Affordable Monitors under £200 : Detailed Analysis



Looking for a new window onto the web? Let's checks out 10 new PC monitors, from 22 to 24in, that cost less than £200.

Flat-panel screens are more affordable than ever and you can now get a stunning new monitor for your computer for well under £200.

We tested 10 screens, from 22 to 24 inch, for the best balance between price, features and performance. Every monitor we've reviewed has at least a Full HD resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 pixels.

All the monitors in our test are available for less than £200, and you'll find many of the 22in models for less than £100. Shop around online to find the best prices.

How We Tested

The most important feature of a monitor is its image quality, but specifications alone can only tell you so much about how a screen performs. We compared the image quality on all10 screens by lining them up, side by side, and running a series of tests on them. These analyzed each screen's performance and pinpointed any imperfections. We also ran 30 games and a Blu-ray movie, Casino Royale, to see how well they coped with busy and fast-moving graphics.

LG IPS235V 
£140 | www.lg.com/uk

The brushed-metal case and delicate-looking stand makes this 23in display look a lot more expensive than it is. The screen itself is an IPS (In-Plane Switching) panel, which is one of the newer flat-screen technologies, offering better color and wider viewing angles, so more than one person can see what's going on. It also has a special hard coating to protect it from minor knocks and scrapes.

The monitor supports a broad range of connection ports, including VGA, DVI and HDMI. The HDMI option means you can also plug in a games console or Blu-ray player, though the screen doesn't have its own speakers, so you'll need to route the audio to separate speakers.

Where the IPS235V excels is in its image quality. The IPS panel lives up to its promise, delivering superb viewing angles, contrast and color accuracy. It performed well in the full range of our tests, including photo editing, showing films and general Windows use. Its high contrast ratio (the difference between the brightest and darkest shades) produces deep inky blacks and bright brilliant whites, providing fine detail and definition. Its 8ms response time (the time it takes a pixel to change from one color to another, then back again) makes fast-moving games look seamless and smooth.

The menu system is controlled by a bank of unlabeled buttons located underneath the screen. Press one, and a pop-up appears with options corresponding to each button. Once you're used to the system, it's simple to control.

While the default color mode will suit most people, you can also configure the hue and saturation of all the individual colors to suit your preference.

Verdict

The 23in IPS235V's excellent image quality and low price make it a bargain. Although the Bronze Award-winning AOC I2353Fh gave it a run for its money on image quality, this has a particularly good viewing angle and its default settings are impressive. It also has a great range of features, from the multiple ports for plugging in a selection of devices, through to the professional-quality color control. This is a good-sized monitor, at an affordable price, that justly deserves our Gold Award.

Ratings

Features : 5/5
Performance : 5/5
Ease of Use : 4/5
Value for Money : 5/5

PHILIPS 221V2SB
£94 | www.philips.co.uk


Budget monitors are often cheaper because they cut features or scrimp on image quality, but this isn't the case with the Philips 221V2SB, which manages to provide excellent image quality at a bargain price.

The contrast of the monitor was superb, with a wide spectrum between light and dark areas that made reflections and dark shadows stand out. Color was natural and vibrant, thanks to a bright, even backlight, and we found the default color settings to be well adjusted.

We were really impressed by the 221V2SB's performance, particularly while watching Casino Royale on Blu-ray, where color and definition were detailed and vivid, even during scenes with dark colors and low lighting.

The monitor's default settings are very good, which is just as well because you only get the basic color-configuration settings of brightness, contrast and limited color controls. There's a dynamic contrast option, but we didn't notice any difference with it turned on.

The plain, matt-black case and narrow frame are a welcome change from the glossy plastic of most other monitors. Clearly labeled physical buttons for controlling the menu are arranged in a row under the screen, and the menu system itself is logically organized.

The monitor doesn't have an HDMI port, but its DVI connector has HDCP (High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection), so you can use a cheap HDMI-to -DVI adapter (less than £10) to connect a home entertainment device. There's also a VGA port, so you can hook up two devices at the same time. There are no built-in speakers though.

Verdict

The brilliant image quality and low price make the 221V2SB a fantastic buy. Its 21.5in screen is smaller than the Gold Award winning LG's 23in, but you're looking for a monitor that costs less than £100, this is it. The configuration settings are a little lacking but Philips' default settings are so good you'll probably never notice. It lacks some ports but, given that a low price inevitably means having to cut back on features, the savings have been made in all the right places.

