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Inside the shadowy underground of Korean monitor sales

Loyd Case | Sept. 20, 2012
If you're in the market for a new high-definition desktop monitor, take note: You may be able to pick up a very good Korean-made display for far less money than what you'd spend on, say, an Asus, Dell, HP, or Samsung model. Sure, you'll have to cope with odd product branding, limited functionality, and less-than-inspired product design; but if your primary concern is image quality, a Korean display purchased on eBay could be just the ticket.

All I wanted was another LCD monitor for a gaming system I have in my basement lab, so I didn't really need bells and whistles such as HDMI connectors and built-in speakers. Eventually I settled on a Shimian QH270-Lite from a vendor called "ta_planet". The net cost was $363.95, which included an extra $10 for the "perfect pixel" guarantee. That cost also included FedEx shipping from Korea. So all in all, I considered it a good deal.

About an hour after placing the order, I received an eBay message from ta_planet telling me that the monitor was out of stock. But the message also said that ta_planet would be happy to ship an alternate display with built-in speakers at no extra charge, and with the "perfect pixel" guarantee intact.

I immediately filed this in my "too good to be true" mental folder. "Uh-oh," I thought to myself. "Here it starts. I'm going to get a piece of junk."

I thought about the problem for a few hours, and then responded to ta_planet via eBay messaging, accepting the offer. Within 10 minutes I received a response declaring, in effect, that ta_planet had received a new shipment of the QH270-Lites, and would be shipping one of those out to me per the original order.

The Shimian QH270-Lite display seems fairly stock in other ways. The glossy surface is a little annoying, but, hey: $364!

 

I made some interesting discoveries when I unboxed the monitor. It uses an external, switching power brick that can run in either 220-240V or 110-120V mode. As with most of these bricks, one end is a standard three-pin, capable of accepting most power cords. However, only a Korean power cord came in the box, so I had to dig up a standard cord with U.S. plugs.

No documentation or CD accompanied the monitor, but that didn't surprise me much.

Bottom line: Fire it up!

Finally, it was time to stop scrutinizing the aesthetics of the display and actually use it. I connected the DL-DVI cable to a system running a Sandy Bridge Core i7 CPU and an Nvidia GTX 580 graphics card. I checked out all-white images and all-black images to see if the display had issues with individual pixels. Careful examination revealed no hot or missing pixels. The black image exhibited a small uniformity problem, though: In full black mode, the backlight in the lower right of the display was a touch brighter than the rest of the display. But it was hard to spot unless I was looking for it.

Since installing the monitor, I've used it for some lengthy gaming sessions. I've seen no issues with frame rate, flickering, or other potential pitfalls. So the QH270-Lite is working well for its chosen task.

 

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