A big screen for small money. It's what your PC deserves. Happily, you can now give it just that. Prices of flat panel monitors have fallen precipitously over the past two years.
Consequently, the best 24-inch monitors are now the sweet spot in terms of value for money. 24-inch budget screens can be often be had on-special for well under £150. Low cost screens tend to use cheapo TN panel technology, of course. But one or two affordable 24-inch monitors based on higher quality LCD panels have recently become available, too.
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Broaden your horizons a little further and you'll find 24-inch screens to suit every need and budget. Screens purpose built for gaming and movies, screens for editing photos, even screens that support stereoscopic 3D. Here's TechRadar's guide to the ten best 24-inch monitors money can buy.
1. BenQ EW2420 - £158
An affordable 24-inch monitor usually means cheap TN panel technology. But not any more. With the launch of this segment-busting BenQ 24 incher, everyone else is playing catchup. The EW2420's secret weapon is VA LCD technology. VA panels offer better contrast, viewing angles and colours than the TN technology normally found at this price. Admittedly, we have seen better VA panels than this. But only for twice the price. This might just be the best all round monitor on the market.
2. BenQ V2410T - £162
This sleek and slinky looking 24-inch monitor has been slightly undone by the arrival of its VA-powered sibling, the BenQ EW2420. However, despite making do with a relatively dowdy TN LCD panel, the V2410T still has plenty going for it. For starters, the TN tech combined with an LED backlight means this is a great gaming monitor with excellent pixel response. Unusually for such an affordable monitor, it also has a proper stand with full adjustability rather than a cheap tilt-only hinge.
3. Viewsonic VG2427WM - £179
When it comes to sub-£200 24-inch monitors, some specifications are par for the course. A TN panel with a full-HD resolution of 1,920 x 1,080, for instance, is absolutely bog standard. Static contrast around the 1,000:1 mark, brightness of 300cd/m2 and single-digit pixel response are also routine. The fact that Viewsonic's VG2427WM ticks all those boxes is not therefore much of an advantage. What it does have and most others lack, however, is a fully adjustable stand.
4. Asus 24T1E - £180
Combining a PC monitor and a TV in a single device is hardly rocket science. But Asus's 24T1E might just deserve a place on your desktop launchpad. For starters, it's much cheaper than most other 24-inch monitor-TV combos. In fact, with the likes of Ebuyer now flogging it for as little as £180, it's similarly priced to many standard 24-inch screens. OK, the TV tuner is standard definition rather than HD. But the screen itself is the real HD deal and offers decent visuals for a TN panel.
5. Iiyama ProLite E2472HD - £180
A year ago or so, any 24-inch monitor offering a full-HD resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 pixels for around £180 would have seemed positively bargainous. Today, that price puts Iiyama's 24-inch effort towards the top of the pile. That's a bit of a problem for a monitor with a plain old TN LCD panel. Still, you do get an LED backlight and therefore punchy, vibrant visuals. What's more, the full range of input options that includes HDMI, DVI and VGA ensures compatibility with all kinds of devices.
6. AOC 2434PW - £182
How much are you willing to pay for style? If you're happy to pony up a little extra, the AOC 2434PW might just be for you. In most regards, it's a pretty ordinary 24-inch PC monitor. It has a TN panel and a native resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 pixels. Likewise, there's no funky LED backlight technology here. Instead you get a standard CCFL unit. However, this is one of the most stylish and accurately assembled monitors available at this end of the market.
7. Acer S243HL - £240
When it comes to PC monitors, combining style and substance typically comes at a price. Acer's new 24-inch S243HL is certainly a little more expensive than the competition. In return, you get an avant-garde asymmetric design complete with the screen controls and video inputs neatly integrated into the stand. Acer has also given this upmarket 24 incher and LED backlight, which helps to boost image quality above the norm and just about justifies the price.
8. Acer GD245HQ - £289
Stereoscopic 3D is literally the hottest display technology of the moment. Everything from cinema, to Blu-ray and HDTV is currently being revolutionised by eye-popping 3D visuals. Ensuring the PC doesn't feel left out is Acer's 3D-capable 24-inch monitor. OK, it's a lot more expensive than the non-3D competition. And you'll need some 3D specs to go with it. But with the right games, the results are spectacular. What's more, the high refresh is a boon in 2D mode, too.
9. Samsung SyncMaster FX2490HD - £381
When is a PC monitor more than just a PC monitor? Answer: When it's Samsung's new PC-display-come-HDTV combo. Indeed, in design terms this SyncMaster is dead ringer for a high end Samsung HDTV. It also packs some pretty decent chops as a PC monitor thanks to an LED backlight and 1,920 x 1,080 pixel grid. In that context, it's the HDTV half of the equation that let's the side down. The integrated TV tuner is of standard definition rather than high definition specification.
10. Eizo ColorEdge CG245W - £1,756
Nearly £2,000 for any PC monitor is a big ask. But nigh on two grand foir a 24 incher? Just what is Eizo thinking? Needless to say, this is no proletarian panel. It has a very high quality IPS LCD panel and offers a 98% Adobe RGB colour gamut. But the really fancy bit is the calibration kit integrated into the screen bezel. It operates a little like a windscreen wiper, sweeping across the screen surface. Anywho, the upshot is that if you need outstanding accuracy, the CG245W might just be worth it.