A Review of the Acer CB280HK 28″ 4k LCD Monitor – UM.PB0AA.002
The Acer CB280HK 28" LCD Monitor used to be one of the cheapest if not the cheapest 4K monitor models on the entire market. This no longer the case thanks to growing 4K display competition but this particular model still offers an extremely affordable and very decent package with image quality that’s good enough for a wide range of more causal uses and some very agreeable 4K gaming.
In fact, with its basic connectivity ports and TN screen technology, the CB280HK sort of makes for an ideal 4K gaming monitor for those of you who’ve already raided your bank accounts for a GPU that can handle 4K graphics and no longer want to spend another fortune on the screen you play on. With that said, we’d have to argue that as long as its limitations are kept in mind, the CB280HK can be a very good buying choice, even if it’s not exactly pro-level or even the best option on sale for 4K gamers for that matter.
What’s good about the CB280HK? Well plenty actually, if limitations in comparison to higher-end (and pricier) models of 4K monitor are kept in mind.
For starters, as a gaming package, the CB280HK delivers all the necessary features without complicating things. It will give up a very decent level of color and contrast performance while also offering the connectivity features that you’ll need to hook up any of the latest 4K gaming GPU’s from Nvidia or AMD that you might have packed into your PC. In fact, the CB280HK was one of the earlier models to come with 4K refresh rates at a smooth 60Hz instead of the older 30Hz that was the choppy maximum the earliest UHD displays could pull off. This is thanks to its DisplayPort 1.2 connectivity.
Furthermore, as far as gaming is concerned again, the CB280HK offers up a TN display technology in its screen that gives a lightning fast controller-friendly 1 millisecond response time. This too is a gaming-oriented feature that adds to the 4K gameplay benefits of the monitor.
In terms of color and contrast, the CB280HK is no slouch either. Don’t expect professional color saturation or razor sharp contrast levels on this model but also understand that you won’t be disappointed with what you see if the essentials of clarity and color are all you need. Furthermore, the 4K resolution itself is lovely to behold as usual, and all the better for being capable of flowing smoothly at 60 frames per second.
Finally, the 28 inch screen of the CB280HK offers a lot of value considering that this machine only costs a tiny bit under $500. There are now cheaper 4K monitors on the market but the price tag of the CB280HK definitely makes it one of maybe a half dozen of the most affordable displays on sale today. And 28 inches is a great display size to boot. It offers just enough spaciousness to make a more immersive viewing experience without becoming ungainly in a smaller space.
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While the CB280HK is definitely a decent offer given its price, there are also a few things about it that just annoy because of their absence. Low price or not, they shouldn’t be the case.
First of all, there is the lack of a USB hub or any USB ports at all for that matter. While we’re not expecting HDMI 2.0 or several DisplayPort 1.2 ports on the CB280HK (though both would be awesome), USB, even the older, weaker USB 2.0 would be a convenient little feature to have with the CB280HK. These ports are very useful for a number of things, like connecting Ultrabooks, smartphones or other third party video and audio media devices to this monitor.
Second, the box in which the CB280HK gets delivered does not include any HDMI cables, even though the monitor does indeed have HDMI connectivity. In this, Acer could have at least done its customers the favor of one HDMI cable along with the included DisplayPort cable.
Now, moving on to more forgivable weaknesses in the CB280HK, we should start with the fact that connectivity consists of only one of each major connection. This is a clumsy and typical design weakness that we’ve noticed seems to be more common with Acer monitors in particular –they simply never deliver enough connectivity. Thus, in the CB280HK you get just one DisplayPort 1.2 slot, a single HDMI 1.4 slot and one Mini DisplayPort slot. Having added in a second port for at least HDMI or DP 1.2 is something Acer really should have done. When you combine this with the lack of USB ports, the connectivity of the CB280HK starts to get annoyingly deficient.
Finally, as far as TN display technology is concerned, we should mention that the lightning fast response time of the monitors screen also comes at a cost to off-angle viewing and more vibrant color. Both are major weaknesses of most TN displays.
The Acer CB280HK can be annoying due to its weak sauce connectivity options but these aside, it’s not a half bad monitor for the price it’s selling at. In fact, for 4K gamers, this model is definitely one of the more affordable and decent options on the market.
