Articles: Monitors

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Acer AL2017

A notorious drawback of LCD monitors, not of some particular models but of LCD monitors at large, that is often called up in user discussions is the inability to normally work in more than one resolution plus the dependence of that resolution on the size of the screen. In notebooks, matrixes with the same diagonal may vary in native resolution, but with desktop monitors there is not much choice: all 15” models work in 1024x768, all 17” and 19” models work in 1280x1024, all 20” and 21” models work in 1600x1200. Of course, there are exceptions (Iiyama was once producing a 19” monitor with a native resolution of 1600x1200 pixels), but they remain just exceptions. What makes things worse, those resolutions are not quite appropriate: many people find that pixels are too small on 17” monitors and too big on 19” models. 18” monitors that might be the golden mean haven’t stayed long on the market, although were produced for some time.

But now it seems like a wind of changes has blown. In my previous review of 19” monitors I spoke in favor of widescreen panels with an unusual resolution of 1440x900 pixels (such panels used to be 1280x768 until recently), and today I’m proud to introduce to you 20” monitors with a native resolution of 1400x1050 pixels.

What benefits does it bring to the manufacturer? The manufacturing cost of such panels is lower in comparison with ordinary ones (there are fewer pixels and fewer transistors and, therefore, fewer defective panels), and they also provide an opportunity to enlarge the product range. How does the user benefit from that? When the pixel size is important, particularly for people with weak eyesight or users who prefer to sit rather far from the monitor, there is now an interesting alternative to 19” models: the screen is one inch larger and has a 10% bigger horizontal resolution (the vertical resolution is almost the same due to the difference in the screen aspect ratio, which is 5:4 with 19” models and 4:3 with 20” models) whereas the pixel size remains almost as large as before. The screen aspect ratio is a plus, too. The virtually square-shaped 17” and 19” models aren’t very convenient because it’s better to have a wide screen rather than a tall screen, for work.

Well, the specified parameters and the exterior make it clear right away that the unconventional native resolution is the only exceptional feature of the Acer AL2017 model. This is an ordinary monitor on a TN+Film matrix (this matrix type is steadily moving on towards longer diagonals) without response time compensation.

The monitor has a black-and-silver plain-looking case which is rather thin despite the integrated power adapter. The stand is of a simplest variety and only allows to adjust the tilt of the screen. It is also the most fragile spot of the design: the monitor wobbles even on your pressing the control buttons.

You can replace the default stand with a standard VESA mount using the fastening holes.

The monitor is equipped with an analog input only. I’d regard this as an obvious defect in a 1600x1200 monitor (at that resolution the image quality might depend greatly on the quality of the graphics card – cable – monitor link), but the resolution of 1400x1050 shouldn’t be a problem with a majority of graphics cards. At least, the Radeon X600 installed in our testbed produced a sharp and clear image on this monitor.

Besides the video input, the monitor has a line audio input for the integrated speakers.

The control buttons are centered at the bottom of the front panel; the Power button has a different size and shape, so you can hardly mistake it for any other button. Quick access is provided to the sound volume setting and to the auto adjustment feature.

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