Review: Acer UT220HQL

Review: Acer UT220HQL

Introduction and design

Acer’s UT220HQL ($199, £125, AU$255) is an excellent option for PC owners who want a larger display than what’s available on a laptop, but also require a touchscreen. It’s an easy way to add touch to an older PC or laptop to take advantage of all the gestures enabled on Windows 8, 8.1, and 10. For modern laptop owners, the built-in touch support on the UT220HQL is also a convenient way to gain the benefits of working on a larger panel without losing the touchscreen.

With a 21.5-inch full HD screen, the UT220HQL can be found for as little as $146 (£91, AU$187) at some online retailers. It’s a very competitive offering considering that many other 21- to 24-inch panels cost about as much but don’t include touch.

The Acer UT220HQL competes in the same space as full HD monitors like the 24-inch BenQ EW2440 ($220, £140, AU$285), 21.5-inch Samsung SD300 series ($149, £93, AU$191) and 22-inch LG 22MP57HQ-P ($159, £100, AU$204), but none of these options come with touchscreens. If you’re willing to pay $100 more, Dell’s 28-inch P2815Q display increases the screen size and bumps up the resolution to 4K, but takes away the touchscreen for $299 (£188, AU$386).

Design

The single piece design of the UT220HQL looks more like an all-in-one desktop PC than a monitor. The design reminds me of the 19.5-inch Acer Aspire ZC ($550, £346, AU$706) and 23-inch Aspire U5 ($850, £535, AU$1,091) AIO.

Acer UT220HQL review

The UT220HQL comes fully assembled out of the box. The front is dominated by the 21.5-inch touchscreen, while a silver metal bar on the rear can be pulled down, like a kickstand, to turn the screen into an easel. The bar has quite a bit of resistance, which is good, so that you don’t accidentally recline the screen to a larger angle of tilt when you touch it from the front.

Measuring 20.2 x 1.8 x 15.2 inches (51.31 x 4.57 x 38.61cm) and weighing 9.5 pounds (4.3kg), the UT220HQL technically doesn’t take up that much space on a desk. However, the kickstand has to be open, and depending on how far back you want the screen to tilt, this means that the area the UT220HQL takes on your desk could equal the screen’s front surface area of 20.2 x 15.2 inches (51.31 x 38.61cm).

Acer UT220HQL review

The touchscreen panel is surrounded by a raised glossy black bezel, meaning that the display doesn’t have a flush look with edge-to-edge glass, and this makes the design appear somewhat dated, like the discontinued Lenovo 3000 series C315 AIO from a few years ago. From a functional perspective, the beveled design makes the UT220HQL harder to wipe down and keep clean since dust can get trapped in the corners and edges between the screen and the bezel.

Just below the screen is a narrow strip of black plastic that conceals five springy hardware buttons in the center and a sixth power button on the far right side. Navigating the monitor’s menus with the buttons is still tedious, requiring multiple button presses, but the presence of physical buttons is a definite upgrade over capacitive touch buttons on the BenQ EW2440 or the more discrete downward-facing buttons on the flagship S277HK.

Acer UT220HQL review

Below the buttons is a 0.75-inch strip of dark silver that houses the speaker, and below the speaker is a long strip of lucite plastic that measures two inches wide.

The plastic makes the display appear like it’s floating, but in reality makes cable management harder as you can see right through the base. I personally didn’t care for the clear plastic strip on the bottom, as I felt that it makes the display look disjointed moving between the glossy black, mesh silver speaker grill and clear plastic.

Specifications and performance

Because of the touchscreen support, the UT220HQL requires an added USB cable for everything to work. This extra cable will only add more clutter to crowded desks. The USB cable joins other inputs on the UT220HQL, including a single MHL/HDMI, VGA and audio input ports.

Acer UT220HQL review

The low downward-oriented position of the video, audio, and power ports on the rear of the monitor makes it somewhat less comfortable to use. I found that it’s easier to lay the monitor flat, plug in the cables and then stand the monitor back in place while trying to avoid sandwiching the cables between the bottom edge of the display or the kickstand and my desk. Although the process isn’t complicated, it becomes burdensome while trying to run cables in a tight corner desk or cubicle.

On my HP EliteBook Folio 1020 G1, I connected the HDMI cable and USB cable and I was able to display the content from my Ultrabook to the UT220HQL, hear audio out of the display’s front-facing speaker and use the monitor as my touchscreen.

Specifications

  • Screen size: 21.5-inch
  • Aspect ratio: 16:9
  • Type: LED-backlit LCD IPS
  • Resolution: 1,920 x 1,080 full HD with touch
  • Brightness: 250 cd/m2
  • Response time: 8ms
  • Viewing angle: 178/178
  • Tilt: 0/+80
  • Contrast ratio: 100000000:1
  • Color support: 16.7 million colors
  • Weight: 9.50 pounds
  • Ports: HDMI, VGA, USB, audio, USB hub
  • Speakers: 2 x 1.0W

There is a small USB hub and headphone jack in the middle of the left edge of the display. As there are two ports, I was able to connect a USB keyboard and mouse to the hub and a standard 3.5mm headphone cable to the side. My only complaint is the hub’s positioning, as it looks like the cables are just dangling from the center of the display.

