Design and features
HP's 2309m is shiny — possibly to the point of distraction. The piano black bezel in combination with the high gloss screen can make for some pretty disturbing reflections, especially considering there is no height adjustment in this 23-inch, 1920x1080 screen, forcing you to angle it upwards to be able to look at it directly on. A couple of phone books (does anyone still use these any more?) shoved under the monitor would likely fix the issue, but at 23 inches we'd expect height management to be built into the stand.
The rest of the monitor is in matte blacks and silvers, the menu button labels featured in an indented area under the monitor. We say labels, as the buttons themselves are under the monitor. The labels are nice, so you vaguely know where the buttons are without having to move your head around to find them — however, the positioning under the monitor is inconvenient and difficult to use compared to front- or side-facing buttons. The power button glows aqua in colour, but thankfully in a feature that has bled down from HP's high-end monitors, the light can be turned off through the on-screen display (OSD).
The OSD itself is easy to navigate and sensibly laid out. It isn't as intuitive or nice to use as Dell's current context-sensitive solution, but it does the job. Brightness, contrast, colour temperature, sharpness and language settings are included, as well as the ability to turn off overdrive — the response time accelerator — should it cause issues.
There's no escaping it — the 2309m is very definitely based on a Twisted Nematic (TN) panel. These days colour replication is acceptable in the TN field for most uses from gaming, to movies, to office work, although graphic designers, photographers and colour professionals will tend to gravitate to the more accurate Vertical Alignment, or if they have the money, In-plane switching-based technology.
The stand is utilitarian, only offering tilt and rotate, leaving height to be sorely missed as mentioned previously. A cable management hole in the neck will happily accept even the larger DVI cable should you wish to be neat.
Ports are fairly standard for a consumer monitor offering, with the 2309m providing DVI, HDMI and VGA. It must be noted at this point that while the monitor happily played back Blu-ray movies through a PlayStation 3, 24Hz support had to be turned off for it to work.
There is a speaker built into the monitor as well, connected to your PC by a 3.5mm jack or HDMI — although sound is only passable at best, lacking clarity in the low end and containing a noticeable echo. As usual, we'd suggest a decent pair of speakers for anything more than functional use.
DisplayMate is, it seems, fast outgrowing its usefulness as a benchmark, with gradients fine, and the monitor capable of distinguishing from one to 247 tones out of 255 distinctly on the greyscale test. Gaming in Half-Life 2: Episode Two was excellent, as was movie watching. There was a little light bleed from the top, as is common on cheaper monitors.
At a price of AU$649, the 2309m is a decent buy. While it performs well, the blacks aren't as deep as we'd like, and we'd be more tempted to find something with a matte screen to cut down on reflections.