Unlike the unpretentious AL1715, this model is realized in an official-looking, yet attractive case. The front panel and the base are made of matt aluminum, and the rear panel of black plastic. Thus, the monitor looks good on the desk, but without any unnecessary exaggeration. From the point of view of functionality, the base has a feature: a carry handle. You can only adjust the screen tilt – there’s no portrait mode or height adjustment. The control buttons are round and shining; they look nice, with one exception: like in the AL1931 model (see our article called Closer Look at 19" LCD Monitors Features. Part II for details), the blue LED in the power-on button is too bright. It is annoyingly distractive even under normal ambient light, not to mention work in the evening or at night. I guess the manufacturers shouldn’t forget that the LED’s primary purpose is that of an indicator, rather than of a flashlight.
The Acer AL1731m has no shortage of connectors – compared to more functionally advanced models it would only lack a TV-tuner.
As you see, there’re analog D-Sub and digital DVI-D inputs, an audio input, an S-Video and composite video inputs. Well, the engineers couldn’t help making one slip: there’s no headphones output here.
The menu is pretty, easy to use, rich in options (especially the sound-relating options like timbre, tone compensation, balance – they even look superfluous with respect to those humble speakers integrated into monitors). Well, the menu would be even better if they assigned the Exit menu item to the Auto button, which is otherwise inactive when in the menu – it works like this in the above-described Acer AL1715, for example.
The menu offers four color temperature settings: “User” (by default, it produces 6500K white and 9510K gray), “Cool” (9890K white and 17,630K gray), “Natural” (6330K and 8100K) and “Warm” (4570K and 5610K).
The viewing angles are good as TN matrixes go: the horizontal angles are so wide as to cause no discomfort at work, and the vertical angles display a certain irregularity in the distribution of brightness. By default, the monitor’s brightness setting stands on 100%, contrast setting on 50%. By setting them to 20% brightness and 24% contrast, I made the screen shine with a luminance of 100nit.
The Acer AL1731m reproduces smooth color gradients excellently but there were problems with auto-adjustment for the analog signal – the image flickers slightly when a fine black-white grid is being outputted. However, this is a specific reaction of the monitor to this particular picture. I couldn’t notice any flicker at ordinary work, and you won’t have any flicker using the digital interface at all.
The setup of the Acer AL1731m’s color reproduction is good enough, although blue and green colors are too intensive.
The measured response time didn’t coincide with the specification, but for the better: the manufacturer mentions 20msec, while my measurements gave out 13msec. The pixel rise time was 26msec at the maximum, which is a typical result for 16msec TN+Film matrixes. Sometimes I have an impression that the manufacturers write certain averaged parameters into the technical characteristics, basing on several monitor models, while in practice these monitors have quite different matrixes. Acer is not the only firm I know to issue the same specifications for monitor models that are strikingly different in their capabilities.
Unfortunately, the contrast ratio is no good – it reached only to 200:1, which is twice below the manufacturer’s claim (note that these numbers are exactly the same as we had with the previous model, while the two evidently have different matrixes).
Thus, the Acer AL1731m has a nice and rather original appearance (due to the use of aluminum) and a fast matrix with good color reproduction and viewing angles as well as an abundance of video inputs. The only considerable deficiency of this monitor is the relatively low contrast ratio, not exceeding 200:1, while many other modern monitors on fast matrixes, like the Samsung SyncMaster 172X that I reviewed in my previous article, have a nearly twice better contrast ratio, without compromising the other parameters. In spite of that, the AL1731m will make a good gaming as well as a cheap multi-purpose monitor.