Articles: Monitors

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After the remote control I was next bewildered at the onscreen menu. It looks a regular enough menu at first sight, but its amazing ineptness become instantly apparent as soon as you try to do anything in it. It seems like the monitor’s firmware was written in pieces by several people who just didn’t communicate among themselves during their work.

For example, you want to switch to one of the video inputs while in PC monitor mode. You enter the menu and find the necessary setting (which is in the Settings menu as you can see in the snapshot) and realize you can only switch between D-Sub and DVI. You can’t switch between DVI and S-Video! What to do? Just keep on tapping on the Input button until the monitor reaches the S-Video input – and the sluggish thing takes about three seconds to meditate on something after each of your presses.

Well, it turns out you only have to press the Input button just once. After that the monitor switches to its TV-tuner and you can enter the menu again and open the Options tab… Yes, I mean Options because the option of switching between the inputs has disappeared from the Settings to emerge among the Options. So, it’s now in the Options screen that you choose the Input Select item and get surprised at finding that you can now switch to any input the monitor has.

I can’t find a reasonable explanation of this other than that the menu was indeed written in pieces by different people who wouldn’t speak to each other for some reason. In all LCD monitors with integrated TV-tuners I have ever seen there was one menu irrespective of the operation mode, unused functions just becoming inactive in a particular mode. The menu of the Ferrari F-19 is just full of marvels like menu items disappearing to crop up on a different menu tab, and you can’t switch from DVI to S-Video or SCART, skipping the TV-tuner.

That was not the end of surprises, though. Next I found the Ferrari F-19 lacked Picture-in-Picture mode. It is simply not supported by this monitor! You can either watch TV or work on your computer, but not both simultaneously. Again, this is the first monitor with a TV-tuner I’ve dealt with that lacks the Picture-in-Picture feature. I usually describe the difference in the setup options for the second window (position, size, brightness and contrast, etc), but my job is much easier here: this mode is not available. Contact Acer for the why!

After that, I was not astonished at all at finding that I could adjust the sound timbre and stereo-balance in TV-tuner mode but couldn’t do that in PC monitor mode. In this particular case, however, I suppose the sound sources are different and the balance is set up somewhere on the tuner rather than in the monitor’s final audio amplifier.

And then I decided to plug in the antenna and watch something TV-like. So I attached everything, entered the channel settings page in the menu, and began to search for new channels. After about 15 minutes of deep thinking the monitor reported there were no TV channels available, although it should have found at least a dozen. I tried selecting each of the five countries available in the menu but to no purpose (and this is the only monitor I’ve seen that offered me to choose my country before the automatic setup).

To cut the long story short, I somehow managed to make it show the channels available in our area by manually typing in the channels settings, but it was real hard and I’m not sure I could repeat that feat again. By the way, the TV-tuner employed in the Ferrari F-19 isn’t very high quality. Ordinary PCI-interfaced TV-tuners tested in our labs with the same antenna produced a better picture.

It turned out eventually that the monitor’s firmware was to bear the blame for the problems with the tuner and Acer’s service center was ready to solve them. Still, I find it wrong that nearly defective samples of the monitor were allowed to sell (the sample I actually tested had been taken from a retail shop). And there has been no company statement that the defective batch has been called back from the shops and replaced with working monitors. I don’t think that people who have spent quite a big sum of money for a Ferrari F-19 – which is a very expensive monitor – will be pleased to hear that they should be heading to the nearest service center right after the purchase. Add also the menu-related problems I’ve described above which are not a defect as such, but are a big annoyance all the same.

But enough of that TV-tuner thing. I’m now going to describe and test the Ferrari F-19 as a regular PC monitor.

The monitor has 100% brightness and 80% contrast by default. To have 100-nit brightness of white I lowered the contrast setting to 28% and the brightness setting to 20%.

The gamma curves look well, even though not exactly ideally. The blue curve deflects from the theoretical one the most. The curves have the same shape at the reduced brightness/contrast, so there is no loss of dark tones.

Like with the AL1916Ws, the color temperature is obviously set too high, resulting in a cold-looking image on the screen. To make things worse, there is 3 thousand degrees of difference in the temperatures of different levels of gray even in the Warm mode which is set up best of all.

The monitor uses a TN+Film matrix without response time compensation. It’s not fast – the total response reaches 35 milliseconds at the maximum.

The monitor’s brightness is quite high, amounting to 350 nits at the maximum. The contrast ratio is good as TN+Film matrixes go, but not record-breaking.

So, it took much less space to publish the results of the Ferrari F-19 in tests than to describe my personal experience of using it. As a PC monitor, it is an average model on a rather slow TN+Film matrix. I can only recommend it for purchase to loyal Ferrari fans that put the Ferrari style above any technical characteristics. But apart from its design, the F-19 is a tangle of problems and imperfections absolutely unacceptable in a product of its class and price like a disorderly and illogical organization of the menu, unhandy remote control, lack of Picture-in-Picture mode, malfunctioning TV-tuner, slow matrix, and inaccurate color temperature setup. If you need just a good monitor with a TV-tuner, you’d better consider alternatives from other manufacturers, which are also more moderately priced.

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