Review: AOC Edge/AireLED Monitor Series

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Short version: Slim and attractive, but has a few image quality issues. A solid second monitor, but gamers and photographers will want something a little more robust.

Note: This series of displays is called the Edge in Europe, but due to trademark issues is called the AireLED here in the states, so adjust your searches accordingly.

Features:

  • 19″, 20″, 22″, 23″ varieties (all 16:9 AR)
  • 1080p, 5ms response time
  • 50,000,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio
  • VGA and DVI inputs
  • MSRP: $169.99 (22″ model)

Pros:

  • Very slim and low-profile
  • Rear-mounted inputs are nice
  • Bright and sharp

Cons:

  • Very limited vertical viewing angle
  • Color seems cool no matter what I do
  • Some ghosting

Full review:

It should be noted that this line of monitors really isn’t aimed at reference color or gaming. The point is a thin and attractive monitor, and they’ve certainly succeeded in that. If the trade-offs in the image are worth it to you, it’s definitely one of the nicest-looking and most compact monitors out there.

The display itself is only about half an inch thin, and the base is seven inches from front to back. It has a nearly circular footprint, something you may or may not like, but it’s simply and elegantly formed and I think it’s attractive. The controls are touch-sensitive buttons that light up when you touch the front of the base, which isn’t really conducive to constant tinkering, but on the other hand, they disappear almost completely when not in use, and there are no distracting LEDs on the bezel of the display.

Hook-ups are at the back of the base instead of on the display proper, which I feel makes for a cleaner look. There’s also a power brick instead of a straight three-prong port, which takes even more bulk off your desktop.

While it feels stable on its round base and rubberized feet, the display itself seems but loosely connected to the elevating arm. It’s not really a problem since you don’t actually need to touch it at all, but it’s a little disconcerting when setting up. There’s little leeway for height or angle customization, though the base is a standard VESA mount, so you can put it on the wall if you like.


The monitor comes with drivers and extra software (in a bothersome Flash app) for configuring the monitor, but all essential functions are also available through the OSD.

Color was, I found, extremely cool by default, perhaps due to the balance of their LED backlighting. I’m used to a slightly warm picture on my main Dell display, and I had to reduce the blue and green to 52 and 75 respectively to get anything like a warm picture. Your mileage may vary, and you may prefer a cool picture, of course, but I felt the cool was a little off the charts on this one.

Viewing angle is great horizontally, but pretty poor vertically. I can see a definite color shift just moving my head up or down a few inches. From below, it gets visibly warmer, and from above it gets cooler until a dark shadow passes over the whole image, giving way to a rather solarized look as you get out of the reasonable viewing angles. This kind of effect is visible in most monitors, but I found it pronounced in the Edge series.

The contrast ratio of 50,000,000 is, of course, an absurd exaggeration, like all dynamic contrast ratios. Turning off dynamic contrast and adjusting your color and gamma correctly will make for a better image. That said, it does have great contrast, with extremely bright whites and fairly dark blacks, both of which tend to run a bit cool.

Despite the quoted 5ms response time, I found there was some chroma lag in some situations, like when I moved my black-and-white cursor over the dark-grey window bars in Windows 7. There was also some trailing with black text on white backgrounds when dragging windows or moving a cursor, but nothing alarming.

Conclusion:

This is a slim and attractive monitor that would do well as a secondary display but isn’t up to snuff for a primary. While sharpness and contrast are good, response time artifacts are present and I found the coolness distracting, though to be sure that is a personal bias. The design of the thing is nice, and I liked the power brick and rear-mounted ports. It’s an attractive space-saver, but image quality buffs need not apply.

Product page: AOC Edge series

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