AOC is in the LCD/TV business for over two decades now, but you may have barely heard the name. Possibly a big player in Taiwan, from where the company originates, the name AOC is lost in this Samsung and LG dominated market. In fact, the company has only recently placed the UAE in its waypoint, first making an appearance at Gitex last year, showcasing what was then their ‘slimmest LED monitor in the world’. The LED was the AOC e2343F2, and though it’s lofty title may have been matched by its said competitors, there is no denying its remarkably slim figure that continues to give my big-boned presence a complex every time I look at it.
The LED was delivered to us incased in armor – or as close as a display could demand! Wrapped in what seemed like 5” of hard-to-tear plastic, the cover took a sharp scissor and a lot of brute force to deliver the actual box out of its cocoon. We are pretty sure the retail unit will be sans its Nanosuit, but if it’s not, don’t forget to sharpen your knives.
As I tore through the plastic, I started reading the bullet-points: 2ms response time, 50,000,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio, illuminating touch keys, four PIP, VESA mount support, and more interestingly, two HDMI ports. Impressive
, I thought. Inclusion of multiple HDMI ports and picture-in-picture, both premiums, told me that we are looking at one of their higher priced high-end models. But surprisingly, that was not the case. The AOC e2343F2 costs only AED 700, and with its loaded set of features, instantly made it an incredible bang-for-the-buck.
Well, at least that’s what appeared to be before we fired it up.
The AOC e2343F2 is not particularly handsome, though from the pictures, the white model looks to be a lot better. Coming at just 12.9 millimeter thickness, the AOC is one of the slimmest monitors I have seen, and it certainly adds to the appeal to its glossy black plastic body.
AOC has made sure the display remains sleek and slim throughout. Instead of costing the display a slight bump on the back to accommodate the ports, AOC has rather intelligently shifted them to the foot-stand – finally bringing the largely neglected piece of the hardware to good use.
On the back of the foot-stand you will find two HDMI ports, one VGA, one headphone jack and the power outlet. There is no DVI-port - a priced paid for having two HDMIs, we guess. In our test, we found out that the HDMI port was unable to render input from the PC properly. It seemed as if the display was not able to produce a full HD image and settled for black bars around the screen. It worked perfectly fine with the PS3, however.
Also on the foot-stand are the “illuminating” touch buttons that controls the on-screen display. There are four buttons: left/presets, right, power on/off, source/enter, and menu. There is no clear indication of what does what at first, and the OSD doesn’t do much to rectify the problem as well.
As such, the menu is quite cumbersome to use and requires a lot of back-tracking to change simple settings like brightness or color as they are divided into its own category than bunched up into one. The icons that represent the settings are quite ugly to be honest, and it’s hard to decipher what they belong to.
The construction quality is another worry as well. For one, I really believe that the display frame would snap off the neck if I moved it around too much. It’s that flimsily joined. If you push the screen, the whole frame will wobble violently as if it was tied to the neck with a hairpin. This may be due to the lightness of the display and it may not be as cheap as it feels, but a little bit of better fitting would go a long way to give users peace of mind.
Crysis 2’s vibrant representation of New York City and its explosive combat makes for a good test for any display. The AOC performed extremely well, producing excellent colors, sharpness and contrast. Back light bleeding was at minimum, allowing the display to deliver smooth deep blacks. We had also fired up a lot of HD trailers and never felt the image looked washed out or pixelated.
In our FlatPanelDK test, however, the results were quite opposite. Color banding in particular, was an issue as the monitor struggled to display gradients of blue, green and grey-black. Another color related problem was what seems like the display’s inability to produce a light grey-blueish color. It is apparent when viewing a picture using Windows Photo Viewer – the entire application would come up in yellow.
Not as sharp as the LG Flatron E2260
we had reviewed earlier, but still ‘normal’ enough to never be an issue. The monitor did well against different color backgrounds, with the slight purple tinge never overwhelming the text.
Ghosting and Trailing
The best game to note any ghosting or trailing issues is of course, Dead Space. The game’s dark atmosphere, coupled with sets of browns and greys are especially perfect to find out any problems with a display. Surprisingly, even despite featuring a low 2ms response time, ghosting and trailing was quite apparent on the AOC. Edges of objects and walls would leave a white trail when the game’s camera was moved, showing the monitor’s struggle to quickly turn the pixels on and off.
Impact on color and contrast was at a minimum. The monitor remained sharp and colorful from the sides and could be easily shared with two people without having to quarrel over who gets the middle seat.
Usually, I conclude my reviews with either a recommended or not recommended, but with the AOC e2343F2, I am utterly confused. At its price point, it seems to offer a lot but what it offers is average at best. The color banding and ghosting are an issue, but is it worth skipping over two HDMI ports and PIP? Probably not, they are hardly noticeable unless you go look for them. As a reviewer, I would still recommend the Samsung PX2370
for the best possible image quality; however, if you are on a tight budget, the AOC is a good choice, especially considering its features. The term ‘price for performance’ has never been so defined as it has with the AOC e2343F2. You get exactly what you pay for, and nothing more.