The 2011 PC Market in Review; Hits and Misses

Author: SKYMTL
Date: December 30, 2011
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PC Monitors

Monitor of the Year: ASUS ProArt PA246Q

The ProArt PA246Q really took us by surprise since leading edge professional monitors used to be the sole domain of HP, Dell, LaCie and Apple. ASUS entered the fray with all guns blazing and the result was a monitor that was as visually captivating as it was well designed.

Not only does the ProArt come equipped with a great IPS based panel, but ASUS – unlike most of the competitors in its price range – takes the time to factory calibrate every PA246Q coming off their assembly line. Because of this, the picture quality was second to none and even if some changes are necessary, you can fall back onto one of the best OSDs we’ve come across. Add in decent gaming performance and you have a true plug and play monitor for professionals, semi-professionals, gamers and everyday consumers alike.

The Runner Up: Dell U2410

It was a close race for second place between two Dell units: the U2410 and the U2412. In the end however, quality won out over price and efficiency. With its extra wide colour gamut, above average input options and a great On Screen Display, the U2410 is hard to beat at its current price of $499. If factory calibrated and physical OSD buttons had been included, we could have been looking at a monitor to dethrone the ASUS ProArt but that wasn’t meant to be. As it stands, the U2410 is a great product backed up by a company known for keeping their professional customers happy.

The Miss: Samsung C27A750 Central Station

Unlike most of these categories this was not a tough decision at all as one monitor really stood out for all the wrong reasons: Samsung's C27A750. On paper, Samsung had a great idea which combined wireless display and input capabilities with sleek and stylish design. In reality, this monitor’s wireless USB drivers were a mess and eventually caused our OS to implode shortly after the review went live (the uninstaller is anything but complete), the 1080P resolution is atrocious for a 27” screen and even the stand featured a litany of engineering faux pas. When you consider how pricey the C27A750 is, there really isn’t all that much to like about it.


Peripheral of the Year: Cooler Master Storm Spawn

With so many great mice and keyboards out there it was really difficult to pick a winner but after much deliberation we kept coming back to a dark horse: the Cooler Master Spawn. This mouse may only be appealing to a certain subset of gamers but with a claw grip design it is small and easy to use mouse that caters to a market that’s been largely overlooked. With a unique set of abilities, oh so comfortable ergonomics, a great software backbone and an asking price that significantly undercuts comparable products from Razer and SteelSeries, the Spawn really is at the top of its class. This mouse certainly won’t be for everyone, but if it fits your gaming prerequisites there should be no looking back.

The Runner Up: SteelSeries Xai

Unlike Cooler Master's Spawn, the SteelSeries Xai is a jack of all trades for gamers and home users alike. Its ergonomics may not be as “perfect” for finger, claw or grip users but nearly everyone will find it’s design above average. For some it may look a bit too bland but when you consider the amount of power and performance hidden under the cookie cutter exterior, prepare to be impressed. SteelSeries is known for their conservative looking, high performance mice and the Xai is no exception. If it was not for the bottom mounted mode changing button this may have been the best of the best this year. Sadly, its higher asking price with unique peccadilloes did cost it a few points.

The Miss: SteelSeries Sensei

SteelSeries holds a special place in our hearts since their gaming peripherals are usually a cut above the competition. Unfortunately, their Sensei was one of the biggest disappointments this year. We were truly excited to get our hands on this thing since the hype surrounding it was unbelievable. Sadly, it fell flat in one all important gaming mouse category: grip. When tenths of second count and bragging rights are on the line, weekend LAN Party warriors simply can’t trust a tool in which slips all over the place when it comes in contact with sweat.

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