The Best Deals on iPods  
 
 

Acer’s mixed reality Windows headset paves the way for a cheaper VR future

Nathan Spendelow

10 hours 36 min ago
Price when reviewed 
275

Virtual reality tech is expensive. Microsoft’s own mixed reality headset - HoloLens, is yours for just over £3,000 after all. VR has been sitting at the enthusiast level of necessity for far too long, but Acer says those days of parting with oodles of cash to enjoy a proper VR experience are a thing of the past.

READ NEXT: Best VR headset

Acer’s first stab at a proper VR headset is an interesting one. Properly demoed for the first time at Acer’s annual Global Press Conference in New York, it undercuts most VR headsets by a considerable margin. It’s also supported by the chaps at Windows too, as part of its ‘Mixed Reality’ umbrella.

Acer VR headset review: Price, release date and competition

Now that we’ve got some proper hands-on time with it, we also know how much Acer’s virtual reality headset will cost, and when we can pick one up. The Acer Windows Mixed Reality HMD Development Edition (yep, that’s its full title) will release Holiday 2017 for just $299. That works out at around £275.

Acer’s competition? That’ll be all those other firms signed on to Microsoft’s mixed reality Windows headsets. That’s five in total: Dell, Asus, Lenovo, HP and Asus. While news on the other four has been a little light on the ground, Acer has plenty on offer to make its own headset stand out from the crowd.

It’s also up against those already well-established VR headset firms. There’s HTC’s Vive, which will set you back £689 and the Oculus Rift, priced just shy of £400. Of course, there’s also Samsung’s mobile-friendly Gear VR headset to consider too, at just £50.

Acer VR headset review: Design, key features and first impressions

Now, the term: ‘Mixed Reality’ is hardly well-defined. Acer says it’s the process of interacting with virtual objects as if they were physical, although there isn’t exactly a go-to definition. The differences between mixed reality and virtual reality? Well, there isn’t any so far as I can tell.

Acer’s headset is lightweight, and snaps nicely around my overly-sized head. It wasn’t noticeably uncomfortable over my glasses either thanks to its roomy interior, something Oculus can definitely learn from. It does feel a mite cheap, thanks to its overly blue plastic exterior, although I’m sure this was a cost (and possibly weight) saving exercise on Acer’s part.

As far as I can tell, it doesn’t do a whole lot different to its competition. You can pretend you’re in a remote location (Machu Pichu looks lovely this time of year) and view 360-degree footage you’ve taken on your recent skiing trip. But, it does let you multi-task - browsing the internet, looking through your emails and such.

The best thing, though? It doesn’t require any sensors placed around the room for it to be picked up. It works entirely through a combination of accelerometers and gyroscopes built into the headset itself.

It’ll also pair seamlessly with the other Windows-branded VR headsets on offer, too. As all of them use Windows 10 as its base operating system, you’ll be able Skype or play VR games with your friends, regardless of which Windows mixed reality device they own. And, all Windows 10 apps will be available through the headset on launch.

Now, there’s no word yet on minimum spec requirements, however. I was running my demo unit on Acer’s newest Predator Helios 300 laptop, with GTX 1060 graphics and 16GB of RAM. Acer did say that a Windows update later in the year will allow for integrated graphics devices to run it, so I doubt it’ll be an overly-demanding headset come launch.

Acer VR headset review: Early verdict

Acer’s Windows Mixed Reality HMD Development Edition headset may be a mouthful, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction. I might be jumping the gun a little - other devices in Microsoft’s mixed reality umbrella haven’t been demoed yet - but I’m completely sold on this interconnected approach to virtual reality.

It may not be as technically impressive as Microsoft’s own HoloLens headset, and doesn’t completely map your living room either, but at 10% of the cost for dev units, these complaints should be shrugged off.

Its launch is still a long way off, but I can see Acer’s VR headset (along with those other Windows-labelled devices) paving the way for the future of virtual reality. Keep that cost down, and it’ll be a best seller.

Stay tuned for my full review in the very near future.

