A full HD LCD monitor for $75 -- too good to be true?
Jan 6, 2010 (Updated Jan 7, 2010)
Review by mkaresh
Rated a Very Helpful Review
User Rating: Excellent
Ease of Use:
Pros:Price, price, price, clear and bright, no dead pixels
Cons:No stand adjustments beyond tilt, no HDMI input, barely passable speakers
The Bottom Line: For business apps and the Internet, a bargain LCD with few notable shortcomings.
My needs in a widescreen LCD monitor were rather modest: I wanted to view two pages side by side in addition to the two I can already view on my 17" full HD laptop screen (a Dell E1705). I didn't need the monitor to also serve as a TV. I'm not performing sophisticated image editing. I'm not playing games.
Recommend this product?
I did want it to be cheap.
So when I came across Staples' ad for a 21.5" full HD (1920x1080 pixel) eMachines E211H LCD monitor for $99.98, I was intrigued even before I realized that a $25 coupon could also be applied to the purchase.
Could a $75 monitor be of decent quality?
Yes, yes it can. First off: no dead or stuck pixels. The screen is rich and the brightness is adjustable as high as anyone could possibly want it. Even with the brightness of the eMachines monitor turned down, the screen of my Dell laptop appears dim and drab in comparison. Viewing angles are typical of a decent basic TN LCD, and far better than early LCD displays.
I haven't come across a full HD standalone LCD monitor smaller than 21.5", so this seems to be the smallest they are commonly available. Even so, I have no trouble reading text at this resolution. It helps that the text is crisply rendered. Then again, I'm used to a 17" laptop display with a similar resolution (1920x1200). Viewed from the same distance as a laptop screen, even 21.5" is plenty large for a single person watching a movie. I haven't once wished that I'd gotten a 23- or 24-inch monitor instead.
Can you buy a better LCD monitor by spending more? Absolutely. The 20,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio is fairly low by current standards. On a very dark screen some backlight bleed through is evident. So movies with dark scenes will look merely good, but not great. DVDs can look slightly fuzzy viewed full-screen and up close, but this is because they aren't of high enough resolution so the image must be stretched. The eMachine E211H's 5ms response time is merely average. I've noticed no ghosting, but gamers tend to want something quicker. Color accuracy--an expensive professional monitor should be better. But, for my purposes, none of these is an issue.
The eMachines E211H includes a pair of integrated one-watt speakers. They'll serve for casual use, but even the speakers in my Dell E1705 sound much richer and are capable of much more volume. Watching a movie in a quiet room, the speakers were sometimes a little too quiet even with the volume at 100%. Bass? Not happening. I hadn't bothered to even hook up the audio except to evaluate the speakers for this review. I won't be using them.
VGA and DVI, but no HDMI
The E211H includes both VGA and DVI inputs, and the associated cables. It does not have an HDMI input, which facilitates viewing Blu-ray discs by combining digital video and digital audio in a single cable. But since the speakers are so basic, and DVI handles digital video the same as HDMI, there's little lost here. I also own nothing with an HDMI output.
Controls and Adjustments
Screen adjustments are made via four identical buttons located on the bottom edge of the screen. You cannot see them there, so they must be operated based on touch alone. Their operation is far from intuitive. Starting from the left:
The first button returns the screen to its automatic settings, or serves as the exit / previous screen button when in the menus.
The second button opens the menu and selects items.
The third and fourth buttons scroll backwards and forwards through each menu.
Predefined scenarios include text, standard, graphics, and movie. There is additionally a user-defined scenario, where user-specified brightness, contrast, and so forth are applied.
The case is flat black plastic, with a fairly thin bezel on the top and sides and a slight curve to the thicker bottom bezel, where the blue-lit power button is located. Nothing fancy, but it doesn't look odd or cheap. The case is about two inches thick, thicker than most these days but not an issue for me.
The eMachines E211H's stand is fairly short, positioning the screen about three inches above the table top, and as in other inexpensive monitors its height is not adjustable. I'm using the monitor in conduction with a laptop, which sits even lower, so this isn't an issue for me. If anything, lower is better. The monitor does not rotate into portrait mode or swivel. It does tilt to adjust the vertical viewing angle.
The stand's base is a roughly 5" circle. Some other monitors have much broader bases, so I wondered whether the E211H might prove too easy for my kids to knock over. I needn't have worried--casual bumps don't come close to toppling the monitor.
One big plus, for me: the stand is easily detachable, for easy portability. When traveling by car with my laptop, I might easily box this monitor back up and take it with me. With my old 17" Acer LCD, I broke one of the clips that holds the stand on trying to get it back off, and gave up.
eMachines, in my mind, is a bargain brand for newbs do little research beyond the in-store pricetag. So I wasn't crazy about buying one. And might not have if returning it would not have been easy. But eMachines is a subsidiary of Acer, and likely uses the same screen Acer uses in its own branded 21.5" displays such as the $160+ X213H. The specs are the same, save no HDMI. At any rate, as soon as I hooked up the eMachines E211H and powered it on, my concerns about the brand evaporated.
All in all, the eMachines E211H 21.5" LCD monitor has only a basic feature set, but the screen looks very good in general computer applications and it does everything I need an LCD monitor to do. At its full retail price of $180, the E211H would merit three stars (i.e. average), at most. But for $75, far cheaper than any other monitor I have come across, it gets five from me. Don't need more than this monitor offers? Then why pay more?
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Amount Paid (US$): 75
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