This second-generation 120HZ panel makes the leap to full HD
We can count on one hand the number of people we know who have bought into Nvidia’s 3D Vision gaming system—those shutter goggles haven’t exactly been selling like hotcakes.
The lackluster response to this 3D-gaming renaissance is no doubt due in part to the 3D Vision kit’s $200 admission price. On top of that, early adopters were also likely put off by the technological limitations of the requisite 120Hz monitors—another $400 wallet-draining investment—which maxed out at just 22 inches and a paltry 1650x1080 resolution.
Acer’s GD235HZ is a second-generation 120Hz panel that sheds those constraints, measuring 23.6 inches and running natively at 1920x1080 pixels.
Acer's GD235HZ is a step up from lower-res 3D-ready panels, offering more screen real estate and a higher native res.
In a pleasant surprise, the GD235HZ doesn’t cost any more than last year’s 22-inch $400 asking price. To keep the price in check, Acer omitted extras like USB ports and component inputs from this model. And aside from the 120Hz refresh rate, this is a pretty standard TN panel. Color fidelity fared respectably in our tests and contrast (rated at 1000:1) looked better in the darks than the lights. We didn’t notice any color banding defects at various settings, either. But like most LCDs, we could spot a bit of backlight bleed along the edges of the screen, though this was only noticeable with the lights off and a very dark image on the screen. We also thought that text looked a little off, with very light shadowing between characters. Tweaking Windows 7’s ClearType settings helped alleviate this issue.
But this monitor isn’t for Photoshop artists or Excel monkeys—it was made for 3D gaming. So, it was no surprise that the extra real estate made a big difference in-game. The wider 16:9 aspect ratio helped improve the illusion of depth when we sat close enough that the sides of the screen were just beyond our peripheral vision. However, we encountered some ghosting in games, a familiar consequence of shutter-based 3D configurations. This was most apparent in scenes with high contrast, such as Modern Warfare 2’s snow level.
Full-screen 3D videos downloaded from Nvidia’s website looked glorious, and HDCP support means that the GD235HZ is suitable for 3D Blu-ray movies. But we were bummed that the monitor has just three video inputs (dual-link DVI, HDMI, and VGA), which limits the number of devices that can use this as a primary display. The lack of a USB hub is also frustrating, since that would be useful for the 3D Vision’s IR emitter.
As it stands, the GD235HZ is the best monitor you can find for desktop 3D gaming or stereo 3D photographers. But it’s still considerably more expensive than a 60Hz monitor of a comparable size, and it isn’t even the best TN panel we’ve reviewed. We still think it’s a product for early adopters, but at least the technology is moving in the right direction.
1920x1080 resolution; fast response time; good contrast in both lights and darks.
Limited display inputs; no USB ports; some ghosting in 3D; restrictive stand.