Acer have been in the computer business for a long time now and have plenty of experience in everything from high end consumer products right down to the budget friendly solutions such as the monitor we're looking at today. The Acer group is made up of Acer, Gateway, Packard Bell and eMachines, with a team of over 8000 people around the world and ranking themselves 4th for PC and 2nd for notebook in terms of total shipments and market share. So they certainly have been doing something right to have such a strong foothold in the market.
Acer group is split into four separate companies to offer different products to different markets. The Acer part of the company aims to create environmentally friendly products, covering everything from monitors, to desktop computers, servers and even smart phones. This again reinforces the amount of product knowledge and market experience that comes with their brand name.
Today we have on the test bench a 21.5" (55cm) Acer monitor. It's not the most feature heavy monitor within this price range but it does offer plenty of "green" technology and power saving solutions. Fitted with an ultra-thin screen and chassis design that houses and LED back lit screen, a contrast ratio of 100m:1, Full Energy Star compliance, ECODisplay, make this a lightweight, space saving solution with a very lower thirst for electricity.
It's also a decent size screen for this price range, with 21.5" of screen running at full HD resolutions (1920 x 1080 max) giving a great amount of screen space for work and play.
The monitor comes in a fairly straight forward package, with a simple image of the monitor on the front of the box and a few logos showing its energy efficiency and general specifications, nothing fancy but all the important stuff is covered here.
The monitor was packed well enough with the usual Styrofoam, plastic and plenty of clear plastic to prevent minor scratches when in transit. But with everything out of the box we found the usual selection of accessories required for day to day operation.
• European power cable
• UK power cable
• VGA cable
• DC Power Adaptor
• Monitor to Stand attachment
• X shaped monitor stand
So nothing of special significance here, but it's all you really need to get things up and running. Digging a little further into the box we also uncovered the warranty booklet, a straight forward quick start guide and safety leaflet. Also included were the digital versions of these booklets on a DVD, the disc also allows you to register your product for its warranty via their website.
The monitor clips into the stand with ease and locks in place with a simple thumb screw. It's a simple stand design but a perfectly effective one. While it doesn't allow for height or swivel adjustments you can adjust the overall tilt of the monitor to get a good reading angle on the screen. The base is only made of plastic and is fairly lightweight but once mounted, the monitor is secure and stable.
With the monitor turned sideways you can really see how slim the actual unit is, while there are thinner on the market, offering a thinner screen than this provides little to no benefit as you would still require the desk space for stand that can keep it steady, so it's the perfect balance of size and stability here.
Turning around to the back of the monitor we see that the top left has a grey "Acer" logo, not exactly an important feature of course, but I am just point out that it's there. The centre of the back of the monitor features the main input options, running from left to right of the image we have DVI, VGA and Power inputs. As detailed in the accessories list, the monitor does only come with a VGA cable, so if you wanted to use the DVI port you will need to provide your own cable, but for now, VGA is enough for our tests as it still fully supports all the resolutions the monitor is capable of.
The monitor comes fitted with some hidden buttons on the bottom right hand side, these are a royal pain to access but awkward buttons are nothing new to users of PC monitors and this is fairly standard design issues for a monitor in this price range. Hit any of these buttons and you're presented with a fairly limited OSD.
From left to right we have Energy Saving Mode, Auto Calibration, Preferences, Volume and Input Source.
The preferences menu is the only really customisable thing on this monitor, it is fairly limited but all the major features are there, with some simple colour management, brightness, contrast, colour temp, scaling, reset and display info being the only usable features on offer. The menu is clearly laid out but navigation is a little awkward due to the poor button placement, fortunately this isn't something you need to use every day, so it's not exactly a deal breaker.
It took no more than a couple of minutes to have the monitor out of the box, mounted on its stand and connected to our test PC, the included VGA cable wasn't even compatible with our graphics card or motherboard so we had to fire it up using our own DVI cable, but that's only a minor issue. With everything setup, windows auto detected the 1920x1080 resolution and we were good to go.
For the testing process I opted to try out a few different tasks that would befit a normal days usage for any monitor. First up was general calibration of the screen brightness, contrast, colours etc. The first thing I noticed was a blue hue colour to the whites on the screen, this is however common place on more budget friendly LED monitors.
The limited OSD options made it difficult to calibrate the image much as the monitor doesn't feature any direct way to adjust the LED backlighting so there is some torching in the corners of the screen, many users won't notice or care about this issue and those looking for accurate colour reproduction and contrast levels will no doubt be looking much higher up the price range anyway.
Moving on from the calibration I decided to push on with some general day to day use of the monitor, using it as my main work display for several hours, daily tasks such as reading emails, typing articles, checking Facebook, wasting a lot of time on YouTube, that kind of thing. Overall the experience was not unpleasant but nothing to shout about either, I'll mark this off as satisfactory, the screen is easy on the eyes in general over long periods of time and easy on the eyes in both a brightly lit room and a dim lit room alike.
Next up was gaming, I put it through its paces on a few fast moving games, F1 2012, Battlefield 3 were my main choices. The monitors’ performance wasn't terrible but with some faster moving scenes it was apparent that the response time was a little slow, leaving some ghosting behind faster moving objects. It is again hard to say it’s a bad monitor for this issue though, because of its price range it’s well in line with the competition for this size and price.
This monitor is targeted at a general consumer, it’s not aimed at pro gamers or graphics designers, but at those who need a big, simple and relatively cheap (for its size) display that will hold up to the daily tasks of Facebook, email and a little YouTube. If you're looking for a monitor that is easy on the eyes over long periods of time, doesn't cost the earth in terms of overall cost and power consumption then this is a good choice for you. For those looking for a mid-range office solution, that features a large 21.5" display and full 1920x1080 support; then the Acer ticks all those boxes nicely. It's a cheap monitor and while you can get better for the money in terms of performance, you'll be hard pushed to do so while also finding this amount of screen space, resolution and energy efficiency.