One of the biggest delights of surrendering to the crystal clarity of our 4K/Ultra HD overlords has been the continuing abundance of quality ‘regular’ high-definition displays on the shelves, which means that, after a good decade of waiting and concessions, 1080p Full HD is now accessible for the rest of us. True, the tech titans would rather you toss out all that perfectly good HD content and re-stock your office/fun environment with 4K/UltraHD futuristic sharpness, but that doesn’t mean you have to.
But if you’re not quire ready to make the UltraHD jump yet and can somehow manage to cope with a merely stunning 1080p IPS display, razor-thin design, and decent price then perhaps ViewSonic’s budget-friendly VX2376-SMHD 23-Inch SuperClear IPS LED Monitor will help get you through the transition.
Design: Super Slim ‘n Trim
The first thing you’ll notice about the VX2376-SMHD is how absurdly thin it is; 23 inches of pure 1080p IPS LED goodness is packed into a 1.31 x 20.91 x 12.59 inches ‘frameless’ design. OK, it’s not totally frameless, there is a tiny little bezel edge on the sides (but barely noticeable). The bulk of the display is impossibly thin; ten years ago you’d have to mortgage your home (or skip college) to get this level of svelte in your home, but not in these glorious future times.
Actually, this hyperbolic spec is slightly misleading as the display does expand a bit towards the bottom, adding a little junk in the trunk where I presume the guts are stored. At just about 5lbs it can feel a bit heavy when moving around, but probably shouldn’t be much an issue after setting it up. Total desktop real estate, front base to rear (counting ViewSonic’s familiar “V” stand), is a cozy 8.2 inches.
For those who like to adjust, you can slightly tilt the display backwards, but not frontwards, so make sure the monitor is already sitting in that sweet spot before getting down to work (those cat videos aren’t going to watch themselves).
What we’re really here for is the actual display – and it’s here the VX2376-SMHD impresses the most. ViewSonic calls their display technology SuperClear IPS – a fancy buzzword that roughly translates to “awesome”, because that’s how it looks. The relatively low price tag makes this a ‘budget’ monitor, but you wouldn’t know it from just staring at those lovely colors, crystal-clear text, and pretty amazing viewing angle: ViewSonic promises 178°/178° and I have no reason to disbelieve them.
At the ready is a buffet of widely-used connectivity ports that include single HDMI, DisplayPort, and even VGA inputs for you legacy-types (sorry, DVI users). There’s even two 3.5mm jacks for sound input/output, but we’ll get to those here in a little bit.
I also want to applaud the choice of having real, honest-to-goodness BUTTONS to help control the power and menu option. Nothing against touchscreen navigation…but they mostly stink and are seldom accurate. Not so with plastic presses, and the ones here are highly pressable. It’s a shame the actual menu interface is so cumbersome and unintuitive to control; perhaps one day we might actually get an interface for actual humans to breeze through, but that day isn’t today.
It’s not just spreadsheets and web-browsing, however. The VX2376-SMHD has enough going for it as an entertainment monitor, convincingly pulling double-duty for movies and even gaming. The usual picture presets and options are present, including a nifty ‘Blue Light’ filter that helps turn your colors into mush (while promising to help keep your eyeballs from turning into similar mush). Unfortunately, like all other aspects of its clunky interface enabling Blue Light filtering is a chore; opt for a free software plugin like f.lux instead if you really care about helping relieve eye strain.
I was thoroughly impressed with the color output and its non-saturated hues. A 1000:1 contrast ratio helps, too. The VX2376-SMHD exhibits a neutral/warm profile that leans toward a natural tone, rebuffing the typical characteristics of IPS panels of this price. Since the color is dialed in out of box, working applications that demand RGB accuracy like Photoshop are ideal in general accuracy,
And yes, playing games on either PC or console (thank you, HDMI magic) isn’t just possible, but downright competitive thanks to an advertised response time of 7ms (milliseconds). For direct testings we played through a recent color-friendly game, Mighty No. 9, and one not so colorful, Batman: Arkham Knight (both PC versions). For consoles I made a detour to Hell with the DOOM reboot for Xbox One, a shooter as twitch-friendly as you’re likely to get. All visuals were spectacular, with gorgeous colors and appropriate blacks, while input lag (even at 7ms) was never an issue.
Thanks to our resident tech guy’s magic, we were able to compare dual displays running same content side-by-side: an existing Dell P2217H’s input lag behind by four frames (out of a 60 fps average), while a Samsung LS22D300NY was nearly on par by two frames. Overall, the VX2376-SMHD surpassed them all and delivered a agreeable gaming environment on all levels, and was a noticeable step forward for gaming and IPS panel performance, budget or otherwise.
Sound Output (Yes, It Exists)
Let’s talk about one of the monitor’s more potentially interesting features: sound output. Yes, I realize that a statistically insignificant number of you reading this probably don’t care about how good a display’s integrated sound output it – or if it even has any at all. So how do the internal speakers actually sound when in use?
In a word: crappy. Internet video, movies, music, and even gaming all had their fidelity nearly obliterated by what’s being pumped through its minuscule 3-watt speaker. If all you need are simple reaction noises like “new message” or “BING!” or “TWEET!” to alert you to things going on with your programs, the tinny output should be more than sufficient for non-distracting office work. But for anything above this, it’s best to avoid the crushing disappointment altogether.
But…silver linings! The 3.5mm audio output jack means you can easily plug in a pair of headphones or external speakers – provided you’ve supplied the source audio via either the HDMI or 3.5mm input jack, of course. The display’s archaic and user-unfriendly menu system doesn’t make changing the volume level easy, though, so how useful this feature ends of being is indeterminate.
As nice as 4K and higher-resolutions are, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with a good 1080p display, which after a decade of mishandling has finally become the standard output in nearly everything under the sun. On this front, ViewSonic’s VX2376-SMHD 23-Inch SuperClear IPS LED Monitor offers superb value for the money, and a great investment for those looking for a better, larger display on the cheap. Everything looks, runs, and plays great on it, with virtually no input lag – and there’s even sound output if you absolutely need it (but you probably won’t).