Acer AL2216W: a worthwhile compromise?

by Jarred Walton on 3/10/2007 3:00 PM EST
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  • DannyR - Sunday, July 08, 2007 - link

    I went to Office Depot just to see which size LCD I might like and happened to see the 22 inch Acer on display. I did not write down the model which was a mistake. It had the best image of the monitors on display. I was not happy with the fact that all the displays were set to a single resolution regardless of wide screen or 4:3. But my wife also noticed the Acer had the best picture. So I did more research and found the 22 inch wide screen is the best bang for the buck. The monitors smaller than 22 inches are shorter and have less pixels than the same size 4:3. In other words, the hight of a 19 16:9 is shorter than a 19 4:3 and has less square inches of screen. The 22 inch wide screen is taller than my old 19 inch CRT. So the choice for me was 22 inch wide screen.

    I spent a lot of time trying to figure out the differences between Acers 22" monitors. Acer makes 4 models, AL2216W, AL2251W, AL2223W and X221W. Sometimes they are W and sometimes the are Wsd.

    I went online and checked several reports and found the Acer was not worse than the others and in some ways better. I don't need speakers, I can use a book to raise the height and the monitor rotates left and right on the desk and that is OK with me.

    I shopped the Sunday ads for the local big box stores and checked on line again. Tiger sells the AL2216W for $199 but was out of stock. I called Tiger to see if they could tell me the difference between the $199 AL 2216W and the AL 2251W "gamers" monitor which sells for $319 and I was told they did not know what was different. I check the specs on both and I found very little difference.

    I went to a different Office Depot location to look at he AL 2216W in person and found they did not have one on the shelf. When I asked if they had any Acer monitors I was told they did not know, but they did not think so. I found an empty spot on one of the shelfs which had a tag for Acer 22" widescreen and a price of $299 minus instant savings of $30 and a mail in rebate for $70. It was the Acer AL2216W. I asked if they knew when it would be back in stock and the sales person called to the back room and told me it was in stock and do I want to buy one. I told him I wanted to see the box and check out the specs. They brought the box out and it told me little. I asked about the return and they said I had 14 days. I noticed the 1680x1050 resolution and I thought my Matrox Millienium G400 dual head has up to 1900x1200 so I figured no problem it must support 1680x1050. I bought the monitor for $300 less $30.00 instant savings and $70 mail in rebate and $30 tax. I thought that was a good price and I could take it home, check it out and bring it back if there were problems.

    I got home and set up the monitor. I am very pleased with the whole package. The physical cabinet, the look, the screen are all acceptable. I set up the monitor as my main monitor and I set my 19" CRT Princeton Graphics as my second monitor. I set the the AL2215W to 1600x1024 since my video card does not support 1680x150. I figured I could upgrade the driver from the CD or online.

    I set the brightness and contrast and the monitor looks great unless you want to read fonts, which are funny looking due to the resolution issues. Images and everything else look great.

    I spent two days trying to find new drivers for the monitor. I loaded the zip file for the drivers and got a message the windows did not recognize the file extension. I sent e-mails to Matrox and Acer. Finally I got a telephone call through to Acer tech support and they told me they did not have any other drivers. They said go to my vendor for new drivers. I asked what the differences were between the four Acer 22 inch monitors and the tech guy did not know. He was very polite and nice, however.

    I checked everywhere I could and I can not find a way to open the new driver file. I guess I am going to have to buy a new graphics card which supports 1680x1050.

    The Matrox dual head works great and I can really see an improvement in the quality of the image on the new LCD since my 19 inch CRT was getting dim and loosing brightness.

    I am going to build a new computer soon and I may have to live with the wrong resolution until then or I may have to buy a new graphics card now.

    I hate to buy a new AGP when the new computer is getting a PCIe card which my old computer does not support.

    Does anyone know of any issues where Windows XP Pro SP2 won't recognize a driver file with a ICM extension?

    Does anyone know a way to open a file with a .ICM extension which windows does not recognize?

    Thanks
    DannyR
    Reply
  • panagrass - Tuesday, July 03, 2007 - link

    I got mine on sale at BestBuy for $189

    Hell of a good deal IMO @ sub $200 if u can wait for Holiday Sales
    Reply
  • VooDooAddict - Monday, March 12, 2007 - link

    What's the effective difference between the calibration tool you use there and the inexpensive "Spider2" line?