Posted on 27 April 2017 | 4:29 pm

 

Best dehumidifiers: The best home dehumidifiers to buy

Jodie Dewberry

1 day 15 hours ago
Best dehumidifiers

A humid home is a breeding ground for all sorts of allergens and bacteria. Dust mites, mould and other nasties thrive in areas of high humidity, and your health isn’t going to benefit from their presence. As well as triggering allergies and other chronic conditions such as asthma, skin irritations and breathing difficulties, these bacteria can cause damp stains, dark spots and other – sometimes irreversible – damage to your home.

The best way to combat the intrusion of bacteria and protect yourself against allergens is with a dehumidifier. It removes the moisture from the air, making it difficult, near-impossible for the bacteria to stick around in your house. As well as protecting your health and reducing any uncomfortable allergy symptoms, a dehumidifier will keep your walls, furniture and clothing looking and smelling as fresh as can be.

Read on to discover the answers to some common dehumidifier questions and find out what you need to look for when buying one. Jump directly to the bottom of the page to find out our pick of the best dehumidifiers to buy. 

How to buy the best dehumidifier for you

Are all dehumidifiers the same?

Even though all dehumidifiers do the same job – removing excess moisture from the air – there are two different types. The first, and generally the larger of the two, is a refrigerant (or compressor) dehumidifier, which works much in the same way as your kitchen fridge. These models draw in air, which cools and condenses when it hits a metal plate inside. Desiccant dehumidifiers, on the other hand, absorb water directly from the air using a desiccant material.

While refrigerant dehumidifiers work best in warmer environments, desiccant models may be a better option for cooler rooms such as an attic or garage.  

What size dehumidifier do I need?

Dehumidifiers come in different capacities (measured by the tank capacity and how much moisture they can remove in a 24-hour period), so the size you need will depend on the amount of moisture in your home. Although you could use a hygrometer to measure this, it isn’t necessary; you can usually choose the right capacity by looking at the size of the room, how many people live there, and how much time you spend at home.

A capacity of around 5-10 litres should be plenty for a small room in the average UK home. If, however, you want to buy a dehumidifier for a larger room that you use frequently – or one that you spend a lot of time in – you might find you need a larger capacity of around 10-20 litres. If you only have a small amount of damp in one area, such as a wardrobe or door, a mini-dehumidifier should do the job.

Are dehumidifiers noisy?

Finding a quiet dehumidifier used to be a challenge, but there are now many near-silent options on the market. Many have been designed to fit into your home and get to work in the most discreet way possible, so they won’t interfere with your sleep, work or everyday family life.

How much will it cost to run my dehumidifier?

Although you won’t find much difference in the upfront cost of a compressor dehumidifier versus a desiccant dehumidifier, the same isn’t always true of the running costs. A desiccant dehumidifier uses more energy than a refrigerant model, and therefore costs more to run, but can extract moisture up to four times quicker, so you won’t have to leave it running as long. This also makes it a great option for anyone who doesn’t spend much time at home.

The best dehumidifiers to buy

1. Ebac 3650e 18L Dehumidifier: An all-rounder with some useful extra features

Price when reviewed: £199


Ebac 3650e High Performance dehumidifier

If you want a dehumidifier that can do it all and then some, look no further than Ebac. Although its models aren’t the most attractive of the bunch – and don’t feel the most robust, for that matter – their functionality is hard to beat. Ebac has a range of unique and patented technologies to its name, including Smart Control, a type of auto-shutoff that can halve your running costs, and Intelligent Defrost, which will save you time on unnecessary defrosting.

Ebac dehumidifiers are made in the UK, which means they’re designed for optimal performance in the UK climate and work at temperatures as low as 3°C. The newest 3650e model (also available in 15L) also comes with a new laundry drying mode, which can be set for 2, 4 or 8 hours, and an air pollen mode to clean and purify the air – both of which will be appreciated by city-dwellers and flat-owners alike.

Key specs: Capacity 18L; Extraction rate 15L; Size 51 x 33 x 27cm; Weight 13kg.


