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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  • JimmiG - Friday, February 8, 2013 - link

    "Do you actually think people will sit with a mouse and keyboard in 20 years to the same extent they do today?"

    No, but I don't think we'll be leaning over our desks, arms stretched forward in order to use oversized touch-displays, nor will we be waving our arms in front of motion sensing devices all day either.

    Voice control is another technology that was thought to replace the keyboard ("Keyboard. How quaint."), and the technology exists today. Yet it's rarely used because it's impractical in an office environment.

    When realtime 3D graphics became possible, there were a lot of experimental 3D UI's being designed. It was also thought that the whole web would eventually become fully 3D. While we have 3D MMORPG's etc., the web and user interfaces are still 2D because it's the most convenient way to present information. In fact, Windows 8 is even going back to a more "flat" UI than what we've had since the late 1980's.

    Just a few examples of how new technology isn't "better" just because it seems exciting and forward thinking at the time. All these technologies have their applications and uses (easily control mixer faders and pan pots in a DAW, for example), but there's a temptation to shoehorn new tech into everything just because it's the current buzzword.
  • Beaver M. - Friday, February 8, 2013 - link

    Why should one think that? But 20 years ago they already hinted that thought-control would be the next big thing. Instead you now see crap like touch-control, which SIMPLY doesnt work well on desktop computers. Touch-control was invented for simple input and mobile input, where you cant have complex inputs.

    It would be like controlling a kitchen with a steering wheel. It simply isnt effective!

    Seriously, it bothers me a lot that even on a site like this, that such simple things isnt grasped by many people.
  • Patanjali - Friday, April 5, 2013 - link

    Touch doesn't have to REPLACE everything else, but it is nice to have as one of many altenate interaction methods. With Windows, you never use ONLY a mouse OR a keyboard, so why should having the availability of touch suddenly preclude those other methods?

    I find which I use depoends on what I am mainly using at the time. If typing a lot, I tend to use keyboard shortcuts more. If shifting things around a lot, the mouse gets used. Now with touch, I can opt to just reach out and touch a link or swipe to scroll a web page. Horses for couses!
  • Icehawk - Friday, February 8, 2013 - link

    Just saw my friend's Dell version of this (basically) and I don't get it - first off with the screen where it normally goes, and his was, you can't reach the screen without leaning all the way forward and/or hitching yourself forward on the seat. Then you get to leave nice fingerprints everywhere. In that time I could have used the mouse like six times over to do the same thing.

    And Win 8 looks TERRIBLE. Both the "Metro" skin - too much going on, ugly, ugly, too much clutter - and the old desktop, 'cause no one wants the Start button /sarcasm.

    Last thing - while one of my Samsung monitors is going on 7+ years I've had other LCDs last just 2. Would kinda suck if the monitor on one of these goes out since you are pretty much out the whole PC.
  • ryanbrancel - Friday, February 8, 2013 - link

    Do you need to use HDMI for the touchscreen to communicate with the PC? Or does all that transport over the video signal, even for CRT?
  • Lonyo - Saturday, February 9, 2013 - link

    USB connection for the touch data.
    HDMI/VGA/DVI for video.
    3.5mm cable for sound when using VGA/DVI (I assume sound can go over HDMI but I haven't tried yet on mine).
  • Magnus101 - Friday, February 8, 2013 - link

    I use a Nexus 7 with TouchDAW installed as a remote control for Cubase.
    I can move mixer sliders, pots and a lot of things with the tablet, at the same time looking att he big monitors.

    I think they have gotten this totally the wrong way around.

    It would be awkward to have to have your arms raised so high all the time.
    It will also obscure parts of the screen when you point with your hand.
  • Patanjali - Friday, April 5, 2013 - link

    Touchscreen monitors with Windows means that ANY window or dialog can be touch WITHOUT anf setup.

    Try setting up TouchDAW to control only the Control Room as quickly as just moving the dialog to a touchscreen.

    I have Cubase setup with two touchscreens at low angles with the mixers, control room and other dialogs spread across them. And I wish the LG 2560x1080 monitors were touchscreen as they would be perfect for such use.
  • Patanjali - Friday, April 5, 2013 - link

    If you duplicate a local and remote monitor, you can control the dialogs from both.

    It is a pity the remote display software people that produce MaxiVista and Air Display, which allow using another computer's display, haven't got their Win8 act together.
  • JKflipflop98 - Saturday, February 9, 2013 - link

    LeapMotion is leagues better than this.

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