A touchscreen on your desktop: Three new displays

Getting Windows 8? You're going to want a touchscreen. We look at three of the latest monitors from Acer, Dell and ViewSonic.

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Acer T232HL bmidz

Easily the largest (in total) of the three monitors reviewed here, the 23-in. Acer T232HL measures 16.8 x 22.6 x 12.4 in. (HWD). It offers 1920 x 1080 resolution and a 5ms response time.

An unusual support

Instead of being mounted on a central arm or Z-shaped articulated support (as is usual with most displays), the monitor has a single hook-shaped silver leg that extends out of the back of the display, creating a support that the whole monitor leans against.

Acer T232HL
Acer T232HL -- side view
Acer T232HL
Acer T232HL

While this means the screen can't move up or down, its tilt can be adjusted between 80 and 30 degrees for comfortable drawing and writing angles. This isn't a perfect solution -- it took two hands and some effort to change the angle, and when I tried to set the screen at a 90-degree angle, the monitor started to tip over.

On the other hand, this was the most stable display of the three, regardless of which angle it was set at. It wobbled only slightly when it was tapped (and then, only when tapped on a corner), and there was no need to brace the back of the display with a hand when using it.

There's a 2.3-in.-wide strip of clear plastic across the bottom of the front, which I found somewhat inconvenient, because I like to use the open space below a monitor to slip in a notebook, phone or keyboard. The display does have four VESA screw holes for mounting on a wall.

Working with touch

The surface of the Acer's 10-point multitouch capacitive screen is flush with the monitor's frame, making it easy to work with.

In testing, I found that the display worked well with everything from bringing out the Windows 8 Charms menu to moving an image around and interpreting a variety of gestures. Moving Excel cells or highlighting items using a finger was quick, efficient and much easier than with a mouse. When I played the Cut the Rope game, the screen's touch action was smooth, responsive and precise.

Other features

The Acer comes with DVI, VGA and HDMI ports as well as three USB slots and an audio jack; its selection of ports is better than that of the minimalist ViewSonic (although it is second best to the Dell's wider assortment of connections).

The monitor doesn't have a webcam or microphone, but it does come with stereo speakers, which had a generally good sound but didn't supply a lot of volume.

As well as brightness, contrast and color temperature adjustments, the Acer has preset setting combinations labeled Eco, Graphics, Movie and Standard; there is also a user-adjustable setting.

The Acer displayed a bright white image and good color balance, and its 95% uniformity rating was the best of the bunch. When I tested it for brightness, I got results of 187 cd/m², well below the vendor's 250 cd/m² rating. However, when I looked at several color images and videos, it seemed (subjectively) to lack the clarity that the others had.

The monitor used the most power of the three in tests: 24.6 watts.

Bottom line

The Acer T232HL is a good monitor, with fine image quality. If you want a touch monitor and you're on a budget, the Acer could work for you. However, its lack of features such as a webcam and a microphone, and its inability to be set up vertically or horizontally on a desk, will hold it back in the marketplace.

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