 

2. Meaco Small Home Dehumidifier: Best for flats and smaller homes

Price when reviewed: £115


Meaco small home dehumidifier

Meaco’s Small Home Dehumidifier is big enough to combat mould and moisture problems in flats and smaller houses, but compact enough to do so without being an unnecessary eyesore. It does everything you need it to and is compact enough to easily move from room to room. It also comes with an added laundry mode – something that smaller models often lack – to speed up indoor laundry drying.  

Meaco proves that buying a smaller product doesn’t have to mean downsizing on functionality. The Small Home Dehumidifier comes with some useful features that put the user first, including a well-designed control panel that makes setup simple, and an automatic shut-off function to avoid spillage from overfilling. Although it isn't the quietest of dehumidifiers – and probably just a little too loud to leave on overnight in a bedroom – it’s still quieter than most compressor models thanks to the well-thought-out positioning of the fan.

Key specs: Capacity 15L; Extraction rate 15L; Size 48 x 30 x 19cm; Weight 8.7kg.

3. De’Longhi DNC65 Dehumidifier: An all-in-one solution to dehumidify and cleanse

Price when reviewed: £132


De'Longhi DNC65 dehumidifier

The DNC65 is one of the most versatile dehumidifiers around. As well as coming with one of the widest operating temperature ranges (it works from 1 to 35°C), it has three power levels to offer maximum control. The De’Longhi DNC65 doesn’t just remove unwanted moisture from the air, but has also been designed to clean the air it leaves behind. This is done through the anti-bacterial filter and built-in ioniser, which emits negative ions to purify the air, coupled with a swing function to optimise air distribution.

Although the De’Longhi DNC65 offers more than most, it underperforms in one key area: emptying the tank. If you’re looking for a dehumidifier that simply removes moisture with minimal time and effort, this probably isn’t the one for you. If, however, you want a dehumidifier that makes your home as healthy as possible then the DNC65 is well worth a look.

Key specs: Capacity 6L; Extraction rate 2L; Size 48 x 32.5 x 19cm; Weight 5.5kg.


4. Vax DCS1V1EP 10L Power Extract Dehumidifier

Price when reviewed: £127


Vax DCS1V1EP power extract dehumidifier

The Vax Power Extract dehumidifier is one of the more compact models on the market, meaning it will fit easily into most homes. It does exactly what the name suggests, offering powerful extraction to combat all kinds of mould, mildew and other moisture damage. The Smart Sensor indicator and digital display, which provide feedback on the room’s moisture and humidity level, are a nice added touch, as is the automatic fan control, which adjusts the speed of the fan to maintain a consistent humidity level.

Although the Power Extract comes with an automatic switch-off function, so you don’t have to worry about over-spillage, you’ll need to use the drainage tube to make the most of the 10L extraction rate because the tank can hold only 2.2 litres. The drainage tube is included, but its short length makes it tricky to use. Similarly, the power cable lead is on the short side, so it isn't the easiest dehumidifier to move around.

Key specs: Capacity 2.2L; Extraction rate 10L; Size 24 x 28 x 46cm; Weight 9kg.

 

5. Duronic DH05 Mini Dehumidifier: Best for cupboards and small rooms

Price when reviewed: £30


Duronic DH05 mini compact dehumidifier

For smaller areas of damp and moisture damage, a mini-dehumidifier may be all you need. The Duronic DH05 is small enough to fit into cupboards, wardrobes and other nooks and crannies, but big enough to tackle visible signs of moisture, such as mould and mildew. With a 500ml capacity and automatic switch-off, it’s hard to beat for smaller areas of damp that need only a little bit of attention.

Even though the Duronic comes in at a much lower price than most of the dehumidifiers on the market, it doesn’t compromise on basic performance. It’s a lightweight, compact model that does its job and not much else – it certainly isn't going to solve larger humidity problems – but it's more than adequate as a quick solution to niggly areas of damp. It’s near-silent too, so it’s well suited to bedrooms where a larger dehumidifier may be too noisy to leave running overnight.

