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12th October 2012
27 inch AOC i2757Fm monitor review
by Ian Burley
8978: 27 inch AOC i2757Fm monitor review

Introduction

AOC's larger than average 27 inch i2757Fm IPS monitor gets tested

Yes, you can connect MHL-compatible smartphones and tablets to the AOC i2757Fm

Three or four years ago you would be lucky to get a no-name brand 24 inch monitor with a less than perfect TN (Twisted Nematic) panel for much less than 250. Today, you can get 23 inch monitors with superior IPS panels for getting close to as little as 100. We'll be looking at a couple of 23 inch monitors in the near future, but this time we have a luxurious 27 inch Full HD (1920x1080 pixels) IPS panel screen from AOC, an established name in monitor displays. More precisely, we're looking at the AOC i2757Fm which had only been available for a month or two at the time of writing.

IPS panel technology

A key feature of the AOC i2757Fm is the use of an IPS TFT LCD panel. All colour LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) monitor displays, including TVs, these days are categorised as TFTs or Thin Film Transistor type displays. Each display pixel has a transistor operating it. Until a few years ago LCDs were practically universal for non-CRT (old type Cathode Ray Tube) displays but OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) displays are competing with LCD for smaller and medium sized displays. Otherwise only plasma display technology has competed with LCDs in the TV market and is not really relevant to desktop or laptop computer monitor displays. The cheapest form of TFT LCD is TN (Twisted Nematic). TN displays can switch fast enough for motion video and computer games but they aren't capable of displaying a wide range of hues. To display more hues can require dithering, which reduces the smoothness of rendition. TN panels also don't have particularly good black levels compared to other LCD technologies and you can often tell a TN panel by characteristic light bleed at the edges of the display. TN panels also don't stand viewing from acute angles, with a sharp drop-off in brightness and colour accuracy especially when viewed vertically. Sometimes this means scrolling a photo image from the bottom of the screen to the top will result in a marked difference in density and even colour balance. Better panel technologies include MVA and PVA type screens, but IPS (In Plane Switching) displays are the up and coming LCD type.

IPS screens offer much better viewing angles and on-screen viewing uniformity. They can also natively display a wider colour range than typical TN panels. Two things counted against IPS screens in the past; cost and switching speed. The former has clearly been solved as IPS panels have more than halved in price in the last few years and the technology has been steadily improved so that refresh rates for viewing video and gaming is now generally no longer an issue.

The AOC i2757Fm sports a very slim bezel

LED back-light

The AOC i2757Fm also sports LED back-lighting, like most new monitors now. LED has replaced a type of fluorescent tube back-light that used to be the mainstay of both LCD monitors and TVs. LEDs last longer, consume less power, and the colour balance of the back-light remains more stable over time, meaning there is less need for frequent screen calibration. There are two categories of LED back-light; plain LED or white LED (WLED) and RGB white. My understanding is that the AOC i2757Fm uses the cheaper WLED solution. RGB white LEDs theoretically deliver a purer white, whereas WLEDs are blue LEDs with a yellow phosphor to produce a white light. However, WLEDs can exhibit a bump in the yellow spectrum which purists aim to avoid.

AOC i2757Fm features

Besides having a 27 inch Led back-lit IPS screen, the AOC i2757Fm features a very thin bezel and a 'frame-less' configuration with the glass surface of the display spanning virtually the whole surface of the unit apart from the panel under the screen. The display surface is also matte-finish to prevent reflections and is a pleasant change from high-gloss screens. There are three main ports ; two HDMI (HDCP compliant) and one D-Sub, the latter for older PCs using a traditional monitor cable. Our review unit came supplied with a HDMI cable, plus audio and power cables. The AOC i2757Fm does have speakers and there is a 3.5mm audio port plus a headphone jack. MHL (Mobile High-definition Link) is supported and our unit came with the relevant USB-HDMI cable that enabled our Samsung Galaxy Note smartphone to display on the AOC i2757Fm. An increasing number of smartphones and tablets now support this feature so you can view photos, watch video and even run a presentation from your smartphone or tablet. Some display modes, like live camera view on our Galaxy Note, are not supported.

The AOC i2757Fm also boasts a slim and elegant design

Design

There is no denying that the AOC i2757Fm is a striking design and looks anything but conventional. It's also smaller than its 27" display size suggests thanks to its super-slim bezel. The power supply unit is separate from the main display housing and this allows the AOC i2757Fm to be particularly slim. The U-shaped chrome-plated metal support linking the display to the stand is a neat and elegant piece of design. The AOC i2757Fm can be tilted downwards by 5 degrees and upwards by 15 degrees. There is no provision for rotation or pivoting of the screen. Neither is there support for wall-mounting using standard fixings. However, if you remove the base stand you can rest the underside of the monitor, which has two low profile rubber feet, on a table or desk surface with the rear metal support acting as a third tripod-style support. I'm not sure if I would use this feature but it's there if you need it. To be honest I would have preferred an option to raise the height of the monitor instead of lowering it.

One area of concern is the aluminium look finish on the stand, which lost several flecks when we removed the protective shipping film. All the monitor controls are operated by a panel of touch-sensitive icons. These were not terribly good to use and the accompanying OSD (On-Screen Display) was not very intuitive either - just like so many other monitors! The AOC i2757Fm is a 1920x1080 display with an aspect ratio of 16:9, which means wide-screen footage will fill the entire screen. This does lose some vertical space compared to a 16:10 aspect ratio, which would mean a 1920x1200 display. 16:9 is rapidly becoming the standard but you can still get 16:10 displays if you look hard.

Performance

Illumination uniformity and viewing angle performance were as expected - very good. Using a Datacolor SpyderPro4 screen calibrator were unable to reach a target brightness of 200 cd/m getting only up to 160 cd/m despite the screen being rated to 250 cd/m. In practice this is not a big deal, but may be of concern to some where the intended location is relatively brightly lit. The screen delivered a colour gamut very closely matching sRGB colour space, which is about par for a good quality general purpose monitor. Discerning photographers might want more and there are reasonably affordable monitors available that can deliver a substantially wider colour gamut, but the fact that sRGB is covered is, in itself, good. In use, colours, contrast and neutrality of white and grey tones looked very good, as was the black level.

Tight viewing angles are not a problem for the AOC i2757Fm

Verdict

We very much liked the AOC i2757Fm - it looks great and, in general, performs well. I can see the MHL connectivity for smartphone and tablet devices having its uses. Three things prevent it from earning the top score: maximum brightness could have been better, ultimate colour gamut is adequate rather than spectacular, and finally the quality of the finish on the stand does concern us. There is no doubt that this monitor is a very good choice for general use. It's also a good choice for photographers thanks to good viewing angles. The absence of the vertical viewing angle problem of TN panels that can mean the image is darker or brighter according to whether it's viewed at the top or the bottom of the screen is a definite plus. Most photographers would be happy with the AOC i2757Fm but for critical colour work you should consider a wider gamut display. Overall the AOC i2757Fm is excellent value for money and with the above concerns considered we can happily recommend the AOC i2757Fm. A 3D version of the i2757Fm and a smaller 23 inch version are in the pipeline, too.

DPNow.com rating: 85% or 4/5 stars

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