    I think you've effectively gotten many of us geeks quite interested in proper monitor calibration ... but can we archive that with a sub $75 tool? For $75 and if it was easy enough to use, I could justify that by using it to calibrate the display of friends, family, and possibly customers as well. But if the $75 Spider2 is more of a Toy then a tool ... and I have to spend close $250-$300 for the right equipment then I've already lost interest.
    Reply
  • strikeback03 - Tuesday, March 13, 2007 - link

    http://www.northlight-images.co.uk/reviews.html">http://www.northlight-images.co.uk/reviews.html

    there is a site with some decent reviews of some common calibration tools. Unfortunately they don't include the DTR-94 that Anandtech uses. http://www.behardware.com/articles/626-1/monitor-c...">http://www.behardware.com/articles/626-1/monitor-c... has some more, and http://www.drycreekphoto.com/Learn/monitor_calibra...">http://www.drycreekphoto.com/Learn/monitor_calibra... includes the Coloreyes software with a X-Rite DTP-94 (dunno how close it is to the DTR-94), but was last updated in 2005 or so.

    I got my Eye-One Display 2 for $180 or so from Newegg around Christmas time. The Eye-One Display LT uses the same colorimeter, but is crippled in software - for some it is probably all they need though, and within the settings you can choose I would expect the results to be as good as the Display 2.

    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, March 13, 2007 - link

    Sorry - my mistake on the names. The "DTR-94" should have been "DTP-94". For what it's worth, the third link (drycreek) was what led to me purchasing the Optix XR Pro bundle for doing monitor reviews. I also have a "Lite" version of the software that creates profiles that are just as good as the Pro software I think, but it doesn't provide any information about the final results - i.e. Delta E or luminance levels. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Monday, March 12, 2007 - link

    My understanding is the Spyder2 doesn't do nearly as well, but for casual use it's probably sufficient. The Monaco Optix XR with Pro software goes for more like $300. ColorEyes is another option, but just as expensive I think. It might be interesting to do a review of color calibration tools at some point, but honestly I think even a basic hardware calibration tool like Spyder2 is going to an adequate job for non-image professionals.

    The software side of things might be the more expensive aspect... not sure what Syper2 comes with in software. ColorEyes Display with the Optix XR is $300 or so. GretagMacbeth Eye-One Display 2 is $250 for the bundle. Spyder2Pro with software is also $250, so if you can get the same colorimeter with "basic" software for $75 that's probably a good deal; somehow I doubt it's the same colorimeter, though.
    Reply
  • Resh - Monday, March 12, 2007 - link

    Great! Loved all the detail re: calibration for print, etc. Fantastic! Reply
  • BernardP - Monday, March 12, 2007 - link

    The article is very interesting, but I feel it tends to minimize problems associated with viewing angle limitations of TN panels: Sitting 18 to 24 inches in front of the monitor, it is fairly obvious that slight vertical head movement will make a darker band mode up and down the screen. The vertical viewing angle is so restricted that a 22-inch wide TN screen can't produce uniform color/brightess from a normal viewing ditsnce. This effect is not revealed when taking screeshots from 6 feet away, even with zoom, as the subtended angle is then much narrower.

    There is a new 22-inch LG L226 22-inch widescreen which has been top rated in its class in the LCD sticky in Anandtech Video Forum. It uses a new LG TN panel. I gave seen this monitor in store, and it seems to have better viewing angles than other 22-inch widescreens. I would be very interested to see a review comparing this monitor to the Acer 2216 (and newer Acer2223)
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Monday, March 12, 2007 - link

    I suppose I just don't sit that close to my displays. 18-24"? I'm more like three feet away in most cases. Still, your point about angles isn't entirely correct. At 24", you would need to move your head about 14" to either side to achieve a 30 degree viewing angle. I have used this LCD on a regular basis for several weeks, and while I did notice that the viewing angle was clearly less than other LCDs I've used, for the most part I noticed that when approaching or leaving the PC and not while actually using it. Reply
  • SleepNoMore - Monday, March 12, 2007 - link