Key specs: Capacity 500ml; Extraction rate 250ml; Size 15.4 x 13 x 22cm; Weight 1.2kg.

 

 

Posted on 26 April 2017 | 10:45 am

 

Best high chairs: The best high chairs from £10 to £200

Steven East

1 day 18 hours ago

High chairs visually mark parenthood like nothing else – suddenly, the neat symmetry of your dining table is disrupted by incongruous infant contraptions that spell the end of romantic meals for two.

But they're also the start of a joyous period of social eating, when your children sit unaided, and can join you at the table to share the meals of the day. There’s no more holding your baby on your lap while you eat; no more baby bouncer taking up room and tripping you up on the floor. This is the start of your children fitting into your family life just like mini-adults – albeit very, very messy ones.

It’s safe to say that your kids will love their new role at the head of the dining table, and so will you – as long as you choose the right high chair. Attempting to live without one would be near-madness, so it's worth spending a bit of time finding the one that best fits your family's needs. Here we round up the best high chairs from £10 to £200, and run you through everything you need to know to help you pick the right one for you and your baby.

How to pick the right high chair for you

What types of high chair are there?

There are three basic types of high chair available:

  1. The stand-alone highchair: This is the most popular, traditional and adaptable type. It will take the place of one of your dining chairs, so you may need to think about where you'll put that. Most models will come with a tray, which can be removed when the child is old (and co-ordinated) enough to eat off the table. More expensive models can change with your child's development. For instance, there are newborn mattress attachments, which can be put on the base and used as a cot before they can sit at the table; infant fittings for when the child can sit up on their own; and then toddler fittings for when they can climb into them on their own. 
  2. The chair-mounted booster seat: This straps onto your dining chair, so you'll need to check they work together. This will save you from having to find a place for your dining chair, and some chair-mounted seats can even double as floor seats for infants, saving you more space and money.
  3. The table-clamped chair: These literally clamp on to your table with a material chair hanging down from the frame. They're space-efficient and great for taking on trips since most pack into a tiny space.

How long will a high chair last for?

It's worth bearing in mind that children can eat on adult chairs from around two years (and many will be eager to do so), so if you begin weaning at six months, then that's just a year and a half's usage. Not anywhere near as long as you'd hope to get from a buggy, so the top-end prices can be hard to justify. All high chairs will take children up to three years, and some stand-alone highchairs can seat your kids up to adulthood, but you – and they – may want to get an adult chair just like the rest of you long before that.

What essential features should I look out for?

Children are messy when they start eating – they've never done it before – so a good wide tray is useful for the first few months to prevent your painstakingly created baby-food ending up on the floor in a few seconds. They quickly get the hang of it and you can then whip off any tray (if it comes off – see the reviews below for details), leaving them to join you eating on the table itself. It's worth noting that most table-clamped chairs don't have trays and, of course, they'll be gaps between your baby and the table so most food will fall on their lap and then onto the floor. All the chairs can be cleaned with a cloth and antiseptic spray.

Can I get a high chair that doubles as a baby bouncer?

Some of the most expensive high chairs will be multi-use "systems", claiming that they'll save you money as you won't have to buy bouncers, floor seats, and so on. This is partly true, but generally they'll be less flexible around the house than having a few different items. And do you really want to carry an ungainly chair up the stairs while caring for a baby, rather than just carry your baby up the stairs to a separate bouncer in their bedroom?

How much do I need to spend?

As with most baby-related gear, the sky’s the limit. You don’t have to spend megabucks, though. Prices range from Ikea's excellent £13 metal-and-plastic high chair, all the way up to £200 for Evomove's Nomi system, and all have their benefits for different families. If you’re not sure which suits you best, then have a read through our bite-sized reviews below.

The best high chairs to buy from £10

1. Ikea Antilop: The best high chair on a budget

Price when reviewed: £13

Alongside Mothercare's similar-looking highchair, this is probably the most-seen highchair at the table, and even more so at restaurants. Why? It's cheap, functional, comfortable and easy to clean. So what's not to like? Well, not much really – it's certainly easier to assemble than many Ikea products. The chair comes in one piece and you can then clip on the tray if needed; the legs pop in to the seat.

