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Damn. I really disliked Acer you know. I remember ages ago, back in the day when I was younger and had less chest hairs, my friend Simon bought a complete PC system from Acer. It was a horrid shade or dark green and grey, but he liked it - calling it 'chic'. Yeah... and vegetarians eat chickens.
In any case, the reason why I brought that up is because he constantly called me up to help him diagnose a problem with his PC. "It keeps switching off! It keeps making clicking sounds! It keeps loading up windows that have men and women in awkward positions with their fingers in strange places!" Well, no matter how slight it was, he would ring me and put on a shock horror tone of voice so that I would come to his rescue. Cape and all.
But yes, that experience left me scarred, therefore I detested anything to do with Acer. Even if an Acer salesman came over to my home and offered me a free top of the range Acer system with a free vibrating chair I would of still turned them down (except for the chair.) But today, I am a changed man.
Acer has given me new hope for them in the guise of a silver framed TFT monitor. It looks the dog's bollocks, it gives off an 'I am new straight off the manufacturer's conveyor belt' scent (it never lasts though which is a shame), it functions like a well oiled door hinge and it has a very attractive price tag. If there was a reason you shouldn't buy this monitor, it'll probably be because you don't have the cash.
It is packaged inside a brown box that is very easy to carry thanks to its white handle at the top. The box itself is a lot smaller than the boxes you find with conventional CRT monitors (and a lot thinner) so no more do you have to hire yourself a mini van to transport it home from your local PC World. I can put it in the leg space of my passenger seat in my 3 door hatchback Corsa, now that's space saving! The box itself tells you which way the front side of the monitor is so that you don't accidentally lay it down the wrong way during transport.
When you open it up (at home preferably), the inside looks very securely packaged to reduce possible damage to the monitor itself. Inside you should find the monitor itself, the monitor stand, a brown tray-like box holding a UK power cable and a EURO power cable, a double-ended audio jack cable, a double-ended male VGA cable, a power transformer box, a monitor quick start guide, warrantee information and the forever useless monitor manual CD. In all honestly, why
do these companies bother with monitor manual CDs with their monitors? I mean nobody bothers using it, it just sits there and does bugger all, and if you need it you can just download the 2MB manual off the official website. They should print the manual out for us to be honest. But yes, those are the things you should find inside the box, and if anything is missing you better return and get a replacement.
Removing the monitor from it's protective packaging can be a challenge at first as you try to pull it out of the box, but hey that just shows you how securely packaged it is. The stand is easy to install, you just set it own on a flat surface (such as your floor), align your monitor over it properly and then slowly lower it into the stand until you hear a click. A click later, installation complete! Don't like the stand? No problem! You can have this monitor wall mounted by the 4 wall screws at the back of the monitor, but to install it this way you can't install the monitor stand or else it'll not only look stupid, but stop it being flat against the wall.
Next is the setting the monitor on your work top and then plugging the cables in. This is a very simple task that I can do with one hand, and my left hand for that matter. The cable plugs are located behind the monitor and are easy to spot. The transformer plug goes vertically up into the monitor on the right hand side at the back, whilst the VGA cable and the audio cable goes in the same way but to the left side at the back. The other end of the cables go either into the PC (for the VGA and audio cable) or into a power cable for the mains. Et voila! We're ready to roll!
Now for the main monitor review!
The monitor has built-in stereo speakers that I would guess are around 2.5 Watts per channel. I recommend against using these speakers as they are a load of crap! I can fart more resonant and more clearly than the mumbled sounds that these speakers spew out, therefore I suggest sticking to a dedicated set of audio speakers instead and saving the audio cable for something else in future.
