WE'RE MAKING THE CALL: The next corporate monitor standard will upgrade the current 1920 x 1080 resolution to 2560 x 1440. There are two reasons for this. Most corporate white-collar workers use browsers and Word documents more than spreadsheets, and the 1080 height of the current standard cuts a standard document off at the bottom. But a 2560 x 1440 monitor like the 27-inch H277HU model from San Jose, Calif.-based Acer America Corp. allows room for more than a full document page, a double helping of browser information without scrolling down, and enough pixels to render everything sharper and clearer than on the monitor your clients have been staring at for the last several years.
Why is 2560 x 1440 the next best standard monitor? After all, this is only a 2x monitor and many vendors are shipping 4x models. As a guide, 1x is the original 1280 x 720 that replaced the old 640 x 480 and 800 x 600 because a cinema-like widescreen look (16:9 ratio) became the norm. HD (high definition) was deemed to be 1280 x 720, and that multiplied by two is 2560 x 1440. Full high definition, or FHD, is 1920 x 1080, and wide quad HD (WQHD) is 2560 x 1440. You might also see this resolution as just QHD since the "high resolution" part assumes it's also widescreen. 4K UHD (Ultra HD) runs the pixel count up to 3840 x 2160.
The UHD monitors we've tested have been gorgeous but large, usually 28 to 32 inches. Pixel density made images look an inch deep. But that same pixel density made operating system icons and headings tiny, shrank documents down about four font points too small, and generally required adjusting multiple display settings to make "office work" render correctly.
None of these issues occur with 2560 x 1440 monitors like this Acer H7 (the shorter series name). The photos are almost as luscious and deep (maybe a half-inch deep rather than a full inch) and text is knife-edge sharp. Plus, with the 2560 x 1440 monitors, there's little or no graphic adjustment required. Replacing a 1920 x 1080 monitor with one that’s 2560 x 1440 is just about plug and play. The only thing users will know is the picture is far better and more detailed than before, and they have room for much more of their documents and spreadsheets on screen without fiddling with a thing.
One last but important detail: The 2560 x 1440 monitors are about half the price of the 3840 x 2160 units. When upgrading your clients’ monitors with the new Acer H7 Series at 2560 x 1440, you'll get 90 percent of the benefits of the highest-end monitors for about 50 percent of the price. Your budget jockeys will love this.
The retail-ready shipping box, with full-color graphics and a long list of selling points, included HDMI and DisplayPort cables along with the monitor, power cord, and power brick.
Acer calls the monitor accent color gold, but it's really more champagne, and looks sharp. The round stand base is champagne with silver accents, and the bezel and metal strip across the bottom are the same goldish color. The back is bright white plastic that reminded us of an Apple product. If you put this monitor in front of executives, they'll think they're getting special perks.
Embedded graphics controllers from Intel and AMD are keeping up with monitors, and many can support 2560 x 1440 resolutions with the standard 9-pin VGA monitor we've used for decades (another reason we think this resolution will take over—backward compatibility). But high-end monitor engineers yearn to break free of the VGA standard and rely on newer HDMI and DisplayPort connections. Those, along with USB, are your options with the Acer H277HU.
Luckily, our test computer included a DisplayPort adapter, although the PC normally supports a different 2560 x 1440 monitor through the VGA connector. Luckily again, Acer included the DisplayPort cable. Connecting our system was a snap, literally, as the DisplayPort cables snap into their ports. Video accomplished.
Audio took a bit more work. Like all other new, thin monitors, the speakers in the Acer H277HU fire backward. The Designers Guild must have taken a vote and outlawed front-firing speakers on modern monitors, or at least decided (rightly so) to emphasize video over audio. While these speakers are as good as or better than most monitor speakers, they lack bass and depth. And you'll need a male/male USB cable, not a 3.5 mm plug cable like the normal audio option. Once you find that odd cable, or go to the store like we did, you'll get basic sound but nothing more.
A number of buttons across the bottom open up the menu and assorted other configuration options. When we first turned on the monitor, the default brightness level was too much. The "eco" setting, however, was perfect—easy monitor configuration that took almost no time. Other one-touch settings include standard (too bright for us), user-defined, graphics, and movies. Those who need to adjust blue-light balance and color temperatures and the like will find all the controls they need. This monitor may not offer all the configuration options you would find on a video or graphics prepress workstation, but it certainly provides all the controls any knowledge worker will need.
Daily Use: Putting It to the Test
Sharp, clear, bright, consistent, and rock solid—those are the keywords for the review of this monitor. Blacks are like the bottom of a mine, whites are the same shade across the entire screen, and we never saw a flicker or video artifact.
You can see three full document pages side by side, making one of these monitors less expensive and better than the corporate screen-space hack currently in vogue: hanging two 1902 x 1080 monitors from a stand. Technically that gives you more pixels, but you can't see full Word document pages or long websites the way you can with this Acer. There's room for everything you want to put on screen, all sharp and clear with text that seems chiseled by diamonds.
Summary and Comparison Guide
This monitor will be an upgrade on every desk and be the envy of all. Your clients’ current font size and other visual settings will still work in almost every case, making the upgrade painless. Just be glad the monitor has a Kensington lock port so no one will be tempted to take it home.
If 27 inches is too large for some employees, Acer has an H257HU model that’s only 25 inches and less expensive by more than $100. The street price for the 27-inch monitor is well under $500, which is far lower than comparable monitors from a year or two ago.
Some 2550 x 1440 monitors are appearing for around $350. While they're better than what your clients probably have, this Acer is worth the extra coin. None of the low-end monitors are from companies whose names you know. The screens aren't consistent in color across the monitor, and the stands have no adjustments whatsoever.
This Acer H277HU is an outstanding monitor at a fair price. At least for now, this is the entry point for 2560 x 1440 monitors for business use. You can pay less, but you'll get far less. You can pay more, but not get much more. This is the sweet spot for monitors right now. If you put this Acer H277HU on some clients’ desks, they will be happy today and for many more tomorrows.