Introduction, setup and design
If you want to bring the bezel-less aesthetics of Dell’s XPS 13 ($799, £517, AU$1020) to your desktop workspace, then Acer’s S277HK 4K UHD ($699, £452, AU$892) display may be just the ticket. The S277HK features a high resolution output, fast refresh rates, and plenty of ports for connectivity in a sleek, modern package.
Given its 27-inch IPS panel, the S277HK competes well against other consumer-centric and business-focused 4K UHD panels on the market today. Notable challengers in the category include the 27-inch Viewsonic VX2880ml ($600, £399, AU$765), Samsung’s gaming-centric 28-inch UD590 ($679, £429, AU$782), and the 28-inch Philips Brilliance 288P with a TN panel ($530, £345, AU$680).
Setting up the Acer S277HK is a simple task. Out of the box, the monitor comes in two pieces, requiring minimal assembly.
You’ll only need to attach the metal base to the asymmetric metal stand on the rear of the display. A finger rotatable screw makes assembly easy as you won’t need a screwdriver or any specialized tool. After the base is attached and secured, you’ll connect the power cable and your devices to the display for output.
Acer markets the 16 X 24.2 X 4.4-inch (40.64 X 61.47 X 11.18 cm) S277HK as a “zero frame” monitor, highlighting the non-touch display’s premium bezel-less design. Immediately upon looking at the S277HK, you’ll notice that the flush screen dominates the front side, save for a ⅞-inch (2.22 cm) silver strip that runs across the bottom edge.
Though the S277HK is encased in plastic, the stand and the removable base are made of metal, adding to the premium aesthetics while keeping the weight to just 11.90 pounds (5.4kg) with stand in the event you need to move the display from room to room.
The sides of S277HK are accented by a ring of silver plastic. Acer chose glossy white plastic for the rear panel. Coupled with the silver trim, the white back panel gives the monitor a clean and fresh look that doesn’t appear as boxy as a display with a black frame.
The downside is that the glossy white finish easily shows fingerprints and smudges if you’re constantly touching the display to adjust the tilt.
As most of the ports for connecting the cables to the display are found on the rear just above the articulating metal stand, you’ll likely want to avoid setting up the monitor in an open-air front office space.
If multiple cables are in use on the rear, the backside of the display quickly becomes cluttered and will look unattractive in a front office facing clients. If you’re using the S277HK in a cubicle or in an office against the wall, the display looks great, as the cables on the back will be hidden.
Additionally, the rear speakers are also built into the stand. Acer uses DTS sound technology along with the company’s proprietary TrueHarmony to enhance bass and cut distortion. The built-in speakers produce great sound great with no distortion. Connected to a MacBook Pro, volume output was modest, but volume was extremely loud and clear with Windows-based systems, like the Surface Pro 2, Dell Alienware 14, and Dell Venue 11 Pro.
On the bottom edge of the monitor beneath the silver strip lies the power button, which glows blue if the display is on, along with physical menu buttons. The buttons allow you to switch between various usage modes, enable picture-in-picture capabilities, adjust the display’s settings, change the volumes, and toggle between different inputs. The buttons aren’t labeled, but tapping any of the buttons will bring up a quick on-screen guide to show you where to press for the correct options.
Though the buttons provided good tactile response when pressed, using the buttons to navigate the menus of the display was a bit frustrating. Like many HDTV, the S277HK requires multiple button presses to adjust simple setting.
USB ports are notably absent on the S277HK so you’ll have to reach and connect peripherals to your connected PC or laptop.
Performance and ergonomics
From the moment you press the power button, it takes about seven seconds for the display to begin showing content from your PC or laptop. After the display is powered on, content appears beautifully on the UHD panel, which Acer is calling a 4K X 2K resolution. The display pumps out 3840 X 2160 pixels.
Because Acer uses an IPS screen on the display, viewing angles are superb. Connecting multiple S277HKs together would create an immersive and seamless viewing experience thanks to the wide viewing angles of the IPS screen and the bezel-less design.
Contrast and color reproduction are great on the S277HK, leading to dark blacks and bright and accurate colors. The S277HK has a 100,000,000:1 contrast and supports 1.07 billion colors.
Output from both a Surface Pro 2 and Surface Pro 3 yielded accurate colors on the S277HK. Microsoft’s older tablet was able to push out a maximum resolution of 3200 x 2000 pixels to the Acer monitor while the newer Surface Pro 3 can drive 4096 x 2304 pixels to an external 4K monitor.
With an older MacBook Pro, I was only able to get 1080p output. Pictures and video are gorgeously rendered coming from the MacBook Pro, though whites appear warmer with a tinge of yellowing.