    Over at NewEgg a very popular 22" is the Chenmei. It's sort of the most bang for the buck right now. A buddy of mine - his friend bought it and he is going to get one too. It doesn't have a height adjustment though, does have tilt. I'm assuming from this article that it's one and the same panel. It would be interesting to have that reviewed also as it comes in a 80 bucks less ( I think - doing this from memory) than the Asus. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Monday, March 12, 2007 - link

    Newegg lists a http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.asp?Subm...">bunch of 22" LCDs, with the Acer AL2223Wd and Chimei 221D being the cheapest. Actually, I'm curious as to what the difference in panel is between the AL2216Wbd and the AL2223Wd, as the latter has a better stand IMO. Looks like it has a slightly higher contrast as well - possibly a better display coating? Anyway, you can see in that list that specs are almost all identical between the 22" LCDs, so price and features are going to be the big factors. Reply
  • tercathian - Sunday, March 11, 2007 - link

    w/ Base, (WxHxD)=20.2"x16.0"x7.8"; w/o Base,=27.16"x17.70"2.93". That base must reeaally scrunch things together! Otherwise another great Anandtech review. Glad to see monitors getting coverage again for a change.
    Upon visual comparison of BesBi's display lcd's, I passed on the Acer 22" that had a white line running top to bottom and picked the LG 22". Noticably crisper than any other brand, with purported 3000:1 contrast, for not much more $$$.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Sunday, March 11, 2007 - link

    Oops... yea, wrong display on the w/o stand measurements! I updated the size figures, for those that are interested. I'll also see about getting that LG LCD for review - looks interesting, as they may actually use something other than a TN panel. Reply
  • semo - Sunday, March 11, 2007 - link

    1st, the color gradient for the gateway display links to the dell 2405fpw's (page 6).

    how does the dell 2405fpw look with an average delta e of 10.41? do you look at it and say "hmmm... something's wrong" even if there is no other display to compare it with? just wondering if a home user can detect color inaccuracies and do something about it or you get what you get and hope for the best (i assume a "home user" does not have access calibration equipment).

    for the last several years i've largely ignored anything that has happened in display technology (other than glance over price tags) so imagine my surprise when i decided to bring myself up to date and found the crt is virtually extinct. i bought my pc and tv 5 years ago and crt was everywhere. i always thought i wouldn't switch to the thin stuff for decades and that my next tv would be a cheap hd ready tube.
    anyway, i was wondering when will we see picture quality as good as crt used to provide and is lcd or plasma going to bring it to us. some of the displays at consumer shows seem to deliver the goods but anything that isn't plasma or lcd at the moment is just vaporware.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Sunday, March 11, 2007 - link

    Thanks for the link correction; that's fixed now for the Gateway chart.

    I'm not sure if the colors on the 2405FPW are just getting worse due to age or if it's always been off that far. If it's sitting next to another display display, I can certainly see a difference and the 2405 tends to look a bit washed out/yellow. If it's sitting alone on a desk, it actually doesn't bother me much, and going through some basic color calibration charts (i.e. calibrate by eye without the colorimeter) you can improve the colors to the point where it's about the same as the other displays (around 6-8 average delta E).

    CRTs are dead/dying I think in part because they can't really be any cheaper to produce anymore. Even with current LCD prices, I'd wager the markup on all LCDs continues to be pretty good, while CRTs probably don't get more than a 10-20% markup because the market won't bear it. Especially quality CRTs cost quite a bit more to manufacture, and the companies that used to make such displays (Sony, NEC, etc.) have abandoned the CRT market as far as I'm aware.
    Reply
  • yyrkoon - Sunday, March 11, 2007 - link

    I still think 22" WS monitors cost too much, you can get a decent 19" WS for $179, so why the $100 markup for 3" diagonal ? It certainly cant be assurance against dead / stuck pixels . . .

    This is another problem I have with paying so much , eTailers, and manufactuers saying "must have 8 dead pixels, or more to replace monitor for a new one". That would be like me saying, "hey man, most of my money is not counterfit, but some of it is, but you can not have your monitor back, becasue you dont have a high enough percentage of bad vs good currency". Would be nice if these 'people' would come around to reality, this is the main reason I personally go through convoltions, every time I plunk down a good bit of my hard earned cash for a LCD . . .

