Introduction, Design and Specs

Windows 8 has brought about its shift in how we use our computers and its focus on having a more unified experience for phones, tablets, laptops, and desktop PCs. As those first two systems are primarily touch-oriented, desktop computers are suddenly seeing a large number of touch displays appearing. In an environment that is used to a keyboard and mouse for input, how well is touch going to fit into that setting?

The availability of touchscreens has rapidly increased with the launch of Windows 8 last year. Where touchscreens were rare or expensive before, now they are much easier to find with the availability of a mainstream, touch-oriented operating system. The first one that I have had a chance to use for an extended period is the T232HL from Acer, a 23” 1080p display with an IPS panel and a glossy screen finish.

There is a kickstand in the back to adjust the angle of the screen, but no other ergonomic adjustments are available. On my review sample the kickstand was too tight and I had to remove the cover to loosen the mechanism, but this might not happen on the shipping units. There are 100mm VESA mounting holes, if you wish to have more adjustments or get the display off your desk.

The inputs are limited to HDMI, DVI, and DSub, with no DisplayPort to be found. With DisplayPort being more and more common now, and the Acer selling for around $500, I think adding a DP input would be appropriate. There is also a 3.5mm audio input for the internal speakers, and a USB 3.0 hub with three ports on the left side of the display. It also uses an exterior power brick, a big pet peeve of mine.

Being an IPS panel, the viewing angles are very good on the Acer T232HL. The problematic issue is the glossy finish of the screen that reflects a lot of light. The glossy finish might help to hide fingerprints from using the touch features, or it might be necessary due to the touch sensors, but it makes that angle adjustment even more important as you try to eliminate reflections. You can see the reflection that is present in the lower-angle shot, as for all the other shots I worked hard to find an angle where reflections were less visible.

I mistakenly forgot to capture images of the on-screen display before returning the display to Acer, so unfortunately I had to resort to pulling images of the OSD from the manual to provide examples of how it works. Screen controls are mounted to the right side of the display, with an OSD that pops up once you press a button. This sort of arrangement has been my favorite from Dell, but in that case the buttons are mounted right beside the screen and it is clear which label applies to which button. In this case with them hidden to the side, I often hit the wrong button when making an adjustment.

Acer T232HL
Video Inputs HDMI, DVI, Dsub
Panel Type IPS
Pixel Pitch 0.265 mm
Colors 16.7 million
Brightness 250 nits
Contrast Ratio 1000:1 Typical
Response Time 5ms GTG
Viewable Size 23"
Resolution 1920x1080
Viewing Angle (H/V) 178/178
Backlight LED
Power Consumption (operation) 25 Watts
Power Consumption (standby) 0.5 Watts
Screen Treatment Glossy
Height-Adjustable No
Tilt Yes, 8-60 degrees
Pivot No
Swivel No
VESA Wall Mounting Yes, 100mm
Dimensions w/ Base (WxHxD) 21.5" x 17.9" x 1.9"
Weight 12.6 lbs.
Additional Features 10-point Touch, 3 Port USB 3.0 Hub, Stereo Speakers
Limited Warranty 3 Years
Accessories DVI cable, HDMI cable, Dsub cable, 3.5mm cable, USB cable
Price $500 (2/05/2013)

The specifications on the Acer are in line with most 23” IPS displays, except for the additional touch features. How does Windows 8 perform at home with a touch-screen monitor then?

Windows 8 and a Touch Screen in Daily Use
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  • djshortsleeve - Wednesday, February 6, 2013 - link

    If you want to use Windows 8 with touch, get an AIO. IMO, touchscreens are pointless in a desktop where your main use is gaming or some sort of production.