The Antilop tray is narrow at the sides – as all highchairs aim to minimise space, it won't catch morsels dropped at 90 degrees to the table – unlike Mothercare's Fruit Salad high chair, which has a wider side-tray. But the Antilop tray can be removed so your child can join you at the table for the few months before they start sitting on a grown-up chair. For £6, it's worth adding the Pyttig supporting cushion to keep your baby snug when they've just started eating.

The Antilop's simple shape means that all-important cleanability is excellent and removing the legs makes it pretty easy to take on trips too.

Key features – Age range: six months – three years; Weight: 2.8kg; Other: three-point strap; detachable tray; one colour option.

Buy the Ikea Antilop now

2. Mountain Buggy Pod Portable Highchair: The best clip-on high chair for travel

Price when reviewed: £45

There are several table-clamping highchairs on the market, with not much to choose between them in terms of functionality and quality. But Mountain Buggy's model is particularly sturdy and simple. The clamps swivel so you can pop it in its tiny 34 x 31 x 4cm bag. Its tough material is easy to clean and will happily be scrubbed with washing-up liquid without damaging its look. The great thing is that from six months you can have your child right at the table with you.

A downside is that there's no tray and so food can either be dropped in the gap between them and the table or over the sides; if you have a carpeted floor, it isn't a great choice. But it takes up hardly any space, looks smart and kids love swinging in it while they wait for you to get their dinner ready.

Key features – Age range: six months – three years; Weight: 1kg; Other: three-point harness; fits in carry bag; three colour options.

3. BabyBjorn High Chair: The best for simple functional style

Price when reviewed: £155

One thing that sticks out with this chair is that there are no straps for your child. But anxious parents should have no fear. The attached tray swings up and snaps rather like the bar in a fairground waltzer to create a safe restraint for baby.

This tight fit also ensures that food rarely falls between them and the tray. The tray can't be removed, so they won't be able to sit right at the table, but for most parents, this is the point at which they can start sitting on an adult chair anyway. The fold-down tray also means you don't have to lift your child as high to put them in, something you become very grateful for after a few months. It's a minimal, almost space-age design and folds down to 25cms thick; plus the clean lines make it very easy to wipe down.

Key features – Age range: six months – three years; Weight: 5kg; Other: no harness required; fold-down tray for easy access; folds to 25cm wide; two colour options.

4. Stokke Tripp Trapp: The best high chair for long-term use

Price when reviewed: £169

This is a brilliant design solution from – where else – Scandanavia. And it's tried and tested, having been invented in 1972 by Norwegian Peter Opsvik. With optional extras, you can fit your newborn in a cosy little bed (£75) before they go into the toddler seat (£37), and finally get to climb up and use the chair on their own from around two years.

The chair will fit in with most dining tables with the choice of colours on offer. It sits at the high end of the market (although the extras are half the price of the Evomove Nomi) so you'd expect quality; these chairs last very well, born out by eBay resale values approaching £100. They're also fully adjustable, so it will grow with your child into adulthood, unless you can get them out of the house before then.

Key features – Age range: newborn – teenager; Weight: 6kg; Other: three different seat fittings; fully adjustable; 12 colour options.

5. Evomove Nomi: The best luxury high-chair system

Price when reviewed: £200

The Nomi won the 2017 Mother & Baby Gold award and it's easy to see why. Like other top-end models, the clever design uses its base as a unit upon which you can connect different (and pricey) attachments for your child, from the £119.99 Nomi Baby mattress for newborns, to the £39.99 Nomi Mini toddler's seat, and then to the included child's high chair, with all the style of a designer bar stool.

Yes, it's expensive, and when you add in the mattress and toddler seat you're topping £300, so this is only an option if you have the money for this level of functionality and style. The baby mattress is an impressive new development, though, allowing you to have your newborn with you as you chop and peel in the kitchen – rather than being in a bouncer on the table, or in a front carrier where they're happy but also obscuring your view of your preparation.

