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Old 30-06-2011, 07:22   #1
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Acer S201HL review

Hi, just thought I'd post my thoughts on a monitor that I recently purchased, which I thought was uniquely suited to being an onboard computer display below decks. It is the Acer S201HL, which is a 20" LED-backlit LCD display. I purchased it based on features, price, and the reviews I read online at TigerDirect and Ordered from TigerDirect, it was $119.15 delivered.

The monitor, while a fairly standard budget display, features a few major and minor characteristics that I believe are of use aboard the cruising sailboat. Again, this is a standard monitor, with no real environmental protection and a brightness of only 250 nits or cd/m2, so it is for darkened nav stations only, not the cockpit. However, due to the minimum of heat produced by its LED backlight, it has no vents in the housing. This could reduce the potential for saltwater or humidity intrusion, but also could contribute to overheating. I will evaluate this in future testing aboard ship.

This a very compact and slim 20" display, only approximately 1 inch thick due to its LED backlighting. It has the holes for a standard VESA mount on the back, which would allow it to be mounted on practically any horizontal surface with only a minimum of protrusion.

It has a native resolution of 1600 x 900 pixels; while not full 1080p HD, is certainly a fine enough resolution for most tasks aboard ship, as well as displaying 720p video very well. I find it to have a very good image, both for application purposes, as well as displaying video. I watched several episodes of Arrested Development on Netflix with it and was pleased with the image. Used as a television display, as I discuss below, the color tone is a little light for me, but very watchable. I did not use them, but the Acer has a full set of picture adjustments, as well as some standard presets including Standard, Graphics, and Movies. However, if you're not too particular about the image, the default settings will most likely satisfy you.

On the back, there is of course a connection for power, as well as two video connections: a standard analog VGA connection as well as a DVI-D digital connection. Another feature which is very useful is its HDCP-compliance. This means that with a DVI to HDMI adapter cable, one can plug the monitor into a satellite receiver at the dock (or at sea, for the rich among us) or a Blu-Ray/DVD player and it will serve as a television display. Remember however, you must make separate arrangements for sound. Plumbing the sound from the source directly to a ship stereo is probably a good bet.

Of course, one of the most important considerations aboard ship for most sailing boats is power consumption. Again, due to its LED backlighting, this display only uses 13.5 watts at a typical brightness setting, however I did not verify this independently. At approximately one amp of draw, itís going to be easier to justify those games of Windows Solitare while waiting for a weather window!

Another interesting feature, which I must admit may be a drawback to some, is the separate AC/DC "brick" transformer which is part of the power cable. The brick supplies 19V DC to the back of the monitor, which is the same voltage that many laptops use. For those who would like to get creative with their power system, one could use a single large AC/DC brick for both with some splicing, or one could supply 12V and 19V DC to the nav station for all uses. (On a separate note, does anyone know of a good 12VDC to 19VDC switched mode voltage converter?)

To sum up, the Acer is a quality, value-priced display which offers good performance with low power consumption, as well as being compact and offering features that can be useful aboard the cruising ship.

Sam Milton
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Old 30-06-2011, 12:30   #2
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Re: Acer S201HL review

We bought a Vizio 23" TV a few months back. The Plus points were:
HDMI, VGA, composite input
12v in
VESA 200mm mount (we mounted it with a ram-mount.)

I think the model we got has been discontinued, and the newer ones have built-in network connectivity for Netflix, etc. This comes at a power penalty, however, as they consume more (on paper) then the model we bought. Something like 30 watts vs. 60 ish watts, if I remember correctly.
Here it is on amazon.
So far we have only used it as a monitor attached to a Western Digital Live Hub, and it works great. I am going to try it as a computer monitor this weekend, if I remember to do that.
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Old 07-07-2011, 09:40   #3
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Re: Acer S201HL review

Originally Posted by samrebel View Post
to the nav station for all uses. (On a separate note, does anyone know of a good 12VDC to 19VDC switched mode voltage converter?)
I use these all around the boat to power everything from 24v (they'll work fine w/ 12v as well though). I picked it because of the wide voltate input and completely programmable output (via jumper or USB).

DCDC-USB, Intelligent DC-DC converter with USB interface

They work great. Have them powering the nav station computer, nav station monitor, TV, few USB charging ports, etc. If you get one make sure to get the enclosure, makes for a nice install.

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