Ratings

Features : 3/5 
Performance : 5/5
Ease of Use : 5/5
Value for Money : 5/5

AOC I2353FH
£147 | www.aoc-europe.com


Like the Gold Award-winning LG IPS235V, this is a fantastic looking IPS panel with great colors, a superb viewing angle and a very attractive price. The monitor is just 11mm thick and its stand can be folded back and used as a wall mount. It comes with DVI, VGA and two HDMI ports, making it versatile enough to accommodate a wide range of devices.

One of the only problems with the screen is the touch sensitive menu controls, which don't stand out very well. In fact, the whole menu system is unnecessarily complicated.

Luckily, you shouldn't need to change it, as the default image quality is fine and doesn't benefit from being messed around with. The i2353FH did particularly well in our gaming tests, involving fast-moving images, and as promised by the IPS technology, the contrast and colors are excellent.

Verdict

The I2353FH offers incredible value for an IPS monitor and has stunning image quality. The color-adjustment controls leave a little to be desired though, and the similarly priced and sized LGIP S235Vhas a much better menu system.

Ratings

Features : 4/5 
Performance : 5/5
Ease of Use : 4/5
Value for Money : 5/5

VIEWSONIC VA2248-LED
£103 | www.viewsoniceurope.com


ViewSonic's new VA2248-LED monitor comes at a very reasonable price, but lacks some of the features that come with more expensive monitors. There's no HDMI port, for example, though you do get both VGA and DVI ports. The latter supports HDCP, so you can use a basic cable to hook up a home entertainment device.

The default color settings were a bit dark for our tastes and changing them isn't straightforward. Once tweaked, however, the performance improved, though colors weren't as bright or vibrant as on the similarly sized but slightly cheaper Philips model. The casing around the screen is shiny and angular, and more striking than the Philips, but there's a lot to be said for a plain monitor that makes the things it displays, rather than its own design, the focus of attention.

Verdict

Although it's the same size and only £9 more expensive than the Philips 221V2SB, the color isn't quite as impressive, and the design is a bit garish for our taste.

Ratings

Features : 3/5 
Performance : 4/5
Ease of Use : 4/5
Value for Money : 4/5

IIYAMA PROLITE XB2472HD
£190 | www.iiyama.co.uk


Like IPS panels, VA (Vertical Alignment) screens are meant to provide better viewing angles, color reproduction and contrast than cheaper, more common displays. The iiyama Prolite XB2472HD has a 24in VA panel with a 1,920 x 1,080 resolution. It offers a choice of VGA, DVI and two HDMI inputs, and has a fully adjustable stand, that lets you change the height and swivel it round into portrait mode. However, the image quality and viewing angles weren't nearly as good as the IPS screens, and though contrast was fine, the color lost accuracy when off center. Nevertheless, if you're the only one viewing your screen and can sit cent rally facing it, performance is good. The menu system is clear and logical, but the touch-sensitive buttons that control it are fiddly.

Verdict

The XB2472HD's main problem is the fierce competition. Its screen isn't as good as some cheaper monitors, particularly the Gold and Bronze Award-winning models from LG and AOC. It has plenty of features, though, and its connection options let you share your monitor across a number of devices.

Ratings

Features : 5/5 
Performance : 3/5
Ease of Use : 3/5
Value for Money : 2/5

HANNS.G HH221DPB
£88 | www.hannsg.com


A 22in monitor for well under £100, the Hanns.G HH221DPB is the cheapest model in our test. There's no HDMI port but it does come with an HDCP compatible DVI port, so you can still hook up your entertainment equipment (albeit without sound) using a standard conversion cable.

Unlike most of the models on test, the HH221DPB has built-in speakers. They're a touch tinny but provide clear, bright audio that’s fine for speech and casual gaming.

Sadly, we weren't impressed by the image quality. The screen is duller than other monitors we tested, and has a slight but discernible red tint, which is fine for films, but not great for editing photos or general Windows work. Contrast was also disappointing and deep shadows weren't dark enough.

Verdict

This is the cheapest monitor we've tested and it still manages to bundle in a set of built-in speakers. However, image quality didn't particularly impress us, especially on its default settings, and the screen is outclassed by the only slightly more expensive Philips 221V2SB.

Ratings

Features : 4/5 
Performance : 2/5
Ease of Use : 3/5
Value for Money : 4/5

ACER S243HL
£180 | www.acer.co.uk


Acer has taken considerable care over design to produce the stunning-looking 24in S243HL. Instead of connecting devices at the back of the screen, an L-shaped stand houses all the ports and controls. There are twin HDMI ports, an analogue VGA port and a headphone socket.

