Articles: Monitors

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Since the last time we tested LCD monitors, new models have appeared in the market, both from well-known and obscure firms like Gigabyte (yes, you certainly know it, but not for its monitor-making skills?) or Macroview.

The manufacturers of matrixes have been perfecting their produce, too, so new models are not just a facelift improvement, but really provide a better image quality. That’s why we thought a new testing session was needed.

This article covers ten LCD monitor models selling under seven different brands (I deliberately say “selling”, because a monitor is not necessarily manufactured by the company whose brand it carries on itself). These are mainly inexpensive models, priced up to $450, with a few exceptions.

Acer AL1715

If you read my previous reviews on the subject, you should recognize the design. This monitor looks a perfect replica of the Acer AL1713 that I tested earlier (see our article called Closer Look at 17” LCD Monitor Features. Part III for details): a simple plastic case without any decorative elements and round silvery control buttons.

The base allows changing the screen tilt in a very small range. If you wish you can change the base with a VESA-compliant one (to hang the monitor on the wall, for example).

The monitor is equipped with an analog input only, and has an integrated power adapter. That’s quite natural for an inexpensive office model. By the way, there exists a multimedia version of the monitor, the AL1715m, with an audio input and speakers.

The monitor’s menu is without any “special features”, but is quite easy to use – you shouldn’t meet any problems setting this monitor up. The menu offers a selection of three color temperatures: “User” (by its default, this setting produced 5580K white and 7030K gray colors), “Cool” (6290K white and 9040K gray), and “Warm” (5050K white and 6050K gray). I used the “User” mode with its default settings in my tests since it was the closest to the 6500K temperature required by the industry standard sRGB.

By default, the monitor’s brightness is set to 100%, contrast to 80%. To make the screen shine with a luminance of 100nit (1 nit = 1 candela per sq. meter), I dropped the brightness and control settings to 70% and 60%, respectively. Brightness of this monitor is regulated by pulse-width modulation of the backlight lamps at a frequency of about 130Hz.

The color reproduction is good, with practically no stripes in smooth color gradients (let me remind you that I check the quality of output of a gradient that’s changing from black to red, green and blue colors). Auto-adjustment to a one-pixel black-white grid is performed without problems, but the sharpness of text is not perfect – some blur is noticeable.

The color curves are good, save for a small “hump” at the right part of the graph, but it vanished, too, after I reduced the contrast setting in the monitor’s menu.

Notwithstanding the declared response time of 20msec, my measurements say that the Acer AL1715 uses a matrix similar to 25msec ones in characteristics. The full response time is over 35msec at the maximum.

The brightness and contrast ratio of the monitor are somewhat below the specified ones but they are anyway good for a TN+Film matrix: the contrast ratio is above 300:1 in most cases.

So, the AL1715 is a slightly improved version of the earlier-tested AL1713: the matrix is a bit faster and has more contrast. It can play the role of an inexpensive office monitor for text-oriented tasks and nothing more – its rather high response time doesn’t allow it enter the camp of gaming models that are also made on TN+Film matrixes.

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