Key features – Age range: newborn – teenager; Weight: 5kg; Other: three different seat fittings; fully adjustable; five seat positions; four frame colour options.

Buy the Evomove Nomi from Evomove.com

6. Bumbo Multi Seat: Super-flexible and super-affordable

Price when reviewed: £50

This is a innovative solution, since it's affordable, can fit on one of your dining room chairs, and even be used as a floor seat before they're crawling. It comes with a clever tray, which is stored at the rear of the seat and can be clipped in when needed at the front. This seat should get your baby up to the level of the table, allowing them to join in at dinner times.

The small tray – which won't catch all of the mess from your baby, so you'll need something to catch any spills over carpet – can be left at the back, so the baby can use the table just like the rest of the family. It's a cinch to lift them up onto the chair for eating times, and the neat straps that run behind and under the chair spring back in to the chair body like a seat belt to keep things tidy. A very neat and well-thought-out solution.

Key features – Age range: six months – three years; Weight: 1.9kg; Other: doubles as floor seat; uses existing dining chair; tray can be stored behind seat; five colour options.

Posted on 25 April 2017 | 11:45 am

 

Star Wars Battlefront 2: Six things you need to know, including release date and single-player details

Nathan Spendelow

2 days 17 hours ago

Star Wars Battlefront 2 is coming. Announced at this year’s Star Wars Celebration in Orlando, EA’s sci-fi-themed shooter sequel will soon be here, but what new goodies does it bring to the table, and does it look to improve on the original’s mistakes?

For starters, there’s a proper single-player campaign this time around. A welcome inclusion considering that the original Battlefront reboot was multiplayer only, this year we’re getting a fully fleshed-out campaign, putting you in the shoes of an Imperial soldier. It’s good being bad.

READ NEXT: Call of Duty 2017 heads to World War 2

There’s some content from the next film in the Skywalker saga, too. If you preorder, you get exclusive Kylo Ren and Rey-themed looks. Obviously, we don’t quite know what that looks like yet, but expect more details in the coming months.

If you’re craving more Star Wars Battlefront 2 details, we’re here to help. Below, you’ll find the important tidbits of information you need to know, ahead of Star Wars Battlefront 2’s official UK release date on 17 November 2017

Star Wars Battlefront 2: Everything you need to know

Star Wars Battlefront 2 will have a single-player campaign

Good news! Star Wars Battlefront 2 will have a fully fledged single-player campaign. The 2015 original was a tad lacking in offline content, shipping with a multiplayer focus and a handful of split-screen, wave-based skirmishes for offline battles.

 

That’s not the same this year, though. Players take the role of Iden Versio, the leader of Inferno Squad, an elite special forces unit of the Galactic Empire. They witness the destruction of the second Death Star, with the story focusing on the introduction of the First Order – the bad guys in The Force Awakens.

Star Wars Battlefront 2 features all three Star Wars eras

If you're not a fan of the original Star Wars trilogy, 2015’s Battlefront wasn’t for you. If you like the prequels, and those upcoming sequel movies, then you ought to be paying attention this year.

READ NEXT: Star Wars Propel Battle Drone review

All three Star Wars eras will be playable in Star Wars Battlefront 2. We don’t quite know to what extent: I imagine most will just be playable in multiplayer, with single-player reserved to the story of the rise of the First Order. Will we get to play as JarJar? I wouldn’t hold your breath.

Star Wars Battlefront 2 will have space battles

Massive space battles are also on the cards with Star Wars Battlefront 2. As with a lot of the sequel’s flashy features, the original didn’t have them at launch, focusing solely on air-to-ground combat. This may have been due to design limitations or, perhaps, just a complete lack of oversight on EA’s front. There was a hefty backlash when this didn’t appear. 