The design is striking, but the monitor has a few limitations. There's no height adjustment and you can't swivel the screen into portrait mode. There are also no mounting points for a wall bracket. The screen's backlight is uneven, with obvious dark patches in our white-screen test. It’s quite bright, but suffers from a slight yellow tint, which makes flesh tones look pale and bloodless. Colors in general looked a bit less punchy because of the matt finish, though this reduces reflections.

Verdict

The S243HL's image quality is good overall, and the monitor's striking design and twin HOMI ports make it easy to connect a games console or Blu-ray player along with a PC. However, the LG IPS235V is quite a bit cheaper and put in a much better performance.

Ratings

Features : 4/5 
Performance : 2/5
Ease of Use : 4/5
Value for Money : 3/5

SAMSUNG S23A550H
£159 | www.samsung.com/uk


The Samsung SyncMaster S23A550H is a stylish 23in screen with a clever cable management system that keeps the back of the monitor clutter-free. As a result, cables are only visible at the very bottom of the stand at the back.

It's a little disappointing that there are only VGA and HDMI ports. At this price we'd have expected an extra HDMI or a DVI option.

The basic image quality is impressive, with accurate colors and good contrast, and surprisingly good viewing angles for its standard-panel technology. The contrast is quite good, but there was a lack of detail in the darkest part of a scene, and we found that large areas of a similar color, such as a sandy beach, didn't show a level of detail that was visible on a higher-quality display.

Verdict

There's nothing particularly wrong with the S23ASSOH, but for the type of panel and the limited range of ports, it's an expensive choice. If you're looking for a 23in monitor, the LG IPS235V is a better choice. It's cheaper, has more input options and manages color more effectively.

Ratings

Features : 3/5 
Performance : 3/5
Ease of Use : 4/5
Value for Money : 2/5

PHILIPS MODA 248C3LH
£170 | www.philips.co.uk


The Philips Moda 248C3LH is a stylish 24in model with twin HDMI ports. It comes with a metal stand and a choice of a black or white case, and t here's no doubting its build quality.

We don't like touch-sensitive controls at the best of times, but the 248C3LH's buttons only light up when you touch them, which doesn't make them easy to use. During our tests, we often found ourselves activating the wrong button while trying to feel for them.

Even with the settings manually adjusted, the flat-panel technology can't compete with the IPS panels of other similarly priced models. Color depth wasn't as good and some detail was lost in photos. Contrast also wasn't as strong, and the monitor struggled to bring out all the details, particularly in dark scenes.

Verdict

As with many of the screens that use standard flat panels, rather than the newer IPS technology, it was the image quality that ultimately let this screen down. You can now get a far better screen for around the same money, which knocks this Philips display out of the running for an award.

Ratings

Features : 4/5 
Performance : 2/5
Ease of Use : 2/5
Value for Money : 3/5

AG NEOVO L-W22
£105 | uk.agneovo.com


If you're after a monitor on a very tight budget, the AG Neovo L-W22 seems like something of a bargain. For just over £100, you get a 22in display with VGA, DVI and HDMI port s. Unlike many budget displays, it also has a pair of stereo speakers. The quality of the audio is quite tinny and, because the speakers face backwards, they can be inaudible unless they're facing a wall to reflect the sound. They're OK for Windows sounds, but you'll need a set of dedicated speakers for anything more.

The screen displayed a strong blue tint that ruined flesh tones and dulled colors. While adjusting this was quite easy, we lost a lot of the life out of the color, so everything looked a little dull and not as vibrant as we'd hoped.

Verdict

We can forgive the L-W22's budget glossy black plastic case at this price, but the blue tint ruins its image quality. You can adjust the monitor to compensate, but the dull colors and poor contrast ratio are disappointing. Philips' 221V2SB doesn't have an HDMI port, but it's cheaper and has much better image quality.

Ratings

Features : 4/5 
Performance : 2/5
Ease of Use : 2/5
Value for Money : 2/5

Final Verdict

If you want the best picture quality available for less than £200, we recommend the Gold Award winner. The LG IPS235V is an excellent monitor and you may be able to find it cheaper than £140 by shopping around. For a screen with IPS technology and performance as good as this, it's a real bargain. If you want to pay less than £100, the Silver Award-winning Philips 221V2SB is another great buy. The quality of the screen is excellent for the price, and while it doesn't have all the features of the LG model, it's a fantastic alternative for those on a budget.




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