Articles: Monitors

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This article continues our series of reviews of 20” LCD monitors. Our previous report covered quite a lot of products with *VA and S-IPS matrixes, but you’ll only see one model with a matrix type other than TN in this review. It is a logical consequence of the current market trends – TN technology with its modest parameters but a very appealing price is getting an increasingly larger share of the market.

But is this trend so bad after all? Are TN-based monitors so utterly hopeless? Let’s check it out.

Testing Methodology

Click the following link for a description of our testing methodology, the equipment we use, and a brief explanation of what the specified and tested parameters of LCD monitors mean: the article is called Xbit Labs Presents: LCD Monitors Testing Methodology Indepth. If you feel overwhelmed with the numbers and terms this article abounds in, check out an appropriate section of the mentioned Description for an explanation.

New in our reviews is the objective measurement of the uniformity of the monitor’s brightness. This irregularity is measured with a photo-sensor on both white and black backgrounds because it may differ between these two cases. For each monitor we draw a picture that shows the qualitative character of the irregularity and also publish two quantitative marks: the average and the maximum deflection of brightness. You can refer to the appropriate section of the mentioned article for a detailed explanation of the measurement method.

Some monitors in this review were tested before the introduction of the brightness uniformity test, and we didn’t perform this test for them, but we promise to measure the brightness uniformity for every monitor in our future reviews.

Acer AL2016WBsd

TN technology has conquered the 20” monitor market. I won’t even prove my point since it’s obvious. It is also obvious that most of TN-based models also have a wide screen with an aspect ratio of 16:10. Thus, the first monitor to be reviewed here is in fact a typical representative of the given market segment.

The AL2016WBsd has ordinary specifications and doesn’t differ in anything from others of its class. It is based on a widescreen TN matrix without Response Time Compensation (RTC) and without dynamic contrast mode.

The plain-looking black-and-gray case typical of Acer’s inexpensive monitors will look properly on an office desk, but a home user is likely to demand something more elegant. Fortunately, Acer’s product line-up includes elegant models as well – I’ll talk about them later.

The stand allows adjusting the tilt of the screen. It can be replaced with a standard VESA mount if necessary.

The monitor was packed into its box with the bottom of the stand detached, which was an unpleasant surprise to me because the fastening mechanism was obviously not meant for being frequently attached/detached. There are as many as eight plastic locks along the perimeter of the pole of the stand, and these are also covered with a metallic plate at the back for more rigidity. So, once you attach the stand, you will have problems detaching it again, but the monitor just doesn’t fit into its box with the stand attached. The other Acer monitors tested for this review are free from that problem with their stand fastened with one or two locks that can be easily unlocked with one finger.

This monitor has both analog and digital video inputs. It looks like monitors without a DVI interface have become outdated already. This is interface is currently so cheap to implement that there is no sense to save on it even in inexpensive products.

The control buttons are placed in a single block below the case. The On/Off button is a different shape and size. It is highlighted with a mild green LED at work. The color changes into amber in sleep mode. Quick access is provided to the automatic adjustment of the analog connection and to switching between preset image modes.

Acer’s traditional menu is average in terms of user-friendliness. It offers just the basic settings such as brightness, contrast, color temperature, menu-related options, etc.

Besides the user-defined settings the monitor also offers four factory presets. You can’t edit them but you can switch between them quickly. Press the “e” button on the front panel to access this feature and then choose the desired mode with the “<” and “>” buttons. This is slightly less convenient that with other monitors that allow switching through such preset modes by pressing one and the same button over and over again (LG’s f-Engine or Samsung’s MagicBright). I’ll tell you shortly what exactly parameters are affected by the preset modes of the AL2016WBsd.

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