While many of the major monitor manufacturers are waiting for the 2013 CES event in Las Vegas to announce their new Windows 8 product lines, Acer got a leg up on the competition with the release of its T2 line of touch-screen monitors earlier this fall. We got our hands on the Acer T232HL($472.90 at Amazon), a 23-inch model that retails for $549. It and its larger sibling, the Acer T272HL($789.99 at Amazon) meet the requirements to be Windows 8–certified displays, which includes support for at least five simultaneous touch points and a bezel design that does not interfere with the user's ability to interact with the Windows 8 interface.
At around $500 the T232HL doesn't come cheap, but it does offer responsive ten-point touch technology, a stunning edge-to-edge glass design, and outstanding IPS color and viewing angle performance. As such, it is our Editors' Choice for touch-screen monitors.
Design and Features
The T232HL looks more like a high-end HDTV than a desktop monitor. The 1,920-by-1,080 IPS panel is covered by a single sheet of shiny edge-to-edge glass with no raised bezels, a design that is both stylish and functional as it makes for easy gesture control and swiping. The reflective glass can be distracting when the screen's background is dark, however.
Beneath the glass, a 1.25-inch glossy black border frames the screen, and there's a 2.4-inch-high strip of tinted plastic trim attached to the bottom edge of the display to give it some height. The picture frame-type stand is done up in a silvery metallic finish and can be folded up flush to the cabinet when not in use. By applying pressure to the top corners of the panel you can tilt the screen as far back as 60 degrees or as little as 8 degrees. There are four VESA-compliant holes at the rear of the cabinet for mounting the T232HL on a wall or in a kiosk.
There are six thin buttons embedded in the right side of the cabinet that are used to power up the monitor and adjust settings. Pressing any button (other than the Power switch) launches on screen labeling for each button. They include menu, input, auto (auto-adjust), volume, and "e" empowering technology buttons. Acer's empowering technology is actually a selection of picture presets including Standard, ECO, Graphics, Movie, and User modes.
You can tweak individual settings in the picture menu but adjustments are limited to brightness, contrast, and color temperature. If you're using an analog signal you can adjust horizontal and vertical position, focus, and clock, or let the auto adjust feature do it for you.
There are three high-speed downstream USB 3.0 ports built in to the left side of the cabinet and one upstream port around back. Placing the downstream ports on the side of the monitor makes it easy to plug in peripherals without having to fumble around behind the cabinet. All three video inputs (HDMI, VGA, DVI) are around back, as is an audio input for the built in speakers. The speakers are loud but tinny; they sound better when played at half volume as they tend to distort when pushed to the max. Missing are a webcam and microphone array.
Acer gave the T232HL a three-year warranty and includes HDMI, USB, DVI, and VGA cables in the box. Also in the box are a quick start guide and a resource CD.
The T232HL performed flawlessly as a touch-screen monitor. Zooming, pinching, and rotating images was effortless and accurate, and the edge-to-edge glass made it easy to swipe in Charms and open app bars. Entering text using the on-screen keyboard was also a breeze.
IPS panels generally deliver rich, robust colors and excellent viewing angles, and the T232HL does not disappoint. The Pirates of the Caribbean on Blu-ray looked outstanding; colors appeared well saturated, and skin tones were spot-on. Grayscale performance was much better than that of a TN panel but the darkest shades of gray on the DisplayMate 64-Step Grayscale test could have been a bit darker. Small text from the Scaled Fonts test appeared crisp and legible.
If you're into gaming, the T232HL's 5-millisecond (black-to-white) pixel response does a good job of handling fast moving images. I hooked the monitor up to a PS3 console and played a few rounds of Burnout Paradise, a high-octane street racing game. There were no obvious signs of ghosting or lag and game play was smooth and fluid.
The T232HL used 26 watts of power during testing while set to the standard picture mode and only 18-watts with ECO mode enabled. That's comparable to the slightly smaller Viewsonic TD2220($284.35 at Amazon) (21 watts and 14 watts, respectively) and is the kind of energy efficiency that merits our GreenTech stamp of approval.
If you want to take full advantage of the Windows 8 experience the Acer T232HL can help. Its ten-point touch-screen technology and bezel-free design provide a responsive, unfettered canvas for navigating Window 8's interactive user interface, and it offers the rich colors and wide viewing angles that IPS panels are famous for. The inclusion of USB 3.0 technology is icing on the cake. Granted, the T232HL is more expensive than your standard 23-inch monitor, but that doesn't prevent it from earning our Editors' Choice for touch-screen monitors.
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The Bottom Line
The Acer T232HL is the first Windows 8–certified touch-screen monitor to hit the labs, and it's a winner.
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