Reading about a new smartphone with a 2,560-x-1,440 display might seem like just another day. But the same pixel array spread across a 32-inch panel is likely to turn lots of heads. Such was the case with the Acer B326HUL, a beautiful professional monitor with impressive color accuracy and plenty of features to spare. Released in May, the $899 digital monitor comes with a small-footprint pedestal mount that won't feel like it's crowding the desktop.
Acer's VA panel displayed the color so consistently throughout its 178-degree viewing range that we almost mistook it for the more expensive IPS type. The B326's white saturation test was nearly perfect out of the box, and with a few adjustments to brightness and contrast, displayed all but one of the 254 levels clearly. In black-level tests, all but the two darkest levels were distinguishable. Gradients of color and black-and-white exhibited no banding, and sharpness tests all were as close to perfect as we've seen. Its bright LED-lit screen puts out a maximum of 300 nits.
In tests of response time, Acer's 6-ms panel performed well in all but 128/255 RGB value range, when it exhibited a slight but acceptable input lag. Frame drops on most response-time tests were zero, and never exceeded 2 percent. For testing, we used the CRN Test Center's standard test images for evaluating LCD monitors. All tests were conducted in a darkened room with the unit set to its maximum native resolution.
Physically, the B326 is a prominent figure, standing 29 inches wide and 24.5 inches at its highest. The monitor is easily lowered with one or two fingers to its lowest height just shy of 19 inches. The pedestal base occupies 10.5 inches of depth on the desktop and about 14 inches of width. The base slopes downward toward the user, making it a good spot for resting a cellphone or laptop. Unfortunately, the entire area swivels when the monitor is turned. Swivel range is (+-) 60 degrees. A magnet is buried under another corner of the base, right below an impression of a paper clip. The screen's tilt range is -5 to +25 degrees.
The B326 includes two HDMI ports plus one each for DVI-D and DisplayPort input. There's a cable included for each, a rarity these days. There's also a four-port USB 3.0 hub and stereo speakers; host and audio cables are included for those as well. The all-digital unit offers no VGA input. All inputs plus the power connector are oriented downward, making them accessible from the front or rear, or from underneath on wall-mounted installations using its VESA mount. Two of the USB ports also face down; the other two are mounted behind the left-side bezel, and are easy to reach from the front.
Five on-screen display controls are located in the lower right-hand corner next to the power switch with LED. When any are pressed, the OSD appears nearby, with arrows to indicate button functions. The unit's 2-watt upward-facing speakers are good only for minimal sound, but are free of distortion at maximum volume. The OCD includes a volume control.
For its low cost, large size and high-quality display, the CRN Test Center recommends the Acer B326HUL. The list price of $899 includes a pedestal stand, two speakers, six cables, four video inputs, a four-port USB 3.0 hub and a three-year warranty.
PUBLISHED AUG. 4, 2014