Acer Predator Z271T With Tobii Eye Tracking: The Monitor That Watches You Back
Acer Predator Z271T With Tobii Eye Tracking
It seems like it's never been a better time to be a PC gamer. With new technologies like VR, AR, HDR, adaptive sync, and high refresh rates being introduced or improved upon at a rapid pace, there's always something new and exciting right around the corner.
Today, we're taking a look at one new technology that promises to bridge the gap between traditional monitors and full-blown VR or AR setups: eye tracking. Originally developed for its use as an assistive device for users with disabilities, eye tracking is making a big jump to gaming, as it can both provide an additional method of control input as well as alter the way the user experiences the game.
We first took a look at Tobii a few years ago with an early standalone eye tracking device. Now Tobii eye tracking is starting to make its way directly into monitors, and we spent some time with one such monitor: the Acer Predator Z271T.
Specs & Box Contents
The Acer Predator Z271T -- which I'll refer to as "Z27" going forward -- is a $700 27-inch monitor with a curved VA panel, 1920x1080 native resolution, and 144Hz refresh rate. The complete technical specifications:
|Acer Predator Z271T|
|Panel Technology||Vertical Alignment (VA)|
|Tilt Angle||-5 to +25 degrees|
|Viewing Angle||178 degrees horizontal/vertical|
|Maximum Adjustable Height||4.72 inches|
|Standard Refresh Rate||144 Hz|
|Color Supported||16.7 Million|
|Tearing Prevention Technology||G-SYNC|
|Speakers||2 x 7W|
|3.5mm Audio Output||Yes|
|USB 3.0||Yes (4-port hub)|
|Operating Power Consumption||27 watts|
|Standby Power Consumption||500 mW|
|Off-Mode Power Consumption||400 mW|
|Physical Characteristics (with stand)|
|VESA Mount Compatible||Yes (100mm x 100mm)|
|Package Contents||1 x DisplayPort cable
1 x HDMI cable
1 x USB 3.0 Cable
In terms of physical characteristics, the Z27 weighs in at 16.76lbs and is 20.4-inches high, 24.4-inches wide, and 10.6-inches deep when attached to its included stand. From the stand, the Z27 can tilt from -5 degrees to 25 degrees, and swivel up to 30 degrees side-to-side.
The stand is height-adjustable with a maximum height range of about 4.7 inches, but cannot be rotated in portrait mode (as the Tobii eye tracker, located along the bottom edge of bezel, is designed to operate only in landscape mode). The Z27 can also be VESA mounted.
Inside the box, you'll find the Z27 display itself, a region-appropriate power cord with external power supply, one 2-meter HDMI cable, one 2-meter DisplayPort cable, and one 1.5-meter USB 3.0 Type-B to Type-A cable. Most modern displays include some form of USB hub, and while I generally don't bother connecting or using these hubs, the case is different with the Z27. The Tobii eye tracking technology requires communication with your PC, and so the Z27 uses the USB 3.0 port to both serve as a traditional USB hub as well as transmit the Tobii data.
Overall Monitor Impressions
We're primarily interested in the Tobii eye tracking aspect of the Acer Predator Z271T, but for nearly $700, it's also important to discuss the characteristics of the monitor as a whole.
Right off the bat, the Z27's 1080p resolution is concerning, especially at 27 inches. Gamers who don't have the GPU horsepower to push higher resolutions at 144Hz will be content with the Z27's resolution, and native 1080p video content will look pretty good, but when it comes to productivity and finer details in gaming, those pixels are going to be relatively large and noticeable. The general solution for relatively low resolutions at larger screen sizes is to simply sit back a bit, but the Tobii eye tracking tech requires the user to sit close to the screen (or at least works best this way), so that's not really going to be an option.
While not wanting to sound like a resolution snob, potential buyers migrating to the Z27 from a 1440p or higher panel will definitely feel a bit cramped, and need to consider the price of giving up sharpness and screen real estate for the Z27's gaming features like high refresh rate and eye tracking. Those currently using 1080p displays won't have as hard of a time adjusting to the Z27, although the larger pixels may be bothersome at first.
Despite the resolution issues, the Z27 is an attractive display with sharp red accents familiar to the Acer Predator series of gaming products. The agressive 1800R curve is comfortable and feels right for both the display's size and optimal seating distance for the Tobii eye tracking.
In a world of buggy capacitive touch display controls, Acer thankfully continues to use physical buttons, which are located behind the right side of the monitor. Navigation of the menus and settings is accomplished via a 4-way toggle and three standard buttons. The monitor's power button is located above these controls and is easy to mistakenly hit at first, but will likely not be a problem in the long run.
As referenced in the specifications table above, the Z27 does have built-in speakers, and touts "DTS" sound but, as you'd expect, they're terrible. The built-in speakers are passable for the most basic tasks, but anyone serious about dropping this much money on a gaming display with advanced tech like eye tracking would be committing a crime if they didn't have dedicated speakers or headphones ready to go.
Turning to the monitor's performance, color calibration out of the box isn't great, with grayscale and color issues across the board.
Calibration with the Spyder5 Elite improves things quite a bit, but still only results in 97 percent coverage the sRGB spectrum.
As a gaming monitor, this isn't too bad, but those who want to multitask with color-critical tasks won't find the Z27 to be ideal.