Articles: Monitors

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I wrote about the bad points of this menu two times already (when talking about the Acer AL2032WA above and when reviewing the Acer Ferrari F-19 in my previous article). There is in fact only one improvement over the F-19: the input selection menu shows all the available options (when the F-19 was used as a PC monitor, the menu showed only DVI and D-Sub). Otherwise, the menu is still astonishing with its illogical operation. It is a convention in many monitors with TV-tuners that the TV-related menu options become unavailable in the PC monitor mode, but do not disappear completely. Here, the menu changes noticeably on your switching between the monitor and TV-set modes, which is somewhat confusing. Moreover, the monitor doesn’t support the Picture-in-Picture mode, which is strange for a model with a TV-tuner. As a result, you can’t work at the computer and watch TV at the same time.

I had had some problems setting the F-19 model’s TV-tuner up either due to errors in its software or some other reasons. It’s better with the F-20, fortunately. The monitor found all the available channels and displayed a good-quality picture. The only drawback is that you can start the setup procedure and go drink coffee or something because, judging by the progress indicator, the monitor will be looking through the entire range of frequencies for a few times, which takes about 20 minutes.

By default, the monitor’s brightness and contrast settings are set at 100% and 80%, respectively. To achieve a 100nit brightness of white I selected 35% brightness and 37% contrast in the monitor’s menu. Brightness is controlled with the backlight lamps. The monitor doesn’t provide quick access to brightness adjustment and lacks any brightness presets.

The viewing angles are good, the monitor features an MVA matrix after all. It displays color gradients very tidily at any brightness/contrast settings. The backlighting is uniform.

The gamma is somewhat lower than necessary (the curves go above the theoretical ones). In other words, the image on the screen of this monitor looks pale, low-contrast, at the default settings. The term contrast may have different meanings in the mouth of a specialist and an ordinary user. For a specialist, contrast is the ratio of white to black, but for many users it is a subjective image property that depends on brightness, color saturation, etc. So, if you hear a user say that some monitor has low contrast, this most often means a paleness of colors, i.e. a reduced gamma like in the diagram above.

The monitor is free from serious color reproduction defects. It gives you the entire range of color tones. The gamma curves have the same shape at the reduced brightness/contrast.

The monitor offers only two color temperature modes except the user-defined mode. The Warm mode produces an average color temperature of about 7000K. This mode would be called Normal rather than Warm in most other monitors. The setup quality is average in terms of how far the temperatures of different levels of gray differ. The difference amounts to over 1000K here.

The average response time of the F-20 is only 8.6 milliseconds, which is an excellent result for an MVA matrix and differs by a mere 0.1ms from the AL2032WA. This is yet another indication of the close similarity between these two monitors (the difference is in fact within the measurement error range).

The RTC error is 4% on average with a maximum of 13.8%. That’s a very good result – you won’t see much of RTC artifacts on this monitor. Well, you will be able to see them without an oscilloscope if you deliberately sit down to search for them, but they won’t be disturbing at everyday work.

The monitor’s contrast ratio is higher than the AL2032WA’s, but not by much. Alas, these numbers are very humble as VA matrixes go. I would like to see a contrast ratio of 400:1 and higher, but the F-20 couldn’t give me 300:1 even.

There is currently a price difference of over $150 between the AL2032WA and the Ferrari F-20. This money buys you:

  • Ferrari-style design
  • TV-tuner without the Picture-in-Picture mode, i.e. you can’t watch TV and work with computer programs simultaneously
  • Unhandy remote control

It’s a matter of personal taste, of course, but I don’t think the Ferrari F-20 will make a good buy for anyone other than a loyal fan of the Ferrari brand. It is a good enough monitor (but not exceptional in its characteristics), but its high price and a few drawbacks make it less appealing to me than even its closest relative AL2032WA.

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