A touchscreen on your desktop: Three new displays
The most traditional-looking monitor of the three reviewed here, the ViewSonic TD2220 appears to be a conventional display but has a few added attractions.
The 21.5-in. 1920-x-1080-resolution display is the smallest of the three. It has a 5ms response time rating. Like many other ViewSonic products, the glass has a scratch-resistant coating.
Built around a rectangular base with a cantilevered arm, the ViewSonic takes up 14.4 x 20.1 x 9.5 in. (HWD). The display can't move up and down, but there is 2.5 in. of open space below for stashing a notebook, keyboard or cellphone.
Unlike the other two monitors reviewed here, the ViewSonic's optical touch system can interpret only two finger inputs at a time. This is fine for simple gestures, like tapping, zooming or highlighting, but that means it can't manage the three-finger swipe to go back or ahead in Windows 8.
With a bezel around the screen that is a quarter-inch higher than the display's surface, the ViewSonic is harder to use than the others when working near the edge. In addition, while using the Cut the Rope game, I noticed that the ViewSonic sometimes needed two swipes or taps to respond.
It also can't match the Dell's mechanical flexibility -- its tilt can only be adjusted 5 degrees toward the viewer and 20 degrees away. It does have VESA mounting holes for attaching it to a wall.
Regardless of what angle you set it at, the ViewSonic wobbles when you touch, swipe or tap it. In fact, I found that I needed to brace the back of the monitor with one hand while touching it with a finger, which was pretty annoying.
Connecting the ViewSonic to a computer can be a chore as well. It has connectors for DVI and VGA, along with a pair of USB 2.0 ports and an audio jack. However, it lacks HDMI and DisplayPort inputs.
At a Glance
Pros: Inexpensive, traditional upright design, bright screen
Cons: Screen recessed from bezel, wobbles when touched, no HDMI ports, two-finger touch, brightness not uniform
As a result, although the ViewSonic worked well with the Vaio T13 and Portege Z935 notebooks, I couldn't test it with the Inspiron 15, which only has an HDMI output.
Video chat obviously isn't part of ViewSonic's plan: The display lacks a webcam and a microphone. Its stereo speakers have SRS Premium Sound and it sounded better than the others but couldn't get as loud.
The ViewSonic has adjustments for brightness, contrast and color balance. It was the brightest of the three displays I tested, with a rating of 201 cd/m² -- almost exactly that of the vendor's rating of 200 cd/m².
Its ability to deliver a bright white image and natural color balance was similar to the Dell and superior to the Acer. On the other hand, its 87% uniformity was disappointing.
The ViewSonic sells for $312.99, making it the least expensive touchscreen of the bunch.
The cliché that you get what you pay for rings true here. The ViewSonic TD2220 may be easy on the wallet, but it can't keep up with the others when it comes to physical design, interactivity and connection possibilities.
If all you care about is getting an inexpensive touchscreen monitor, the ViewSonic TD2220 does the basics well at a great price. But it has an annoyingly recessed screen, wobbles too much and only responds to two fingers at a time.
The Acer T232HL is more expensive but offers the convenience of 10-point multitouch. However, its range of motion is somewhat limited, which may be a setback, depending on how you want to use it.
While the Dell 2340T's $700 price tag is high, as a touchscreen monitor it is definitely the winner here. It has a vibrant 23-in. display that lets you work at any angle you choose, from vertical to horizontal to any angle in between. I would have liked to see some extra brightness, but right now, it is the touchscreen monitor to beat.
Brian Nadel is a frequent contributor to Computerworld and the former editor in chief of Mobile Computing & Communications magazine.
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