Acer B296CL ultra-widescreen LCD monitor
Businesses looking to get a wider view of things should look into this 29in ultra-wide monitor featuring an IPS panel
- Matte, IPS panel
- Height-adjustable stand with screen rotation
- Rich colour output
- Some of the port placements could be better
- Poor speaker
Acer's extra-wide LCD monitor for business users offers crisp picture quality for office apps, vibrant output for photos and video playback, and it comes with a stand that allows it to move up, down, side to side, and pivot. Well worth a look if you're after a new screen.
Price$ 749.00 (AUD)
Acer's 29in ultra-widescreen monitor is part of a new breed of monitors that's slightly different from the norm. Rather than offering a traditional 16:9 aspect ratio, the Acer B296CL offers a wider 21:9 ratio, which not only suits most movies a lot better, it's also more conducive to multitasking.
A native resolution of 2560x1080 is provided by Acer's B296CL, and this is 640 pixels wider than a Full HD (1920x1080) monitor. The extra pixels allow you to see more on the screen at any one time, and this is a great benefit when using applications that need to show lots of information in their window, be it tool palettes or timelines. It also comes in handy when multitasking, because you can line up three almost-A4-sized windows side by side on the screen simultaneously.
Widescreen movies (the ones shot in the anamorphic format) will be displayed more naturally on this screen than on a traditional Full HD monitor, with little to no black bars visible above and below the picture. That said, this monitor has the styling of a monitor that means business, rather than one that can be used for entertainment purposes in the home, and Acer is pitching the product to professionals.
For perfect viewing in an office environment, the screen has a matte finish, and there is only a tiny bezel framing it, so there is no chance of reflections either off the screen or off the frame. To keep things neat, there is a built-in power supply, rather than an external power brick, so all you have to do to give it power is plug in the cable from the wall outlet. There are two HDMI ports, two DisplayPorts (one for input and one for output, so you can connect to a second display from the first display in a daisy-chain), as well as a DVI port, and a USB 3.0 hub with two ports.
The two USB 3.0 ports are located underneath the left side of the monitor, so it can be a little tricky to plug in temporary devices, and we would have preferred they be on the side, or even dropped down to face forwards. You also get a built-in speaker that should not be relied upon for any sort of serious listening. It’s basically there for convenience in case you absolutely have to listen to something and don’t have headphones or external speakers plugged in to your computer.
What we love about Acer's monitor is that it ships with a stand that not only allows for swivelling and height adjustment, but also for pivoting. This means that you can view content in a very tall portrait mode. This is an advantage if you have a lot of information that you want to see on the screen vertically, such as programming code or other masses of text. For the most part, though, it feels off-putting to have a monitor in this orientation, and it can lead to a neck cramp depending on how you sit. It could be used for other things, though, such as a display to show multiple views from a surveillance system.
We found the height-adjustable stand to be easy to assemble, as it simply fit and clicked into place at the rear of the monitor, and then the base was attached to the stand using the self-contained screw — no tools were needed. Rotating the screen 90 degrees to get into portrait mode requires that you tilt the screen back a little along the way, otherwise it will hit the base. You'll have to watch out for the cables while you make this movement.
Since the screen doesn't have a sensor built into it, you will have to rotate your operating system manually. In Windows 8, simply go into the Display settings and select 'Portrait' from the Orientation drop-down box. It can be a disorienting experience to change the software setting after you have made the physical adjustment, so our advice is to make the software change before the physical rotation takes place.
The other great thing about the stand is that it can keep the monitor sitting at an elevated level off the desk that's just high enough to clear a typical 15.6in laptop. If you want to plug this monitor in to your laptop in a desktop setting, then you can keep the laptop in front of the screen and still see the entire screen, even while the laptop's screen is up. With other monitors that have lower, non-height-adjustable stands (such as LG's 29UM65), you have to keep the laptop slightly towards the side and plug in an external keyboard in order to type comfortably. With this monitor, you can continue to use the laptop's keyboard.
The quality of the screen is high thanks to the use of an IPS (in-plane switching) panel, so whether you have the screen sitting horizontally or in portrait orientation, its uniformity will be consistent throughout. We didn't have to adjust the tilt in either orientation in order for pictures to appear clearly and with all details showing. Colour reproduction was vivid, black was deep, the screen was very bright overall, and the contrast in images and movies ensured that all necessary details were present.
An easy on-screen menu can be accessed from the buttons at the front of the screen, and these have all the usual picture quality settings, preset screen modes, as well as an ‘eco’ mode that dims the brightness level for you so you don’t have to go fiddling in the picture settings. You also get options for picture-in-picture, and split-screen modes, though the split-screen mode skewed the picture and made it unusable for us.
Its picture quality, coupled with the versatile stand and connectivity options make the B296CL a worthy option for office use, and especially for those of you who want to add a wider view to your desktop and improve your multitasking and general office application usage.
Join the PC World newsletter!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Huawei P10 smartphone review
- 2 Huawei P10 Plus phone: Full, in-depth review
- 3 Motorola Moto G5 smartphone review
- 4 Oppo A57 phone: full, in-depth review
- 5 Moto G5 Plus phone: full, in-depth review
Latest News Articles
- Dell's luscious new 4K monitor is bold, bright, and HDR-infused
- Samsung's 49-inch mega-wide display may displace multi-monitor setups
- More high-end GPUs are now compatible with Dell's 8K monitor
- Dell's wild 8K monitor goes on sale with a just-as-stunning price tag
- LG's 4K HDR monitor gets a price and release date, heralding a new era for PC displays
PCW Evaluation Team
A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.
I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.
As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.
I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.
Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!
For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.
- LG 2017 OLED TV range full review: W7 Signature Wallpaper, G7, E7 and C7 UHD TVs
- Asus ROG Strix Z270F Gaming motherboard review
- The simple RAM buying guide
- What's the difference between an Intel Core i3, i5 and i7?
- Laser vs. inkjet printers: which is better?
- FTSocial Media Executive / Specialist (Facebook) - online gamblingNSW
- FTService Delivery Manager - Telecommunications InfrastructureNSW
- TPMobile Application DeveloperVIC
- FTIT Security ConsultantNSW
- FTBusiness AnalystACT
- FTService Implementation Manager BIMNSW
- CCImplementation Manager/PlannerQLD
- TPDigital ProducerVIC
- FT.Net DeveloperNSW
- FTSolution Architect - NetworksWA
- FTSplunk Software Developer | 6mth ContractVIC
- CCSenior Systems Engineer - WintelNSW
- TPImplementation Planner | P90 |$1300/dayQLD
- CCImplementation Manager/PlannerVIC
- FTTest AnalystACT
- FTIT Support Level 1 and 2NSW
- TPAEM DeveloperNSW
- FTTechnical Solution ArchitectSA
- TPDigital Business AnalystNSW
- FTEnterprise ArchitectVIC
- TPBusiness AnalystVIC
- FTNV1 Cleared Software Configuration Engineer - Defence Projects - North Ryde areaNSW
- FTSenior Business Analyst, Wealth ManagementNSW
- FTFull Stack DeveloperNSW
- CCSenior Network Architect - CCIEVIC