Performance

The UT220HQL does not come with extra frills, like a Blue Light Filter on the premium Acer S277HK. Uncalibrated, the monitor displays colors on the cooler side, with a blueish tint to whites, so a blue light filter mode would be helpful out of the box for users who do not have a colorimeter.

Acer UT220HQL review

After calibrating the UT220HQL with Datacolor’s Spyder5 Elite colorimeter, colors appear more pleasing to the eye as the blueish tint was removed. Displayed images instantly looked warmer. Datacolor’s display analysis tool reveals that the UT220HQL can achieve 99% of the sRGB, 74% NTSC and 77% Adobe RGB color space, which is slightly better than the BenQ EW2440, but the EW2440 lacks touchscreen support.

The UT220HQL has excellent contrast and color accuracy, good color uniformity across the screen, and mediocre brightness uniformity with some light leakage at the screen’s edge. In general, the screen is still a good panel unless you’re working in a production setting.

Acer UT220HQL review

Because the UT220HQL uses an IPS panel, users will benefit from wide 178-degree viewing angles horizontally and vertically. However, the downside is that the refresh rate is slower, up to 8ms, which makes the panel less ideal for gaming than twisted nematic (TN) panels.

Speaker quality is decent and is plenty loud to enjoy music, a YouTube video or a movie, but lacks the rich audio fidelity of more premium speakers.

Ergonomics

Just like the Surface Pro 3 tablet, the kickstand of the UT220HQL is adjustable, allowing the display to recline between zero degrees with the kickstand unactivated to 80 degrees. At the 80-degree setting, the UT220HQL feels more like a regular upright display, but the reclined position makes it look more like an art easel, which is great for viewing photos.

Acer UT220HQL review

Given the display’s high color accuracy ratings, a more reclined easel position is ideal for making quick Adobe Photoshop edits or collaborating on a presentation. I was working on a presentation with a friend in this mode, and at an approximate 50-degree tilt, it was comfortable for both of us to manipulate the PowerPoint and rehearse together. The easel position reminds me of what the Acer Aspire R13 could do, but with a much larger screen panel.

For enterprise users looking to adopt the UT220HQL, the biggest downside is that the display cannot be raised or lowered vertically. Similarly, there is also no horizontal adjustment – to adjust the panel sideways, you’ll have to just move the display, which isn’t too big of a deal considering the panel doesn’t weigh that much.

Acer UT220HQL review

This situation is somewhat alleviated if your office is equipped with VESA mounts. In this case, you wouldn’t need to pull the metal bar down for a kickstand – you’ll just need to screw in the VESA mounting plate to the rear of the UT220HQL.

If your desk butts up against a wall, the VESA-compatible UT220HQL also allows you to free up desk space by mounting the unit on the wall. In this case, the downward-facing position of the ports make sense as the input wires will be accessible, whereas on the desk the cables are harder to reach without having to lift or reposition the display.

Verdict

At its current retail price of $146, the UT220HQL packs in a touchscreen on top of full HD resolution. This is great for desktop users to enjoy touch support on Windows 8, 8.1 and 10. Laptop owners who have a built-in touchscreen can now enjoy their content on a larger canvas without losing touchscreen functionality.

What we liked

An affordable price tag and touchscreen functionality makes the UT220HQL a great desktop companion for Windows users with multitouch support. For office workers collaborating on presentations and projects, the added touchscreen makes the experience more engaging for everyone. In a small group, this means that everyone can actively participate and drive the computing experience, rather than designate one person to select things with a keyboard and mouse.

What we disliked

Uneven screen luminosity may limit this affordable panel’s appeal to creative users who need a studio-grade display. For the majority of users, however, there is still plenty to like, provided you don’t need a higher 4K resolution. Gamers will likely want to stay away from the UT220HQL due to its slower 8ms grey-to-grey refresh rate.

Despite it’s low price, falling prices in the PC market means you can probably get an all-in-one – monitor and PC in a single package – for just a little more. A refurbished Aspire ZC, for example, costs about $100 (£63, AU$128) more at $250 (£157, AU$320). Also, upgrading to a 4K panel is about $150 (£94, AU$192) more, with Dell’s P2815Q priced at $299 (£188, AU$383), but that option comes in a 28-inch size and lacks touch.

Final verdict

While the UT220HQL won’t appeal to niche audiences – gamers and creative professionals requiring a studio quality display – it’s an excellent option for mainstream computer owners who would like to add a touchscreen. The display doesn’t come with frills, such as low blue light modes, but it still renders colors accurately and covers much of the color spectrum. It is an excellent option for students, home users and professionals who still want post-PC touch capabilities while being stuck in a PC world.

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