Like the rest of the hardware market, innovation in monitors has rather plateaued. The question is how do you improve on a peripheral which, even in its current form factor, has been almost 20 years in the making?
While the consumer market is gradually warming to 4K and ultra-widescreen formats and to larger sizes, it is the business sector that could see some interesting developments.
The most intriguing one has been the slow rise of standalone, desk-bound touchscreen monitors, and one of the latest offerings, the HannsG HT225 HPB, caught our attention because of its price and the features it offers.
It costs as little as £185 (around $220, AU$285) which is roughly twice what you'd expect from a monitor with a 21.5-inch diagonal and a full HD resolution, but there's more than enough here to justify the price premium.
What struck us when we pulled this monitor out of the box was how compact it is for a 21.5-inch display. There are two reasons for that.
Firstly, it has a super-thin bezel, certainly the tiniest we've seen on a display at this price. Secondly, it has a kickstand rather than a traditional socle-stand combination.
Opting for the former makes it sleeker but also removes the option of positioning the display in portrait mode. A stand mechanism like the one used by AOC's E1759FWU, which is slightly smaller and lighter, would have been a better alternative.
With a tilt range of between 15 and 70 degrees, the HT225 accommodates a number of potential scenarios from traditional monitor usage, through to touch typing and standard touchscreen usage. Alternatively, the monitor can be laid completely flat on the table.
Since it has a VESA mount, you can also hang it on the wall and because of its thin bezel, side-by-side touch monitors are a realistic proposition.
The screen is built using a scratch resistant edge-to-edge glass overlay (One Glass Solution), one which hits 7H on Mohs scale of mineral hardness, the same as quartz.
Hannspree opted for projected capacitive (or PCAP) touch technology for the display which allows for up to 10 simultaneous touch points at any time. That allows for an experience closer to touch typing for those who want to try it, or 10 people can collaborate, one finger at a time.
It is also the only monitor that we've reviewed recently that has all the major connectors. From the legacy VGA to DVI, HDMI, and surprise, surprise, DisplayPort, which means that you should be able to use it with almost all recent laptops without a converter.
Despite the presence of a USB upstream port, there is no USB port to connect accessories. More importantly, you won't be able to connect a dongle like the Google Chromecast without an external power source.
Instead that port connects to the master computer to bring the touchscreen functionality alive. The other remaining port is an audio line-in which complements the twin 2W speakers on-board. These are good enough for casual audio but won't rock your world.
In use, the monitor shone – literally. The fact that it's covered with a 0.7mm sheet of glass means there's some significant glare, although this can be mitigated by tweaking the screen via the onscreen display and the use of anti-glare solution.
Hannspree rates the monitor with a 250cd/m2 brightness, a 7ms response time and a contrast ratio of 1000:1, which is roughly what you'd expect from an entry-level full HD monitor.
Adding the overlay glass made the screen look a bit duller with washed out colours but that was expected. Viewing angles are also slightly worse than expected despite a claimed angle of 178 degrees along both axes.
Extra brownie points are given for the capacitive touch buttons in lieu of physical ones – that's very much a matter of personal taste, but we appreciated them. The OSD is pretty straightforward and error-proof with adequate controls for the essential features of the HT225.
Good all-rounders are rare in the monitor world but the Hannspree HT225 HPB provides an extremely interesting option for desk-side interactive digital signage.
It offers a full 10-finger touch capability coupled with a hardened, scratch-resistant screen to endure extensive usage, and a stand that makes touch feel more intuitive.
It has a multitude of ports including a DisplayPort, a rarity at this price. Add in a pair of speakers and a three-year warranty and you've got a pretty compelling touch display for most business needs.
Above all though, the display quality and the touchscreen work quite well together – so this monitor should be high on your list if you're looking for a touch-enabled display.
It is not the cheapest touchscreen monitor on the market – Iiyama's Prolite T2252 is around a tenner cheaper – but this HannsG offering is a far more versatile option.