Reviews  

Alienware OptX AW2210

Madana Prathap 2010-07-19
79 Good
Price: Rs 16,000

Full Review

The Alienware OptX AW2210 has its cross-hair trained on gamers. This 21.5 inch, Full-HD (1080p) LCD monitor offers a matte screen and 2ms (grey-to-grey) response time achieved using a TN-panel. The panel may not be as luxurious as Dell's higher-end UltraSharp monitors, but it does pack in a number of other nice features. It did have to, for it carries the same branding as Dell's premium gaming computers. Alienware is a brand with good recognition among gamers, even if it is now owned by Dell. Pair an Alienware desktop PC that goes well with an Alienware monitor and the result is a great-looking gaming monster.

Audio was in sync while watching movies, and there was no lag in fast-paced FPS games.


Design and Features
This AW2210 has sharp looks and even though it looks similar to Dell’s other monitors from afar, seeing it up close removes all doubt. The Alienware logo (an alien head) is well-known by now and makes its presence felt on the monitor stand, and also on the bezel. The bezel is noticeably thinner than most monitors of its size, and the monitor’s body on the whole is thin as expected (it is monitors with IPS panels that are usually thick). Thus it is not too heavy and the monitor stand manages to get by with just plastic. The base is Y-shaped and the monitor-mount has most of the good stuff – cable management, and adjustable height/tilt/swivel. The mechanism to attach/detach the monitor to the stand is tool-less and refreshingly easy. The single button to push when detaching the monitor is placed sufficiently out of the way yet is accessible.

Of course this means it supports VESA wall-mounting as well, like almost every LCD monitor since the last 5 years. The pivot functionality is absent from the stand, perhaps because you are not expected to want to use this monitor in portrait mode. The monitor body has a grill at the top, perhaps to act as heat vents. For home users, this also means that you should keep your monitor covered when not in use, to prevent dust settling inside. As usual, input ports are at the rear facing downwards with a glass panel covering this portion – this does look nice compared to the “exposed” input ports act, but it causes usability issues since the ports are not easily visible. Available ports include one DVI, two HDMI, one upstream USB port, four USB downstream ports, one Audio-in and one Audio-out. The USB and audio ports could be quite useful for those who’d like to have devices connected to a hub closer to them – monitor is usually nearer to you, if the cabinet is placed under the table.

Alienware OptX AW2210 input connectors
Controls for the monitor’s OSD are touch-based with five buttons placed at the bottom-right corner just above the power button. We were armed with weapons of beep destruction, yet the few button presses it took to turn off the “beeping” of buttons when pressed were an anxious (and irritating) few moments. The OSD navigation system is simple and intuitive, with all of the usual settings available. The 5 OSD touch-buttons are indicated with lines that go “across” unlike the conventional round buttons. This “scaly” theme gels nicely with the gamer positioning, in addition to the red colors and stylized icons used for the OSD menu itself. The upper three buttons can be personalized and used as “shortcut keys” to access your most-used settings quickly. Response time can be set to normal or OverDrive mode when you intend to play fast-paced games. The only thing we don’t know for certain about touch-based OSD/power buttons is what might cause the sensor to stop working, and how its lifetime compares to the normal mechanical buttons. These could be significant concerns for at least the few who have good reason to keep using the OSD, and therefore the touch-buttons, regularly every day.

The OSD offers fewer scaling options - only Fill and 4:3 modes - the 1:1 and Aspect Ratio modes are not present. The missing scaling modes mean that any content (movies, desktop resolution, etc) you output to the monitor which is not already in the 16:9 or 4:3 ratio, will end up being stretched on display. You can work around it by tasking your graphics card and video/movie player to do the scaling, as long as your hardware/software allows you to set the scaling.

The Alienware OptX AW2210 monitor claims to offer a color gamut of 85% (on the CIE1976 standard most monitors achieve just 72%) which is a good thing for those who need good color reproduction. It offers a viewing angle of 170 degrees horizontally, and 160 degrees vertically which is fairly common today. Typical power consumption is rated at 24W while active, this number excludes any additional power drawn by speakers/USB devices attached to the LCD monitor. Interestingly for a display positioned as a "gamer's monitor", its refresh rate is only the usual 60 Hz as seen in normal ones, as against the 100 Hz seen in higher-end gaming monitors. This isn't much of a bad thing though, it still performed quite well and its price is relatively more affordable than the 100 Hz monitors. There is no VGA input port, but this should not be much of a problem for the intended target audience and DVI-to-VGA adapters are aplenty in any case.

Performance
We test performance after using a hardware-calibration device to ensure color reproduction as best as the monitor can provide. This monitor claims a dynamic contrast ratio (DCR) of 80,000:1 which is fine for movies and games. However, we disable DCR to measure its true contrast ratio, claimed to be 1000:1 which was then measured by our Chroma meter to be a fair bit lower but still good. We measured a brightness level better than most TN-panel monitors and a fairly good black level. We run a battery of tests including those from Lavalys Everest, Lagom, and DisplayMate, measuring them with a Chroma meter. It scored alright considering it is a TN-panel monitor. For more details see the "Performance" tab of this review. In brief, the color accuracy, brightness, and contrast were quite acceptable.

Our subjective tests consisted of browsing and productivity apps, viewing photos, movies and playing games. The colors were vibrant in game mode, screen was sharp and the color consistency was good across the screen which is a good thing for gamers who want quality. For the occasional movie watchers, depth of the black levels was workable but faltered in the Lagom tests (banding and light-greyscale area). We saw very little backlight bleed. The horizontal and vertical viewing angles were as expected for a good TN-panel monitor. There were no dead/stuck/colored pixels on the unit that came to us for review, as confirmed on 5 uni-color screens (completely dark, white and the 3 primary colors). Input lag (partially influenced by “response time”) felt non-existent probably due to its panel-type and its simple internal scaler. Audio was in sync while watching movies, and there was no lag in fast-paced FPS games.

Bottom Line

Having but one purpose, that of carrying the mantle of being a gamer’s display, the Alienware OptX AW2210 discharges it very well indeed. The Looks, Specifications and Performance seem to make that amply clear. If you want a general purpose monitor, or one for graphics/photography, look elsewhere.

Much as Dell’s door-delivery, 3-year warranty and Advanced Exchange guarantee contribute towards peace of mind, keep in mind that this monitor at Rs. 16,000 is a lot pricier than normal 21.5 inch Full-HD monitors. Therefore the target audience for this monitor is a very specific niche, and being an Alienware, it could not have been any other way. For that, we commend this product but suggest that those who are price-sensitive pick a Benq G2220HD monitor instead at half the price.

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