    I've yet to get any dead / stuck pixels, but I figure, it is just a matter of time. Anyhow, would be nice, if 'we the people' could 'rectify' this.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Sunday, March 11, 2007 - link

    The eTailers are just trying to protect themselves, and there's a simple solution: if you can't live with a few dead pixels, shop somewhere else. Local stores usually cost more but have better return policies.

    As for the cost, I paid $1100 for a 2405FPW 18 months back, and $300 for a rather lousy 19" LCD about the same time. Needless to say, while $300 may still be more than some people are willing to pay, prices have become much more reasonable across the board. It wasn't that long ago that 19" LCDs were at the $300+ price point for entry level models, and still people were willing to buy them.
    Reply
  • yyrkoon - Sunday, March 11, 2007 - link

    I understand WHY eTailers do what they do, but my whole point is basically, why are these companies (OEMs) getting away with what is obviously 'bad business'. I suspect this has to do with some 'fair trade' garbage, something a long the lines of why 3rd world countries are allowed to import food products into countries, that would not normally allow this food in to begin with ( IE, the food does not meet the countries standards for health and wellfare ).

    As for the bad 19" for $300, well, I too also paid ~$300 for one of mine (ViewSonic VA1912wb) around 12-18 months ago, and could not possibly be more pleased with it. Well, ok, maybe if it were free . . . Now, could you imagine, if you just spent $650 on a 24" WS, and had noticable bad pixels ANYWHERE on the screen ? Me, I'd be very upset.

    All I'm really saying, is that 'we' need to let the OEMs this is not acceptable, until then, they will get away with whatever we let them get away with.
    Reply
  • mindless1 - Monday, March 12, 2007 - link

    It's real simple, they either have to sell the panels with the bad pixels or discard them (throw away if bad enough or divert to lower grade sales which is also a loss).

    If they take back these panels then it will cost more per monitor. They're not "getting away" with anything, if you don't like it don't buy their product. That's the catch, they can stipulate any return policy they like and won't have to alter it if they don't preceive it hurting sales.

    It doesn't really hurt sales much because there aren't that many monitors with that many bad pixels, apparently they already sort the panels well enough that the sort criteria is lower than the defective product return criteria.

    They're only getting away with it if/when someone actually has that many dead pixels. Who do you know that does? Unfortunately a lot of businesses have policies that (if I knew about them), would make be pause before doing business. You end up playing odds, what is your time worth to find a better policy and what other compromises are made with the alternative product? I have one LCD of several that has one stuck pixel. I can accept that as much as I can accept a bug in some other piece of hardware, as most hardware isn't perfect, it's just a matter of whether you notice the flaw or not.
    Reply
  • yyrkoon - Sunday, March 11, 2007 - link

    All I'm really saying, is that 'we' need to let the OEMs _know_ this is not acceptable, until then, they will get away with whatever we let them get away with.

    Anyhow, IM sorry that my little rant here, kind of hijacked the idea of this discussion area :/ It just seems, that 'the business', is slowly, but surely moving to a 'screw the cutomer for what they're worth' type attitude, and of course, this . . . sucks.

    The good news is: From all the reviews of read on acer monitors over the last few months, have been very favorable on their behalf, at least concerning dead/stuck pixels, other issues do seem to pleague random models however, such as LCD not comming up until windows is booting (need to change BIOS settings ? SoL buddy . . .), to others not working properly with dual monitors attached to a video card ( monitor not operating at 'optimal' resolution).

    Some of these issues would not likely bother the average user, while it would effect those who do need to adjust BIOS settings (without hooking up another monitor), or run dual monitors, etc, etc.
    Reply
  • anandtech02148 - Sunday, March 11, 2007 - link

    That viewing angle thing makes me proud of my 2yr old investment on the dell 2405fpw.
    Jarred when are they gonna give you a Dell 27inc 2707wfp to play?
    27inc seems to be the right viewing angle for my future upgrade when price drop to 700usd or so.
    Reply
  • BigDDesign - Saturday, March 10, 2007 - link

    Great LCD reviews. Could you test some of the monitors that cater to graphic pros or photo pros like the Lacie 321 or NEC monitors. I currently am using a Lacie Electron Blue 22" and a Viewsonic 2050 LCDTV 20" for my workstation area. Every day I pray that my CRT will last forever. I know that someday that I'm going to have to replace my CRT with a LCD. Perfect color is top priority for some of us, over response times. With digital photography so mainstream, good color is very important to many. Perfect color is what I need. Reply
  • kmmatney - Saturday, March 10, 2007 - link

    NewEgg has a new interesting monitor for sale, which I believe is an IPS panel, for $350. The link is here. Would be nice to review a monitor in the same price range which ay perform a lot better (with a slightly smaller screen and 4:3 aspect ratio).