Acer gives users a lot of connectivity options for the display. You can connect to the display using HDMI 2.0, DisplayPort, mini DisplayPort, and DVI. With options to run two screens side-by-side or a picture-in-picture mode, you have plenty of options for entertainment, productivity, and multitasking.
In my testing, I had a Dell tablet connected using DisplayPort, a MacBook Pro connected over DVI, and I a Galaxy Note 4 connected over HDMI through Samsung’s multimedia docking cradle.
Though connectivity options are plentiful, the downside is that if you unplug and switch between your input sources, the display doesn’t intelligently detect what’s plugged in at the moment. You’ll have to toggle between your various input options using the menu key on the display to get the proper source to show.
Additionally, the display sometimes failed to recognize what’s connected to it and would display a black screen. In this case, quickly unplugging and reconnecting the display cable remedied the situation.
While many early 4K displays were limited by a 30 Hz refresh rate unless you switched to 1080p mode to bring the refresh rate up 60 Hz, the S277HK comes with a 60 Hz refresh rate in 4K mode. This makes the panel versatile for productivity tasks, general video consumption, and even casual gaming.
Acer says that the panel has a 4ms refresh rate, making it good for casual games, though hardcore gamers likely would want to choose a faster refresh rate at the cost of resolution. The $450 (£291 or AU$474) BenQ XL2720Z is an excellent 1080p panel with a fast 1ms refresh rate that is suitable for fast action games and video.
Full HD video playback is extremely smooth on the S277HK. Using the Surface Pro 2, streaming an ABC network television show in 1080p resolution at full screen showed smooth video playbook and image quality was excellent. Similar results were obtained using an Apple MacBook Pro.
Interestingly, though video played on the Venue 11 Pro tablet was fine, playback on the S277HK was problematic with out of sync audio when streaming the same TV show. The glitch is likely attributed to the Intel Core M processor and HD 5300 graphics on that tablet.
The Acer S277HK has a brightness rating of 300 nit, which is on par with most high-end laptops and Ultrabooks. Even at 30% brightness, the S277HK was plenty bright in an office, and I rarely found the need to exceed 50% brightness with the panel.
The S277HK comes with Acer’s ComfyView technology to minimize eye fatigue when using the display for prolonged periods. Acer claims ComfyView reduces eye-strain by dimming the display to 15% brightness in dark environments, and the flicker-less technology with blue light filter make it comfortable to use for long periods of time.
I cannot attest to the flicker-less claims by just looking at the screen, but the display is comfortable to look at in an eight-hour work day. Not only does the flush screen make cleaning easy with a simple wipe-down, but glare is virtually non-existent despite harsh lighting in the TechRadar office.
Users needing to adjust the S277HK can tilt the display for comfort. The stand allows the screen to tilt between -5 to 15 degrees.
The downside to the S277HK is that the stand doesn’t offer vertical adjustments, so you can’t raise the display higher or lower to fit your needs. Additionally, the display cannot be swiveled or rotated.
Those wishing to mount the S277HK to a wall cannot do so as the display lacks VESA support.
Priced similar to most other 4K displays that have a 30 Hz refresh rate, the S227HK outpaces the competition with a faster 60 Hz refresh rate at full UHD resolution and a premium design. The 4ms refresh rate makes the display suitable for gaming, ideal for video, and a great companion for desktop productivity. Acer has a winning package with an affordable price tag in the S227HK.
And as the S227HK comes with HDMI, DVI, DisplayPort, and mini DisplayPort connectivity, Acer also supplied most of the cables to get you connected right out of the box. The only cable missing is a mini DisplayPort cable.
Though performance and design are top-notch on the S277HK, when it comes to ergonomics Acer chose form over function.
There are no USB ports to easily connect or charge peripherals, forcing users to reach for their laptops or PCs. Additionally, users cannot adjust the height of the display or mount the S277HK to a wall to save desk space in a cramped office.
Ironically, even though Acer focused on design with the metal base and asymmetrical stand on the S277HK, the monitor itself would feel cluttered in an open-air front office setting given that all the cable connections run on the back side.
There is a lot to like about Acer’s 4K display. The S277HK offers uncompromised performance in an elegant package.
Although rear port placement and cable clutter may prevent the S227HK from making the cut in a minimalist front office, its good looks will make Acer’s offering an excellent companion in many workspaces.
With a 60 Hz, 4ms refresh rate at maximum resolution, the S277HK is a versatile monitor that could be used for productivity and play. Picture-in-picture mode, side-by-side screen mode, and a bezel-less design give users plenty of multitasking options with a single-display setup or with multiple S277HKs.