Acer S276HL review
27in screen size, 1,920x1,080 resolution, DVI: no, VGA: yes, HDMI:
Acer's S276HL is perhaps one of the most unusual monitors we've ever seen due to its stand being on to one side of it rather than in the middle. It's surprisingly sturdy, though, and its frameless bezel and edge-to-edge glass look incredibly stylish alongside its brushed metal finish.
It's not just looks that set it apart from other monitors, as both of the S276HL's HDMI inputs have Mobile High-Definition Link (MHL) support. Most monitors we've seen only have one MHL-enabled input if they have one at all, so to see two is quite unusual. This lets you connect an MHL-enabled smartphone or tablet to the monitor so you can play apps and view your media files on a big screen while charging your device at the same time.
We tried out the MHL with a HTC One X Plus. When we connected it to the monitor, the phone defaulted to a horizontal position so it could make the most of the screen's 16:9 aspect ratio. It didn't fill the screen entirely, but a few black borders round the edges are much better than the phone simply occupying a thin strip down the middle of the screen. This also meant our phone's 1,280x720 resolution was upscaled to help fill the screen, so the display did look a little jagged in places, but this shouldn't be a problem with higher resolution devices.
Of course, the main attraction of having a larger screen at your disposal is that you can use your phone or tablet as a controller when playing games or scrolling through your photos. It's less suited for internet browsing, though, as we ended up spending more time looking at our phone when typing web addresses and clicking links than the monitor.
You won't be able to connect too many other devices to the S276HL, though, as apart from its two HDMI inputs, all you get is a VGA input and a microphone. This won't be a problem if you only want to use it for your phone and tablet, but if you want to connect a PC then you'll have to do a bit of re-arranging.
We were a little disappointed with its overall colour accuracy. It uses an IPS panel, so we were expecting its colour coverage to be around 96 per cent of the sRGB colour gamut, but our colour calibrator showed it was only displaying 87.4 per cent at its default settings. This is quite poor for an IPS monitor and it was short in both its green, blue and purple coverage. We managed to increase this to 92.2 per cent after calibration, but it's still much lower than we'd like it to be.
This was noticeable in our subjective image tests. Its glossy finish certainly helped colours stand out, but reds, greens and blues lacked a certain depth and richness compared to our reference monitor. Blacks weren't particularly deep either, and were a little too blue toward the bottom of the screen, but whites were very bright.
We had hoped its contrast levels might make up for its below average colour accuracy after we recorded a contrast level of 1,245:1 with our colour calibrator, but the level of detail available in each of our test photos was also quite mixed. Lighter areas looked good overall, but it struggled to show the finer shadow detail in the darker areas of each image. Instead, these areas were simply black and we didn't see any significant improvement even when we increased the contrast setting to maximum. Its lack of green coverage also affected our high contrast image tests, as this made each photo appear overly warm.
IF you're dead set on charging your phone while using it on a display then the Acer S276HL isn't a bad monitor, however, the AOC i2757fm is better. It also has an MHL input, but we measured much better coverage of the sRGB colour gamut out of the box, and a good 97.2 per cent coverage after calibration. If you don't care about MHL support then the Iiyama Prolite E2773HS is a much better bet.