LED-based monitors actually worth their asking price is a recent trend I can easily get behind. Displays such as the Dell S2330MX and the Samsung S23A550H are LED-based, low-priced, and, when push comes to shove, are ultimately worth their low prices.
The HP x2301 is the latest in recent monitor releases following the same thin design paradigm, but does it follow the high-quality trend as well?
Design and features
Removing the specs and features sticker from the top bezel of the HP x2301 revealed quite a handsome monitor, with a glossy piano-black bezel and wide, stylish foot stand. The black bezel measures 0.75 inch wide, but shifts into metallic silver at the bezel's base, where a cylindrical shaft connects the foot stand to the neck of the display. The stand measures 10.1 inches wide by 5.5 inches deep and provides ample stability when the monitor is knocked from the sides, delivering the most stationary LED-based monitor we've yet seen. The foot stand is covered by a cool-looking, green-tinted transparent plate.
The monitor's panel is nearly as thin as the Dell S2330MX's we recently reviewed, making it the third thinnest monitor we've seen, behind the aforementioned Dell and the thinnest of all, the LG Flatron E2290. The glossy motif established in the bezel carries over to the screen, which could double as a dark mirror when powered off.
On top of the foot stand toward the front are five buttons including a power button, which glows with turquoise light. To the left of the power button are, from right to left, the OK button, source button, preset shortcut, and main OSD menu. The source and shortcut buttons also double as up and down navigation buttons. Speaking of which, with the inclusion of the OK button, navigating the OSD is simple, clear, and direct, with a very short learning curve.
The menu has your usual expected menagerie of options, including brightness, contrast, sharpness, RGB color controls, and color temperature options including 5000K, 6500K, and 9200K. Four presets tailored to movies, photo, gaming, and text are featured, as well as a custom preset that allows you to adjust red, green, and blue to your heart's, or at least your eye's, content.
The panel tilts back 10 degrees, but it includes no other ergonomic options; that's not at all surprising for a monitor in its price range. The back of the foot stand houses the old guard of connection options, including VGA, DVI, and HDMI, all of which thankfully face back, making accessing them a piece of cake.
Build quality is about on par with most 23-inch LED-based monitors, feeling somewhat flimsy at the top of the panel, but stronger toward the bottom where the foot stand and panel meet.
|Design and feature highlights|
|Connectivity||VGA, DVI, HDMI|
|Ergonomic options||10-degree back tilt|
|VESA wall-mount support||No|
|Included video cables||DVI, DVI-to-HDMI adapter|
|Number of presets||5|
|Picture options||Brightness, Contrast|
|Color controls||RGB and 2 color temperature options|
We tested the 23-inch HP x2301 through its DVI input, connected to a Windows Vista PC, using our own DVI cable. The display posted a composite score of 89 on CNET Labs' DisplayMate-based performance tests.
The screen is extremely glossy and reflective with seemingly no antiglare coating. Some may prefer the glossiness, though, as it increases the perceived contrast; however, with the monitor turned off, it could easily double as a mirror.
DisplayMate: The HP x2301 visibly displayed dark gray down to a low level of 2 and light gray was visible to the not-quite-as-high-as-we're-accustomed-but-still-good level of 252. Judging from these findings, the display would likely not have much trouble displaying dark detail or confuse white with light colors.
Color performance overall was good, but it was plagued by the nearly impossible-to-escape green hue problem that crops up on many monitors during the color-tracking test. Dialing the green down to 234 helped a lot, but it was still noticeable.
Backlight bleeding was prevalent along the middle bottom and top edges of the screen as well as along the left edge.
Text: It's difficult screw up text on a modern monitor. So we look not only at the text itself, but also the effect of black text on a white background, which can sometimes cause a weird yellowish glow to emanate around the text. On HP x2301, black text on white looked clear, but with a slight tinge of green around it. Also, fonts were clearly visible down to a 6.8-point size.
Movies: We tested the HP x2301 using the Blu-ray version of "Avatar." Sitting right next to the better-performing Samsung PX2370, the x2301's green push was easily noticeable but not to an egregious extent.