Sub-$200 Options


There are plenty of options under $200 these days, but we tend to have a philosophy of "go big or go home" when it comes to LCDs. Do you really want to get a slightly better quality 19" LCD when $20 more will get you a 22" LCD? We certainly don't, and thus our recommendation ends up going to one of the many 22" LCDs currently priced under $200. Acer is more of a value brand in the LCD market, but that doesn't mean the LCDs aren't good. In fact, other than flimsy base stands we've never had a complaint with any of the Acer LCDs we've used. Specifications are pretty much meaningless at this price point -- all of the 22" LCDs that cost under $200 will be very similar, i.e. TN panel, 1680x1050, 5ms response times, HDMI and/or DVI -- so it really comes down to price and availability. Acer is a global company so their products are available around the world, and their prices are also very good. The Acer X223Wbd won't be the best LCD around, but for only $170 it's hard to complain. It is missing HDMI support, however, so if that's important we would recommend the ASUS VH226H, which also happens to bump up the resolution to 1920x1080 and only costs $40 more.

$200-$400 Recommendations


Not surprisingly, this is by far the largest category in terms of the available options. You can get everything from good quality 22" LCDs (or 20" S-IPS LCDs) up to and including 28" monsters of somewhat dubious quality. If the latter catches your fancy, check out the Hanns•G HG-281DPB at Newegg, currently going for only $380. Yes, that's less than most 24" LCDs, so we wouldn't expect best in class performance. What would we actually recommend? 22" offerings are going to be slightly better in terms of features and quality, but we would recommend going for a 24" LCD. Our overall recommendation goes to the Gateway FHD2401, a slight update to our Bronze Editors' Choice FHD2400 that uses a matte panel instead of a glossy panel. You still get a plethora of input options, and one of the best base stands that we've ever used.

If you're still looking for other alternatives, Dell has recently launched their 23" SP2309W that has a native resolution of 2048x1152 -- yes, higher than 1080P. We actually think 1080P movies will look best on 1080P displays, but for Windows work a slightly higher resolution might be useful. You still get a TN panel, and the price is quite a bit higher than 22" 1080P LCDs at $380. Acer once again shows up with the X243Wbd for $290, and we also have the BenQ E2400HD that we recently reviewed, now at $330. We wouldn't call the BenQ E2400HD perfect, but honestly for the price it's very good, especially if you never intend on using it at anything other than the native 1920x1080 resolution -- and we always recommend using native resolution on any LCD. Its "younger brother" E2200HD should also be available shortly, with a price in the low to mid $200 range.

Index Forget Price - I want the Best!
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  • DBissett - Thursday, December 18, 2008 - link

    Informative article, but the second paragraph under "$400-$800 High End Monitors" really needs some editing. The first sentence says we can find an S-MVA monitor. Then it says there is one available in the US but it's out of production. Then the monitor is discussed further, but the name of this product is never given. If it's available then name it, and if not then why discuss it at all? Too bad you couldn't get more to test. I too would be interested in the Eizo, although I've never seen one. I don't know where to see them in Houston. Reply
  • gorobei - Thursday, December 18, 2008 - link

    they are probably referring to the hp lp2275. look it up on tft central. $360 at newegg right now. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, December 18, 2008 - link

    Sorry... not sure how that slipped through the cracks, but the table on the table should have made is clear that I was discussing the BenQ FP241VW. Original MSRP was ~$900 I think, but I've seen it a few places for $600 now. Reply
  • OCedHrt - Thursday, December 18, 2008 - link

    How does the Apple displays compare here (ie. what panel do they use)? I ask because my housemate is convinced that the demo photos look significantly more vibrant on Apple displays than on displays hooked up to a PC (he can't get the Apple display port display to hook up to a pc). Personally I feel it has to do with the different gamma settings that the photos are saved under as Apple displays are otherwise using the same sources for the panels. Reply
  • Rippar - Thursday, December 18, 2008 - link

    Apple displays use Active Matrix LCD's, though I think there's more than that to separate them from other AMLCD's. They have great (read: jaw-droppingly awesome) color accuracy, but at the expense of bad input lag (on the order of 60-80 ms, I'd say). Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, December 19, 2008 - link

    Ummm... everything is pretty much active matrix these days. Passive matrix LCDs are mostly used in cheap LCDs like digital watches. You can read about it on Wikipedia; I think there were some laptops with passive matrix tech about 8+ years ago, but I don't think any desktop LCDs were ever passive matrix. Reply
  • Rosaline - Thursday, December 18, 2008 - link

    Regarding the Dell 3008WFP, you state that it has very high input lag, presumably because of the digital scaler. This seems like a real shame, since the digital scaler I felt was one of the main appeals of this monitor.

    Interestingly, it is currently actually slighter cheaper than the 3007WFP-HC for UK buyers.

    Does this lag still apply when fed with a native resolution signal? Do you think that this lag is avoidable whilst still offering the advantages of the scaler?
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, December 18, 2008 - link

    I never could get one for testing, so I'm speaking anecdotally. Most reviews I've seen show the lag as being roughly equal to the 2408WFP/2407WFP/2707WFP, which all have in the range of ~40ms lag. Since I never have found any other IPS 30" LCDs with that problem, I have to figure it's the scaler. And I agree, it's a shame. If you don't need to use the display as anything more than a computer LCD, just stick with the 3007WFP-HC or the LP3065 (or one of the other S-IPS with no scaler). Reply
  • superkdogg - Thursday, December 18, 2008 - link

    I picked up the 22" Acer that you guys recommend a few weeks ago and couldn't be more pleased. Recognizing that you're not going to get the very top of the line for the lowest price, the monitor does everything I want from it, and the 16x10 resolution actually saves me more money because I don't have the itch to upgrade my graphics card constantly to take advantage of the the display.

    The drawbacks that I'd note on the Acer are that it does bleed light when sitting on an all-black screen like a blank desktop for example, and your comment about flimsy stand is dead on-if your desk isn't sturdy the stand may be flimsy enough to make you turn to a different monitor. If your desk is solid no problem at all, but if not it's an actual risk that your screen could tip over.

    Mine also had a stuck blue pixel, but only one so whatever.

    All-in-all, my desk is sturdy and I'm seldom sitting at my blank desktop where I can see the blue pixel and the light bleed so for practical purposes the monitor is awesome. I love it and consider it a great choice in the value segment.
    Reply
  • Goty - Thursday, December 18, 2008 - link

    It would be interesting to see what the matte finish on the 2401 does to the perceived color saturation vs the 2400. I bought an FHD2400 shortly after the release of the article here and couldn't be more pleased with it. Reply

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