The monitor itself measures at 15.1" x 8.3" x 15.5" (with the stand), weighs in at 7.7 lbs (that's around 3.5kg) and is completely black all over except for the silver front bezel that makes a thin 2cm frame around the TFT screen itself. The thin frame is good as it makes the screen itself look larger, and this is true because if you have a massive frame the screen in the middle shrinks. Optical illusions all over the place! At the front where the silver bezel is, there resides 5 silver buttons at the bottom centre of the frame, with the right most button being the power button. I sometimes try to press all the buttons at the same time with one hand (and I usually succeed at it as well) to entertain myself whenever I get bored with working on my PC, but otherwise the buttons are useful in editing up the monitor's settings. The left most button is the AUTO button that, as the name suggests, automatically sets up your monitor for optimal visual clarity. Simply hold it down for a few seconds and watch as it slowly flickers and jumps its way to sharpness and accurate colour rendition. The problem is, what you think is optimal visual clarity may not be the same as how the monitor perceives it, so in using it you may end up editing the setting yourself manually anyway.
The middle three buttons are for manual editing of the monitor's settings. The 2nd button is a left arrow; the 3rd button is a right arrow whilst the 4th button is the MENU button, unimaginatively used to access the monitor's settings menu. Pressing the MENU button brings up the menu where you can use the arrow buttons to browse to what ever settings you deem and worthy for editing i.e. brightness, contrast, etc. When you get to the setting you want to edit, press the MENU button again to enter it and then use the arrow keys to increase or decrease the setting. If you want to go back one stage, just press the AUTO button and the menu will return by a stage. Press AUTO enough times and it will close the menu. The menu is rather nice as well, since most menus that pop up are nasty blue and white teletext-ish nightmares. With the Acer though, it is a smoothly made grey menu that slides through your option choices with grace and ease.
When powered up, an annoying 'ACER' logo appears for a brief few seconds before fading into black and displaying your PC's video signal. I would have liked it to immediately show me my PC's signal as time is money, but I guess it's something I got to live with. When loaded up into Windows XP, the screen was bright, clear and crisp. The contrast between the colours is very obvious with no colour bleeding whatsoever (colour bleeding: when colours kind of overlap each other causing a blurry effect). This monitor has an image contrast ratio of 350:1 and an image brightness of 370 cd/m2. Those values are rather average for a TFT monitor, as higher end monitors have
Pictures of Acer AL1714 17 in
Here it is!
higher and better ratios/values so colour contrast and brightness is better. However, for this TFT it is more than adequate for photo editing and playing the occasional games as images are still clearly displayed. The pixel pitch is 0.264mm, which is also rather average nowadays. The smaller the pixel pitch the finer the detail of images can be displayed, for this monitor it is fully capable of displaying fine detail but just don't start working with super small images.The highest resolution this monitor can support is 1280 x 1024 with a refresh rate of 75Hz. Being a 17" TFT monitor, this is the standard that should be supported by it and here it is no different. But this does limit people who are used to choosing different screen resolutions on conventional fat arse CRTs, especially those above the 1280 x 1024 limit. Another one of its flaws is the 14ms response time. The response time is how fast the screen updates itself for new information to be displayed. So while 14ms is good enough for DVD playback, office applications and 2D manipulation, with things that move very fast onscreen such as 3D games it can cause the screen to have "image cracks", where the top half of the screen is updated before the bottom half so you get a tear effect in the graphics. A good example of this can be seen if you play DOOM 3 on this monitor, graphic tears everywhere! The TFT screen itself doesn't have any special coatings on it, so it is susceptible to some glare if placed in a bad position. Its final flaw is that it doesn't have a DVI input port for a DVI cable, which gives better screen quality. It's not a major problem, but since many graphics cards are adopting the DVI standard now and going to drop the old VGA port, it would have been nice to have.
Overall this monitor is a decent performing monitor by Acer. Although its visual clout is nothing compared to the Sony X-black displays, it has a low price of £130 available at a majority of online stores and its features more than justify the price. It has some flaws, but they aren't majorly big problems, and many of us normal users can live with them. But hey, at least there is a really good plus side to the monitor! If you move to America, at least you don't have to change the transformer because it'll work over there no problems! Just get an American power cable and you're sorted.
Note: Apparently there are different colours to the one I reviewed. There is the fully white one, the fully black one and the fully beige one. How comes mine isn't fully silver?