AOC's latest 19-inch monitor from its Jenio range has brilliant colours and great ergonomics, but we would have liked to have seen a faster refresh rate than 60Hz at its native resolution.
The Olympic Games motto is "Faster. Higher. Stronger." While those events may be over for another four years, electronics manufacturers continue their own ongoing quest to be: "Faster. Smaller. Easier." Actually, smaller is not the correct adjective when it comes to some electronic components — screens tend to get bigger, while individual pixels tend to get smaller.
AOC (the Electronics manufacturer not the Australian Olympic Committee) has a range of new screens including our review model the 19-inch 919Pwz and its big brother the 22-inch 2219P2.
We assess the screen on a largely subjective basis. We consider image quality, including colour reproduction, brightness and contrast as well as image sharpness and blurring caused by inadequate pixel response times. Image quality is assessed while viewing a range of scenes including bright daylight, night scenes and fast action.
The on-screen display (OSD) should be easy to access. Navigation should be logical and easy, with few menu levels and appropriate wording. The remote control should also display intuitive layout and labelling.
We also assess the build quality for durability and attractive design. The device needs to last and it needs to impress even when turned off.
Design and Features
At first glance the 919Pwz is just another computer monitor. While 19-inches is great, it's not amazing (AOC also has a 22-inch model, but we were unable to get one in time for this review), its silver and black casing is well finished but modestly designed and it has both VGA and DVI inputs as well as small, in-built stereo speakers. So what makes it special?
For a start you can have brilliant image quality with a resolution of 1,680x1,050 pixels — that's 72 per cent more pixels than 1,280x800-pixel widescreens. The vendor also drew our attention to the design of the swivel stand and the fast 2ms refresh rate. Let me first rant about refresh rates — again — and then we can look at the ergonomics.
We have written elsewhere about ludicrous response times. Until the architecture of the human brain and eye improves, response times less than 10 or 12 milliseconds are of little use. Most of us cannot see frequencies above 60Hz which is equivalent to a 16ms response time; thus by setting our monitor refresh rates to 75Hz (13ms) we avoid seeing any nasty flickering. Note that this monitor cannot achieve more than 60Hz at its native 1,680x1,050 resolution. This doesn't stop vendors trying to amaze us with numbers that, while marvellous from a technical perspective, do little for the end user's viewing experience.
Similarly AOC boasts 16.7 million colours rather than the 16.2 million of some other screens. Not all of us notice the difference between 24-bit (up to 16.78 million) and 16-bit (65,000) colour images. Certainly 16 million is more colours than we need and so whether it is 16.2 or 16.7 million is just hair-splitting one-upmanship. We won't even mention 32-bit colour or the truly ridiculous 40-bit system. (Perhaps these finer gradings are useful when testing the eyesight of non-human creatures?)
While we're on a roll with ranting let's talk about contrast ratios. AOC claims 10,000:1 for this device and that may well be correct when tested in a specialised laboratory with the screen contrast set to 100 per cent. We looked at the contrast ratio and it is good, but honestly none of us are going to experience anything within a mile of the rated contrast ratio on any device under real-world usage.
With workplace safety being such a serious issue in the modern workplace (and probably appreciated in the home also), ergonomics are a significant consideration when purchasing equipment. Indeed, good ergonomics don't just help prevent physical injury, but can also reduce stress. A good monitor needs to be readily adjustable — and it better stay where it's put! The 919Pwz has four adjustment axes: height, tilt, base rotation and portrait/landscape rotation.
Height and base rotation both have a light action which can be driven by a single finger. Tilt and orientation, however, are best corrected using two hands in order to avoid overbalancing the device. We were very happy with all these actions and stability is also excellent.
When packing up the office for a move or just returning products to the manufacturer for repair, it is nice to be able to pack things in their original boxes again. This shouldn't be a difficult thing to do, but have you noticed how hard it can be to disassemble monitor stands?! If you have then perhaps you'll understand how excited we were to see the single thumb screw securing this monitor to its stand rather than a latch requiring five hands and two screwdrivers to operate.
The OSD has a colourful main menu of icons (descriptions of each are displayed when highlighted). The menu is reasonably intuitive with good features and pre-set colour/lighting configurations to suit a variety of viewing conditions and subject matter. (For example, optimise for flesh tones, text or sport.)
The on-screen display has colourful menu icons.
Let me first point out that most of the above rant is directed against the way manufacturers in general advertise the features of their products and we don't mean to suggest that this screen is inadequate; it is generally a great unit. We just believe that people need to be aware of the media hype that may affect our judgement of products. This product has excellent ergonomics and very good picture quality and configuration options. Our most serious concern is that despite the marvellous pixel refresh rate, the screen refresh rate is only 60Hz at native resolution which is inadequate for many people.
The warranty on this device is a full three years — long enough for you to decide if you need (want) something bigger and better. FAQs and email support is supplied with the service and are available via the AOC website and a list of service centres (five in Australia). A simple, but clear electronic user manual is provided. The price for this model is reasonable at AU$249 and the 22-inch model is AU$349.