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82...">http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82...
    Reply
  • Bana - Saturday, March 10, 2007 - link

    I'm glad to see that you tested the input lag (buffering) of the monitors this time around. I am unfortunate enough to be able to see and feel the difference on my mom's 2405fwp (hence why I haven't bought an LCD for myself). It would have been nice to see the monitors compared to a better baseline ie: a CRT monitor to get a more repeatable measurement. It'd also be nice to see get an actual response lag range like http://www.behardware.com/articles/647-4/which-22-...">BeHardware does.

    Thanks again Anandtech. :)
    Reply
  • Chadder007 - Saturday, March 10, 2007 - link

    On the color gradients....I don't understand how its supposed to look. It is supposed to look smooth throughout the colors going from dark to lighter? Or is it supposed to have a blocked look to the colors in sections?...or is that what is called banding? Reply
  • JarredWalton - Sunday, March 11, 2007 - link

    It should be smooth, so the blocks are indeed banding. Without calibration, the banding tends to be a lot worse on some of the displays (particularly the Gateway FPD2485W). Reply
  • Den - Saturday, March 10, 2007 - link

    What is interesting to me is that if you are not willing to spend an extra $200 on a color calibration device, the cheap Acer has FAR better colors than any of the more expensive panels that have been reviewed here so far. Indeed, since 99% plus of people don't have a calibration device, I think this should be weighed far more heavily than the calibrated values. (Obviously, professionals who do have a device will reverse this weighting, but for the rest of us...) Also, could AnandTech make their calibrated color profiles available for the rest of us to download? I realize there is some panel to panel variation so it would not be perfect for every owner of the same display, but for most I think it would be far better than the factory default. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, March 10, 2007 - link

    I agree that the uncalibrated results are important, but at the same time I think most people will be okay with even Delta E of 6.0 if they don't know any better. Your eyes and brain are generally happy with what they see, whether or not it's 100% accurate. I've used a Dell 2405FPW for a long time without proper calibration and it never bothered me; now that I have a colorimeter, I suppose I'm seeing more "true" colors, but if I were to just walk up to a display and try to judge it it would be hard to say how it performs. For image professionals, a colorimeter should be standard equipment; for everyone else... unless the display is *really* bad, other aspects probably carry at least as much weight. The viewing angles, for example, normally don't bother us much, but the Acer panel clearly has a much narrower viewing arc.

    And since you asked, here's a link to the <a href="http://images.anandtech.com/reviews/monitor/2007/a...">http://images.anandtech.com/reviews/mon...ndtechCo... profiles</a> for all of the monitors, including both the print and standard profiles. The settings used for calibration are listed in the file names. Obviously, these are targeted at the panels we have, but as a baseline others may find them somewhat helpful. Cheers.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, March 10, 2007 - link

    Let me try that link again. :)

    http://images.anandtech.com/reviews/monitor/2007/a...">Downloadable Color Profiles
    Reply
  • anandtech02148 - Wednesday, April 04, 2007 - link

    This is very helpful Jarred, these files save us some time if we plan to invest in these monitors, it's already obnoxious to spend 600buxs on a monitor and another 1-2hr calibrating, such little details is mind boggling, and manufacture reset is not that great. Maybe they should hire a professional calibrator like yourself.

    Reply
  • kmmatney - Saturday, March 10, 2007 - link

    I have the display and am happy with it. While I could easily nitpick away at various details, it's a great LCD at the $300 price point. However if I was buying a 22" TN display now, I'd go for the Dell 22" model. It has a much nicer stand, and looks better overall. Reply
  • rqle - Saturday, March 10, 2007 - link

    Excellent setup on the viewing angle! Reply

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