Color: glossy Black
Dimensions: (WxHxD): 25.9" x 22" x 9.6" inches with stand
Screen size: 28 inches, measured diagonally
Screen type: TN
Contrast ratio: 1000:1
Aspect Ratio: 16:9
Colors: 16.7 Million (8-bit)
Brightness: 300 cd/m2
Refresh Rate: 60Hz
Screen Lighting: LED
Response time: 1 ms grey-to-grey
Resolution: 3840 x 2160
OS Compatibility: Windows
Connectivity Ports: 1 x HDMI 1.4, 1 x DisplayPort 1.2, 1 x Mini DisplayPort 1.2, 1 x DVI, Headphone out
The Acer CB280HK doesn’t offer an enormous amount of cool stuff in the way of highlights, but a few neat if somewhat standard-issue features are worth noting.
First of all, there are the adjustability options on this model. Offering an ErgoStand, the CB280HK can be adjusted fully for height, tilt, rotation and swivel. This is a fairly standard feature among many 4K monitors today but there are also more than a few very high-end models out there that don’t actually offer such flexibility, so the fact that these adjustment options are available in the CB280HK definitely means a few points in its favor.
Furthermore, Acer has installed a few useful display adjustment technologies in the CB280HK. These include Super Sharpness technology, Picture by Picture, Picture in Picture and Acer’s Adaptive Contrast management feature. The Super Sharpness technology certainly does a bit to improve the overall quality of the monitor’s 4K resolution and the adaptive contrast management spec improves on this further by producing some surprisingly rich, deep blacks that are rather finely tuned as the visuals on the screen change.
There is also a six-axis hue and saturation menu setup that lets users further tweak color tones, contrast and other display specs to suite their tastes. However, right out of the box, the CB280HK manages a decent enough calibration that it might not even need these manual adjustments ofr most purposes.
Going back to the above-mentioned technologies, the Picture in Picture and Picture by Picture features of the CB280HK might be useful for work related tasks and viewing of multiple content. PiP allows you to view one thing on the main screen while displaying content from another source in a smaller inner screen box. P by P on the other hand will split the screen into one of several different configurations for viewing and manipulation of content from multiple sources. However, because the CB280HK only comes with limited connectivity for external devices, watching four different HD displays from four different external devices arrayed across the 4K screen would be a bit tricky.
In terms of visual specs, the Acer CB280HK produces some very decent colors and surprisingly rich contrast to create an overall image quality that’s likely going to be more than enough for the vast majority of casual users. Out of the box brightness is decent and color saturation looks remarkably good considering the rather low caliber color specs we’re about to detail. Furthermore, as we already mentioned, the contrast on the CB280HK’s screen good enough to produce more than decent blacks and dark tones.
On the other hand, this is definitely not a monitor you’d want to use for highly professional fine-tuned color editing. The NTSC color space coverage that Acer promises with the CB280HK sits at a very weak 72% but in actual practice it doesn’t even go as high as 68%, at least according to color meter measurement. In testing for sRGB coverage, the CB280HK does a lot better but even there you’ll likely get no better than 96% as we did. Considering how many highly affordable 4K monitos can now manage 98% or better sRGB color gamut coverage, a percentage of 95 is actually a bit weak too.
Brightness-wise, the nominal luminance of 300 cd/m2 is mostly okay but the monitor has a tendency to do slightly less than this in actual practice, about 288 cd/m2. Furthermore, some reviewers and other users have reported some very poor screen uniformity, with sections of the screen reading reductions in brightness of as much as 20% from the maximum in the screen center.
In other words, the CB280HK is decent for casual use as far as visuals go but professional users with precision color and brightness needs should go for a much better calibrated 4K monitor.
As we’d said above, connectivity is one of the weakest aspects of the CB280HK from Acer and what you get with this monitor is pretty much the bare necessary bones for a decent gameplay and PC use experience. One HDMI 1.4 port, one DisplayPort 1.2 port (complemented by a single other mini DisplayPort 1.2 port) and a single, unexpected DVI port are all there is and while they’re enough for 4K gaming and movie watching, the HDMI won’t give you 4K content from external sources at more than 30 frames per second. The CB280HK comes with no USB ports, which is just annoying.
The Acer CB280HK 28 inch 4K monitor is currently selling on Amazon.com for $520.00 but we’ve also seen it on sale directly from the Acer US website for $499.99.
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To summarize briefly, the Acer CB280HK fails on a few key things: It does not offer anywhere near enough color precision for serious, professional use, it’s a weak performer on brightness and screen uniformity, the connectivity options are very limited indeed and the TN display offers poor off-center viewing quality.
• Great response time
• Decent for 4K gaming
• Good contrast levels
• Decent color rendering
• Nicely adjustable stand
• Lacks the ideal amount of connectivity
• No USB ports
• Poor color accuracy
• Low brightness
• Screen uniformity issues