Video of Star Wars Battlefront II: Full Length Reveal Trailer

But, space battles are coming. Criterion – best known for the Burnout series – is handling the vehicle side of things this year, and you’ll soon be “weaving between asteroid fields and flying through imperial dockyards in high-stakes dogfights” says EA.

Star Wars Battlefront 2 will have multiplayer classes

More of the original game’s biggest criticisms? It didn’t have class-based multiplayer combat. Rather, you chose your loadout on any character skin, it felt a little basic, and there wasn’t this rock, paper, scissors-like system found in, say, Blizzard’s Overwatch or Call of Duty

Multiplayer classes are a thing, though. There will be four trooper classes to choose from when the game launches; Officer, Assault, Trooper and Specialist, although specific details on which abilities and weapons each class possess remains to be seen.

Playable heroes return in Star Wars Battlefront 2

The best thing to come out of EA’s Battlefront reboot lies in its playable hero classes in multiplayer. Playing as Luke Skywalker, cutting through an army of Stormtroopers was a real thrill – there was nothing quite like it – and that will be returning this year.

 

And there will be more than ever, too. Like the original, creative liberties will likely be taken into account when it comes to heroes going head-to-head with villains. After all, Yoda was long dead before Kylo Ren was a thing, but expect to see them both fight it out come launch.

Confirmed heroes include Darth Maul, Yoda, Kylo Ren, Rey and Luke Skywalker.

Star Wars Battlefront 2 will not have a season pass

The best news, though? The Star Wars Battlefront sequel won’t have a season pass. There’s no question that it divided the Battlefront community during its inception following the original’s launch, and is a system that's constantly been criticised.

But, it isn't here this year. While EA hasn’t gone into any post-launch specifics quite yet, it’s worth remembering that Titanfall 2 launched without any paid DLC; all of it was free. Could Star Wars Battlefront 2 adopt the same model? We can only hope.

Posted on 25 April 2017 | 9:52 am

 

AOC AGON AG271UG review: The 4K monitor for casual gamers

Christopher Minasians

2 days 22 hours ago
Price when reviewed 
536

Gaming at a higher resolution than Full HD is always taxing for a computer’s graphics card, but if you have the horsepower at your disposal, why not use it to its fullest with a 4K gaming monitor? Step forward the AOC AGON AG271UG, a 27in 4K gaming monitor equipped with Nvidia G-Sync and an IPS LCD panel.

AOC AGON AG271UG review: Tl;dr

The AOC AG271UG is a jack-of-all trades monitor, skewed towards those looking to invest in 4K gaming. Despite costing £536, it’s actually very good value for a 4K monitor with Nvidia G-Sync. Its colours are a little washed out, but are accurate enough for gaming.

Input lag and a quick response time ensure that the monitor responds speedily to your mouse movements and can cope with fast-moving games, but its 60Hz panel will limit its appeal for non-professional gamers. If you fall into the latter group then you need to look for a monitor with a 144Hz panel.

Price and competition

At the time of writing, the AOC AG271UG costs £536 at Amazon, but I’ve seen the price as high as £620. Its direct competitor is the £690 Acer Predator XB271HK, making the AOC far more affordable by comparison. Another one of its competitors, and one that I’ve tested, is the virtually identical £570 ViewSonic XG2700-4K; it has the same resolution, but offers AMD’s FreeSync technology instead of Nvidia G-Sync.

AOC AGON AG271UG review: Features, design and build quality

The AG271UG offers a good range of features, one of which is important for Nvidia-GPU owners looking for tear-free graphics. Of course, it’s Nvidia G-Sync, the technology that lets your Nvidia graphics card cleverly lock its frame rate with your monitor. This results in an image that's free from tearing – a graphical annoyance that occurs when the frame rate of the monitor and the render rate of your graphics card aren't in sync.

The monitor’s design is attractive, with a red-and-black theme, matte-silver stand and thin bezels. Full pivot, height and tilt adjustments are at your disposal through its sturdy stand, offering full control over the position of the screen. For those who want the option of taking the monitor to a LAN party, there’s a useful handle around the back plus a numbered scale to ensure you can set it up precisely as you have it at home.

