Pros: cheap, very good picture, easy setup, good value
Cons: base feels flimsy
At some point, all things come to an end. For me, it was time to switch monitors at our office. People were still using 15" LCD monitors to sit in front of Excel all day. Needless to say, most were getting more and more grumpy... and probably more and more blind too. Since budget is always and issue, I decided that around $200 would be max for a new monitor and I would see what I get. Being offered the Acer AL1916a 19" LCD Monitor from my trusty vendor for $210 I ordered seven and was pleasantly surprised.
19 inch Flat Panel LCD TFT
Contrast Ratio - 700:1
Native Resolution - 1280x1024
Brightness - 300cd
Response time - 8ms
Color Depth - 24bit (16.7 Million Colors)
Height - 17.05 inch
Width - 16.62 inch
Depth - 6.92 inch
Weight - 14.4 lb
The monitor can be wall mounted (VESA 100x100mm) and supports Kensington locks.
What's in the box?
The AL1916A from Acer is one of the more basic models so I didn't expect much stuff to fall out of the box besides the monitor itself. You will find a VGA cable, a power cable, a manual, the warranty card, a CD-ROM (containing the user manual again, a quick start guide and Acrobat Reader),the monitor base and of course, the monitor itself.
I was actually in for a first shock as soon as I had the monitor in my hands. You see, the base is really not much more than a small plastic platform where you just snap the monitor in. Everything really seemed flimsy and honestly, it didn't really look like it would hold. I was really expecting to break that thing as soon as I snap the base on the monitor. But it worked fine with all seven monitors. So it is more sturdy than it looks, although I still don't trust that base much. In addition, since the base is snapped on via four little plastic hooks, it will prove virtually impossible to take it off once it's on. That basically means once the monitor is out of the box, there is no going back (literally).
Well, it's a monitor, there is not that much to do. The 1916A version only features VGA connectors so there is no confusing the cables either. Plug in the VGA cable to the computer, plug in power - that's it. The monitor is real plug and play so no installing drivers or anything under Windows for example. It also features the now more or less standard "Auto" button to adjust the picture automatically. I set up all seven monitors using the auto-setup and had no problems. Picture quality was really good right from the start, without having to set up brightness, contrast or anything like that. In fact, the picture quality was so good, that immediately everybody was really happy with the new monitor and eager to start working on their word documents and spreadsheets again, just to see how it "feels" now. I should get a company bonus for boosting morale...
The onscreen menu - settings you can change
Although the picture is very good right from the start, you might want to change some settings, if you have special wishes. The onscreen menu features all the standard settings you would expect from a monitor today, but not much more either. You can change:
- picture position
- pixel clock frequency
- color (warm, cool and user setting in which you can change the RGB settings)
- language (5 languages possible)
That is all very basic but for this kind of monitor more than enough. After all, it's only slightly above $200.
The design of the monitor is very sleek and nice. It's silver on the front (black is available to, I think) and black on the back. The frame is very thin (1/4 inch) so you mostly just see the screen itself, which is very nice. It gives the monitor a very elegant look. In addition, if you for some reason attach two to your graphics card and extend the desktop to both of them, you won't be bothered with a big frame in between them.
Even though the design and the looks are nice, the material doesn't hold up to that. Everything seemed a little to much plastic in my eyes. Not that it's cheap or the thing is not properly put together, but the looks would have been even better with a slightly different material or at least a different finish on the one Acer used. Still, that's a visual thing that will in no way interfere with the monitors performance.
This monitor is really worth it's money, as it presents a very clear and bright picture on a huge 19" screen. If you need a big screen and don't want to spend large amounts of money, you should definitely take a look at the Acer AL1916A. Other models of the same series feature speakers, DVI input or even Widescreen format, for a slightly bigger price 'though.
Some things do prevent me from giving the highest possible rating though:
1. The plastic feel and the base:
It seems that Acer put all the money's worth into the screen itself, rather than it's shell. Which is fine by me, but I still don't really trust that plastic stand. And even though the monitor looks really nice with it's silver and black frame, it doesn't give you the feel of a high class monitor.
2. The buttons and the onscreen menu:
I am very picky with these. The reason for that is that almost all monitors nowadays feature a row of buttons on the bottom, with which you navigate through the onscreen menu. And most monitors (and this one is no exception) do make it rather weird to navigate through. An easy, intuitive steering through the menus is something that very few monitors have. I had a LG Flatron CRT monitor years back that featured a four way steering cross with two additional buttons for selection and cancel. That thing was really easy to set up in terms of going through the menus. I always wonder why so few monitors don't have something similar.
3. 300 cd is pretty bright, but I would like more in this field. At least 350 or 400 cd. But again, this is only $210, we don't want to be picky.
Still, All in all this monitor is very good value for your money. If you're on a budget and still want a decent size monitor that looks good, definitely take a look at the Acer AL1916 series. And as a basic model, the here shown AL1916A will not let you down.