    $500, are you kidding?
  • wperry - Wednesday, February 6, 2013 - link

    "The Dell U2312HM, which is also IPS and performs better on all tests, is available for $225 online. "

    Seems a bit disingenuous to say that it's a poor value and cite the above... while ignoring the fact that Dell also has a 23" 1920x1080 IPS touchscreen at $699 (model S2340T).
  • cheinonen - Wednesday, February 6, 2013 - link

    I don't have any performance data on the Dell touch-screen, but I do on the U2312HM. My concern wasn't with touch, but with the poor uniformity and light output for the price.
  • wperry - Thursday, February 7, 2013 - link

    That statement was taken from a paragraph explicitly addressing the value proposition that this product presents. The main difference between this product and most of the hundreds of monitors already on the market is touch capability. Ignoring that when addressing value is a disservice to the product and to the readers of Anandtech, all of whom, I would assume, already know that non-touch monitors can be had for far less than the price of this Acer. It would probably be more fair to do a little bit of legwork and present the prices of the direct competitors while explaining that they haven't yet been tested.
  • Defhammer - Wednesday, February 6, 2013 - link

    Reading this article reinforces a thought I had about a use case for touchscreens in a multi-monitor desktop setup.

    I think what would work is a small touchscreen monitor that sits right next to the keyboard.

    Take for example a setup of 3 big normal monitors and a small touch screen directly to the left of the keyboard . The small touch screen has your live tiles and your desktop icons. Using a touch gesture, you can control which monitor that desktop application opens on (eg. flicking the icon to the upper left will open that application to the left monitor).

    In this configuration, the live tiles allow you to check on things at a glance and the big monitors can focus on the work on hand. It also gives the ability of using modern UI apps in a non-obtrusive manor.

    The setup also removes the need to dragging a window to the correct monitor after you open it.

    In the end you essentially have a fancy app launcher and a notifications screen that can run modern UI apps.

    How valuable the added functionality would be is questionable, but I think it works better than reaching to the main monitor and poking at it.
  • The0ne - Wednesday, February 6, 2013 - link

    This is how my PC set up is with two monitors. One is my main while the other is more for display. This includes movies, music and info that I really just need to glance at occasionally and have easily, simple navigation. That is where Windows 8 metro comes in. I love it on the 2nd monitor. I don't have to move my mouse away from the desktop environment on my main screen but just use my fingers to swipe, navigate, pause, play, forward, whatever. It's quick and easy and gets rarely gets me sidetracked from what I'm currently doing.

    I am thoroughly enjoying this setup and having 30" LCD's is a huge bonus as to what I use them for. Bing maps is a pleasure to browse through because of the fluidity for example :) And although I still think the desktop/metro integration is poor when you have to switch between the two, having them separate either as a main display or from multiple displays is a huge bonus. And if ever you need more desktop space, it's only a shortcut key press away or a tap.
  • QQBoss - Wednesday, February 6, 2013 - link

    I tried to patent something like this when I worked at a major computer company- a visual touch pad with programmable or user configurable icons/pictures, basically a mini-touch screen exactly like you suggest.

    I was told by the big bosses that touch screens would never be meaningful on the desktop and too expensive on a notebook, so they refused to file for it... about 10 years ago. Sigh.
  • Death666Angel - Wednesday, February 6, 2013 - link

    2nd page: "I found the experience a bit strange and even often, and I imagine many people moving onto Windows 8 may have a similar initial reaction."
    Seems like it's missing something after "even often"? :)
    Good review though! But not my kind of product. :D
  • random2 - Wednesday, February 6, 2013 - link

    Hope you don't think this to anal, but if it were my name on the article I'd like to know.

    " I found the experience a bit strange and even often, and I imagine many people moving onto Windows 8 may have a similar initial reaction."

    I've also recently installed Win-8 on laptop so I can get familiarized with it. Until your article I never really thought of the issues that might occur trying to set up Win-8 on a multiple monitor set-up.

    I'm still trying to rationalize the need for a touch screen PC vs the speed and efficiency of a PC or LT used in conjunction with keyboard shortcuts and a mouse. I guess at my age I really don't care if I look like I'm on the deck of a space cruiser with may arms flailing about in front of a glass panel. Like Vista it's not likely this will ever be my primary OS.

    Thanks again Chris for another no nonsense review.
  • Beaver M. - Thursday, February 7, 2013 - link

    There is no reason. I think the main reason is that MS is panicking when they look at the tablet market. Also they saw a few science fiction movies and thought it would be cool, not thinking about actual usability.

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