On the right side of the monitor, there’s a fold-out arm that serves as a headphone stand. Here, you’ll also find two USB 3.0 ports, one of which carries a higher current for fast-charging your smartphone. A 3.5mm headphone jack and microphone input are found on the right-hand side of the monitor. Beneath the monitor are HDMI and DisplayPort video inputs, two extra USB 3.0 ports and an additional 3.5mm headphone output jack.

AOC AGON AG271UG review: Image quality

The AG271UG has a 4K (3,840 x 2,160) IPS panel. You’ll need to ensure you’re feeding it with a DisplayPort 1.2 input to get the full 60Hz 4K glory that the AOC monitor offers, since its HDMI 1.4 port can't achieve its refresh rate or resolution.

I used an X-Rite i1 Display Pro calibrator and DisplayCAL to measure the monitor’s colour gamut and accuracy. With an impressive 99.1% sRGB colour gamut coverage, the AOC monitor is able to display a wide array of colours. It also reproduced colours with an average Delta E of 1.06 out of the box – a highly respectable score that means professional-level photo and video editing isn’t beyond its capabilities.

However, compared with other IPS and PLS panels, I found the colours on the AG271UG a tad washed out. Placed next to the Acer XF270HU 1440p IPS monitor, colours didn’t pop. Furthermore, dark scenes in movies were a shade of dark grey, rather than deep black. In this respect, I found the panel looked very similar to the ViewSonic XG2700-4K, which also looks a little wan.

In terms of brightness, the monitor reaches 383cd/m2 level in sRGB mode, which limits the brightness to 90%, so it can go a bit brighter if you need it to. I measured the contrast ratio at 1,087:1, which is the norm for most IPS panels, but not as good as you’d get if you opted for a monitor using a VA-type panel.  

AOC AGON AG271UG review: Gaming performance

Gaming performance is the most important aspect for the AGON AG271UG, however, since this is what differentiates it from other, general-purpose 4K monitors.

You’ll need a strong graphics card to consistently hit 60fps at 4K in AAA titles. When used with an MSI GTX 960 2G, the GPU struggled to keep up with the huge 3,840 x 2,160 resolution. If you’re looking to buy this monitor, I’d suggest pairing it with an Nvidia GTX 1070 or above.

Input lag was minimal, but not as fast as some of the best gaming monitors available in the market today. And the same holds true for the panel’s response time. Its quoted 4ms isn’t as fast as your regular 1ms TN panel, but it’s fine for an IPS monitor.

To fully benefit from the monitor’s fastest response times you have to enable the monitor’s Strong overdrive setting. However, in this mode the monitor exhibited signs of negative ghosting (overshoot), so I’d suggest toning down overdrive and using it at Medium settings. The flipside is that this negatively affects the response time of the monitor, making it unsuitable for competitive gaming.

The AG271UG’s 60Hz refresh rate also limits the appeal of the monitor to the enthusiast rather than competitive gamers. If you’re serious about your games, you’ll need a fast 144Hz panel running at 1080p instead.

READ NEXT: Best graphics cards 2017: The best AMD and Nvidia GPUs for 1080p and 4K gaming

AOC AGON AG271UG review: Verdict

Despite its limitations for serious gamers, the AOC AG271UG is a fantastic monitor for casual gamers who are looking to play in 4K. To be amazed by the level of detail that 4K has to offer you’ll need an appropriate graphics card, but if you’re after a screen that offers Nvidia’s G-Sync, a relatively fast response time and accurate colours, then the AG271UG should be the first monitor on your list.

If you’re an Nvidia graphics card owner and debating between the ViewSonic XG2700-4K and the AG271UG, I’d suggest you plump for the AOC – it's currently cheaper and will also provide tear-free gaming via Nvidia G-Sync. If prices climb towards the £700 price mark, then the ViewSonic becomes more attractive – but remember, if you have an Nvidia graphics card then you’ll be missing out on the joys of tear-free visuals.

Posted on 25 April 2017 | 4:15 am