USB interfaces on flat-panels aren't new (Samsung, most notably, has experimented with this approach), but the concept has yet to really catch on. Install the special software and you can then connect the Acer B223W flat-panel to your notebook using a USB rather than a VGA connector. The software will detect the screen and, within seconds, you've got twice as much workspace as you had before.

You can, of course, already do this on most normal notebooks or PCs, but the Acer software gives you a level of control over the screen that you won't get simply by plugging a screen into an available video connector - you're provided with a number of useful utilities for tweaking and fine-tuning the image, and dividing it into sections. In addition, further flat-panels can be daisy-chained together, allowing you to plug in up to six screens at once.

The other unusual feature of the Acer B223W flat-panel is the wireless keyboard. You're given a USB wireless receiver to plug into the laptop, and you can then operate from the other side of the room.

All of these extras do add to the cost, and the Acer B223W isn't a particularly cheap deal. You do, though, get a good 22in screen in the package.

The Acer B223W itself has some good specifications on paper, and works well in practice. The menu system isn't comprehensive, but you get enough tools with which to adjust the image quality.

The choice of modes gives you an ample selection of colour schemes, and we found the Acer B223W's palette capable of providing depth and warmth to images. It's also quite sharp when it comes to text reproduction. The viewing angles aren't great though, so you'll have to make sure you're sitting on-axis with the screen for best results.

OUR VERDICT

While the Acer B223W is a very respectable flat-panel in its own right, it’s certainly not worth £223 given that excellent 22in screens can be found for £50 less. So the question is, are the extras worth the extra? There’ll be some users who can make use of the USB technology, particularly if they’re looking to bolt on multiple flat-panels. If you won’t make frequent use of the USB video option, the B223W is rather overpriced.