brightness, contrast, and colour temperature. If you're using an analogue signal you can adjust horizontal and vertical position, focus, and clock, or let the auto-adjust feature do it for you.
Acer covers the T232HL with a three year warranty and that includes the HDMI, USB, DVI, and VGA cables in the box. Also in the box are a quick start guide and a resource CD.
The T232HL performed flawlessly as a touchscreen monitor. Zooming, pinching, and rotating images was effortless and accurate, and the edge-to-edge glass made it easy to swipe in Charms and open app bars. Entering text using the on-screen keyboard was also a breeze.
IPS panels generally deliver rich, robust colours and excellent viewing angles, and the T232HL does not disappoint. The Pirates of the Caribbean on Blu-ray looked outstanding; colours appeared well saturated, and skin tones were spot-on. Greyscale performance was much better than that of a TN panel but the darkest shades of grey on the DisplayMate 64-step Greyscale test could have been a bit darker. Small text from the Scaled Fonts test appeared crisp and legible.
If you're into gaming, the T232HL's 5-millisecond (black-to-white) pixel response does a good job of handling fast moving images. I hooked the monitor up to a PS3 console and played a few rounds of Burnout Paradise, a high-octane street racing game. There were no obvious signs of ghosting or lag, and the gameplay was smooth and fluid.
The T232HL used 26 Watts of power during testing while set to the standard picture mode and only 18 Watts with ECO mode enabled. That's the kind of energy efficiency that we like to see in a monitor.
If you want to take full advantage of the Windows 8 experience, the Acer T232HL can help. Its ten-point touchscreen technology and bezel-free design provide a responsive, unfettered canvas for navigating Window 8's interactive user interface, and it offers the rich colours and wide viewing angles that IPS panels are famous for. The inclusion of USB 3.0 technology is icing on the cake. Granted, the T232HL is expensive compared to your average 23in monitor, but considering its features and overall picture quality, it’s one monitor that those with Windows 8 will really appreciate.
Manufacturer and Model
1920 x 1080
Analog VGA, Digital (DVI-D), HDMI
Diagonal Screen Size