Hardware Review 001: Acer AL2216Wbd 22" Monitor

Introduction

The first thing to understand about purchasing a monitor is what type of panel is behind the display. Besides the panel manufacturer, there are three panel technologies in widespread use: TN (Twisted Nematic), PVA (Patterned Vertical Alignment), and IPS (In-Plane Switching). All of these technologies can also have an "S-" prefix, which stands for "Super" -- indicating the use of an upgraded version of the original technology. There are new “H-IPS” panels coming out as well, which are superior to the S-IPS version.

Knowing the manufacturer of the panel as well as the type of panel will give you a good start when understanding how good, and expensive, the display is going to be. TN has been around the longest, and while it is inexpensive to manufacture there are certain performance characteristics that I dislike, specifically the limited viewing angles. PVA and IPS are both better technologies in terms of quality and viewing angles, but they cost more to produce and they usually have some sort of visual lag, a potential downside if you’re a serious gamer.

Today I bring you a brief to-the-point review of the Acer AL2216Wbd 22” LCD monitor. A combination of price vs. performance that should appeal well to those budget minded users.


Specifications

Video Inputs1x Analog (VGA)
1x DVI with HDCP support
Panel TypeTN (Twisted Nematic)
Pixel Pitch0.282mm
Colors16.2 million (6-bit)
Brightness300 cd/m2
Contrast Ratio700:1
Response Time5ms gray-to-gray
Viewable Size22" diagonal
Resolution1680x1050
Viewing Angle170 degrees H/V
Screen SurfaceMatte (non-glossy)
Height, Pivot, Swivel, TiltNo, No, No, Yes
Wall Mount OptionYes
Dimensions w/ Base (WxHxD)20.2"x16"x7.8"
Weight w/ Stand10.6 lbs.
Additional FeaturesNone
AudioNone
Manufacturer Warranty3 year parts and labor limited
PriceMSRP $259
Online starting at ~$209

The Setup

Setting up the monitor was a breeze. One of the nice things about 22” and smaller monitors is the packaging they come in. I recently returned a pair of Doublesight 26” monitors and had a heck of a time getting them back in their boxes and in the car (not to mention the cost of return shipping). The base comes off with this monitor for easier storage, and the overall construction is solid enough to support moving the monitor around frequently.

Since this is a $200 monitor you shouldn’t expect any frills when using it. There are a minimal amount USB ports and only one DVI connector. The monitor does tilt but that is about it. No swivel or height adjustments, so if you need it any higher on your desk put a few books under it and you are good to go. I found the display to be perfectly adequate for my desk space and quite pleasing to the eye overall. I’m not one for being too picky about how fancy it looks, as it is all about how well it performs.


Visual Quality and Performance

Setup any LCD monitor and view it off to the side when its on, especially when its displaying a black screen. You should notice a lot of color or contrast distortion. On a black background when seeing this hazy light it is called “backlight bleeding”, a condition of the light not quite being blocked by the crystals. When the monitor is displaying an image and you view it at an angle, cheap monitors will not only show severe color distortion but overall contrast distortions. If you are sensitive to distortions of any kind when moving around, do not purchase a TN monitor such as this Acer! IPS panels are best for viewing angle stability. Viewing angles are a problem of visual quality. Some may notice these problems more so than others.

Another problem that users are sometimes sensitive too, especially gamers, is the more perceptive “lag” that occurs when moving around the mouse or viewing fast moving images. There are two actual kinds of this lag. Sensing lag when moving around the mouse may be attributed to the delay in the monitor processing the mouse signal, called Input Lag. Another type of lag is Response Time lag, which occurs when the image from the video card is not being updated on the monitor fast enough, causing blurring in fast moving images. Fortunately this is where TN panels excel. If you are a hardcore gamer and demand image clarity in fast moving images, this Acer monitor will work just fine for you.


Conclusion

You really can’t go wrong with this monitor at the near $200 price point level. You sacrifice a few features, but make up for it in a convenient size that sits directly between the outdated 20” monitors and the more expensive 24” cousins. While it does have its drawbacks in performance, mainly in the viewing angle department and somewhat in the contrast levels, if you aren’t picky or in need of photo quality images, I would highly recommend the Acer AL2216Wbd.

No comments: